General Assembly creates commission to celebrate the 250th anniversary of founding of United States
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed a joint resolution (2021-S 0810, 2021-H 6002) introduced by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) and House Speaker Pro Tempore Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly) that creates the Rhode Island Semiquincentennial Commission to help celebrate the 250th anniversary of the United States’ founding on July 4, 2026.
“The story of our nation’s founding cannot be told without including the numerous contributions made by Rhode Island and its residents,” said Senator Goodwin. “As we face a period of time in our state and country where division is rampant, we must acknowledge and learn from the lessons in our own history of how our country came to be created. The 250th anniversary of the founding of our country presents an opportunity for Rhode Islanders and all Americans to reflect on the many significant events that inspired the birth of our country from a diversity of perspectives.”
“There is perhaps no occasion more fitting to celebrate on a statewide level than that of the founding of our nation,” said Representative Kennedy. “The early days of the republic saw incredible hard work and self-sacrifice that set the tone for our national character, and Rhode Island was a major part of it. Not only was the state one of the original 13 colonies, but the patriotic zeal of Rhode Islanders help ignite the flame of revolution throughout the continent.”
The purpose of the commission will be to:
· Assist in ensuring that any observance of the semiquincentennial of the American Revolution is inclusive and appropriately recognizes the experiences and points of view of all people affected by the events before, during, and after this historic event;
· Encourage civic, historical, educational, economic, and other organizations throughout the Rhode Island to organize and participate in activities to expand the understanding, and appreciation of, the significance of the American Revolution;
· Collaborate with local tourism agencies to promote Rhode Island as a prominent cultural and heritage tourism destination for American Revolutionary history;
· Encourage interdisciplinary and scholarly examination of the American Revolution; and
· Explore the many ways in which the ethos of our national founding period influences our present, and can shape our future.
The commission will consist of 30 members including: the Secretary of State; the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education; the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission; the Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts; the Secretary of the Executive Office of Commerce; the Historian Laureate; and 24 public members, four of whom shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House, two of whom shall be appointed by the Minority Leader of the House, four of whom shall be appointed by the President of the Senate, two of whom shall be appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate, six of whom shall be appointed by the governor, and six of whom shall be appointed by the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State shall serve as the Chairperson and the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission shall serve as the Vice-Chairperson of the Commission.
The public members shall be residents of this state, chosen with due regard to geographic, cultural and racial diversity, who have an interest in the history of Rhode Island, over the last 250 years, and the contributions of Rhode Island in the founding of our nation.
The membership of the commission will receive no compensation for their services.
For an electronic version of this and all press releases published by the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau, please visit our Web site at www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease.