With their wealth they built a rich City




With their wealth they built a rich City

Rhode Island is one of the original thirteen American colonies, and Providence for many, many years, was a very prosperous City. In fact, Providence was one of the richest cities in America. Rhode Islanders believed in working hard and working smart. In his youth, John Brown referred to himself as "the cleverest boy in Providence Towne", confidently foreshadowing his great business success. Fortunes were made in the early sea trade, and again with many forms of manufacturing and all sorts of mechanical invention. In fact, the American industrial revolution was started right here with the first textile mills. The wealth accumulated from manufacturing provided the capital for lucrative land speculation along the planned path for the railroads pushing west. Wealth, begot wealth, begot more wealth.

Providence's elite used some of their riches to build a very impressive and refined early city infrastructure. They built Brown University, the Athenaeum Library, an Art Club, the Barker Playhouse. They believed in religious tolerance. They built early churches to many faiths, a Quaker Meeting House, the first Baptist Church in America, the Unitarian Church and in Newport, the Truro Synagogue, also a first in America. They built factories fueled by water and steam, as well as man and womanpower. They welcomed immigration, the new manufacturing economy's workforce. They also built mansions, and many smaller, yet impressive houses. And at the close of the nineteenth century, flaunting their great riches, they built a new opulent white marble State House overlooking the City. Yes, they certainly built a city to be proud of, a city rich in all the things our young country had to offer.


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