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Rhode Island General Assembly
President of the Senate
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Senate Minority Leader
Speaker of the House
House Minority Leader
Senate political groups
House of Representatives political groups
Senate next election
|November 3, 2020|
House of Representatives next election
|November 3, 2020|
|Rhode Island State House, Providence, Rhode Island|
The State of Rhode Island General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. A bicameral body, it is composed of the lower Rhode Island House of Representatives with 75 representatives, and the upper Rhode Island Senate with 38 senators. Members are elected in the general election immediately preceding the beginning of the term or in special elections called to fill vacancies. There are no term limits for either chamber. The last General Assembly election took place on November 3, 2020.
The General Assembly meets at the Rhode Island State House on the border of Downtown and Smith Hill in Providence. Smith Hill is sometimes used as a metonym for the Rhode Island General Assembly.
On June 12, 1775, the Rhode Island General Assembly met at East Greenwich to pass a resolution creating the first formal, governmentally authorized navy in the Western Hemisphere:
"It is voted and resolved, that the committee of safety be, and they are hereby, directed to charter two suitable vessels, for the use of the colony, and fit out the same in the best manner, to protect the trade of this colony... "That the largest of the said vessels be manned with eighty men, exclusive of officers; and be equipped with ten guns, four-pounders; fourteen swivel guns, a sufficient number of small arms, and all necessary warlike stores. "That the small vessel be manned with a number not exceeding thirty men. "That the whole be included in the number of fifteen hundred men, ordered to be raised in this colony... "That they receive the same bounty and pay as the land forces..."
The Rhode Island General Assembly was one of the thirteen colonial legislatures that rejected British rule in the American War of Independence. The General Assembly was the first legislative body during the war to seriously consider independence from Great Britain. On May 4, 1776, five months before the Continental Congress formally adopted the United States Declaration of Independence, Rhode Island became the first colony of what would soon be the future United States to legally leave the British Empire. William Ellery and the first chancellor of Brown University Stephen Hopkins were signatories to the Declaration of Independence for Rhode Island.
A decisive march ending with the defeat of British forces commanded by Charles Cornwallis began in Newport, Rhode Island under the command of French forces sent by King Louis XVI and led by the Comte de Rochambeau. The American forces in the march were jointly led by General George Washington. The march proceeded through Providence, Rhode Island and ended with the defeat of British forces following the Siege of Yorktown at Yorktown, Virginia and the naval Battle of the Chesapeake. Nathanael Greene was a member along with his cousin, Christopher Greene.
Over a decade after the war, the General Assembly led by the Country Party pushed aside calls to join the newly formed federal government, citing its demands that a Bill of Rights should be included in the new federal U.S. Constitution and its opposition to slavery. With a Bill of Rights under consideration and with an ultimatum from the new federal government of the United States that it would begin to impose export taxes on Rhode Island goods if it did not join the Union, the General Assembly relented. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island became the last of the Thirteen Colonies to sign the U.S. Constitution, becoming the thirteenth U.S. state (and the smallest).
From 1663 until 1842, Rhode Island's governing state constitution was its original colonial charter granted by King Charles II of England, a political anomaly considering that while most states during the War of Independence and afterwards wrote scores of new constitutions with their newly found independence in mind, Rhode Island instead continued with a document stamped by an English king. Even nearly seventy years after U.S. independence, Rhode Island continued to operate with the 1663 Charter, leaving it after 1818 (when Connecticut, the other holdout, dropped its colonial charter for a contemporary constitution) the only state whose official legal document was passed by a foreign monarch.
While the 1663 Charter was democratic considering its time period, rising national demands for voting suffrage in response to the Industrial Revolution put strains on the colonial document. By the early 1830s, only 40% of the state's white males could vote, one of the lowest white male voting franchise percentages in the entire United States. For its part, the General Assembly proved to be an obstacle for change, not eager to see its traditional wealthy voting base shrink.
