Yesterday, Rhode Island voted to retain the full name, “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”
Indeed, this is how the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution refer to Rhode Island:
Article I, Section 2 provides:
The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each State shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
Likewise, the Preamble to the Articles of Confederation provides:
To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting.
Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
Although the copy at Avalon does not have a comma following Massachussetts-bay and before Rhode Island, I can see a faint comma (I think) in the version at the National Archives. Just sent the Yale Law School Library a note..