preview

Roger Williams : The Life Of Roger Williams And Religious Freedom

Decent Essays
Roger Williams was born in London, circa 1603, during a period of intense religious intolerance. After finishing school in England, he traveled to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, initially to be a missionary. His radical views on religious freedom and disapproval of the practice of confiscating land from the Native Americans earned him the wrath of church leaders and he was banished from the colony. With his followers, he fled to Narragansett Bay, where he purchased land from the Narragansett Indians and established a new colony, which became a haven for Baptists, Quakers, Jews and other religious minorities. Nearly a century after his death, Williams's notion of religious freedom and the separation of church and state inspired the framers…show more content…
A year later, he decided to travel to America with his wife to test his faith. When Roger Williams arrived in Boston, he intended to be a missionary to the Native Americans. He studied their language, customs and religion and grew to see them much as himself. This led him to openly question the king’s prerogative of granting charters, believing that the land could only be purchased directly from the Native Americans themselves.
Williams was an amicable person, easily liked in most circumstances, but he was also impulsive and easily excited. Over the next six years, he found himself at odds with Massachusetts Bay officials over the issue of personal faith. He did not believe the government should have power over religious matters—a strict separation of church and state—whereas the Puritans believed that religious and civil law were one and the same and that it was their duty to enforce both. In 1635, the magistrates had had enough and banished Roger Williams from the colony for sedition and heresy. Williams and his followers fled to Narragansett Bay, where he befriended a native tribe and established the enclave he named Providence. Within a few years it had become home to other religious outcasts, such as Anne Hutchinson.
Even after he was in exile, religious purists in neighboring Massachusetts feared Roger Williams and threatened to take over Providence. Contradicting his claim that the king had no right
Get Access