Rhode Island Votes to Change State's Name

'Plantations' will be stripped from official name
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 5, 2020 2:51 AM CST
Rhode Island Votes to Change State's Name
The seal bearing the official name "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" on the floor of the Statehouse rotunda in Providence, R.I.   (AP Photo/Susan E. Bouchard, File)

Voters have agreed to strip the words "and Providence Plantations" from Rhode Island’s formal name, approving a statewide referendum that had been revived amid the nation’s reckoning with racial injustice. A similar ballot question was defeated a decade ago. Although the word "Plantations" in Rhode Island’s name does not specifically refer to a place where slaves labored, the measure’s backers insisted it elicits such imagery and offends many people, especially since Rhode Island’s ties to the slave trade are undeniably deep. the AP reports. Merchants from the state played a key role in the transatlantic slave trade. Officially, Rhode Island was incorporated as The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations when it declared statehood in 1790. (More Election 2020 stories.)

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