Roger Williams Arrives In Boston

Roger Williams, defender of religious liberty and founder of Rhode Island, arrived in Boston on February 5, 1631.

Born in England just after the turn of the seventeenth century, Williams was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, and ordained to the ministry in the Church of England.

His first parish duty brought him in contact with eminent Puritans such as John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, and Oliver Cromwell, who influenced him in his conversion to the theology of Calvin. In 1629, he received a call to the ministry from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Chafing at the lack of religious freedom under King Charles I, Williams and his wife crossed the ocean to join the American Experiment.

Roger Williams (December 21, 1603 – April 18, 1683) was an English theologian, a notable proponent of religious toleration and the separation of church and state and an advocate for fair dealings with Native Americans. In 1644, he received a charter creating the colony of Rhode Island, named for the principal island in Narragansett Bay. He is credited for originating either the first or second Baptist church established in America, which he is known to have left soon afterwards, exclaiming, "God is too large to be housed under one roof."

God requireth not an uniformity of Religion to be inacted and inforced in any civill state…true civility and Christianity may both flourish in a state or Kingdome, notwithstanding the permission of divers and contrary consciences, either of Jew or Gentile.”

— Roger Williams