In 1779, when the town meetings began again, Portsmouth citizens sent a message to the Rhode Island General Assembly asking that their taxes should be lowered because the town was in a “Distressed Situation.” Unfortunately the state still wanted its taxes and in May of 1781 threatened to confiscate the property of those who did not pay even though they had supported the war and suffered from the hardships of occupation. Portsmouth people were so concerned about their local issues, that it was hard for them to sacrifice anything more for the state or national government.  The citizens preferred the more decentralized Articles of Confederation to the new Constitution that was proposed.  Portsmouth Freemen voted twelve to sixty to not adopt the Constitution in a vote held May 24th, 1788.  Portsmouth military leaders Cook Wilcox, David Gifford and Burrington Anthony were among those who voted against adoption of the Constitution.  As an agricultural community, Portsmouth people were concerned about war debt repayment and “paper money” issues as well as waiting for the adoption of the Bill Of Rights.  Portsmouth townspeople began to favor the new constitution when it seemed that the national government would start putting heavy fines on Rhode Island trade with other states.  That would not be in the best interest of the Portsmouth farmers.  Portsmouth voted for the Constitution and Rhode Island finally became the thirteenth state in 1790.The 1790 census showed a thousand, five hundred and sixty residents – 243 families and 19 slaves.

Resources:  Localism in Portsmouth and Foster during the Revolutionary and Founding Periods  by WILLIAM M. FERRARO.  Rhode Island Historical Society, August 1996.