May 4 is a significant day in American history that involves several events all triggered to efforts to change the status quo.
- The colony of Rhode Island declaring independence from England a full two-months before the rest of the colonies would do so;
- The Haymarket Square Massacre in which killings following a peaceful labor protest in 1886 would spark a worldwide reaction;
- The Freedom Riders who began their efforts attacking segregation in interstate travel on this day in 1964; and
- The Kent State massacre in 1970.
First in Independence
Rhode Island’s role in the Independence movement is often overlooked.
Rhode Island was the first colony to take military action against the English by sinking the HMS Gaspee in Narragansett Bay on June 9, 1772.
The first British troops sent to quash the independence movement were sent to Newport, Rhode Island.
More significantly, Rhode Island was also the first colony to declare its independence – doing so two months before the Declaration of Independence.
As a result of this independence streak, Rhode Island was the last of the colonies of the ratify the constitution because it insisted on adoption of the Bill of Rights first.
Rhode Island’s independent spirit is embodied by the Independent Man who sits atop the state capitol.
For more information on Rhode Island’s role in American History visit my related blog – Rhode Island Day.