The MUSE students from Rogers High School traveled to Providence recently to visit the Rhode Island Charter Museum in the State House. The charter is a landmark 1663 document in which King Charles II granted RI colonists the right to the religious practice of their choice unfettered by the government.
The students were expecting to see history and they were futher honored with history in the making, meeting Rhode Island’s Governor Gina Raimondo, the state’s first woman to serve as Governor.
The history of the RI Charter is of great significance to our freedoms today. John Clarke, who had been in England since 1651 serving as an agent to protect Rhode Island’s interests against the attempts of the neighboring colonies to dismember and subvert the colony, was able to obtain a new charter for Rhode Island despite great obstacles and opposition. His charter was unique in its grant of “freedom of religious concernments” and its language soon echoed in the charters of other colonies. It’s principles were subsequently written into the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Charter arrived in Newport, in November 1663, where it remained until removed to the new State House in Providence when it was occupied in 1900. The Charter Museum was opened in 2013 within the State House.