03 August 2012

Providence, RI

4 August 2012--Cathy and I went to Rhode Island yesterday, just for an afternoon to take a look at the Capitol and anything else we could see in a short amount of time. The best thing about New England is that you can be in all 6 states in no time at all...unlike Texas that takes a full day to get out of it is so big!!!

Rhode Island's license plate is just barely more interesting than Massachusetts's or Connecticut's...unlike some states, they don't seem to put a lot of thought into them up here. The same can be said for their state seal and flag. What I didn't know though is that, as you can see on the state seal, the official, REAL name of Rhode Island is the state of "Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations". A worker in the state library told us that Providence was settled 1st, followed by Newport and other spots, so basically the "other" spots were Rhode Island and they joined with Providence.

The State Capitol building is huge, and unfortunately is much more impressive than Massachusetts'. I guess I have always figured that with so much history around the beginning of the country and Massachusetts that ours would be the creme de la creme, but instead it may be that because it was around from the beginning it is done on a much smaller scale. (???)

Inscribed prominently on the front of the building is this quote that actually comes from the Charter they got from England when they wanted to be a separate entity from other states. The founder of the state, Roger Williams, originally settled in Massachusetts, but like the Pilgrims that left for Connecticut he set out on his own because of the religious oppressiveness of the original Massachusetts settlers. (More on this later). (Sr Helen, if you click on the picture you will be able to read what it says.)

When you break through the trees that line the pathway to the building, it is surprisingly big.

A public speaking platform half way up the stairs, and looking out from the top steps of the building over the city.

The back of the building. And 2 little fun facts: Unlike most states, Rhode Island has no Governor's Mansion. Because most of the Governors going back in time were the likes of the Vanderbilt's and others of their massive wealth, the state never built anything because they figured they would never "settle" for something the state could afford. 2ndly, RI is another state that only has a part-time legislature...meets 6 months a year, which is more than some, but they all have regular jobs, too.

And as you initially enter from the front.

Interestingly, as soon as you enter the building and look to your left is this cannon...notice the cannon ball stuck in the turret. This cannon was used by a unit from Rhode island that fought at Gettysburg...the story is told in the 1st picture.

As you ascend the main staircase you come to the center of the building, and the inside of the dome. This dome is the 4th largest self-supporting marble covered dome in the world, after only St Peter's in Vatican City, the Minnesota State Capitol, and the Taj Mahal in India.

The 4 pillars are Justice, Literature, Commerce and Education.

The chandelier is really pretty but hard to capture in a picture. The dome has a mural of Roger Williams and his people along with a group of Native Americans. Williams was known for having a far different attitude toward the Native Americans than other colonizers. He believed from the beginning that this was their land and that the king had no right to grant land that didn't belong to him to others.

Nothing looks that big until you see how dwarfed we are by everything around us.

Coming down the stairs and looking down from the 3rd floor.

The statue at the top of the building outside is called "Independent Man". The builders originally wanted to say that it was Roger Williams, but as no one truly knew what he looked like, they decided on the other name.

The House of Representatives.

The Senate. I have noticed that in most Capitol buildings, the Senate is invariably less impressive than the House. As hoity-toity as most Senators are, you would think it would be the other way around.

So a little more about Roger Williams. He was born in England in 1603, and was ordained a minister there. Fed up with the oppressiveness of the King and Church of England, he was amongst the original planners of the trip to the New World but not on the 1st boats, but soon to follow. He didn't get along much better with the original Puritan settlers, ultimately being tried and found guilty of Sedition, Heresy, and failing to take an oath to the colony. He was sentenced to deportation back to England. His "crimes" mainly consisted of believing that (1) no king could act in the name of God, (2) the Native Americans owned the land, and (3) preachers should not be paid to preach.

After fleeing Massachusetts before he could be deported, Williams established Rhode Island as the 1st state to guarantee both freedom OF religion and freedom FROM religion. He died of course before the American Revolution, but his influence led Rhode Island to be the last of the 13 original colonies to ratify the Constitution. Rhode Island insisted on the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing the same freedom of religion in the country that Rhode Island had since its inception.

Due to its early freedoms, Rhode Island had the 1st and oldest Quaker Church in America, the 1st and oldest Synagogue in America, and right here in Providence, the 1st and oldest Baptist Church in America.

This is the 1st Baptist Church...and where Brown University holds its commencement exercises.

Inside was quite warm, really the 1st day that Cathy and I thought we might need a fan! haha This chandelier was given to the church by Hope Brown in 1792, and was made in Ireland. It was originally lit by candles, piped for gas in 1884, and finally converted to electricity in 1914.

The pulipt and a drawing...I wanted Cathy to give the "hellfire and damnation" speech, but she wouldn't go along.

Across the street from the church, a couple of interesting buildings...I think it is an artsy area now, so not just regular houses, although they probably were at one time. The college and School of Design are right in and around this section of town.

Just 2 pics I felt like posting and can't remember why! haha

I thought these pics had interesting info. For all you hear on the news shows about the supposed "war on religion" in this country, 8 of 10 Americans still identify with a specific religion. And in light of the Pope's investigation of the nuns, I thought the last line that says "perhaps Americans do not see activisim as an alternative to religion, but as a part of it", quite timely.

The Supreme Court building, followed by a couple churches we noticed riding around.

And leaving Providence behind as we head back to Hanscom.

Had a great day today...and I know I really would have liked that Roger Williams!!!


  1. what a beautiful and interesting place. the State House is gorgeous. Another amazing dome. What talent and vision in the people way back then. Such a small place to have made such a difference long term in our history.
    i love the last two rows of pictures.

  2. You would have liked it Marie, just to see how pretty it is. And who knew, that after fleeing England, so many were fleeing Massachusetts for the same religious oppression? (RI and CT)!

  3. I thought RI and Roger williams were quite interesting, but based on a lack of comment (other than Marie), it appears I am out of step with my readers...haha What's the deal?

  4. Like the capital. It almost links like Washington.

  5. Does mean I am going to have to see all of this stuff in Penn????

  6. And by the way, Ellen, I thought you liked this stuff? It is for you mostly that I put the stuff up there to be read...I thought you liked to read it?