The Rhode Island General Assembly first adopted a seal for the colony in 1664 which contained an anchor with the word “Hope” above it (the state motto). The anchor and motto are also featured on Rhode Island‘s flag. The use of the word “Hope” was probably inspired by the biblical phrase “hope we have as an anchor of the soul.” The Seal Of Rhode Island also contains Rhode Island’s full name: “Seal of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” (the longest name of any state).
There is no official documentation from the time when Rhode Island first adopted the word “Hope” on its Seal and flag that explains why this word was chosen. The Rhode Island General Assembly first adopted a Seal Of Rhode Island for the colony containing an anchor with the word “Hope” above it on May 4, 1664. The most coherent explanation as to the use of “Hope” comes from the historical notes of Howard M. Chapin published in Illustrations Of The Seal Of Rhode Island, Arms And Flags Of Rhode Island, printed by the Rhode Island Historical Society in 1930.
On pages 4 and 5, Mr. Chapin wrote that the words and emblems on the Seal were probably inspired by the biblical phrase “hope we have as an anchor of the soul”, contained in Hebrews, Chapter 6, verses 18 and 19. Rhode Island was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a Christian minister, Anne Hutchinson, and others seeking religious freedom from persecution in Massachusetts and Europe. The Seal Of Rhode Island words and emblems were likely inspired by the biblical phrase “hope we have as an anchor of the soul,” found in Hebrews, Verse 6:18-19.
After Roger Williams received an official charter in England in 1644, the word “Hope” was placed over the seal’s anchor and still remains. The outer circle of the Seal Of Rhode Island reads Seal of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 1636. Besides the seal, Roger Williams also used Biblical virtues when he named Providence, Rhode Island, and the islands in Narragansett Bay: Prudence Island, Patience Island, Hope Island, and Despair Island.