Rhode Island voters drop 'Providence Plantations' from state name

Tim Stelloh
·1 min read

Rhode Island is now just ... Rhode Island.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday that strips part of what has long been the state's official name — "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the amendment dropping "Providence Plantations" passed with 52.9 percent of the vote, according to unofficial state results.

The name dates to the 17th century, when the Puritan minister Roger Williams founded plantations on the Providence River that later became the colony — and then the state — of Rhode Island.

An online petition this year pointed to the state's history as a slave-trading hub and argued that its name "holds the memory of an economic foundation built on slavery, and only keeps us connected to a shameful past."

The petition calling for the three-word deletion, which was directed to Gov. Gina Raimondo and other state officials, drew more than 11,000 signatures.

On June 22, Raimondo signed an executive order calling on voters to amend the state constitution to make the change.

"Rhode Island was founded on the principles of acceptance and tolerance, and our state's name — and actions — should reflect those values," she said at the time.

The order removed the name from official websites and correspondence, citations, state employee pay stubs and gubernatorial orders, the governor's office said at the time.

An effort in 2010 to tweak the state's name failed, with only 22 percent of voters supporting the measure.

The name change comes as states, cities and institutions continue to grapple with Confederate monuments, a state flag and other symbols that many view as racist and legacies of white supremacy.