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ents, for Us, Our Heirs, and Successors, Ordain and Appoint, that these Presents shall not in any Manner hinder any of Our loving Subjects whatsoever to use and exercise the Trade of Fishing upon the Coast of New-England in America, but they and every or any of them shall have full and free Power and Liberty, to continue, and use the said Trade of Fishing upon the said Coast, in any of the Seas thereunto adjoining, or any Arms of the Seas, or Salt Water Rivers where they have been accustomed to fish, and to build and set up on the waste Land belonging to the said Colony of Connecticut, such Wharves, Stages, and Work-Houses as shall be necessary for the salting, drying, and keeping of their Fish to be taken, or gotten upon that Coast, any Thing in these Presents contained to the contrary notwithstanding. And Know Ye further, That We, of Our abundant Grace, certain Knowledge, and Motion, have given, granted, and confirmed, and by these Presents for Us, our Heirs and Successors, do give, grant and confirm unto the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, all that Part of Our Dominions in New-England in America, bounded on the East by Narraganset-River, commonly called Narraganset-Bay, where the said River falleth into the Sea ; and on the North by the Line of the Massachusetts Plantation; and on the South by the Sea ; and in Longitude as the Line of the Massachusetts Colony, running from East to West, That is to say, From the said NarragansetBay on the East, to the South Sea on the West Part, with the Islands thereunto adjoining, together with all firm Lands, Soils, Grounds, Havens, Ports, Rivers, Waters, Fishings, Mines, Minerals, precious Stones, Quarries, and all and singular other Commodities, Jurisdictions, Royalties, Privileges, Franchises, Preheminences, and Hereditaments whatsoever, within the said Tract, Bounds, Lands, and Islands, aforesaid, or to them or any of them belonging. To have and to hold the same unto the said Governor and Company, their Successors

and Assigns for ever, upon Trust, and for the Use and Benefit of Themselves and their Associates, Freemen of the said Colony, their Heirs and Assigns, to be holden of Us, Our Heirs and Successors, as of Our Manor of East-Greenwich, in free and common Soccage, and not in Capite, nor by Knights Service, yielding and paying therefore to Us, Our Heirs and Successors, only the Fifth Part of all the Ore of Gold and Silver which from Time to Time, and at all times hereafter, shall be there gotten, had, or obtained, in Lieu of all Services, Duties, and Demands whatsoever, to be to Us, our Heirs, or Successors therefore, or thereout rendered, made, or paid. And lastly, We do for Us, our Heirs and Successors, grant to the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, by these Presents, That these Our Letters Patents, shall be firm, good and effectual in the Law, to all Intents, Constructions, and Purposes whatsoever, according to Our true Intent and Meaning herein before declared, as shall be construed, reputed and adjudged most favourable on the Behalf, and for the best Benefit, and Behoof of the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, although express Mention of the true Yearly Value or Certainty of the Premises, or of any of them, or of any other Gifts or Grants by Us, or by any of Our Progenitors, or Predecessors, heretofore made to the said Governor and Company of the English Colony of Connecticut, in New-England, in America, aforesaid, in these Presents is not made, or any Statute, Act, Ordinance, Provision, Proclamation, or Restriction heretofore had, made, enacted, ordained, or provided, or any other Matter, Cause, or Thing whatsoever, to the contrary thereof, in any wise notwithstanding. In Witness whereof, We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patents. Witness Ourself at Westminster, the Three and Twentieth Day of April, in the Fourteenth Year of our Reign. By Writ of Privy Seal,



IN 1644 Roger Williams obtained from the colonial commissioners of the Long Parliament a patent uniting the three colonies or towns of Providence, Portsmouth and Newport under the style of the “Incorporation of Providence Plantations in Narraganset Bay in New England.” Under this charter the three towns and Warwick formed a general government in 1647. .

Rhode Island, shut out by her neighbors from the New England Confederacy, was on this account favored the more by the crown, so that when John Winthrop obtained a charter for Connecticut, John Clarke the agent of Rhode Island readily obtained the like for Rhode Island. This charter was marked by the same liberality as the Connecticut Charter, but passes beyond it in guaranteeing religious freedom.

“ This charter of government constituting, as it then seemed, a pure democracy, and establishing a political system which few besides the Rhode Islanders themselves believed to be practical, remained in existence till it became the oldest constitutional charter in the world.” (Bancroft.)

It was not till 1842 after the so-called Dorr War that this charter gave place to a more popular constitution, which is still in force.

Consult Palfrey's New England, II., 562 ; Ar

nold's Hist. Rhode Island, I., 290; Greene's Short Hist. Rhode Island, 40; Bancroft's Hist. U. S., 1st ed. II., 61; cen. ed., I., 427; last ed., I., 363 ; Hildreth's Hist. U. S., I., 456; Bryant and Gay's Hist. U. S., II., 112.


CHARLES the Second, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc., to all to whom these presents shall come, greeting : Whereas, we have been informed, by the hum. ble petition of our trusty and well-beloved subject, John Clarke, on the behalf of Benjamin Arnold, William Brenton, William Codington, Nicholas Easton, William Boulston, John Porter, John Smith, Samuel Gorton, John Weeks, Roger Williams, Thomas Olney, Gregory Dexter, John Coggeshall, Joseph Clarke, Randall Holden, John Greene, John Roome, Samuel Wildbore, William Field, James Barker, Richard Tew, Thomas Harris, and William Dyre, and the rest of the purchasers and free inhabitants of our island, called Rhode Island, and the rest of the colony of Providence Plantations, in the Narragansett Bay, in New England, in America, that they, pursuing, with peaceable and loyal minds, their sober, serious, and religious intentions, of godly edifying themselves, and one another, in the holy Christian faith and worship, as they were persuaded ; together with the gaining over and conversion of the poor ignorant Indian natives, in those parts of America, to the sincere profession and obedience of the same faith and worship, did not only by the consent and good encouragement of our royal progenitors, transport themselves out of this kingdom of England into America, but also, since their arrival there, after their first settlement amongst other our subjects in those parts, for the avoiding of discord,

and those many evils which were likely to ensue upon some of those our subjects not being able to bear, in these remote parts, their different apprehensions in religious concernments, and in pursuance of the aforesaid ends, did once again leave their desirable stations and habitations, and with excessive labor and travel, hazard and charge, did transplant themselves into the midst of the Indian natives, who, as we are informed, are the most potent princes and people of all that country ; where, by the good Providence of God, from whom the Plantations have taken their name, upon their labor and industry, they have not only been preserved to admiration, but have increased and prospered, and are seized and possessed by purchase and consent of the said natives, to their full content of such lands, islands, rivers, harbors and roads, as are very convenient, both for plantations, and also for building of ships, supply of pipestaves, and other merchandize; and which lie very commodious, in many respects, for commerce, and to accommodate our southern plantations, and may much advance the trade of this our realm, and greatly enlarge the territories thereof; they having, by near neighborhood to and friendly society with the great body of the Narragansett Indians, given them encouragement, of their own accord, to subject themselves, their people and lands, unto us; whereby, as is hoped, there may, in time, by the blessing of God upon their endeavors be laid a sure foundation of happiness to all America: And whereas, in their humble address, they have freely declared, that it is much on their hearts (if they may be permitted) to hold forth a lively experiment, that a most flourishing civil State may stand and best be maintained, and that among our English subjects, with a full liberty in religious concernments; and that true piety rightly grounded upon gospel principles, will give the best and greatest security to sovereignty, and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to true loyalty: Now, know ye,

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