Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Rhode Island
RHODE ISLAND, a State in the North Atlantic Division of the North American Union; bounded by Massachusetts, Connecticut, Narragansett Bay, Block Island Sound, and the Atlantic ocean; one of the original 13 States; capital, Providence; number of counties, 5; area, 1,248 square miles; pop. (1910) 542,610; (1920) 604,397.
Topography.—The State is divided into two unequal parts by Narragansett Bay, which extends inland about 30 miles. The surface of the W. portion or mainland is hilly, but the hills are all low; the greatest height, Durfee Hill, having an altitude of 805 feet. There are numerous salt marshes along the ocean. The E. part consists mainly of islands. Of these the largest and most important is Rhode Island from which the State derives its name. Others are Conanicut, Hope, Patience, Starved Goat, Prudence, Perry, Dyer's, and Dutch Islands. The principal rivers are the Pawtucket, navigable as far as Pawtucket, where it changes its name to Blackstone, the Pawcatuck, forming part of the boundary between Rhode Island and Connecticut, and the Pawtuxet, flowing across the central part of the State, and emptying into the Providence river, an arm of the Narragansett Bay. There are numerous coves and bays branching off from Narragansett; among them being Greenwich bay, Sexonnet river, Mount Hope bay, and Providence river. Block Island, 10 miles from the coast, belongs to the State.
Geology.—The islands of Narragansett bay are of Carboniferous origin and contain the most extreme bed of anthracite in the United States. The W. part of the State and the E. shore of the bay are of Azoic formation, while Block Island belongs to the Tertiary era. The mineral resources of the State are not very extensive, though considerable anthracite coal, excellent for smelting purposes, and much magnetic iron have been mined at times. There are about 20 large granite quarries in the State; those at Westerly being noted for their value in monumental work. The value of the mineral product is about $1,000,000 annually.
Manufactures.—In common with New England States, Rhode Island is noted for its manufacturing interests. In 1914 there were 2,190 manufacturing establishments, employing 113,425 wage-earners. The capital invested was $308,444,563. The value of the materials used amounted to $162,425,219, and the value of the output was $279,545,873. Rhode Island is among the first of the States in the dyeing industry. It is also among the leading States in the production of cotton, woolen, worsted, and silk goods. The manufacture of rubber and elastic goods is also an important industry.
Agriculture.—The acreage, production, and value of the principal crops in 1919 was as follows: corn, 11,000 acres, production 495,000 bushels, value $921,000; hay, 57,000 acres, production 86,000 tons, value $2,752,000; potatoes, 5,000 acres, production 425,000 bushels, value $765,000.
Banking.—On Sept. 12, 1919, there were 17 National banks in operation, having $5,570,000 in capital, $4,442,000 in outstanding circulation, and $9,929,000 in United States bonds. There were also 3 State banks, with $520,000 capital and $6,066,000 resources; 14 loan and trust companies, with $8,528,000 capital, and $10,562,000 surplus; and 15 mutual savings banks, with $101,259,647 in deposits. The exchanges at the United States clearing house at Providence for the year ending Sept. 30, 1919, amounted to $555,301,000.
Education.—There were in 1919 2,093 public elementary schools, 2,585 teachers, and 82,300 enrolled pupils. There were 163 high schools, with 8,756 pupils. The total expenditure for educational purposes is about $4,000,000 annually. Under the control of the Department of Education are the School of Design, Providence, and the Institute for the Deaf, Providence. The Rhode Island Normal School, and Brown University, at Providence, are the principal educational institutions in the State.
Churches.—The strongest denominations in the State are the Roman Catholic; Regular Baptist; Protestant Episcopal; Congregational; Methodist Episcopal; Free Will Baptist; Unitarian, and African Methodist.
Railroads.—The railway mileage in 1919 was 550. Practically all of this was included in the lines of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford railroads. There was no new construction during the year.
Finances.—The receipts for the fiscal year 1919 amounted to $5,321,722. There was on hand at the beginning of the year $496,240. The total disbursements amounted to $5,142,533, leaving a balance on hand on January 1, 1920, of $675,429. The net bonded debt of the State in 1920 was $6,410,140. The total assessed value of the property was $850,000,000.
Charities and Corrections.—The institutions under the control of the State include a hospital for mental diseases, an infirmary, a workhouse, houses of correction, State Prison, and a reform school, all at Cranston. The Exeter School for the Care of Feeble Minded Children is under the control of the Penal and Charitable Commission. There is also under control of this board, a State Home and School for Children, at Providence.
State Government.—The governor is elected for a term of one year. Legislative sessions are annually, beginning on the first Tuesday in January and are limited to 60 session days. The Legislature has 39 members in the Senate, and 100 members in the House. There are 3 Representatives in Congress.
History.—It is claimed that the Northmen visited this region about A. D. 1000, and certain antiquities have been ascribed to them, but the question of the location of Vinland seems never likely to be definitely settled. The first English settlement was made at Providence in 1636 by Roger Williams, whose religious opinions had caused his expulsion from Massachusetts. He and other settlers bought lands from the Indians, and an unwonted degree of religious toleration was established. The charter granted by Charles II. to the colony was so liberal in its provision that it remained the fundamental law of the State till 1842. Rhode Island was firm in opposition to the King Philip War, yet that State suffered more severely therefrom than any of her sister colonies. King Philip himself was killed in what is now the town of Bristol. The great “swamp fight” occurred in 1675, in the Narragansett country, where more than 1,000 Indians were killed. The charter was temporarily suspended from 1686 to 1687 by Sir Edmund Andros, who, however, was never able to gain possession of the original document. Andros was deposed in 1690, and a new government was immediately organized under the old form. This continued till, in 1841, a legally unauthorized people's convention met and framed a new constitution which action precipitated a crisis, culminating in the “Dorr rebellion,” and the adoption of a new constitution in 1842, this going into effect in 1843. Under this charter suffrage was limited, about 9,500 men composing the electorate in 1840, out of a population of 109,000. The present suffrage laws were adopted in 1888. Rhode Island was the last of the States to ratify the Federal Constitution in 1790. It took an active part in the Revolutionary War, being long held by the English.