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Photograph: Shutterstock RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island votes to remove the word 'plantations' from its official name

Did you know this was a thing?

Written by
Sarah Medina

Little known fact: Until yesterday, the official name of Rhode Island was Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Yikes. 

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Now, the 200-year-old name is a thing of the past. Voters approved a state measure on Tuesday to officially rename the state to what we've all been calling it all along—Rhode Island. Just Rhode Island. 

The ballot measure came after Governor Gina Raimondo issued an executive order this summer to remove the words "Providence Plantations" from all state documents and websites. But voters had to approve the measure on November 4th to make it official—and approve it they did with 53 percent of the vote. 

To be clear, the word "plantations" in the state name did not specifically refer to slave plantations when the name was adopted in the 17th century, but Rhode Island did participate in the transatlantic slave trade, and you have to agree that it's not a good look in 2020. 

Rhode Island was not the only state looking to clean up its image at the polls this year. Mississippi residents voted to replace their Confederate-themed state flag with a new design that will features the official state flower, a magnolia, and the words "In God We Trust." The new flag also includes a star made up of diamond shapes—the symbol represents the Indigenous Americans that were native to Mississippi before the state was settled. 

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