WILLIAMS, ROGER ( e.1604-1683). The founder of the State of Rhode Island, born prob ably in London in either 1604 or 1605. In his youth he attracted the attention of Sir Edward Coke by his shorthand notes of sermons and speeches in the Star Chamber, and was sent by him to Sutton's Hospital, now the Charter house School. in 1621. Ile entered Pembroke College. Cambridge. in 1025, and took the de gree of bachelor of arts in 1627. Williams probably took orders in the Church of Eng land, but he soon became an extreme Puritan, and emigrated to New England, arriving at Bos ton February 5. 1031. He refused to join the congregation at Boston because the people would not make public declaration of their repentance for having been in communion with the Church of England: he therefore went to Salem as as sistant preacher.. but was soon in trouble for denying the right of magistrates to punish Sab bath-breaking and other religious offenses, as be longing to the first table of the law. Being thus in opposition to the 3Iassachusetts Bay Gov ernment, he went to Plymouth, where he assisted its minister, and studied Indian languages. In 1033 he returned to Salem, and was settled as pastor of the church, but was opposed by the Government for denying the validity of the Mas sachusetts Bay charter and for denying its right to take the Indian's land without purchase, and the right to impose faith and worship. lie held that it was not lawful to require a wicked person to swear or pray. which were both forms of wor ship; and that the power of the civil magistrate extends only to the bodies, goods, and the outward state of man, and not to their souls and con seienees. Banished from the colony in 1635 by order of the General Court and threatened with being sent back to England in order to prevent the spread of his new doctrines, he escaped in midwinter to the shores of Narragansett Bay, accompanied by a few adherents, and here pur lands of the Indian chiefs, founded the city of Providence in 1636, and established a government founded on complete toleration. Having adopted the belief in baptism of be lievers by immersion, Williams was baptized by a layman, and then baptized him and ten others, and founded the first Baptist church in America.
Later he doubted the validity of his baptism, and withdrew from the Church he had founded. In 1643 he went to England to procure a charter for Providence and Rhode Island settlements, and while there published a Key into the Language of America, and The Bloudy Tenent of Persecu tion for Cause of Conscience Discussed (1644), his chief work on the nature and sphere of civil government (reprinted in the Narragansett Club Publications. 1st series, vol. iii.). In 1645 he wrote a tract entitled Christenings Make Not Christians (reprinted 1881, as No. 14 of the Rhode island Historical Tracts). After return ing to Rhode Island he went a second time to England on business of the colony in 1651. when he published Experiments of Spiritual Life and Health. and Their Preservations, also The Hire ling Ministry None of Christ's and The Bloudy Tenent Yet More Bloody by Mr. Cotton's En deavor to Wash It White in the Blood of the Lambe. a reply to a pamphlet by John Cotton. This last was reprinted in 1870 by the Narragan sett Club, 1st series, vol. iv. At this period Williams engaged in an experiment of teaching languages by conversation. and made the ac quaintance of 3lilton. He returned to Rhode Island in 1654. and was elected President of the colony. He refused to persecute Quakers. but engaged in a controversy with them. and pub lished George Fox Higy'd Out of His Burrowes (reprinted, 1872, by the Narragansett Club, 1st series, vol. i.). Through his iutluenc•e over the Indians lie was of great service to the other colonies, but they refused to remove their ban, or to admit Rhode Island into the New England Confederation. Consult : Memoirs, by Knowles (Boston. 1834) : Gammen, Life of Williams (ib., 1845) : and the biography by Straus (New York, 18941. Also Dexter, .rts to Roger• Williams (Boston, 18761: and Williams's letters and other works published by the Narragansett Club (1860). The latest contribution to the literature of Roger Williams is Richman, Rhode Island, Its Making and Its Meaning (New York, 1002).