J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Rhode Island History Blog

The Rhode Island Historical Society has launched a blog about items in its collection, including these documents about the Revolutionary War. For example, there’s a look at Rhode Island’s legal declaration of independence from Great Britain about two months before the Continental Congress took the same action. The blog notes:

One aspect of the American Revolution that this document illustrates clearly is the practical (and often bureaucratic) realities of declaring independence: getting rid of a king means changing a lot of letterhead, or at least removing his name from a lot of documents and ceremonies. It is, after all, technically an act repealing an act. And after the string of impassioned “whereas”-es (“. . . confiscate our Property, and spread Fire, Sword and Desolation . . .”) the bulk of the document is all about changing the wording of oaths for civil servants.

This copy of the document also displays the shift from “colony” to “state” in a moment of transition. It was not until July 18th that the Rhode Island General Assembly voted to abandon the word “colony”, and an early hand has written “State” over each mention of “Colony” in the “General Officers” and “Town Officers” paragraphs of the newly revised oaths...
Details, details,...

Another item is a chart of Narragansett Bay by British cartographer Charles Blaskowitz, published in 1777 and shown above.

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