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Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty Hardcover – 5 Jan 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books; First Edition edition (5 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670023051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023059
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.5 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,591,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"John Barry''s "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul" establishes Williams as a brave thinker and also a deft political actor ... Mr. Barry puts Williams squarely among our great political thinkers, crediting him with bringing liberal democracy to the American colonies."


John M. Barry is "a sophisticated sorter-out of theological strands."


"Roger Williams is one of those figures, famous but forbidding, who hover at the periphery, imposing, important, indispensable to our history and culture and yet still distant, unknown to most Americans ... and yet Williams may be ... the one whose breath gives life to modern American culture and whose fingerprints are most evident on the American Constitution. The task of reviving Williams has fallen happily to John M. Barry, chronicler of the great influenza of 1918 and the great Mississippi flood of 1927."


"Roger Williams deserves our thanks for his courage to fight for religious freedom and individual liberty with his very life at a time when few thought it anything but the rankest heresy. And John Barry deserves our thanks for illuminating this critical and timely chapter of American history ... Barry tells the story with passion and an eye for fine detail."
--The Seattle Times

"A gifted author."--"The New York Times Book Review"

"John Barry's "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul" establishes Williams as a brave thinker and also a deft political actor . . . Mr. Barry puts Williams squarely among our great political thinkers, crediting him with bringing liberal democracy to the American colonies."--"The Wall Street Journal"

"Barry now turns his meticulous hand to the origins of two fundamental and perpetual American fixations: the conflict between church and state and that between the power of the state and the conscience of the citizen. . . . Present-day implications of an elemental clash of ideas may hover over every page, yet the vital drama of Barry's story emblazons two competing visions of American destiny: John Winthrop's "city on a hill" vs. Williams's community of conscience. As Barry shows well and often prophetically, the national soul formed out of that drama remains a troubled, and occasionally tortured, one."--"The Washington Post"

"To call it a biography sells it short. What it is, really, is the history of an idea"--"about the critical importance of separating church from state. So revolutionary was this idea that it caused Williams to be banished from Massachusetts. . . . Williams created the first place in the Western world where people could believe in any God they wished"--"or no God at all"--"without fear of retribution."--Joe Nocera, "The New York Times"

"In "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul", "New York Times" bestselling author John M. Barry tells the story with passion and an eye for fine detail. . . . If the story were not compelling enough, Barry's dramatic first chapter of conflict, confrontation and banishment into the wilderness is worth the price of admission alone. . . . As Barry notes, the dispute 'opened a fissure in America, a fault line which would rive America all the way to the present.' John Barry deserves our thanks for illuminating this critical and timely chapter of American history."--"The Seattle Times"

"There's a recurring theme among the religiously political/politically religious that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that in this modern era we have somehow strayed from God and from our roots. John M. Barry's new book "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty" is a counterargument and it is a significant reminder of whence, exactly, this little experiment in democracy of ours came . . . Absorbing."--"Los Angeles Times"

"This biography should be read with today's headlines in mind . . . Thoroughly researched and accessibly written . . . This is an important book because it brings back an important founding point in the development of the American character. But it also is a timely reminder that the issues that drove Williams into exile in Rhode Island are very much alive and just as perilous today."--"The Washington Times"

