Roger Williams

Roger Williams

Roger Williams' parents raised him to follow the teachings of one church, but as an adult, he followed another. Do you think that caused some conflicts?

Williams was born around 1600 in England. He was a smart guy—he excelled in reading, religion, writing, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Dutch, French, logical thinking, and public speaking. His parents raised him to follow the Church of England, but he became a Puritan minister.

Williams got into trouble for his religious beliefs and had to leave England. He immigrated to Massachusetts in 1630 to practice his religion. His new congregation liked and respected him. Williams did not believe in taking money for being a preacher. He earned his living by farming and trading blankets and knives with the Indians.

Soon Williams got into trouble again—this time with Puritans in Boston. Williams believed each person should follow his or her own conscience. He also thought the church should be involved with the government, and that the Indians, not the king of England, owned the land. One night, Williams had to flee before the Puritans could arrest him. He escaped with his family and some friends to the Narragansett Bay area in 1636.

There, Roger Williams purchased land from two Indian chiefs. He received a charter for the colony of Rhode Island from the king of England in 1644. He became a well-known peacemaker between the natives and the colonists. Williams lived to be an old man, but his last years were troubled by land and boundary disputes. King Phillip's War stopped his trade with the Indians and made him poor. In the end, Williams belonged to no church, but still searched for a pure religion.

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