Bad history in a name change

Reprinted from The Providence Journal/Evening Bulletin Apr 15, 2002

The on-again-off-again debate over Rhode Island’s name consistantly uses bad history (Richard Lobban letter, March 26). The people who want the word plantation dropped from our official name incorrectly cite the term’s connotation of slavery. The term plantation, however, did not originally have anything to do with slavery. Plantation is an English term to denote the planting of people in new lands.

The Scottish resettlement in Northern Ireland is known as the King James Plantations and the Elizabethan Plantations. Virginia was originally a plantation of English cavaliers in the New World. Providence Plantations refers to the resettlement of people from England and Massachusetts. We need to accurately recognize the source of words before we criticize them or call for renaming our state.

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