Rhode Island in History

Rhode Island: Providence

Historical Events

Historic Event

1631-02-05 Founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams arrives in Boston from England

  • 1636-07-04 City of Providence, Rhode Island form
  • 1639-05-08 William Coddington founds Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1644-03-14 England grants patent for Providence Plantations (now Rhode Island)
  • 1652-05-18 Rhode Island enacts 1st law declaring slavery illegal
  • 1662-01-27 1st American lime kiln begins operation in Providence, Rhode Island

Historic Event

1663-07-08 King Charles II of England grants a charter to Rhode Island

  • 1664-03-24 Roger Williams is granted a charter to colonize Rhode Island
  • 1675-11-02 King Philip's War: Plymouth Colony Governor Josiah Winslow leads Plymouth, Rhode Island, Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut militias attacks against the Narragansetts, fearing they would join King Philip's cause
  • 1761-06-10 Puritan version of "Othello" opens in Newport Rhode Island
  • 1762-08-22 1st female (Ann Franklin) US newspaper editor, Newport, Rhode Island, Mercury
  • 1763-12-02 Touro shul of Newport, Rhode Island dedicated (oldest existing US synagogue)
  • 1772-06-09 1st naval attack of Revolutionary War takes place in Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1772-06-10 Burning of British revenue cutter Gaspée by Rhode Islanders
  • 1774-06-13 Rhode Island becomes first colony to prohibit importation of slaves
  • 1776-05-04 Rhode Island declares independence from Great Britain
  • 1776-12-31 Rhode Island establishes wage & price controls to curb inflation: Limit is 70 cents a day for carpenters, 42 cents for tailors
  • 1778-02-28 Rhode Island General Assembly authorizes enlistment of slaves

Historic Event

1780-07-10 The Comte de Rochambeau and his French force of 7,000 land at Newport, Rhode Island, to join the American Revolutionary War

Constitution of the United States

1790-05-29 Rhode Island becomes last of original 13 colonies ratifying US Constitution

Historic Event

1790-12-20 1st successful US cotton mill begins spinning yarn in Pawtucket, Rhode Island built by Samuel Slater based on Richard Arkwright's design

  • 1798-12-14 David Wilkinson of Rhode Island patents a nut & bolt machine
  • 1813-03-18 David Melville, Newport, Rhode Island, patents apparatus for making coal gas
  • 1835-12-03 First US mutual fire insurance company issues first policy (Rhode Island)
  • 1862-05-09 US Naval Academy relocated from Annapolis Maryland to Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1866-08-11 World's 1st roller rink opens (Newport, Rhode Island)
  • 1880-05-31 League of American Wheelmen (1st US bicycle association), forms in Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1881-08-31 1st US men's single tennis championships (Newport, Rhode Island)
  • 1884-10-06 Naval War College forms in Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1889-08-29 1st American International professional lawn tennis contest (Newport, Rhode Island)
  • 1895-10-04 1st US Open Men's Golf, Newport GC: Englishman Horace Rawlins wins inaugural event; beats Willie Dunn of Scotland by 2 strokes
  • 1896-09-07 A. H. Whiting wins the 1st automobile race held on a closed-circuit track in Cranston, Rhode Island
  • 1906-12-27 1st annual meeting of American Sociological Society, Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1907-02-11 Passenger ship Larchmont sinks by Block Island, off Rhode Island, 322 die
  • 1916-10-07 The German submarine U-53 arrives off Newport, Rhode Island, and sinks 9 British merchant ships in international waters
  • 1932-09-16 30.8 cm rainfall at Westerly, Rhode Island (state record)
  • 1942-01-11 -23°F (-31°C), Kingston, Rhode Island (state record)
  • 1947-01-09 Providence Steamrollers guard Dino Martin becomes the first NBA player to ever score 40 points in a game, in a 91-68 win over Cleveland Rebels at Rhode Island Auditorium
  • 1947-07-23 1st (US Navy) air squadron of jets, Quonset Point, Rhode Island

Sports History

1952-02-13 Future world champion Rocky Marciano knocks out Italian heavyweight boxer Gino Buonvino in the 2nd round at Rhode Island Auditorium, Providence for his 40th straight win

