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Legitimate reason or over-the-line political correctness?

RI closer to changing state name over slavery


The country's smallest state has the longest official name: "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

A push to drop "Providence Plantations" from that name advanced farther than ever on Thursday when House lawmakers voted 70-3 to let residents decide whether their home should simply be called the "State of Rhode Island." It's an encouraging sign for those who believe the formal name conjures up images of slavery, while opponents argue it's an unnecessary rewriting of history that ignores Rhode Island's tradition of religious liberty and tolerance.

The bill permitting a statewide referendum on the issue next year now heads to the state Senate.

"It's high time for us to recognize that slavery happened on plantations in Rhode Island and decide that we don't want that chapter of our history to be a proud part of our name," said Rep. Joseph Almeida, an African-American lawmaker who sponsored the bill.

Rhode Island's unwieldy name reflects its turbulent colonial history, a state that consisted of multiple and sometimes rival settlements populated by dissidents.

Banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his unorthodox religious views, minister Roger Williams set out in 1636 and settled at the northern tip of Narragansett Bay, which he called Providence Plantations. Williams founded the first Baptist church in America and became famous for embracing the separation of church and state, a legal principle enshrined in the Bill of Rights a century later.

Other settlers made their homes in modern-day Portsmouth and Newport on Aquidneck Island, then known as the Isle of Rhodes.

In 1663, English King Charles II granted a royal charter joining all the settlements into a single colony called "The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." The name stuck. Rhode Island used that royal charter as its governing document until 1843.

Opponents of the name charge argue that "plantations" was used at the time to describe any farming settlements, regardless of slavery.

Rhode Island merchants did, however, make their fortunes off the slave trade. Slaves helped construct Brown University in Providence, and a prominent slave trader paid half the cost of its first library.

Still, Stanley Lemons, a professor emeritus of history at Rhode Island College, said changing the state's name ignores the accomplishments of Williams, whose government passed laws trying to prevent the permanent servitude of whites, blacks and American Indians.

"There are different meanings for this word," Lemons said. "To try to impose their experience on everyone else wipes out Roger Williams."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090626/ap_on_re_us/us_providence_plantations
 

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Mighty Mouse
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wow...talk about a waste of everyone's time. I'll bet 999 out of 1000 people never knew it was anything other than Rhode Island.
 

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I don't beleive this... Rhode Island is a nice name, plus most people don't even know what is the background behind its name so... I say leave it and move on to more important issues.
 

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In the colonial era, way back when, "plantation" simply meant a property or territory designated for planting (duh). The association to slavery came much later, kinda like how in 1850 grass was the stuff you mowed rather than the stuff you smoke.
 

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Paradise Island
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This is ridiculous, of course.

The word plantation does not necessarily imply slavery. There are still plenty of plantations in the world, they are not worked by slaves.
 

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Speaking as an Black Caribbean-American(family from Jamaica, where said plantations were a way of life), I really, really couldn't care any less about this. I didn't even know about this situation in the first place(like most, I simply called Rhode Island...well, Rhode Island), but this is just inconsequential.

If they wanna drop it then whatever, but it really makes no difference either way. I've been to the state and all of my experiences there were pleasant, plantations or no plantations.
 

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The Rhode Island controversy reminds me of the every-other-year controversy that comes up in the Maryland legislature. Having been a strongly Southern state prior to the Civil War and for a while after, the state song, Maryland My Maryland, isn't exactly racist, but the lyrics are bombastically and venomously secessionist. It's the only current state song that advocates violent revolt against the federal government and has lines like "Huzza, she spurns the Northern scum". Periodically a group of hand wringers advocates for changing the lyrics to something like "our trees are green and our girls are pretty". I find the whole thing pretty funny. The song is so completely out of time that it's a quaint anachonism. Hopefully Rhode Island can keep its name and Maryland will continue to live with the Despot's Heel At our Shore (the despot being the president).
 
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