Providence Plantation was the first permanent European American settlement in Rhode Island. It was established by a group of colonists led by Roger Williams who left Massachusetts Bay Colony in order to establish a colony with greater religious freedom. Providence Plantation became the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, which became the State of Rhode Island after the American Revolution.
The colony was established at Providence in 1636 by Roger Williams and a small band of followers who had left the Massachusetts Bay Colony to seek freedom of worship, and Narragansett sachems Canonicus and Miantonomi granted them a sizable tract of land. The settlers adopted a covenant which stressed the separation of religious and civil affairs. Williams purchased Pawtuxet on the north side of the Pawtuxet River from the Narragansett sachems in 1638. He sold the land that same year to William Arnold and William Harris for the price of a cow.
Samuel Gorton had settled in Newport and in Portsmouth, but he had left each of them due to disagreements with his fellow settlers. He finally left the Providence settlement in January 1643 and founded a new settlement named Shawomet. Meanwhile, the settlers at Pawtuxet were also not getting along well with the other settlements. Arnold even attempted to take control of Providence by altering Williams' original land deed. Arnold ultimately asked Massachusetts Bay Colony to govern Pawtuxet and the surrounding communities.
Massachusetts Bay attempted to extend its authority over Providence Plantations and the settlements in Newport, Portsmouth, and Shawomet during the 1630s and 1640s. (Portsmouth and Newport were on Aquidneck island, which was called Rhode Island at the time.) Williams traveled to London in 1643 to settle the matter, and he received a parliamentary Commission for Plantations patent the next year uniting Providence with Portsmouth and Newport as "The Incorporation of Providence Plantations in the Narraganset Bay in New England". In May 1647, the three towns plus Shawoment (now named Warwick) formed a government under this charter in Providence.
Williams was able to reunite the factions in 1654, and Pawtuxet rejoined Providence settlement in 1658. Williams finally obtained a charter from King Charles II on November 24, 1663 which united Providence, Warwick, Newport, and Portsmouth into the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It became the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations after the American Revolutionary War.