  • 1956-05-26 A fire on board the aircraft carrier USS Bennington in Narragansett Bay, off Rhode Island, kills 103 crew
  • 1969-07-03 78,000 attend Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1975-08-02 104°F (40°C) at Providence, Rhode Island (state record)
  • 1978-02-06 Snowstorm hits New England, parts of Rhode Island (54" / 137cm)
  • 1979-08-03 Fastest jai-alai shot (188 mph), Jose Arieto at Newport Jai Alai, Rhode Island
  • 1987-11-05 Iceberg twice size of Rhode Island sighted in Antarctic
  • 1991-10-19 Longest NCAA football game (3:52) as Rhode Island beats Maine, 52-30 (6 OT)
  • 2003-02-20 Pyrotechnics display sets 'The Station' nightclub ablaze during a concert by rock band Great White; kills 100 and injuries over 300 others (West Warwick, Rhode Island)
  • 2013-05-02 Rhode Island becomes the tenth US state to legalize same-sex marriage

Famous Birthdays

  • 1586-08-14 William Hutchinson, Rhode Island colonist, born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England (d. 1642)
  • 1707-03-07 Stephen Hopkins, American politician who signed the US Declaration of Independence, born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1785)
  • 1717-06-08 John Collins, American politician, 3rd Governor of Rhode Island (1786-90), born in Newport, Colony of Rhode Island, British America (d. 1795)
  • 1718-04-26 Esek Hopkins, American Revolutionary War admiral and Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy, born in Scituate, Rhode Island (d. 1802)
  • 1725-05-25 Samuel Ward, American politician (31st and 33rd Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations), born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1776)
  • 1727-12-22 William Ellery, US attorney and signer of the Declaration of Independence (Rhode Island), born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1820)

Nathanael Greene

1742-08-07 Nathanael Greene, American Military Leader (major general during the American Revolutionary War), born in Potowomut, Rhode Island (d. 1786)

  • 1754-03-04 Benjamin Waterhouse, American physician co-founder of Harvard Medical School, and smallpox vaccine pioneer,, born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1846)
  • 1755-09-09 Benjamin Bourne, American politician (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Rhode Island), born in Bristol, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, British America (d. 1808)
  • 1755-12-03 Gilbert Stuart, American portrait painter (unfinished portrait of George Washington), born in Saunderstown, Rhode Island (d. 1828)
  • 1779-03-13 Oliver Shaw, early American composer, born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1848)
  • 1785-08-20 Oliver Hazard Perry, American Naval hero (Battle of Lake Erie), born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island (d. 1819)
  • 1786-04-15 Walter Channing, American physician who was the first to use anesthesia during childbirth, born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1876)

Matthew C. Perry

1794-04-10 Matthew C. Perry, Commodore of the United States Navy who opened Japan to Western influence and trade, born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1858)

  • 1799-11-03 William Sprague III, American politician (U.S. Senator from Rhode Island 1842-44)), born in Cranston, Rhode Island (d. 1856)
  • 1801-05-06 George Sears Greene, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Apponaug, Rhode Island (d. 1899)
  • 1801-09-04 Cullen Whipple, American inventor (pointed screw machine), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1868)
  • 1803-09-03 Prudence Crandall, American educator and founder of School for "young ladies of colour", born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island (d. 1890)
  • 1807-07-12 Silas Casey, American Major General (Union Army), born in East Greenwich, Rhode Island (d. 1882)
  • 1813-03-26 Thomas West Sherman, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1879)

Ambrose Burnside

1824-05-23 Ambrose Burnside, American soldier, industrialist and politician (Governor of Rhode Island, 1866-69) who popularized sideburns, born in Liberty, Indiana (d. 1881)

  • 1830-03-26 John Rogers Thomas, American composer, born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1896)
  • 1830-09-12 William Sprague IV, American politician and Governor of Rhode Island (1859-63), born in Cranston, Rhode Island (d. 1915)
  • 1830-10-03 George Brayton, American engineer who developed the Brayton Cycle combustion engine, born on Rhode Island (d. 1892)
  • 1833-05-08 Frank Wheaton, Bvt Major General (Union Army), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1903)
  • 1835-11-04 Lunsford L. Lomax, American Major General (Confederate Army), born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1913)
  • 1841-11-06 Nelson W. Aldrich, U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, born in Foster, Rhode Island (d. 1915)
  • 1842-01-06 Clarence King, American geologist & mountaineer, born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1901)
  • 1853-11-28 Helen Magill White, American educator and 1st woman to earn a Ph.D. in the U.S., born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1944)
  • 1866-04-04 George P Baker, American educator and playwright (47 Workshop), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1935)

George M. Cohan

1878-07-03 George M. Cohan, American father of musical comedy (Phantom President, Give My Regards to Broadway), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1942)