Constitutional reform came to a head in 1841 when supporters of universal suffrage led by Thomas Wilson Dorr, dissatisfied with the conservative General Assembly and the state's conservative governor, Samuel Ward King, held the extralegal People's Convention, calling on Rhode Islanders to debate a new liberal constitution. At the same time, the General Assembly began its own constitution convention dubbed the Freeman's Convention, making some democratic concessions to Dorr supporters, while keeping other aspects of the 1663 Charter intact.
Elections in late 1841 and early 1842 led to both sides claiming to be the legitimate state government, each with their own respective constitutions in hand. In the days following the highly confusing and contentious 1842 gubernatorial and state legislature elections, Governor King declared martial law. Liberal Dorr supporters took up arms to begin the Dorr Rebellion.
The short-lived rebellion proved unsuccessful in overthrowing Governor King and the General Assembly. The Freeman's Constitution eventually was debated upon by the legislature and passed by the electorate. Although not as liberal as the People's document, the 1843 Freeman's Constitution did greatly increase male suffrage in Rhode Island, including ending the racial requirement. Further revisions in the 1843 document were made by the General Assembly and passed by the electorate in 1986.
Rhode Island is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area and the seventh least populous, but it is also the second most densely populated behind New Jersey. The state takes its name from Rhode Island; however, most of the state is located on the mainland. The state has land borders with Connecticut to the west, Massachusetts to the north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south via Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound. It also shares a small maritime border with New York. Providence is the state capital and most populous city in Rhode Island.
The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of colonies of Great Britain on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries which declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems, and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. The New England colonies, as well as the colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania, were founded primarily for religious beliefs, while the other colonies were founded for business and economic expansion. All thirteen were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, Florida, and the Caribbean.
The Dorr Rebellion (1841–1842) was an attempt by middle-class residents to force broader democracy in the U.S. state of Rhode Island, where a small rural elite was in control of government. It was led by Thomas Wilson Dorr, who mobilized the disenfranchised to demand changes to the state's electoral rules. The state was still using its 1663 colonial charter as a constitution; it required that voters own land as qualification to vote. A later legislative rule required that a man had to be white and own $134 in property in order to vote.
The governments of the Thirteen Colonies of British America developed in the 17th and 18th centuries under the influence of the British constitution. After the Thirteen Colonies had become the United States, the experience under colonial rule would inform and shape the new state constitutions and, ultimately, the United States Constitution.
The Massachusetts General Court is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the earliest days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when the colonial assembly, in addition to making laws, sat as a judicial court of appeals. Before the adoption of the state constitution in 1780, it was called the Great and General Court, but the official title was shortened by John Adams, author of the state constitution. It is a bicameral body. The upper house is the Massachusetts Senate which is composed of 40 members. The lower body, the Massachusetts House of Representatives, has 160 members. It meets in the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill in Boston.
The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a colony in British America which became one of the thirteen original states of the United States. It was chartered on October 7, 1691 by William III and Mary II, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The charter took effect on May 14, 1692 and included the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plymouth Colony, the Province of Maine, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the direct successor. Maine has been a separate state since 1820, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are now Canadian provinces, having been part of the colony only until 1697.
Thomas Wilson Dorr, was an American politician and reformer in Rhode Island, best known for leading the Dorr Rebellion.
The Constitution of the State of Connecticut is the basic governing document of the U.S. state of Connecticut. It was approved by referendum on December 14, 1965, and proclaimed by the governor as adopted on December 30. It comprises 14 articles and has been amended 31 times.
Ann Smith Franklin was an American colonial newspaper printer and publisher. She inherited the business from her husband, James Franklin, brother of Benjamin Franklin. She published the Mintunt, printed an almanac series. She was the country’s first female newspaper editor, the first woman to write an almanac, and the first woman inducted into the University of Rhode Island's Journalism Hall of Fame.
