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Counties. Townships. Population. Chief Towns and Population. Bristol....... 3....... 5,972........ Bristol, 2,692 Kent.......... 4....... 9,834........ Warwick, tp. 2,600 Newport...... 7....... 16,294........ Newport, 7,907. Providence... 10....... 30,769........ Providence, 10,071 Washington. 7....... 14,962........ South Kingston tP. 3,500
Five. 31 76,931
The chief towns are Newport and Providence, which are called the capitals of the state. The former is situated on the south-west point of Rhode Island, five miles from the sea, and has one of the finest harbours in the world, in which a large fleet may ride in perfect safety. The town extends about a mile from north to south along Narraganset-bay, and is about one-third of a mile in breadth, rising as it proceeds from the water by a considerable ascent; the streets cross one another at right angles, and are all well paved. The number of dwelling houses is about 1,200, chiefly built of wood, and painted white; and there are ten houses for public worship, viz. four for baptists, two for congregationalists, and one each for episcopalians, quakers, Moravians, and Jews: the other public buildings are a state-house, academy, and library. The academy is under the direction of a rector and tutors, who teach the learned languages, English grammar, geography, &c.
The situation of this city is beautiful, and the healthiness of the climate proverbial; in consequence of which it has become a great resort for strangers, particularly. from the southern states, during the summer season. It is no less remarkable for the great variety, and excellent quality, of fresh fish which the market furnishes at all seasons of the year; no less than fifty or sixty different kinds may be seen here exposed to sale. The excellent accommodations and regulations of the numerous packets which sail regularly between this place and New York and Providence, are deserving of particular notice. They are under the best management, and afford superior convenience and cheaper travelling than is to be found in most parts of the world. The distance from hence to New York is about 200 miles, the passage to which is generally made in thirty hours, and the fare, including bed and provisions, is only nine dollars ; from hence to Providence, thirty miles, it is one dollar. The trade of Newport is principally in shipping; and there is a manufactory of cotton and one of duck, both of which are prospering,
Providence is delightfully situated at the head of Narraganset-bay, thirty-five miles from the sea, and stands on both sides of Providence river; the two parts of the town being connected by a bridge 160 feet long by 22, wide : the west side of the town lies low, but the east side rises by a rapid ascent to a considerable elevation. The public buildings are a handsome court-house, market-house, a school-house, in which four schools are kept, an hospital, and five places for public worship; viz. three congregational churches, and one each for baptists and quakers. Rhode Island college is established in this town, and is situated on a hill, commanding a fine prospect of the town, bay, shipping, and country for many miles round. The building is of brick, 150 feet long, forty-six wide, and four stories high, and contains lodgings for upwards of 100 students; it has a valuable philosophical apparatus, and a library containing above 3,000 volumes. Providence has a pretty extensive shipping trade, and carries on considerable mercantile business with Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont; several large manufactories are established in the town and neighbourhood, particularly of cotton and linen, which are in a flourishing condition. Besides these, there are two spermaceti works, a number of distilleries, sugar-houses, and other manufacturing establishments, all in a very prosperous state ; mechanics of every description, particularly ship and house carpenters, are in full occupation, and highly paid for their labour, and rent and provisions are much lower here, and throughout this state, than they are at New York. Bristol is a pleasant thriving town, situated on the bay, about half way between Providence and Newport, and is a charming place for situation, healthful climate, rich soil, and a commodious, safe harbour. This town suffered greatly during the revolutionary war, a great part of it having been destroyed by the British ; but it is now in a very flourishing state, and has a good shipping trade: onions in great quantities, and a variety of provisions and garden roots are raised here for exportation. Warren is a flourishing little town, situated four miles north of Bristol, and ten south-east of Providence; it carries on a brisk coasting and foreign trade, and is remarkable for ship building. Rhode Island college was first instituted in this town, and afterwards removed to Providence. The other towns of any note in this state are South Kingston, Warwick, East Greenwich, and Little Compton ; the latter is situated in Newport county, and is said to be the best cultivated township in the state, affording greater quantities of meat, butter, cheese, vegetables, &e. than any other town of its size. The inhabitants are very industrions, and manufacture linen cloth, flannels, &c. of an excellent quality, and in considerable quantity for sale. The constitution of this state admits of no religious establishments, any farther than depends upon the volumtary choice of individuals. All men professing the Supreme Being, are equally protected by the laws, and no particular sect can claim pre-eminence; this unlimited liberty in religion is one principal cause why there is such a variety of religious sects in Rhode Island. The baptists are the most numerous of any denomination in the state; they are chiefly upon the Calvinistic plan as to doctrines, and independents in regard to church government. There are, however, some who profess the Arminian tenets, and others who observe the Jewish sabbath; these are called sabbatarian, or seventh-day baptists. The other religious sects in Rhode Island are, eongregationalists, quakers, episcopalians, Moravians, and Jews; besides these, there are many of the