The third of the original thirteen colonies to formally adopt a state flag, Rhode Island adopted its state flag as it presently exists at the January legislative session of 1897. New Jersey and New York adopted flags in 1896. The 13-cent Rhode Island State Flag issue features an image of that flag.
The flag's colors, white and blue, are the same as those used in the flags carried by the Rhode Island regiments during the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War. The stars represent the thirteen original states and were used on flags of the Continental regiments from Rhode Island during the Revolution. The anchor has been associated symbolically with Rhode Island since its beginnings. In 1647 the anchor was adopted as the seal of the province under the Patent of 1643 setting up the Providence Plantations. Later, when a more liberal charter was granted by King Charles II, the word "Hope" was added over the head of the anchor.
Scott 2005 Specialized Catalogue of U.S. Stamps and Covers
SHG Resources (http://www.shgresources.com/ri/symbols/flag/)