October 9, 1635 – Roger Williams Banished for Promulgating “Dangerous Opinions”

If you haven’t yet visited the website MassMoments, it’s definitely worth a look. The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities (Mass Humanities) launched the Mass Moments project—an electronic almanac of Massachusetts history—on January 1, 2005. Each “moment” features a summary, background, primary sources, and “teacher’s features.” With so much of the country’s early history involving Massachusetts, it’s a great site! Today’s feature is an interesting reminder of history’s ironies:

October 9th’s “MassMoment” feature:

“On this day in 1635, Puritan minister Roger Williams was found guilty of spreading ‘newe & dangerous opinions’ and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Before leaving England in 1630, Williams had seen heretics whipped, imprisoned, and burned at the stake. He called for religious freedom, a serious threat to the social order, and avoided arrest only by fleeing to Boston. Once in Massachusetts, he began preaching religious tolerance. The colony’s leaders agreed with the English authorities that this was nothing less than ‘Satan’s Policy.’ They denounced his views and forced him out of the colony. He took refuge with the Narragansett Indians, whose chiefs sold land to him and his followers. They established a new settlement and named it Providence, in thanksgiving to God.”

Roger Williams

Roger Williams


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8 Responses to October 9, 1635 – Roger Williams Banished for Promulgating “Dangerous Opinions”

  1. Very interesting. I like the web-site. I was talking with my oldest granddaughter last night (5th grade) and she was telling me things she was learning about American history. I’m going to send her to the website. I like the things they have for teachers too. And – this Nana could use a little brushing up on the past as well. I remember studying Roger Williams but I was fuzzy on the details. If only Roger Williams could see our religious freedom today.

  2. Sandy says:

    If you find this dude interesting, you definitely need to listen to the audio book “The Wordy Shipmates”. You will learn everything about the Puritans when they came to the US, and you will almost pee your pants laughing at the author’s (Sarah Vowell) spin on the whole thing.

  3. Alyce says:

    I hadn’t heard of Roger Williams, but thank goodness someone stood up for religious freedom. I have known many people in my life who are all for religious freedom, but only if it applies to their religion. (It’s scary how many of them think that the government instituting the rules of their religion is a good thing.)

  4. softdrink says:

    MassMoments is so cool! How come they didn’t have stuff like this when I was a teacher?? And how come I have to live in California???

  5. ds says:

    Sandy beat me to it: definitely The Wordy Shipmates & definitely the audio version for all the reasons she mentioned!

  6. Bumbles says:

    The Wordy Shipmates taught me all I ever want to know about the Puritans. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as Sandy and ds but it was entertaining enough to listen to. Roger Williams was a bit out there on one end of the spectrum – a man ahead of his time I suspect – and didn’t have many social skills so he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. But he found success in his banishment and RI is a lovely place for it!

  7. V.E.G. says:

    They apologized to Roger Williams on the 300th anniversary of the founding of Rhode Island. The Bennett Brothers (the famous jewelry store) are ancestors of them.

  8. V.E.G. says:

    David Lawrence Angell, the producer of Cheers, is the victim of the worst terrorist attack and/or mass murder in anybody’s soil was the direct descendant of Roger Williams.

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