The New England Colonies Questions and Answers

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What type of colony was Rhode Island?

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Rhode Island was a coastal New England colony which relied on livestock, dairy and fishing, as well as beer and rum making for its economic base. The first English settlement there was begun by Roger Williams, who was exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a religious dissident. He bought land from the Narragansett Indians and established Providence Plantations in 1636. From the start, he guaranteed freedom of conscience and religious liberty to the settlers. A year later, religious dissidents Anne and William Hutchinson and others also purchased land from the Indians in Rhode Island and founded a colony. A third and fourth settlement were established in 1642 and 1651. The four settlements were combined into the colony of Rhode Island by Charles II in 1663 and granted religious freedom. Although the territory had banned the import of slaves in 1652, the law was not well enforced, and for a long time Rhode Island was a major slave trading center.

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