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During the 1630's, Puritan leaders forced anyone that did not practice their faith to leave Massachusetts. Roger Williams, a minister who believed in the right to religious freedom, left and purchased land from the Indians on which he founded Providence, the first permanent settlement in Rhode Island.
Several others who left Massachusetts as William's had, purchased land from the Indians and founded their own settlements. These settlements, Newport, Portsmouth and Warwick were joined with Providence in 1647 by England and became the Rhode Island Colony.
Before becoming the 13th state on May 29, 1790, Rhode Island delayed adopting the Constitution until the Bill of Rights was added which guaranteed individual rights and limited the federal government. During this time textile manufacturing became a leading industry.
The majority of the state's economy today revolves around three major industries, manufacturing, health services and tourism. While the health field is the largest industry in the state, other industries such as ship building, jewelry making, chemicals, metal products and plastics continue to grow. The very first state owned nuclear reactor in the nation can be found at Saunderstown, as well as a scientific research center.
More recently, the state has won military contracts to develop both submarines and submarine weapons for the U.S. government. Tourism creates almost 40,000 jobs and generates over $3 billion annually. Although, Rhode Island is the smallest of all the states, it has over 1,000 miles of coastline.
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