Roger Williams, New England Firebrand

Roger Williams, New England Firebrand

Roger Williams, New England Firebrand

Roger Williams, New England Firebrand

Excerpt

This life of Roger Williams grew out of a discussion in Professor Parrington's class at the University of Washington, Seattle, in the spring of 1925. There was no adequate study of Williams to which the student of American thought or the general public could turn for an understanding of his life and revolutionary ideas. In The Political Thought of Roger Williams (published by the University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1929), my doctorate thesis in 1926, I undertook to analyze his theory of Liberty and the Rights of Man. In 1927, Professor Parrington in his Main Currents in American Thought, Vol. I, gave a memorable exposition on the contributions of Mr. Williams to the development of American thought and democracy.

The historians of New England have generally distorted the life and thought of Roger Williams. When he refused a "call" to the first church at Boston in the spring of 1631, there began a series of controversies with the Lord Brethren, which continued until his death in 1683. To discredit him and destroy his influence, they turned to propaganda and used whatever means their God granted them against the social experiment in democracy. This propaganda has been accepted by the Puritan apologists for almost three centuries, whenever writing on the founding of New England. To avoid the pitfalls of the apologists, it is vital that all contemporary references to Mr. Williams and his associates be scrutinized and verified. Only Gover-

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