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Historical Society Marks Washington's Rhode Island Visit

Published
America's first president, George Washington, comes to Rhode Island Saturday, or at least an actor who portrays Washington at his Mt. Vernon Estate. The...

America's first president, George Washington, comes to Rhode Island Saturday, or at least an actor who portrays Washington at his Mt. Vernon Estate.

The visit is part of the Historical Society's celebration of the 225th anniversary of Washington's final trip to Rhode Island

The stop in the Ocean State came in 1790, when Washington toured Providence and Newport , visiting at sites like Brown University and Touro Synagogue. It wasn’t his first trip to New England, but as president, Washington avoided the state because Rhode Island had not yet ratified the Constitution.

During this visit he remarked on the state’s return to the fold.

"He was welcomed with great fervor," said Elyssa Tardif, who works for the Rhode Island Historical Society. "People were just so excited he was here. In fact the governor of Rhode Island is said to have jumped onto the ship as soon as it came into port because Washington was finally here."

 

Tardiff says the celebration of Washington’s trip serves as a reminder that at the time, the U.S. was still an experiment.

"It’s important to remember that the government that we have now was at one point just an idea, and people weren’t really sure about it. And that it really does take individuals to make big change," said Tardif.

One of those big changes was the Bill of Rights, which Tardif points to as a major reason Rhode Island finally signed the Constitution in 1790.

During his visit to Newport, Washington delivered an historic address on tolerance to the Jewish community at Touro Synagogue.

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Map of Providence from the period when President George Washington sailed into port.
Map of Providence from the period when President George Washington sailed into port.