"A gifted author." -- "The New York Times Book Review"
"John Barry's "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul" establishes Williams as a brave thinker and also a deft political actor . . . Mr. Barry puts Williams squarely among our great political thinkers, crediting him with bringing liberal democracy to the American colonies." -- "The Wall Street Journal"
"Barry now turns his meticulous hand to the origins of two fundamental and perpetual American fixations: the conflict between church and state and that between the power of the state and the conscience of the citizen. . . . Present-day implications of an elemental clash of ideas may hover over every page, yet the vital drama of Barry's story emblazons two competing visions of American destiny: John Winthrop's "city on a hill" vs. Williams's community of conscience. As Barry shows well and often prophetically, the national soul formed out of that drama remains a troubled, and occasionally tortured, one." -- "The Washington Post"
"To call it a biography sells it short. What it is, really, is the history of an idea"--"about the critical importance of separating church from state. So revolutionary was this idea that it caused Williams to be banished from Massachusetts. . . . Williams created the first place in the Western world where people could believe in any God they wished"--"or no God at all"--"without fear of retribution." -- Joe Nocera, "The New York Times"
"In "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul," "New York Times" bestselling author John M. Barry tells the story with passion and an eye for fine detail. . . . If the story were not compelling enough, Barry's dramatic first chapter of conflict, confrontation and banishment into the wilderness is worth the price of admission alone. . . . As Barry notes, the dispute 'opened a fissure in America, a fault line which would rive America all the way to the present.' John Barry deserves our thanks for illuminating this critical and timely chapter of American history." -- "The Seattle Times"
"There's a recurring theme among the religiously political/politically religious that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that in this modern era we have somehow strayed from God and from our roots. John M. Barry's new book "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty" is a counterargument and it is a significant reminder of whence, exactly, this little experiment in democracy of ours came . . . Absorbing." -- "Los Angeles Times"
"This biography should be read with today's headlines in mind . . . Thoroughly researched and accessibly written . . . This is an important book because it brings back an important founding point in the development of the American character. But it also is a timely reminder that the issues that drove Williams into exile in Rhode Island are very much alive and just as perilous today." -- "The Washington Times"


"Fascinating... a swath of history Barry brings to urgent life with the same focused intelligence which distinguished "The Great Influenza."" -- Booklist


"A commanding history...masterly." -- Library Journal

"A gifted author." "The New York Times Book Review"
"John Barry's "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul" establishes Williams as a brave thinker and also a deft political actor . . . Mr. Barry puts Williams squarely among our great political thinkers, crediting him with bringing liberal democracy to the American colonies." "The Wall Street Journal"
"Barry now turns his meticulous hand to the origins of two fundamental and perpetual American fixations: the conflict between church and state and that between the power of the state and the conscience of the citizen. . . . Present-day implications of an elemental clash of ideas may hover over every page, yet the vital drama of Barry s story emblazons two competing visions of American destiny: John Winthrop s city on a hill vs. Williams s community of conscience. As Barry shows well and often prophetically, the national soul formed out of that drama remains a troubled, and occasionally tortured, one." "The Washington Post"
"To call it a biography sells it short. What it is, really, is the history of an idea" "about the critical importance of separating church from state. So revolutionary was this idea that it caused Williams to be banished from Massachusetts. . . . Williams created the first place in the Western world where people could believe in any God they wished" "or no God at all" "without fear of retribution." Joe Nocera, "The New York Times"
"In "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul," "New York Times" bestselling author John M. Barry tells the story with passion and an eye for fine detail. . . . If the story were not compelling enough, Barry's dramatic first chapter of conflict, confrontation and banishment into the wilderness is worth the price of admission alone. . . . As Barry notes, the dispute 'opened a fissure in America, a fault line which would rive America all the way to the present.' John Barry deserves our thanks for illuminating this critical and timely chapter of American history." "The Seattle Times"
"There's a recurring theme among the religiously political/politically religious that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that in this modern era we have somehow strayed from God and from our roots. John M. Barry's new book "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty" is a counterargument and it is a significant reminder of whence, exactly, this little experiment in democracy of ours came . . . Absorbing." "Los Angeles Times"
"This biography should be read with today's headlines in mind . . . Thoroughly researched and accessibly written . . . This is an important book because it brings back an important founding point in the development of the American character. But it also is a timely reminder that the issues that drove Williams into exile in Rhode Island are very much alive and just as perilous today." "The Washington Times"


"Fascinating... a swath of history Barry brings to urgent life with the same focused intelligence which distinguished "The Great Influenza."" Booklist


"A commanding history...masterly." Library Journal" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John M. Barry is the author of the "New York Times" bestselling "The Great Influenza" and the prizewinning history "Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America." He divides his time between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent popular history of the early colonial period, principally in New England. It is part biography of a remarkable leader, Roger Williams, who founded Providence as a kind of free outpost from Puritan and the various other theocentric regimes that dominated the politics of their respective colonies, and part panoramic overview of the times. The book thoroughly engrossed me, it is truly a gem of culture and political machination.