people who make no external profession of any religion, nor attend to any place of public worship. The character of the citizens of this state has suffered severely in consequence of their transactions in paper money; and the history of their government for seventy years, commencing with 1710, presents little else than a scene of peculation, and fraud. The vast sums created in this manner were not for the purpose of commerce, but to supply the state with money, and to fill the pockets of mercenary individuals, who were too idle and profligate to acquire property by industry. This swindling transaction was so managed, that the money was raised at about two and a half per cent, and lent to the neighbouring colonies at ten per cent. ; one quarter of the interest went to the several townships to defray their charges, and the other three quarters were applied to the use of government; so that both the rulers and the people were concerned in this iniquitous public fraud. These scandalous measures deprived the state of great numbers of its most respectable inhabitants; had a most pernicious influence upon the morals of the people, defrauded the widow and the orphan of their just dues, and occasioned a ruinous stagnation of trade. Such was the state of affairs in Rhode Island for a long period; but a better government having effectually abolished this infamous system, the character of both governors and people has been retrieved
by integrity of conduct; and the attention now paid to
the principles of the rising generation, gives a pleasing assurance that a total reformation in public morals will soon be apparent throughout the state. Through the whole of the war which established American independence, the people of Rhode Island evinced a most patriotic spirit; the citizens in arms fought with great gallantry, and the second general in the field (Greene) was brought up among them. A respectable military force is still kept up by this small state; the return of militia for the year 1818, amounted to 8,350 effective men.
Trade and manufactures.—While Rhode Island remained a British colony, its principal commerce was the importation of dry goods from Great Britain, slaves from Africa, sugar, coffee, and molasses from the West Indies, and lumber and provisions from the neighbouring colonies, With the bills which they obtained in the West Indies, they paid the English merchants; their sugars they sold in Holland; the slaves, lumber, and provisions, they carried to the West Hindies; the rum distilled from the molasses was sent to Africa to purchase negroes; and with the dry goods from England they traded with the neighbouring colonies. By this kind of commerce they subsisted, and many of them grew rich; but the war of the revolution, and other oecurrences already stated, greatly injured their trade, the principal part of which was for a long time carried on by the flourishing towns of Providence and Newport: both these towns, with a few others, strenuously opposed the nefarious paper money system. At present, the whole state has a very considerable foreign commerce, exporting grain, flax-seed, lumber, horses, cattle, beef, pork, fish, poultry, butter, cheese, onions, spirits, and cotton and linen goods; the total value of exports for one year, ending the 5th of September, 1817, amounted to 950,467 dollars; in 1791, it was only 470,000 dollars. The in ports are European and India manufactures, West India produce, and logwood from Honduras. : The manufactures are cottons and linens to a very considerable and increasing amount; bar and sheet iron, steel, nails, anchors and other iron work for shipping, sailcloth, paper, rum, &c. The cotton manufacture in particular is extending, and some of those engaged in it have been yery successful; but it is yet in its infancy, and being subject to a competition with the long-established manufact
tures of Britain, it must for some time labour under difficulties. The other manufactures of this state are chocolate, wool and cotton cards, bells, &c.; besides domestic manufactures for family use, which in this, as in the other states, amount to a vast sum, which cannot be ascertained.
Constitution.—The constitution of this state is founded on the charter granted by Charles II., in 1663, and the frame of government was not essentially altered by the revolution. The legislature consists of two branches; a senate, or upper house, composed of ten members, called in the charter “assistants;” and a house of representatives, composed of deputies from the several townships. The members of the legislature are chosen twice a year, by all the freemen of the state; and there are two sessions of this body annually, in May and October. The supreme executive power is vested in a governor, or, in his absence, in the deputy-governor, who are chosen annually, in May, by the suffrages of the people; the governor presides in the upper house, but has only a single voice in enacting laws. There is one supreme judicial court, composed of five judges, whose jurisdiction extends over the whole state, and who hold two courts annually in each county. Besides these, there is an inferior court of common pleas and general sessions of the peace, held twice a year in each shire town, for the trial of causes not capital, arising within the county, from which an appeal lies to the supreme court. The justices of the peace, as in other states, have cognizance of small causes; and since the revolution their powers have been enlarged to an uncommon, if not to a dangerous extent.
History.—This state was first settled from Massachusetts; from whence Mr. Roger Williams, a minister, who came over to Salem, in 1630, was banished by religious persecution. Governor Winthrop advised him to pursue his course to Nehiganset, or Narraganset-bay, which he did, and fixed himself at Seekhonk, now Rehoboth. But this place being within the bounds of the Plymouth colony, governor Winslow, in a friendly manner, advised him to remove to the other side of the river, where the lands were not covered by any patent. Accordingly, in 1635, Mr. Williams and a few others crossed Seekhonk river, and landed among the Indians, by whom they were hospitably received, and thus laid the foundation of a town,