The history of Rhode Island is an overview of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and the state of Rhode Island from pre-colonial times to the present.
The Law and Order Party of Rhode Island was a short-lived political party in the U.S. state of Rhode Island in the 1840s, brought into existence as a consequence of the Dorr Rebellion.
The Constitution of the State of Wisconsin is the governing document of the U.S. State of Wisconsin. It establishes the structure and function of state government, describes the state boundaries, and declares the rights of state citizens. The Wisconsin Constitution was written at a constitutional convention held in Madison, Wisconsin in December 1847 and approved by the citizens of Wisconsin Territory in a referendum held in March 1848. Wisconsin was admitted to the United States on May 29, 1848. Although it has been amended over a hundred times, the original constitution ratified in 1848 is still in use. This makes the Wisconsin Constitution the oldest U.S. state constitution outside of New England. Only Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island use older constitutions.
Originally, the state of New Jersey was a single British colony, the Province of New Jersey. After the English Civil War, Charles II assigned New Jersey as a proprietary colony to be held jointly by Sir George Carteret and John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton. Eventually, the collection of land fees, or quit-rents, from colonists proved inadequate for colonial profitability. Sir George Carteret sold his share of the colony to the Quakers in 1673. Following the sale, the land was divided into East and West Jersey. In 1681, West Jersey adopted a constitution. In 1683, East Jersey adopted one as well. In 1702, the colonies were united again under Anne, Queen of Great Britain, and adopted a constitution in 1776.
Connecticut is known as "The Constitution State". The origin of this title is uncertain, but the nickname is assumed to be a reference to the Fundamental Orders of 1638–39 which represent the framework for the first formal government written by a representative body in Connecticut. Connecticut's government has operated under the direction of five separate documents in its history. The Connecticut Colony at Hartford was governed by the Fundamental Orders, and the Quinnipiac Colony at New Haven had its own Constitution in The Fundamental Agreement of the New Haven Colony which was signed on June 4, 1639.
The Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations is a document describing the structure and function of the government of the U.S. State of Rhode Island.
The Old Colony House, also known as Old State House or Newport Colony House, is located at the east end of Washington Square in the city of Newport, Rhode Island, United States. It is a brick Georgian-style building completed in 1741, and was the meeting place for the colonial legislature. From independence in 1776 to the early 20th century the state legislature alternated its sessions between here and the Rhode Island State House in Providence.
Since the Great Depression, Rhode Island politics have been dominated by the Rhode Island Democratic Party. However, the Rhode Island Republican Party, although virtually non-existent in the Rhode Island General Assembly, occasionally puts forward statewide reform candidates. Former Governor Donald Carcieri of East Greenwich, and former Mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci of Providence ran successfully as Republican reform candidates.
The following outline is provided as an overview and topical guide to the U.S. State of Rhode Island:
Walter Clarke (1640–1714) was an early governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and the first native-born governor of the colony. The son of colonial President Jeremy Clarke, he was a Quaker like his father. His mother was Frances (Latham) Clarke, who is often called "the Mother of Governors." While in his late 20s, he was elected as a deputy from Newport, and in 1673 was elected to his first of three consecutive terms as assistant. During King Philip's War, he was elected to his first term as governor of the colony. He served for one year in this role, dealing with the devastation of the war, and with the predatory demands of neighboring colonies on Rhode Island territory during the aftermath of the war.
Joseph Sheffield (1661–1706) was an inhabitant of Portsmouth in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations during the last half of the 17th century. He held a number of important offices within the colony, including Deputy, Assistant and Attorney General. He is most noted for being selected as Rhode Island's agent to England on two occasions, but never appears to have served in that role due to the indecision of the General Assembly. He played a prominent role in the affairs of the colony during an extremely turbulent time, when Rhode Island was threatened with losing its charter due to "irregularities" perceived by the English Board of Trade. Sheffield died at the age of 44, leaving a widow and several minor children.