King Charles II Grants a Royal Charter to Rhode Island

8 July 1663

On 8 July 1663, King Charles II granted the royal charter for the recognition of the Rhode Island colony. The colony had been established in 1644 when several growing towns incorporated together. After the restoration of royal rule, however, the colony sought royal recognition. One of the original towns that incorporated was Providence Plantation, and its founder, Roger Williams, sought to create a town that recognized liberty of conscience and religious freedom. Because Charles II was a Catholic-sympathetic king in a heavily-Protestant England, he was happy to grant the Royal Charter of 1663, giving the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations an elected governor and legislature. The charter remained the governing charter of Rhode Island for 180 years, making it the the oldest constitutional charter in the world at the time of its retirement in 1843.