Williams grew up in England, just after the time of Elizabeth I. From a poor background and unhappy family, he was noticed by Edward Coke, one of the greatest lawyers in British history. Coke was an expert courtier and brought Williams into the upper elite during the reigns of James I and then Charles I. This was the time when the kings appeared to be moving back towards Catholicism, in ever more repressive policies that aimed to punish dissenters while fundamentally altering the practices of the Church of England. In this atmosphere of pending civil war, around 1630, Williams left for the colonies, where he knew he could avoid prison - there is no other way to put it except to acknowledge that Williams' big mouth caused him endless trouble.

He quickly established himself as a leader in independent thought, turning down an important ministry in Salem and taking up farming to be on his own. Supporting freedom of conscience - refusing to look into men's souls and vociferously arguing against the obligatory imposition of puritan strictures on all colonial subjects - he made a series of implacable enemies, was eventually banned from Massachusetts and sentenced to deportation back to England. Fortunately, influential friends at the behest of Winthrop himself warned him to flee, which probably saved him from death in an English prison.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A good book. It was recommended by a friend and I am finding it rather fascinating so far. Good value considering it ha come from US. Very nicely packaged.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9061f8dc) out of 5 stars 123 reviews
104 of 109 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x903ed474) out of 5 stars The Father of Freedom of Religion in America 13 Jan. 2012
By H. P. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're like me, you didn't know much about Roger Williams before considering this book. Based solely on his status as the founder of Rhode Island, he hardly seems a titan of Anglo history. But Barry makes a very persuasive case that he stands in a direct intellectual lineage from Sir Edward Coke to Williams to John Locke, and that he deserves mention in the same breath as those two titans of the history of liberty. Williams's contribution was freedom of religion.

Creation of the American Soul is less a biography of Roger Williams (his family is scarcely mentioned) than it is a history that largely parallels Williams's career. The first fifth of the book deals almost exclusively with Coke. Williams took shorthand for Coke, and Coke was surely a major intellectual influence on Williams, but this section of the book is as important for what Coke does as what later influence it may have had on Williams. When King James tried to assert the divine right of kings in England, Coke stood up against him with little behind him but the common law. His efforts can at best be described as a stalemate, but the rights Coke fought for ended up embedded in the American Constitution.

Coke was not the only historical figure Williams rubbed elbows with. Williams was a contemporary of and knew John Winthrop, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Francis Bacon (Barry describes Williams as a protégé of Bacon, but it appears from the text that Williams was merely influenced by Bacon rather than having the kind of personal relationship he had with Coke), Anne Hutchinson, George Fox, John Cotton (grandfather of Cotton Mather), Benedict Arnold (great-grandfather of the traitorous Revolutionary War general), John Donne, and John Milton.

A Puritan minister, Williams was forced to flee England to escape religious persecution. He did not find the freedom he desired in the Massachusetts Bay colony (called "plantations" at the time). Persecuted again, he was again forced to flee. He then founded the colony that became Rhode Island.

A central theme is the tension between authoritarianism and anarchy. The Puritan-run Massachusetts Bay colony veered very heavily to the side of authoritarianism. Rhode Island threatened to dissolve into anarchy. Williams, though, was no anarcho-libertarian. It is a testament to his charisma and temperament that Rhode Island was able to avoid anarchy.

Barry is a talented writer, and his prose reads easily. However, he does have his stylistic quirks. He maintains a strange lack of biographical distance. When Barry states that the Puritan authorities in Massachusetts committed various heinous acts against nonconformists "out of love," he presumably means that was their own stated justification, rather than what he actually believes drove them. He also quotes his subjects heavily, creative 17th century spelling and all. The quotes are all in the same font as the main text, which may be why it appears some Us are printed as Vs (these appear in both the Kindle and hard cover editions).

