Around New England

Rhode Island Governor Seeks To Change State’s Name By Herself

June 22, 2020

Gina Raimondo, the Democratic governor of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, has announced she plans to issue an executive order removing “Providence Plantations” from state documents and web sites.

The state’s general treasurer, Seth Magaziner, announced Monday that he intends to have “Providence Plantations” removed from state checks and treasurer’s office letterhead.

State officials have acknowledged that the “Plantations” part of the state name has nothing to do with slavery – at the time of Rhode Island founder Roger Williams in the mid-1600s, the word in the official colonial documents referred to settlements where residents had no slaves.

But the governor and treasurer have said recently that black residents of Rhode Island have objected to the use of the word because it conjures up the image of large landholdings in states in the South where slaves were kept in colonial times through the end of the Civil War.

Actually changing the state’s name would require an amendment to the Rhode Island Constitution. The Rhode Island Senate voted last week to put the matter on the November 2020 state ballot.

In 2010 the state’s voters rejected a measure to change the name, 78 to 22 percent

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