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Friday, June 26, 2009

While You're At It, You're Not Really an Island

There is a movement afoot in Rhode Island to change its official name from "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" to just "State of Rhode Island." Why? Because the word "plantation" conjures up "images of slavery."

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. [Link]
"Plantation" has been used for centuries in Maine to denote a limited form of government—something more than a township and less than a town. I never knew when I was a kid visiting my grandparents' camp in Lincoln Plantation that I was condoning the enslavement of African Americans.

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