Barry properly downplays Williams's forward-looking views on the Indians. By the 1800s, his views on religion and politics would have been much less radical relative to his views on Indians. But in his time violent religious intolerance was the rule of the day (dissidents commonly had their ears cut off or worse) and Americans and Europeans had not yet fully developed their nastier racial theories.

Barry explores Williams's legacy in greater length in the afterword (for example, Williams is one of only ten men honored in Geneva's Reformation Wall for their contribution to the Reformation), both rebutting his critics and featuring his proponents. Williams was in many ways the right man at the right time (earlier proponents of freedom of religion did not fare so well), but what he accomplished would not have been possible had he not been such an extraordinary man. Nor should his achievements be viewed lightly because his views did not come from secular roots or because freedom of conscience continued to face challenges in England and colonial America.
66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90658954) out of 5 stars The Start of American Separation of Church and State 18 Jan. 2012
By Rob Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
We Americans are rightly grateful to the geniuses who founded our nation, and set it going with the ideas that there would be no official religion, no religious requirement for public office, and a separation of church and state. Those founders didn't develop those ideas on their own, of course; the philosopher John Locke is often credited with inspiring ideas of religious freedom in Jefferson and Madison. Locke himself was probably influenced in turn by the Puritan Roger Williams, and Williams had a broader idea of religious freedom (he would extend liberty to atheists) than Locke did. Williams got his ideas of religious liberty from his study of human nature and human government, but especially from the Bible; he was a devout Christian minister. Williams believed in the Puritan cause, and felt it was the right way of Christian belief. We say sometimes that colonists came to America for reasons of religious freedom, but while they might have been fleeing religious persecution, they were ready enough in their turn to persecute those of the "wrong" belief. It was Williams who began turning this around, and in _Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty_, historian John M. Barry has not given a biography of Williams as much as he has teased out the religious and political ideas and the events that brought forth the several revolutionary concepts which Williams instilled in his Rhode Island colony and which were to shape the nation when it came into being a hundred years after he died. Anyone interested in the separation of church and state will find this a fascinating story.

Williams left England for New England in 1631. He was banished because he criticized the church, and founded his own settlement which he called Providence. It was the beginning of "the freest society in the world, built around a structure of law, endorsing every man's `peaceable and quiet enjoyment of his lawful right and Libertie.'" When it came to draw up a compact for his settlement, it stipulated that all within would have "libertie of conscience," the freedom to think of God any way they wished. In fact, the compact made no reference to God in any way. This is simply amazing in the context of the times and the beliefs of the compact's author. Williams was no freethinker; he was as pious a Puritan as any, and his letters and writings are profuse in mentions of God, longing for God, and faith. He included scriptural references throughout his writing; religious thought was the way his mind conducted itself. Not only did he restrict government's role in religion, he overturned the philosophy of government. He would endorse neither the divine right of kings nor the Puritan belief that they were building God's kingdom. Governments did not get their authority either from kings or heads of churches, he began to realize; governments got their authority from their citizens and were responsible to those citizens. Indeed, he called for the wall of separation between church and state a century and a half before Jefferson. He called for an end to laws that were supposed to improve the people morally, such as the ones against cards, bowling, shuffleboard, dice, and other activities that other clergy thought "haynously sinfull." Williams knew that government was necessary; he hated the thought of anarchy as much as he did governmental imposition of religious beliefs. He seemed to think of his Rhode Island colony as an experiment; the members might learn ways of government, but they would not be looking for any confirmation of godly purpose. If they succeeded, it would not be because of God's favor; while others would object that God would prosper nations that had proper religious foundations, Williams pointed out all the Catholic and "Turkish" ones that were thriving.

