Williams, Roger

Williams, Roger

biographical name

(born 1603?, London, Eng.—died Jan. 27/March 15, 1683, Providence, R.I.) English clergyman, colonist, and founder of Rhode Island. He arrived in Boston in 1631 and became pastor of the separatist Plymouth colony (1632–33). Banned from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his beliefs, including his support for religious toleration and the rights of Indians and his opposition to civil authority, he founded the colony of Rhode Island and the town of Providence (1636) on land purchased from the Narragansett Indians. The colony established a democratic government and instituted separation of church and state, and it became a haven for Quakers and others seeking religious liberty. He obtained a charter for the colony (1643) and served as its first president, maintaining friendly relations with the Indians and acting as peacemaker for nearby colonies.

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