Roger Williams - Providence, RI
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member neoc1
N 41° 47.111 W 071° 24.998
19T E 299181 N 4628748
Quick Description: Because of his beliefs, Roger Williams was forced to leave the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He founded the present state of Rhode Island specifically to establish a haven for people who were persecuted for their religious beliefs.
Location: Rhode Island, United States
Date Posted: 3/22/2012 5:59:41 AM
Waymark Code: WME1N7
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 8

Long Description:

Roger Williams was born in London, England, probably in 1603. Originally a member of the Church of England, he became a Puritan and thereby gave up any chance for a position in the Anglican Church. He graduated from Cambridge University, married Mary Barnard in 1629, and, together, they emigrated to Boston in 1631.

He soon found himself in disagreement with the prevailing Puritan philosophy regarding religious freedom and the relationship between church and state. He believed that the Church of England was corrupt beyond redemption, espoused freedom of choice in the practice of religion, and espoused complete separation of church and state. In 1635 he was ordered to appear before the General Court of Massachusetts to explain his erroneous and dangerous opinions. As a result, the Court declared that he should be removed from his church position. Later that same year he was tried and convicted of sedition and heresy.

In 1636, Roger Williams and a number of his followers attempted to leave Massachusetts by settling near Plymouth; but they were told that they were still in Massachusetts and that they must move west beyond the Seekonk River, which was beyond the Massachusetts Bay charter. They went to Narragansett territory where they purchased land from the native Narragansetts. Roger Williams named the settlement "Providence" because he felt that God's Providence had brought him there. He declared it to be a haven for those distressed of conscience and soon many other like-minded dissenters took up settlement. In 1644 he published his most famous book The Bloody Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience - A Plea For Religious Liberty in which he espoused his doctrine of religious freedom that: "No man shall be required to worship or maintain a worship against his will."

In 1647, the four towns around Narragansett Bay - Newport and Portsmouth located on the island of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations of Providence and Warwick on the mainland, united to form a single government under the principle of liberty of conscience. The colony became a safe haven for people persecuted for their beliefs including: Baptists, Quakers, and Jews. In 1654, Roger Williams was elected the President of the colony.

Roger Williams died on April 1, 1683. What was believed to be his remains were located in 1860 and placed in a mausoleum in the North Burial Ground. Before the 300th anniversary of the founding of Providence in 1936, the remains were retrieved from the mausoleum and placed in an urn kept by the Rhode Island Historical Society. They were placed in a monument erected in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration at Prospect Terrace Park in Providence.

A monument to the founder of the state of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations is located in Roger Williams Park. A 7.5' high bronze statue of Roger Williams, created by Franklin Simmons and cast at Royal Foundry, stands on a 16' high granite base. A pyramid of five steps leads up to the base. The monument was dedicated October 16, 1877.

Roger Williams stands at the top of the base. He is wearing colonial clothing and has shoulder length hair. In his left hand he is holding a book. Inscribed on the book are the words SOUL and LIBERTY. His right hand is extended outward.

At the bottom of the base a 6' high bronze female figure, Clio - the muse of history, is dressed in long flowing classical robes and sandals. She is standing upright, her hair is pulled back into a bun and her right arm reaching towards the base pointing at the words written in script on a polished granite surface:

Roger Williams

A the rear of the monument, on a polished granite surface, is the inscription:

A.D. 187

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