Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, led the way for the United States to become a nation that allowed freedom of religion and was free from the tyranny of religious persecution.
was born in London in 1603. While he was young, he saw numerous burning at the
stake of Puritans and heretics which later influenced his freedom of religion
views. In 1630, his controversial views became a source of contention, and he
escaped to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1631.
preached first in Plymouth then in Salem, but his sermons went against Puritan
doctrine. He preached that the king of England had no right to give away Native
American land or to force people to hold certain religious beliefs. In the
Bloody Tenet of Persecution, Williams argued against doctrines that permitted
Puritans had decided to banish Williams and send him back to England. But he
knew that persecution for his beliefs awaited him there. So he escaped the
colony in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Massachusetts. He survived
because he was befriended by local Native Americans near Narragansett Bay.
purchased the land from the Narragansett Chiefs and named is settlement
Providence in thanks to God. Later his settlement grew to encompass the colony
of Rhode Island. To protect the land, he also gained a charter from England.
and Rhode Island’s charters were the first to allow freedom of religion.
Because of this, many Jews and Quakers made their way there. Later Williams
founded the first Baptist church in North America.
Williams died at Providence in 1684, but his descendants continued to establish
Rhode Island as a colony and state that allowed people freedom of worship and
religion that became a cornerstone for the United States of America.