  • 1882-11-20 Andy Coakley, American baseball player and long-time coach at Columbia University, born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1963)
  • 1884-08-23 Ogden L. Mills, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (1927-1932), born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1937)
  • 1890-08-20 H. P. Lovecraft, American horror writer (At the Mountains of Madness, Weird Tales), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1937)
  • 1894-05-28 Sammy White, American comedian and actor (711 Ocean Drive, Sound Off), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1960)
  • 1895-12-11 Eddie Dowling, American actor (Rainbow Man, Anywhere USA), born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island (d. 1976)
  • 1896-01-18 C. M. Eddy, Jr., American writer, born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1967)
  • 1899-08-29 George Macready, American actor (Martin Peyton-Peyton Place), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1973)
  • 1901-06-29 Nelson Eddy, American baritone (duets with Jeanette MacDonald), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1967)
  • 1902-04-29 Theodore Chanler, American composer, born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1961)
  • 1902-09-19 Jimmy [James Henry] Van Alen, American tennis official who created Simplified Scoring System for tennis, born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1991)
  • 1903-03-25 Frankie Carle, American orchestra leader (Golden Touch), born in Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1906-05-02 Aileen Riggin, American diver (Olympic gold 3m springboard 1920, 24), born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 2002)
  • 1907-10-15 John Dearden, American cardinal (1969-88) and archbishop of Detroit, born in Valley Falls, Rhode Island (d. 1988)
  • 1910-06-23 Lawson Little, American golfer (US Open 1940), born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 1968)
  • 1911-10-30 Ruth Hussey, American actress (Another Thin Man), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 2005)
  • 1915-01-31 Bobby Hackett, American jazz cornetist, trumpeter (Glenn Miller; Benny Goodman; Jackie Gleason), and orchestra leader (Air Time '57), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1976)
  • 1915-12-29 Bill Osmanski, American football player & coach, born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1996)
  • 1916-08-25 Van Johnson, American actor (Brigadoon) always wore red socks, born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 2008)
  • 1918-08-09 Robert Aldrich, American director and producer (Dirty Dozen), born in Cranston, Rhode Island (d. 1983)
  • 1921-01-18 Robert Glaser, American educational psychologist (National Assessment of Educational Progress), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 2012)
  • 1922-08-26 Irving R. Levine, American journalist (NBC News), born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island (d. 2009)
  • 1922-10-22 John H Chafee, (Sen-R-Rhode Island, 1976- )
  • 1924-01-19 Nicholas Colasanto, American actor (Cheers - "Coach"; Family Plot; The Counterfeit Killer), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1985)
  • 1927-02-01 Galway Kinnell, American author (Body Rags, Book of Nightmares), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 2014)
  • 1927-03-29 John McLaughlin, American TV commentator (McLaughlin Group) and Nixon aide, born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 2016)
  • 1927-05-20 David Hedison, American actor (Colbys, Voyage to Bottom of Sea), born in Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1928-05-21 Alice Drummond, American actress (Awakenings), born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island (d. 2016)
  • 1928-07-12 Barbara Cowsill, American singer and rock band mother (The Cowsills - "Hair"; "We Can Fly"), born in Cranston, Rhode Island (d. 1985)
  • 1928-11-04 Hannah Weiner, American experimental poet, born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1997)
  • 1929-08-01 Ann Calvello, American roller derby queen, born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 2006)
  • 1933-04-24 Freddie Scott, American singer and songwriter ("Cry to Me"), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 2007)
  • 1933-05-25 Roger Bowen, American actor (M*A*S*H, Main Event, What about Bob, Petulia), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1996)t
  • 1934-10-08 J. Carter Brown, American art director (Washington National Gallery), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 2002)
  • 1937-10-26 Dave Gavitt, American basketball coach, formed Basketball's Big East Conference (1979), born in Westerly, Rhode Island (d. 2011)
  • 1938-12-13 Alvin Curran, American composer (Inner Cities; I Dreamt John Cage Yodeling at the Zurich Hauptbahnhof), born in Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1939-11-14 [Walter] Wendy Carlos, American musician and composer (Switched-On Bach), born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • 1940-05-07 Jim Connors, American Radio personality, born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island (d. 1987)
  • 1941-02-18 David Blue [Cohen], American folk musician (Cupid's Arrow), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 1982)

Spalding Gray

1941-06-05 Spalding Gray, American actor (Beaches, Clara's Heart, Heavy Petting), born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 2004)

