RHODE ISLAND

State Information

Nickname(s):                               The Ocean State

Motto(s):                                        Hope

State song(s):                               Rhode Island’s It for Me

 Capital & Largest City             Providence

Admitted to US                          5/29/1790                  13th State

Brief History

Here are a few interesting facts about Rhode Island:

  • Rhode Island never ratified the 18th Amendment prohibition against alcohol. 

  • The Industrial Revolution started in Pawtucket with the first water-powered cotton mill. 

  • The oldest schoolhouse is in Portsmouth.

  • Rhode Islanders were the first to take military action in the Revolutionary War, sinking several English ships. 

  • Rhode Island has the 3rd highest utility costs in the nation. 

  • Newport has more mansions than any other city in Rhode Island, and it is home of several palatial estates. 

  • Famous people from Rhode Island include: James Woods (actor), Roger Williams (founder), Oliver Hazard Perry (military commander), George J. Peters (Medal of Honor recipient), and many others.

Interesting Stories

US Open Tennis.  The US Open Tennis Championship was first held at the Newport Grand Casino, in Newport, on a grass surface.  It started as a members-only tournament, before being opened to the public three years later.  The winner of the previous year was automatically entered.  It was later moved to Queens, in New York City, to accommodate the increasing crowd size.  The grass surface eventually gave way to clay and then to acrylic.  But the 130-year old Newport Grand Casino exists today in its entire splendor, grass tennis court and all.  

America’s Cup Races.   The America’s Cup sailboat races began in England in 1851 with a yacht built in New York City.  It was the New York Yacht Club’s intention to show off the sailboat in England and bring a trophy back to New York.  And that’s exactly what happened as they beat their competition by a whopping 8 minutes.  After that, the New York Yacht Club won every race until 1987. In 1930, the starting point of the race was moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where predictable winds and light commercial traffic made it the perfect venue.  Since the New York Yacht Club’s loss in 1987, they have not recaptured the trophy. Instead, it has been passed between America, Australia, New Zealand, and Spain.  The 2013 race was a real “never give up” moment.  After the first 9 races, New Zealand was up by 8 wins, meaning that America had to win the next eight straight races.  No-one gave America any chance of winning.  Yet they pulled it off, proving that even dramatic come-from-behind victories are possible if you never ever give up.

George Henry Corliss moved from New York to Providence, RI, in 1844, looking for work.  He began tinkering with stationary steam engines as a possible replacement for water power.  He developed a unique valve that could switch steam so efficiently that it reduced the fuel consumption of the engines by a whopping 30%.  Most steamboats and steam locomotives used the Corliss design.  It was so successful that the US Government used his Corliss engine to power the Monitor during the civil war.  When his patent expired, he sold his engine to a company that would later become Allis-Chalmers.  The Corliss Steam engine powered the industrial revolution. 

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