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Roger Williams c1603-1683 clergyman advocate of religious freedom founder of Rhode Island b London A protg of Sir Edward Coke he graduated from Pembroke College Cambridge in 1627 and took Anglican orders He early espoused Puritanism and emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1631 Williams became teacher and after a stay at Plymouth minister of the Salem church However his radical religious beliefs and political theories-he denied the validity of the Massachusetts charter challenged the Puritans to acknowledge they had separated from the Church of England and declared that civil magistrates had no power over matters of conscience-alarmed the Puritan oligarchy and the General Court banished him in 1635 In the spring of 1636 he founded Providence on land purchased from the Narragansett To Providence a democratic refuge from religious persecution came settlers from England as well as Massachusetts There were four settlements in the Narragansett Bay area by 1643 when Williams went to England Through the influence of powerful friends such as Sir Henry Vane he obtained from the Long Parliament a patent uniting the Rhode Island towns of Portsmouth Newport and Warwick with Providence In 1651 William Coddington secured a commission annulling the patent but Williams with John Clarke hastened again to England and had the patent of 1644 restored On his return in 1654 Williams was elected president of the colony and served three terms Always a trusted friend of the Native Americans he often used his good offices in maintaining peaceful relations with them But he was unable to prevent the outbreak of King Philips War in which he served as a captain of militia Williams though he remained a Christian disassociated himself from existing churches His writings reprinted in the Narragansett Club Publications reveal the vigor with which he propounded his democratic and humanitarian ideals The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience was condemned by John Cotton who was answered with The Bloudy Tenent Yet More Bloudy
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