  • 1941-07-31 Gerry Philbin, American NFL defensive end (All-time All-AFL Team; NY Jets), born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • 1942-04-13 Bill Conti, American film score composer (Rocky; The Right Stuff), born in Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1942-12-16 Donald Carcieri, American politician, governor of Rhode Island
  • 1944-04-26 Martha Rockwell, American cross-country skier (Mount Washington), born in Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1945-11-06 Robert J. Mrazek, American politician (Rep-D-NY, 1983-93), born in Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1947-03-27 Walt Mossberg, American journalist, the highest-paid journalist at the Wall Street Journal, born in Warwick, Rhode Island
  • 1948-01-09 Bill Cowsill, American singer and musician (The Cowsills - "Hair"; "The Rain, The Park, And Other Things"), born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 2006)
  • 1948-03-09 Jeffrey Osborne, American soul singer-songwriter ("On the Wings of Love"), born in Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1948-03-23 David Olney, American folk singer-songwriter, born in Providence, Rhode Island (d. 2020)
  • 1948-07-13 Ronald K Machtley, (Rep-R-Rhode Island)
  • 1948-07-26 Allen Doyle, American golfer (4 PGA Senior major titles; US Senior Open 2005-06), born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island
  • 1949-08-26 Bob Cowsill, American musician (The Cowsills - "Hair"; "We Can Fly"), born in Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1949-11-12 Jack Reed, American politician (Rep-D-Rhode Island 1997-), born in Cranston, Rhode Island
  • 1951-11-11 Paul Cowsill, American rock keyboardist (The Cowsills - "We Can Fly"), born in Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1952-04-02 Leon Wilkeson, American rock bassist (Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Sweet Home Alabama"), born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 2001)
  • 1952-08-02 Les Dudek, American guitarist and singer (Steve Miller Band), born in Quonset Point Naval Air Station, Rhode Island
  • 1952-10-14 Harry Anderson, American comic, magician, and actor (Night Court - "Judge Harry Stone"; Dave's World), born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 2018)
  • 1953-03-26 Lincoln Chafee, American politician (Governor of Rhode Island, 2011-15; US Senator (R) - Rhode Island, 1999-2007), born in Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1954-07-06 James Kiberd, American actor (Trevor Dillon-Loving, All My Children), born in Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1954-09-14 Barry Cowsill, American rock bassist (The Cowsills - "We Can Fly"), born in Newport, Rhode Island (d. 2005)
  • 1954-10-24 Perry Lee "Tiny" Tavares, American rocker, born in Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1956-03-02 John Cowsill, American rock drummer (The Cowsills - "We Can Fly"; Beach Boys, 2000-present), born in Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1956-10-03 Peter Frechette, American actor (Paint it Black, George-Profiler), born in Warwick, Rhode Island
  • 1958-06-17 Bobby Farrelly, American film director (Dumb and Dumber), born in Cumberland, Rhode Island
  • 1960-01-28 John Caliri, American actor (Vinnie-Square Pegs, Double Trouble), born in Providence Rhode Island
  • 1960-05-20 Susan Cowsill, American rock vocalist (The Cowsills - "We Can Fly"), born in Newport, Rhode Island
  • 1961-01-17 Brian Helgeland, American writer & film director, born in Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1966-03-22 Martha McSally, American politician (Senator Arizona (R) 2019-20), first female American pilot to fly in combat, born in Warwick, Rhode Island
  • 1968-10-24 Ken Ryan, American baseball pitcher (Philadelphia Phillies), born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • 1970-01-20 Rob Gaudreau, American ice hockey player (Ottawa Senators), born in Cranston, Rhode Island

Famous Weddings

Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi

1875-12-15 Sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi (41) weds Jeanne-Emilie Baheux Puysieux in Newport, Rhode Island

John D. Rockefeller Jr

1901-10-09 Philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr (27) weds Abby Aldrich in Warwick Neck, Rhode Island

Wedding of Interest

1953-09-12 American Senator John F. Kennedy (36) weds Jacqueline Bouvier (24) in Newport, Rhode Island

  • 2011-07-15 Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy (44) weds Amy Petitgout in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts
  • 2013-01-19 Figure skater five-time world champion Michelle Kwan (32) weds American lawyer Clay Pell at the First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island; divorce in 2017

Famous Deaths

  • 1678-11-01 William Coddington, first Governor of Rhode Island (b. 1601)
  • 1776-03-26 Samuel Ward, American politician (31st and 33rd Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations), dies at 50
  • 1795-03-04 John Collins, American politician, 3rd Governor of Rhode Island (1786-90), dies at 77
  • 1808-09-17 Benjamin Bourne, American politician (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Rhode Island), dies at 53
  • 1856-10-19 William Sprague III, American politician (U.S. Senator from Rhode Island 1842-44)), dies at 56

Ambrose Burnside

1881-09-13 Ambrose Burnside, American soldier, industrialist and politician (Governor of Rhode Island, 1866-69) who popularized sideburns, dies of a heart attack at 57

  • 1915-04-16 Nelson W. Aldrich, U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, dies at 73
  • 1915-09-11 William Sprague IV, American politician and Governor of Rhode Island (1859-63), dies at 84