On July 8th, 1663, 27 years after Roger Williams arrived in the colony, King Charles II gave Rhode Island its first royal charter.
The Charter provided royal recognition to the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, as it was known at the time. It outlined many freedoms for the inhabitants of Rhode Island and was the guiding document of the colony’s government (and later the state) for a period of 180 years.
The Charter was quite detailed, with provision for governance, elections, relations with Native Americans and even fishing regulations. It allowed for the freemen of the colony to serve in a legislature to design laws.
The original document is on public display at the Rhode Island State House.