Liberty, in the view of the magistrates of Massachusetts, was the liberty of living a life which the magistrates themselves would recognize as good and godly, and few of their subjects disagreed with this view. The best aspect of Barry's book is its explanation of the growth of Williams's ideas at a time when they were in opposition to the thinking of the masses and the thinking of the leaders. It is true that Williams successfully petitioned Charles II to approve the colony's charter that said, "No person within the said colony, at any time hereafter, shall be any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion, in matters of religion, who do not actually disturb the civil peace of our own society." Nonetheless, Williams's books had been burned; members of Parliament said that if England tolerated the religious errors of citizens, God would surely rain down his wrath. We are still trying to sort out how much religion and state may mix, but we are merely doing some fine tuning; Williams did the initial heavy intellectual labor to separate the two. It was an effort of no small heroism, and Barry's book is a brilliant examination of the birth and institution of Williams's ideas.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9050dcc0) out of 5 stars Church and State: 2012 2 Feb. 2012
By Richard Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Review of Barry Roger Williams and the American soul

I ordered Barry's book immediately after reading the review by Chaplin a month ago (Jan 1). I read it to remind me of my past and to refresh my knowledge of Williams. I too graduated from Brown a few years before Barry and enjoyed my study with Hedges, McLaughlin and Bridenbaugh. I spent a considerable time reviewing the early social and economic history of seventeenth century Rhode Island. My personal family history includes the fact my ancestor left the Bay colony for Providence in 1637, owned the adjoining land to Williams then, and Mrs Scott was influential in convincing Williams of the need for adult or believers baptism.

I found Barry's discussion of Chaplin's review a bit contentious. That Barry discusses at length the qualities of Williams which are essential in how his ideas were used in the ensuing centuries, the book is more about how he developed these ideas. Barry has worked diligently to see how the ideas matured over time through a careful and chronological review of the maturing ideas. It would take a host of intellectual and religious historians to review how Williams ideas were pulled from his tracts and letters and used over the last two centuries. We all read history from our own point of view. So, in reading this the obvious parallels between theocracies, oligarchies, and ethnic killings are clear. Would it not be good were all people to attempt to follow soul liberty.

The early history of Williams relations with Coke and Bacon, his presence as a youth in the Star Chamber and his closeness with those puritans who would later oust him from Massachusetts is essential to understand his later course. The book covers the middle years of Williams thoroughly. This required great effort. Reading the Winthrop papers and the Williams letters and tracts is difficult. Even those included here are hard to read. It would have been easier had he followed Perry Miller in his biography of Williams of 1953 in which the texts were translated into more readable English for those of us today. I did purchase the "Key into the Language of America" in its facsimile edition and remember again now how hard it is to read. Perry Miller has always been a major source in understanding the puritan Calvinist tradition as the theology developed.

Barry recognizes the debt to Edmund Morgan who is one of the more important historians of the period. His book, "Roger Williams the Church and the State" from 1967 and reprinted in 2006 covers most of the concepts in detail. The difference is its size: only 142 pages versus 395 and more importantly organization. Barry works diligently to help see subtle changes in thought through time and approaches the biography in a chronological order.

The last period of Williams life is more briefly reviewed than the early . Perhaps details of the meetings movements and life in the period when he returned alone to work with Cromwell and Milton is not discoverable. Nor is it clear to me why Charles II supported Williams, given his treatment of Vane. By the time of his return to Providence, the land was in use for farming, as Bridenbaugh wrote "Fat Mutton" and times were changed socially. The long legacy of Williams was the preservation of soul liberty certainly here, but it would appear also in England.

