Rhode Island Contemplates a Name Change

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  06.26.09 | 3:29 PM ET

Little-known fact: Rhode Island’s full, official name is “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” And, thanks to the slavery connotations of that latter section, the state is taking steps towards a potential name change—to, you guessed it, plain old “Rhode Island.”

All things considered, if the change goes through I’m guessing the world will find it easier to adapt to than, say, the Bombay-Mumbai shift.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

7 Comments for Rhode Island Contemplates a Name Change

grizzly bear mom 06.29.09 | 8:29 AM ET

More fraud, waste and abuse by government.  The average citizen does not realize how much time and money these changes cost.  They should be producing results for their constituents, not wasting time on valueless tasks.  Does anyone even know the full name?  Was it even a slave state?  Were there any in the North?  Did the plantations in the name even refer to places where slaves were held?  I’m realitively sure that Plymouth Plantation didn’t.  Ridiculous.  Can’t they just start referring to themselves as Rhode Island?  Or, sarcasm alert! “the state formerly known as Rhode Island and Providence Plantations?”

Eva Holland 06.29.09 | 8:31 AM ET

Hi Grizzly Bear Mom - I can’t speak to the rest of your questions, but yes, there were slaves in Rhode Island and throughout the North. The South just had many more, and for longer.

Ling 06.29.09 | 9:39 AM ET

Yes, and thanks to the name change, everyone now knows about Rhode Island’s sordid past. If they had just let sleeping dogs lie, no one would have cared, or known about it.

Jennifer 06.29.09 | 11:24 AM ET

During any other time (you know, like when we’re not dealing with a major recession) this may not have angered me but NOW, really?  I agree with Grizzly Bear Mom - a waste of precious time and money during a time when we don’t have those things to throw around!!  We’ve got people who no longer have a job (plenty of whom probably live in Rhode Island) and I’m sure it’s comforting for them to know that money that could be going into their pockets through a job is being wasted on frivilous stuff like this!!!  How many people outside of the state of Rhode Island, who aren’t history/geography buffs, even know the official name of Rhode Island anyway?  Unbelievable!  Actually wait, I do believe it!!!!

Maddness 06.29.09 | 11:24 PM ET

Roger Williams, founder of the “Providence Plantations” established this plantation on religious freedom, separation of church and state, and the abolition of slavery.  Why in the world would anyone want to change the name of a state that refers to the abolition of slavery using slavery as a reason to do so?  This is just plain crazy!!!  Rep. Almeida should be ashamed of himself for wasting my hard earned money on such a ridiculous and false cause.  He is giving the state a bad name when in fact we should be celebrating its current name, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Grizzly Bear Mom 06.30.09 | 12:08 PM ET

Thanks Eva, I know the North had slaves, but because 10% of Rhode Island is covered by salt water that seemed to preclude the economic viablity of maintaining slaves.  I looked up slavery and Rhode Island on wikipedia: “Providence” referred to divine providence and “plantations” referred to the colony’s characteristic as a large farm—-the name bore no relation to later southern slave plantations.  On June 25, 2009 the Legislature of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations voted to allow the people to decide whether to keep the name or drop “Providence Plantations” due to the perception that the name relates to slavery.  It seems reasonable to find out if the perception is true before considering the time and money is would cost to change the states’ name.

terry g 07.03.09 | 6:59 PM ET

Here’s an interesting opinion piece i read earlier today on the subject of the RI name change:

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