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Essay: Roger Williams & the founding of Providence

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  • Subject area(s): History essays
  • Reading time: 3 minutes
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  • Published: 15 November 2019*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 850 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)

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In, 1603 James & Alice Williams gave birth to Roger williams in london, There is no exact date of birth because it was burned during the great fire of london in 1666.(roger williams.org,2018) It’s believed that  he was born in the first few months of 1603. Roger williams father (James Williams ) was a merchant tailor (A tailor who keeps and sells material and garments that they make). Roger williams would spend most of his childhood in St. Sepulchre’s, outside of London.(roger williams.org,2018) At a young age he took a interest in civil and religious liberty(civic liberty is having political freedom & religious liberty is having religious freedom)(roger williams.org 2018). During his teen years he meet a man named Sir. Edward coke he was a lawyer and one-time chief justice of england(roger williams.org,2018) He would later on convince Roger Williams to  at sutton’s hospital. He’d than would enroll in cambridge university he would than go on to graduate in 1627(roger williams.org,2018). After college he would get married to Mary Barnard on december 15 1629. In 1630 he left his post as chaplain to Sir William Masham. He would than meet a political activist  Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Hooker.Roger Williams would than decided to go to New England for its new religious beliefs(Britannica, Inc., 1 July 2016)

In 1631 Roger Williams had arrived in Boston, however he didn’t want to associate with the Anglican Puritans and one year later he moved to the separatist Plymouth Colony.(Britannica, 2016) After a disagreement with Plymouth in 1633 he was back in Salem.(Britannica, 2016) Some of these disagreements could mainly be about his religious beliefs. Roger williams believed in religious freedom and tried to spread it and people thought he was crazy. He believed that church should not be a part the government it’s determined by if you read the bible which led to him being banished from Massachusetts in 1635.(Library of Congress, 2003) 1636 he was set out for Narragansett Bay, The Narragansett sachems Canonicus and Miantonomi(Canonicuses nephew) granted Roger Williams land rights to establish the settlement that would eventually become the city of Providence.(History.com, 2010) However it wasn’t exactly that easy and wasn’t just a set and done deal it took a lot of work. This particular case with Roger Williams was very interesting. Out of all the colonization that were happening at the time Roger Williams had the most equal relationship with Canonicus. Williams had approached Canonicus as equal rather than what the other colonizers did at the time. The relationship was kind of complex with Roger Williams defending their rights, and was even dealing with them as a diplomat.(National Park Service, 2015) Williams at one point learned the Algonquian language.(History.com, 2010) This made it easier for him to become a peacemaker with the Narragansett and other tribes around the area.(History.com, 2010) The relationship wasn’t bad the dying request of Canonicus the Narragansetts sachem was for Roger Williams to attend his funeral. He also requested that he be buried in the cloth that Williams gave him. It was a more equal relationship and eventually it led to Williams getting land rights to establish the settlement which is now known as modern day Providence.(National Park Service, 2015) At the end of the day whether someone sees this as a bad time or a good time or something that isn’t looked into as much this was basically the events that would lead to the founding of Providence, Rhode Island.

Sometime after the founding of Providence, this small town wasn’t your average little town. (Samuel Slater, 1995)Their population including the Niantics has been estimated at seven thousand when the first  Europeans arrived. (Samuel Slater, 1995) In 1643, settlements were still in Providence, Newport, Portsmouth, and Warwick. Faced with encroachments from Massachusetts and Connecticut, Williams went to England to obtain a charter for the new Rhode Island colony in 1663  “to hold forth a lively experiment that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained with full liberty of religious concernments”. (Samuel Slater, 1995) During this time Country bred girls were made to plait at home straw braids to imitate these envied bonnets. (Michael McCurdy, 1993) Providence RI  is usually accorded the honor of starting the straw-hat business in America. (Michael McCurdy, 1993) Because of Williams Beliefs Rhode Island became a haven for bigots.  (Samuel Slater, 1995)  Although his friendship with the Narragansett Indians helped sustain generally peaceful relations between the Indians and English settlers until the outbreak of King Philip’s War (1676), some Puritan leaders suspected his close ties with the Narragansetts had blurred his ability to see them objectively.  In 1680, a wharf was built to facilitate trade and Providence’s days of prosperity began. The early 1700s was a period of prosperity for Rhode Island. Farming and sea trading became profitable businesses. Providence and Newport were among the busiest ports in the New World. Despite making profits from the slave trade, Rhode Island was the first colony to prohibit the importation of slaves. Also, Rhode Islanders were among the first colonists to take action against British rule.

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