I heartily recommend this to all.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9050dd98) out of 5 stars Splendid History! Impressive Scholarship! 2 Feb. 2012
By Kanawha - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a superb work, exhaustively researched and well written. I've read other books by Mr. Barry (Rising Tide and The Great Influenza, both excellent) and this one, in my opinion, is his best. I was looking for a good history on this general subject, a subject that is of particular interest to me as a student of American religious history; with a touch of serendipity this fine book came along.
Mr. Barry writes with that uncommon and pleasing combination of enthusiasm and objectivity, no personal advocacy on the agenda nor the attonement sentimentality that so many writers of history subject us to these days. He writes clearly and factually. Obviously "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul" is the product of skillful and determined scholarship.
As has been mentioned in other reviews, this is not strictly a biography. It is also a widely comprehensive view of the actors and unfoldings of Puritan times, here and in England. Williams, however, takes the leading role in most of the book as he did in many early American religious controversies. His contributions to the liberties of future generations are seldom recognized beyond a paragraph or so in school books. Most Americans, sadly, know little of him at all. Here Mr. Barry gives him his due, and the man he presents, with all his frailities and strengths, is an inspiration.
Whether you are a fourteenth generation American with a lineage to the Puritan days or a recent immigrant with appreciation for your new American freedoms, this Roger Williams is a man you'll be pleased to know.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9050dd08) out of 5 stars Fascinating study of Roger Williams 12 Feb. 2012
By Emily Ginder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is a thought-provoking study of how Roger Williams produced two of the greatest concepts in history, ideas that reached down through time and became part of the American Constitution. Those concepts were in the belief of the separation of church and state and the tenet of individual freedom. John Barry has produced a work that, although boring and technical in parts, is fascinating and readable.

Barry begins in England by examining two men who greatly influenced Roger Williams. First was the great Edward Coke, Queen Elizabeth's attorney general, and the other was Francis Bacon. Barry painstakingly examines the history of these two men during the reigns of James I and Charles I. I found this section complicated and confusing. I did get this book as part of the Goodreads Giveaway program, so my advanced copy had many errors. This was especially a problem in Chapter 3. It is possible that the published, edited copy clarified the disjointed language.

When the author turned his attention to Roger Williams and the conditions of England during the reign of Charles I, the book takes a fascinating turn. I had never realized the horrendous conditions that the religious lived under. The church of England formed when Henry VIII decided to break away from Rome and the Pope. Many of the traditions and ceremonies from the Catholic church remained in the church of England. The Puritans wanted to purify the church of many Catholic practices. However, Charles I appointed secular men to control what each church practiced and believed. This created difficult times for the Puritans. Using an extensive spy system, Charles' government arrested, punished and put to death many who disagreed with the official decrees.

It was under this oppression that many Puritans decided to settle Massachusetts to create a "City upon a Hill" that would serve God and show the world how God's people should live and behave. However, the Puritans, tolerated no dissent in their colony. Anyone who disagreed with them was punished, banished or sent back to England. Roger Williams arrived in the colony a few years after it was settled and soon was in trouble. He wrote that he believed that the English had no right to take the land from the Indians without paying for it. The Puritans didn't want to hear this. But they were further disturbed by Williams' belief that the secular government in Massachusetts should not interfere with the church. Williams believed that each congregation should have its own autonomy and should not be dictated to by other congregations. He was offered a position at a church in Salem (yes, that Salem!), but the officials of the Colony applied pressure on Salem to renege on the offer. The town of Salem was not give authority to purchase additional lands as long as a church hired Roger Williams. Williams was aghast that a secular issue could be used to control church policy.

Eventually, Roger Williams was banished. He ended up in Rhode Island and tried to set up a colony that provided religious freedom. He fought for many years to get a charter for the colony since the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plimouth colony and the Connecticut tried to take his land away. They were always trying to interfere with Rhode Island. Williams went to England to get the Charter and got caught up in the turmoil there. He became friends with Oliver Cromwell and John Milton. His thoughts and views for the separation of church and state as well as personal freedom for the individual became known and his thoughts were written down in "The Bloody Tenent of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience." His ideas and thoughts were used by John Locke, who in turn heavily influenced the Founding Fathers in their quest for religious and personal freedom.

I certainly found Roger Williams fascinating. He turned to the New Testament for his beliefs. He studied the Scriptures and determined that many beliefs of those around him did not conform to Christ's teachings. Because the Puritans believed they had the truth and no one else did, they were offended by Williams showing them their beliefs did not conform to Christ's. Roger Williams believed in self-autonomy for each church, adult baptism, and spreading the Gospel to the Indians. I greatly admire his courage and his beliefs. He stood alone much of his life, but his example and teachings have greatly influenced American thoughts.
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