Constitutional FAQ Answer #109
Q109. "Why did Rhode Island not send delegates to the Constitutional Convention?"
A. Rhode Island was afraid that any new system proposed by the convention would be detrimental to its economy. Rhode Island issued lots of paper money, and one of the aims of the convention, in the opinion of Rhode Islanders, was to nationalize the currency (which, in fact, happened). Rhode Islanders were also famous for (perhaps infamous for) their sense of independence and suspicious of the calls for a stronger national government. The state was not looked upon favorably by others, often being referred to as Rogue Island.
Despite her failure to send delegates, it was assumed that Rhode Island would relent and ratify the Constitution, and a copy of the finished document was forwarded to the state as it was to every state. Initially, Rhode Island rejected the Constitution, but the reality of trying to go it alone as a sovereign nation, surrounded by a large and populous United States, finally convinced Rhode Island to ratify. The final vote was close, 34 in favor, 32 opposed.
See Rhode Island History for more information on Rhode Island.