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Secretary of State Mollis Invites You to a Free Exhibit on our Changing Views of Suffrage and Equality

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis invites the public to learn more about our changing views on suffrage and equality by visiting a free exhibit at the State Archives in downtown Providence.

"Rights of the People" commemorates the 170th anniversary of the first state Constitution, which went into effect May 2, 1843.

The exhibit features an array of original documents including journals from the first constitutional convention in 1824, petitions to expand the right to vote and a copy of the 1841 '"Peoples Constitution" as ratified by supporters of Thomas Dorr.

"In order to appreciate where we are today, you have to know how far we have come. Our history includes a time when only white, male landowners were allowed to vote," said Mollis.

Other featured items include records relating to the state's last Constitutional Constitution in 1986. Video footage taken during the 1986 plenary sessions will run continuously as part of the exhibit.

"I hope exposure to history like this will inspire Rhode Islanders and remind them of the unique treasures the State Archives has to offer," said Mollis.

"Rights of the People" is open to the public weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through May 31 at the State Archives, 337 Westminster St., in downtown Providence.State Archives, 337 Westminster St., in downtown Providence. Free validated parking is available at the nearby In-Town Parking lot at the corner of Snow and Westminster Streets.

Some of the material is also available on the Secretary of State's website.

In addition to presenting exhibits, the State Archives is also home to tens of thousands of historic documents such as the 1784 law that granted the children of slaves in Rhode Island their freedom and Roger Williams' handwritten copy of the original 1638 deed buying Providence from the Wampanoag tribe.

Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier to vote, making it easier to do business and making government more open and accessible. For more information about the exhibit or visiting the State Archives, call (401) 222–2353 or visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293


Related links

  • Department or agency: Office of the Secretary of State
  • Online:
  • Release date: 04-26-2013

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