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About Patrick T. Conley

Dr. Patrick T. Conley holds an A.B. from Providence College, an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame with highest honors, and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. He has published twenty-six books, including Catholicism in Rhode Island: The Formative Era (1976),Democracy in Decline: Rhode Island’s Constitutional Development 1775–1841 (1977), An Album of Rhode Island History, 1636–1986 (1986), The Constitution and the States (1988), The Bill of Rights and the States (1992), with John Kaminski, Liberty and Justice: A History of Law and Lawyers in Rhode Island, 1636–1998 (1998), and The Rhode Island Constitution: A Reference Guide (2007) with Justice Robert G. Flanders, as well as more than a score of scholarly articles in history, law, ethnic studies, religion, and political science. Presently he is president of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame and the Heritage Harbor Foundation, and is serving as the first Historian Laureate of the State of Rhode Island.
Latest Posts | By Patrick T. Conley
Ethnic Politics in Rhode Island: The Case of the Franco Americans
2 weeks ago

Ethnic Politics in Rhode Island: The Case of the Franco Americans

Rhode Island political history has been characterized by passion and turbulence. One reason for this volatility is the importance of ethnic and religious factors as determinants of voting behavior.

Until …
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La Langue, La Foi, et La Patrie: The Arrival of the Franco-Americans
3 weeks ago

La Langue, La Foi, et La Patrie: The Arrival of the Franco-Americans

The emigration of French Canadians to the United States, particularly New England, during the period from 1860 to 1924 caused a depletion of the Quebec countryside. By 1900 more than …
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Washington’s Open Letter of March 12, 1790 to American Catholics
11 months ago

Washington’s Open Letter of March 12, 1790 to American Catholics

Rhode Islanders are, or should be, familiar with George Washington’s famed letter of August 21, 1790 to the Friends of Touro Synagogue in Newport and that public missive’s ringing declaration …
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Albert Klyberg in Retrospect
1 year ago

Albert Klyberg in Retrospect

[From the Editor:  Albert T. (“Al”) Klyberg, former executive director of the Rhode Island Historical Society, passed away on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, at the age of 76. A …
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Rhode Island’s Electoral College Controversy in the Presidential Election of 1876
1 year ago

Rhode Island’s Electoral College Controversy in the Presidential Election of 1876

This essay was published as a Providence Journal commentary on December 6, 2012 in the aftermath of the Obama-McCain presidential contest. It was prompted by continuing speculation that population …
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Rhode Island’s Founding Documents: The Rhode Island Patent of March 1643/44 and the Acts and Orders of 1647
1 year ago

Rhode Island’s Founding Documents: The Rhode Island Patent of March 1643/44 and the Acts and Orders of 1647

This 2014 essay, inspired by my penchant for observing historical anniversaries, was written as a Providence Journal commentary. It came to the attention of Professor Stephen Schechter, who was preparing …
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July 19, the Real Rhode Island Independence Day
2 years ago

July 19, the Real Rhode Island Independence Day

From 1974 to mid-1977 when I served as volunteer chairman of the Rhode Island commission to celebrate American independence (ri 76) one thorny issue involved the correction of the long-held …
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George H. Corliss
2 years ago

George H. Corliss

Of all Rhode Island’s successful entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and inventors, none achieved more fame and notoriety in their lifetimes than George H. Corliss, the man whose refinements to the steam …
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George T. Downing: Rhode Island’s Most Prominent African American Leader
2 years ago

George T. Downing: Rhode Island’s Most Prominent African American Leader

In Rhode Island, slavery was placed on the road to extinction on March 1, 1784, when the General Assembly passed a gradual manumission act making any black born to …
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The Republic of Rhode Island
3 years ago

The Republic of Rhode Island

Today, May 29, 2015, is the 225th anniversary of Rhode Island’s entry into the Union under the United States Constitution of 1787. For thirteen months prior to May 29, 1790 …
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