Cicilline, Langevin Bill Honoring Rhode Island Icon to Become Law

Nov 21, 2019

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today passed legislation to honor Elizabeth Buffum Chace, a 19th century Rhode Island abolitionist, by renaming the U.S. Post Office located at 575 Dexter Street in Central Falls. U.S. Congressmen David N. Cicilline (RI-01) and James Langevin (RI-02) introduced the proposal, H.R. 2451, which the U.S. House passed last month. It now awaits the President’s signature.


“The unanimous support for Elizabeth Buffum Chace from both chambers of Congress is a testament to her life of service and tremendous legacy that lives on to this day,” Cicilline said. “I thank Mayor Diossa and my colleagues in Congress for recognizing the importance of this legislation. I look forward to seeing it signed into law.”


“Congress has spoken with one voice to pay homage to Elizabeth Buffum Chace and honor the impact of her exemplary and selfless work,” said Langevin. “She embodied the best of the American spirit, risking it all to help others in their pursuit of freedom and justice. I’m proud to have introduced this legislation with my colleagues to recognize such a significant Rhode Island figure.”


A Rhode Island native, Elizabeth Buffum Chace was born in Providence in 1806 to activist parents who were vocal opponents of slavery. Growing up, her parents harbored runaway slaves seeking refuge in the state. She went on to follow in her footsteps as a leader of the abolitionist movement and eventually opened her home to runaway slaves as well.


Chace also spent much of her adult life fighting for women’s rights and reforms to the state’s prison system. She worked tirelessly to improve the lives of every Rhode Islander, including in various leadership roles in the women’s suffrage and penal system reform movements. Chace came to call what would become Central Falls home, seeing it incorporated four years before her death in 1899.


A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa first proposed dedicating the Post Office in Chace’s honor to Cicilline earlier this year.