The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations has a rich heritage of defiance against injustice. The phrase “first to fight, last to sign,” brings pride to the hearts of many of Rhode Islands citizens.
On June 9th, 1772 the HMS Gaspee ran aground while chasing the packet boat, Hannah. The Gaspee was patrolling Narraganset Bay with orders to enforce British taxes on the colony of Rhode Island. A group lead by the Sons of Liberty organized an attack of the Gaspee while the ship was stuck. On June 10th at dawn, the group of colonists boarded the Gaspee, overpowered the British crew, and subsequently burned the ship to the waterline. The cunning and bravery of the few reflected the brazen nature of the whole. Rhode Island was not to be messed with.
One hundred and eighty nine days after North Carolina became the 12th of the original states to ratify the constitution, on May 29, 1790 Rhode Island became the last to ratify the constitution and joined the United States. Prior to the ratification Rhode Island seemed content to go into the future on it’s own. The state rejected the idea of federal representation in multiple votes. They did not want a federal government imposing upon the state.
Today Rhode Island continues defiance to federal bullying and will do so into the future. This year the people of this state fought to prevent unconstitutional bans on their rights as gun owners. We rallied, spoke out at hearings, reached out to our representatives, and encouraged our communities to stand with us. Our defiance proved victorious at the State House. The state heard the voice of the people. Our representatives in Congress have proven what our state government feared in 1790. Our elected representatives have chosen to defy the voice of the people. They will vote for laws the people are strongly against. This is an perfect example as to why Rhode Island was the last to sign.
There were many patriots who did not hesitate to fight for our rights as Rhode Islanders. They were the first to fight. They sacrificed time, money and energy to not allow bad legislation to be rushed through our State House, and forced upon the people. Legislators will regroup, and write new bills. The media will continue to push an anti-gun agenda. Tyranny will not rest.
As we look into the future, will you answer the call to be the first to fight, and the last to sign?