17th Century History discussion

The Correspondence of Roger Williams
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Roger Williams and Seventeenth-Century New England and England

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Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 12 comments I have just reviewed this edition of Roger Williams's correspondence at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... For additional reviews of the writings of Roger Williams, see my profile page.


Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 12 comments As mentioned in another thread, I am writing a book on Roger Williams's life, writings, and political activities in both England and New England during the seventeenth century. The book will be published late this year or early next year. An excerpt from the book as well as my reviews of primary and secondary literature can be located at https://independent.academia.edu/Alan....


Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 12 comments Here are some of my favorite quotations from Roger Williams:


"That our selves and all men are apt and prone to differ it is no new Thing[,] in all former Ages[,] in all parts of this World[,] in these parts[,] and in our deare native Countrey and mournfull state of England.

"That either part or partie is most right in his owne eye[,] his Cause Right[,] his Cariage Right, his Argumts Right[,] his Answeres Right is as wofully and constantly true as the former. And experience tells us that when the God of peace hath taken peace from the Earth[,] one sparke of Action[,] word[,] or Cariage is too too powrefull to kindle such a fire as burns up Families[,] Townes[,] Cities[,] Armies, Navies[,] Nations[,] and Kingdomes."

- Letter of Roger Williams to Town of Providence, August 31, 1648, in The Correspondence of Roger Williams, ed. Glenn W. LaFantasie, 2 vols. (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England / Brown University Press, 1988), 1:238.


"Oh let not this bold cry offend, and though offend, yet let it throughly awake your noble spirits to know your dangers & hindrances (more then other mens) from a world of distractions from without, from pride & self-confidence from within, from the flatteries of such who (hoping for rewards & morsels from you) proclaim abroad (that you may hear it) O blessed Christian Magistrates, Christian Kings & Queens, Christian States, Christian Parliaments, Christian Armies, so lulling your pretious souls into an eternall sleep."

- Roger Williams, "To the Most Honorable The Parliament of the Common-wealth of England," in Roger Williams, The Bloody Tenent Yet More Bloody . . . (London, 1652), unpaged, reprinted in The Complete Writings of Roger Williams, ed. Reuben Albridge Guild et al., 7 vols. (1963; repr., Paris, AR: Baptist Standard Bearer, 2005), 4:15


"[W]hen they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wildernes of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall it selfe, removed the Candlestick, &c. and made his Garden a Wildernesse, as at this day."

- Roger Williams, Mr. Cottons Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered, 45 (London, 1644), reprinted in The Complete Writings of Roger Williams, 1:108.


message 4: by Alan (last edited Aug 15, 2014 08:25AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 12 comments For centuries, a shorthand essay of Roger Williams (ca. 1603-83), written sometime during the last few years of his life, was left undeciphered and was accordingly unavailable to historians. In a remarkable scholarly achievement, a team of professors and students recently decoded most of this essay and provided appropriate commentary and related materials: Linford D. Fisher, J. Stanley Lemons, and Lucas Mason-Brown, Decoding Roger Williams: The Lost Essay of Rhode Island's Founding Father (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2014). I have reviewed this book here.

I have also reviewed several other primary and secondary sources relating to Roger Williams and his political endeavors in both England and New England. Those reviews can be accessed on my Academia.edu home page.


Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 12 comments Alan wrote: "For centuries, a shorthand essay of Roger Williams (ca. 1603-83), written sometime during the last few years of his life, was left undeciphered and was accordingly unavailable to historians. In a ..."

For those who have read the initial version of my review of Decoding Roger Williams, posted two days ago, please note that I have now modified the last two paragraphs of it. The revised review is here.


Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 12 comments I have reviewed Jonathan Beecher Field's Errands into the Metropolis: New England Dissidents in Revolutionary London here (Goodreads) and here (Amazon).


Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 12 comments My recently published book The First American Founder: Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience is now available in a paperback edition at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, and Amazon.es. The Kindle e-book edition of the work is also available at various Amazon websites throughout the world.

This is the story of the dramatic life, thought, and work of a man who refused to accept the conventional wisdom of his time and who forged a new way of thinking that challenged theocratic concepts and practices in America, England, and continental Europe. Born and raised in England, Williams knew or otherwise personally encountered—during his youth or in later return visits—some of the greatest figures of English history: Sir Edward Coke, Sir Francis Bacon, King James I, the young man who became King Charles I, John Milton, Oliver Cromwell. In contrast to such famous contemporaries, Williams persistently argued, publicly and unambiguously, for complete liberty of conscience and a "wall of Separation" between church and state—both for America and for Europe. At a time when most of the governments in Europe and America promulgated some form of established religion that persecuted religious dissenters, Williams founded a polity that was explicitly based on the principles and values of what became, more than 150 years later, the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The book addresses Williams's involvement, in his two return visits to England, in the church-state controversies raging during the English revolutionary period (1642-60) as well as his influence on the generation that fought the American Revolutionary War and established the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. It concludes with a discussion of his continuing influence and relevance.


Alan Johnson (alanejohnson) | 12 comments On August 6, 2015, I was interviewed about Roger Williams and my recent book about him. A video of the interview is posted here. This video is part of my YouTube channel regarding Roger Williams and New England history.


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