Roger Williams


Roger Williams Essay, Research Paper

One of the most notable people of the colonial era in America was Roger Williams. Born in London, England; educated at the University of Cambridge, he became one of the key players in the Religious controversies of his time. In February of 1631, Roger Williams immigrated to New England as a refuge for the persecuted Puritans of England. Shortly after his arrival in Boston, Williams obtained an appointment as a teacher in Salem, Massachusetts. But because Williams had some strong arguments against the Religious teachings sought in Salem at that time, he quickly found himself in conflict with the local government. This situation happened repeatedly in the Plymouth Colony.

One of the major conflicts Williams had with local authorities of New England was that he disagreed with some concepts of the Massachusetts Bay charter. One of these disagreements questioned the colony authorities to repossess Native American lands without compensation. The other conflict was with the lack of Religious freedom among the colonies.

When in Boston, he rejected an invitation to serve as the temporary pastor, due to the fact that the church had not officially severed any ties with the Church of England. He then obtained an appointment as teacher of the church in Salem, Massachusetts, but due to the fact that Williams had a big disagreement with Boston authorities about religion differences he went to be the assistant pastor of the Plymouth Colony. In the year of 1633 he was able to come back into Salem and be an assistant teacher. One year later he was promoted back as a full time teacher. However his firm beliefs proved too strong to be supressed by the government. In that same year the Massachusetts general court banished Williams from the colony, imprisoning him for two years until his escape from deportation authorities in 1636. He then began a journey to Narragansett Bay.

In Narragansett he became friendly with the local Indians. He even studied their language. Williams bought land from the Indians, where he would find the colonies of Providence and Rhode Island. At the time he called it ?for God?s merciful providence unto me in my distress?. This colony became everything that Roger stood for: freedom of religion, and separation of church and state. Every household in the colony received an even share of land and had a say in how they were governed.

Roger Williams was known not only for his controversial religious and political views but for his talent in writing as well. Between 1643 and 1645 he wrote and published three remarkable works on the nature and jurisdiction of civil government. In 1654 he was elected president of the colony. Roger Williams will always be noted for his remarkable contributions to democratic and religious freedom in the Americas.

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