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5 Fun Facts About February 19 In Rhode Island History

---Learn Every Day: RI Today In History Facts Texted Each Day - Text: history ri To: 618-270-4005---

1. In 1658, Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, succeeded in securing a Royal Charter from King Charles II, which formalized the colony's existence as a sovereign state. This charter allowed for religious freedom, which was a revolutionary concept at the time.

2. On February 19, 1776, the Rhode Island General Assembly declared its independence from Great Britain, becoming the first of the thirteen colonies to do so. It was also one of the last states to ratify the United States Constitution in 1790.

3. In 1831, the Providence and Worcester Railroad was chartered, which would become an important transportation hub for the state, connecting it to other major cities like Boston and New York. Today, it operates as a subsidiary of the Genesee & Wyoming railroad company.

4. February 19, 1964, marked the opening of the first Newport Jazz Festival at Freebody Park, which would become a celebrated annual event. The festival has featured performances by many notable jazz musicians, including Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington.

5. In 2003, Rhode Island became the first state to pass legislation recognizing same-sex civil unions, which granted many of the same legal rights as marriage. However, it was not until 2013 that same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, following a landmark Supreme Court ruling.
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