Landmark Colonial Charter's 350 year Celebration

The Honor Guard, The Pawtuxet Rangers and the Kentish Guard

A gala celebration of the "grandest instrument of human liberty ever constructed" was held at the architecturally distinguished Rhode Island State House, Providence, commemorating and honoring the charter that served as the template for the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.


A milestone of tolerance and freedom, the Rhode Island Colonial Charter was remarkable for its unique place in the evolution of human rights in the modern world. King Charles II of England approved the Charter in July 1663, the first time in modern history that a monarch signed a charter guaranteeing that individuals within a society were free to practice the religion of their choice without any interference from the government. This freedom was extremely radical in an age marked by wars of religion and persecution of people for religious beliefs.


The Gala itself was both historical pageant and celebration of the Charter's idealism. Prominent Newporters who attended were greeted by the pageantry of a colonial guard, which assisted with the ceremony of the opening of a dedicated  "Charter Room". Guests moved from room to room, down the portrait hallway, and onto the marble staircase, where Governor Lincoln Chafee was joined by E. Ralph Mollis and Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts, who commented that "the unique document shaped the nation's community with its founding principles", and for the opening of The Charter Museum within the State House.


Seen were Douglas and Mary Riggs, dressed as a Colonial dame of the period, who were involved in the pageant, with author John Barry whose most recent book is  Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty.  Prominent Newporters Pieter Roos, Trudy Coxe (who spoke at the ceremony although not part of the formal program), Eric Hertfelder, Alison and Bill Vareika, Christine and Ned Capozzi, Betty & Ed Capozzi, Pauline Metcalf, Rick Grosvenor, and Edward Sanderson, who  talked with Governor Chafee, Congressman David Cicilline,  Jonathan Sanders, and British Consul General Susie Kitchens.



It was a proud and uplifting event for our state. "Rhode Island's Charter is a unique document of international significance," Governor Chafee said.


                                                                            --  Linda Phillips


For historical information on the Colonial charter, go to


The magnificent Senate chamber

Governor Lincoln Chafee, Douglas & Mary Riggs, author John Barry

Christian Vareika, Betty & Ed Capozzi & Alison Vareika

Portrait in the State Room

The magnificent ceiling of the State Room

Alison Vareika, Mary Riggs & Ruth Taylor

Alison Vareika & Congressman David Cicilline

Betty & Ed Capozzi with Liz  Mauran

Governor Chafee speaks with guests at the VIP reception

Rick Rambuss, Bill Vareika & Chuck O'Boyle

Jonathan Stevens in discussion

Dressed for the period

Pieter Roos, Exec. Director of the Newport Restoration Foundation

Christine & Ned Capozzi

Eric and Sarah Hertfelder

At cocktails

 Governor Chafee & A. Ralph Mollis

The Hall of Governors

Pauline Metcalf & Bill Vareika

Mary Riggs with Jim Roehm and Janne Sahady

British Consul General for New England Susie Kitchens

Tom Goddard & Pieter Roos

John Grosvenor

C. Morgan Grefe & Roger Begin, of the RI Historical Society

Tina & Bill Hasch

Nick Maione & Paul McGreevy

Megan & Dawson Hodgson

Trudy Coxe speaking to guests informally

The Colonial Honor Guard with Governor Chafee

Guests on the stairs

Addressing the group

Governor Lincoln Chafee extols the Charter, with M. Kitchens

John Barry speaking about Roger Williams & John Clarke

Well done!

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