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Roger Williams (Theologian)
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Religious Figure
    (circa 1603-April 1, 1683)
    Born in London, United Kingdom
    Former Puritan
    Left England for Massachusetts (1631)
    Banished from Massachusetts for sedition and heresy (1635)
    Founded the city of Providence, Rhode Island (1636)
    Wrote 'A Key into the Language of America' (1643) and 'The Bloody Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience' (1644)
    He gave one of his kids the rather hippie-ish name 'Freeborn.'
    He founded the first Baptist church in America (1638), then left it a few months later.
    He clashed frequently with other settlers, so it took over a decade for him to convince the other towns in Rhode Island to unite under a single government.
    Two centuries after his death, Rhode Island planned to rebury him at a monument, but when his original grave was opened, it was discovered that the root of a nearby apple tree had entered into the coffin and grown around Williams' body, eventually absorbing it.
    He had a gift for languages, learning Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Dutch, French and Narragansett.
    He was an early advocate of the rights of Native Americans, and argued that the royal charter of Massachusetts was invalid since the Indians were never paid for the land.
    His book 'A Key into the Language of America' helped introduce a number of Native American words into the English language, including squash, powwow and succotash.
    He established Rhode Island as the first place in modern history with freedom of religion and separation of church and state.
    Rhode Island became a have for persecuted minorities, including Baptists, Quakers and Jews.
    His argument for religious tolerance in 'The Bloody Tenent of Persecution' ticked off the Puritans so much that the English Parliament ordered that the book be burned by the public hangman.
    In refusing to establish a state religion, he declared, 'Forced worship stinks in the nostrils of God.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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