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Old 09 May 2009, 07:07 PM
BamaRainbow BamaRainbow is offline
Join Date: 09 May 2006
Location: Montgomery, AL
Posts: 963

While browsing a bit, I found the following

Verrazzano made his famous trip, searching for an all-water route through North America to China, in the employ of the French king Francis and several Italian promoters. After landfall at Cape Fear, North Carolina, about March 1, 1524, he proceeded up the coast to the present site of New York City to anchor in the Narrows, now spanned by the giant bridge, which bears his name. From there, according to his own account, he sailed in an easterly direction until he "discovered an island in the form of a triangle, distant from the mainland ten leagues, about the bigness of the Island of Rhodes," which he named Luisa after the Queen Mother of France. This was Block Island, but Roger Williams and other early settlers mistakenly thought that Verrazzano had been referring to Aquidneck Island. Thus they changed that Indian name to Rhode Island, and Verrazzano inadvertently and indirectly gave the state its name.

That comes from a Student-Teacher Guide ( offered at the State's General Assembly website. The actual paragraph comes from the Rhode Island History, Chapter 1 page ( and is backed up by the RI Sec'y of State's history page (

The alternate origin comes from a Dutch phrase presumably offered by Adriaen Block who described some island* as a Roodt Eylandt ("red island", from the color of the clay soil) and the similarity between the Dutch Roodt and and the already Anglicized "Rhodes" led to a minor confusion (not like THAT's never happened before).

*Presumably, Aquidneck but possibly Block Island.

ETA: I'd read both etymologies as being equally valid when I was in school.
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