Rhode Island Dropping Part of Its Official Name from State Documents

AP Photo/David Goldman
AP Photo/David Goldman

Rhode Island is dropping the latter part of its official name on state documents, per an executive order signed by Gov. Gina Raimondo (D).

The state, formally known as the “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” will be removing “and Providence Plantations” due to its connection to the history of slavery, officials say.

Raimondo signed an executive order on Monday, citing ongoing public discussion of the word “plantations” in Rhode Island’s official name, which was established in 1790.

“We have to acknowledge our history, that’s true, but we can acknowledge our history without elevating a phrase that’s so deeply associated with the ugliest time in our state and in our country’s history,” Raimondo said during a Monday press conference:

“The pain that this association causes to some of our residents should be of concern to all Rhode Islanders and we should do everything in our power to ensure that all communities can take pride in our State,” the executive order states.

While the governor said the state cannot officially change its name without voters amending the state’s constitution, she is urging them do to so in November. But for now, she is taking “all measures now that are within my control to eliminate the name from my official communications and those of my executive agencies.”

Effective immediately, the Office of the Governor will exclude the word “Plantations” in executive orders or citations on its website and its stationary, and all executive agencies under the governor will eliminate the word “from their stationery, electronic letterhead and all other official correspondence, including paystubs.”

“The Governor’s Office and the state agencies under the Governor’s control shall determine whether there is an available alternative to the use of the state seal in official documents and replace or omit such seal where possible,” the order adds.

Rhode Island was the first colony to pass an anti-slavery statute, on May 18, 1652, although “the statute was very limited” and was likely not enforced, as TIME noted.


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