Portsmouth to Celebrate Founders Day

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — Celebrate Founders Day this March with showing of original copies of the 1638 Compact and the 1776 Declaration of Independence.

This free event will take place on Friday, March 6, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Town Hall.

The founding of Portsmouth, Rhode Island was made official on March 7 with the signing of the Compact of 1638 that established the official settlement.  The Compact was the first document in American history that severed both political and religious ties with England, and has been called “the first instrument for governing as a true democracy”.

The Portsmouth RI Historical Society, in cooperation with the RI Sate Archives, will celebrate Founders Day on Friday March 6, 2020 at the Portsmouth Town Hall (2200 East Main Rd) starting at 11:30 AM.

The original 1638 compact document will be specially transported from the State archives and be on display starting at 11:30 AM.

Also on display will be Portsmouth’s original copy of the Declaration of Independence (called the third generation “Southwick” copy). Upon the signing of the declaration in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress commissioned its official printer, John Dunlap, to create copies to be dispatched on horseback to each colony. About July 14, 1776, RI Secretary of State, Henry Ward, commissioned Newport printer Solomon Southwick to print a copy for each RI town. Portsmouth’s copy is believed to be only a few that still exist, and that Portsmouth is the only municipality to possess their original copy.

The documents will be available to the public for viewing from 11:30 AM to 1 PM.

There will be a brief ceremony starting at 12 noon that will include remarks by Portsmouth Town Historian Jim Garman.

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