And whereas, in their humble address (the people of Rhode Island) have freely declared, that it is much on their hearts … to hold forth a lively experiment, that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained, and that among our English subjects, with a full liberty in religious concernments; and that true piety rightly grounded … will give the best and greatest security to sovereignty.
Royal Charter granted by King Charles II, 1663
Thus, Rhode Island's [constitutional] history is that of a quintessential system of parliamentary supremacy.
Rhode Island Supreme Court, 1999
The variety of constitutional traditions among the fifty states is considerable. This is true not only of the content and matters dealt with, but also in terms of the number of successive constitutional documents and major revisions written and ratified by the states. In some the production of successive constitutions and revisions almost has been a local cottage industry. Having four or more constitutions has not been unusual in some instances. 1 In tabulated lists Rhode Island is in a small group that displays relative stability. The state's first frame of government was the Royal Charter of 1663, which the colony retained as its constitution until the state adopted its first homegrown document in 1843. 2 The latter, with very substantial modifications (including fifty-nine amendments) has remained in place ever since.
The charter granted by King Charles II in 1663 is actually a quite remarkable document. It was extraordinarily liberal for its day. It is most often noted