Roger William Founds Rhode Island

Roger Williams Preaching

Roger Williams founded a new colony in Rhode Island. Twenty families joined Williams, originally, in setting up the colony. The colony was set up based on the concept of freedom of religion.

The Puritans had come to the New World to seek religious freedom. They however, were not willing to allow anyone else to practice any way they wished. In Salem, a young preacher by the name of Roger Williams began to attack the close connection between church and state. He believed that the government should not be able to punish people for their religious actions. He was the first proponent of separation of state and church.

Williams Banished
Leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony did not take well to Williams' criticism. The general court of the colony decided to banish Williams back to England. Instead, in the dead of night, in 1636 he and his family fled south.

Rhode Island Founded
Williams befriended the Narragansett Indians, who provided for him over the winter. He then arranged to purchase land from the Narragansett, which he used to found a new town called Providence. In 1644, Williams obtained a charter for a new colony that included Providence and surrounding areas that was named "Rhode Island". Rhode Island became a haven for a wide range of people with differing religious beliefs. One of the most famous refugees to come to Rhode Island was Anne Hutchison. Anne had been put on trial for her religious beliefs in Massachusetts. She fled south with her family in 1637, founding the town of Portsmouth. More on Ann Hutchinson