i am from the Greatest Little State in the Union. It is the smallest state, and has the longest name: State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. We were the first to declare independence from Britain and the last to sign the Constitution (last of the original 13 colonies, that is). No place in the state is more than a half hour’s drive from the water. Block Island was the first part of the state to be “discovered” and by Giovanni da Verrazzano, whom one assumes later discovered a bridge in New York.
The Native American we call “Squanto” was the first famous native Rhode Islander. (The Farrelly Brothers are the most recent?) We have a longer, more distinguished tradition of dissent than any other state. During the Revolution, we mustered the first African American military unit. Unfortunately, in the years after the Revolution, Rhode Island families controlled between 60-90% of the American trade in African slaves. Included among these families are the Browns, after whom Brown University is named (although several notable abolitionists were also members of the family). In 1866, we abolished racial segregation across the state. We never ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Yup…we drank.
We are the “birthplace of the Industrial Revolution” (in the U.S.) because Slater Mill is located in the state. (I remember a horrifying trip there in Elementary School…horrifying because we were told about all the children who lost fingers working the looms. It was, however, better than the school trip to the Weiner factory.) I think we are now the Costume Jewlery Capital of the World.
Our Mayor, Buddy Cianci, was convinced on RICO charges and sent to prison. I went to school with his daughter Nicole, around the time that he attacked a man with a lit cigarette and his urine because he claimed he was sleeping with his wife.
We have a higher percentage of Americans of Portuguese ancestry (including Cape Verdians) than any other state. 87% of us are Christian, and 67% (give or take) are Catholic. While Jews are only 1.6% of the state population, they were about 90% of my classmates. We have the first Baptist Church and the first oldest surviving Jewish Synagogue in the U.S. We also had the first gaslit street and the first nine hole golf course.
Growing up, the state was basically run by members of the Italian “crime syndicate” called the Patriarca family. We literally were discouraged from sitting with our back to the door at a local restaurant we went to for Sunday dinners.
We allegedly have the highest number of doughnut/coffee shops per capita in the country, including over 225 Dunkin’ Donuts. The official drink is coffee milk. We effin love Del’s Lemonade, as discussed. We eat grinders, not subs; and pizza strips; jonnycakes; quahhaugs; and take our chowdah clear, thank you.
We also make clam cakes, and there’s a place on Block Island that makes dougnuts in the morning in the same oil…Dad, Mom and I call them “sinkers.”
We have minor league teams that are affiliates of the Red Sox and the Bruins. Our now-gone baseball team, The Providence Greys, won the very first pennant, in 1884. Babe Ruth played for them in 1914. Until 1983, the America’s Cup races were held off Newport.