The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was granted a charter from the General Society, February 8, 1901. The Rhode Island Society was the tenth state society to be granted a charter.
Inspired by the efforts being made for the return to this county of Bradford's History ("Of Plimoth Plantation") and by the general growing interest in Pilgrims, a group of known Pilgrim descendants met together in New York city and on Dec. 22, 1894, organized a Society of Mayflower Descendants. Connecticut followed on March 7, 1896; Massachusetts on March 28, 1896; and Pennsylvania on July 1, 1896. Representatives of these four state societies met and arranged to form a general society. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants was organized at Plymouth, Massachusetts on January 12, 1897, the year of the return to America of Bradford's History. (Waldo Morgan Allen, FGG, 1965)
Following these four states, charters were granted to Illinois (1897), Washington D.C. (1898), Ohio (1898), New Jersey (1900), Wisconsin (1901), Rhode Island (1901), Michigan (1901), and Maine (1901). Additional states were granted charters, beginning in 1906. The Vermont Society was chartered in 1927. The New Hampshire Society was chartered in 1930.
At a meeting of the Committee on By-Laws, held May 9, 1901, a constitution was adopted. The Preamble:
Objects of the Society, as they appeared in the Constitution, 1901:
- To perpetuate to a remote posterity the memory of Our Pilgrim Fathers; to maintain and defend the principle of civil and religious liberty as set forth in the Compact of the Mayflower, "For the glorie of God, and advancemente of the Christian faith and honour of our countrie."
- To cherish and maintain the ideals and institutions of American freedom, and to oppose any theories or actions that threaten their continuity. To transmit the spirit, the purity of purpose and steadfastness of will of the Pilgrim Fathers to those who shall come after us, an undiminished heritge of liberty and law.
- To discover and publish original material in regard to the pilgrims, together with existing data known only to antiquarians, and to authenticate, preserve and mark historical spots made memorable by Pilgrim association.
Since its founding, over 1700 people have joined the Rhode Island Society, and today, there are about 500 active members.