Roger Williams
Burial Location Visited
Providence, Rhode Island August 18, 2009


Once beautiful and majestic, Rhode                                                           Not only has the front of the
Island founder Roger Williams' grave                                                         memorial been covered with
has been vandalized in recent years.                                                          graffiti, but the statue's fingers
                                                                                                             have been stolen.


On the base of the monument,                                                   Those who funded the building of the
there is an inscription. It reads,                                                  monument made sure that it was
"Here reposes dust from the                                                      constructed with a spectacular view of the
grave of Roger Williams."                                                           city. The Rhode Island State House is
                                                                                              visible to the right.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Roger Williams was born in London, England in 1603. At a young age, he disobeyed his father and became a Puritan. Over time though, he would stray away from Puritan views. Finding it difficult to manage under Archbishop William Laud's strict rules and religious beliefs, Williams left Europe for New England in 1630.

* Immediately after his arrival in Massachusetts, Williams was offered a position as pastor of a church. Realizing that the members of the church still followed the beliefs that he was trying to avoid, Roger Williams turned down the position. One of the major issues that Williams had with the English Church regarded religious freedom. Williams believed that each individual should have the right to practice whichever variation of religion he or she wanted to. After being rejected in Salem, Massachusetts, he secured a job as a preacher in nearby Plymouth.

* After approximately two years, tension began to form between Williams and the citizens of Plymouth. Instead of solely preaching the word of God, Williams began to include his own personal views in his sermons. Aggravated, he departed once again for Salem, where he became an assistant to a pastor. Before long, Williams became the pastor, and conflicts arose shortly after. In 1635, he was banned from the town of Salem. Believing that Massachusetts' religious views had become very strict, Williams left the colony.

* Williams acquired some land from a Native American chief, and founded a colony called Providence Plantation. Joining him were a dozen former Massachusetts settlers who shared his views. A few years later, others at odds with the church came to Williams and asked for some advice. He suggested that they obtain Aquidneck Island from the Native Americans and form a colony of their own. They obeyed Williams' instructions and founded the town of Portsmouth in 1638, establishing the colony of Rhode Island. After a few years, Roger Williams travelled back to England to procure charters for the colonies. In the process of making the charters, the two colonies were joined, forming one colony. From that day forward until it was adopted as a state in 1790, the land was known as the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

* In the 1930's, a monument honoring Roger Williams was erected in Prospect Terrace Park. The monument's funders planned on exhuming the theologian's remains and interring them beneath the structure at the dedication ceremony. However, upon digging up Williams' coffin, they discovered that a root of a tree had forced its way in. Shockingly, the root had entered Williams' body through the top of his skull and followed the path of his spine. When it reached his legs, the root branched off in separate directions, and even began to curl up where his feet had been. Although his body was mostly destroyed, the bits of bone and skin were put in a box of bronze and interred as intended. The infamous root that annihilated Williams' body is now on display in the John Brown House Museum and is in the possession of the Rhode Island Historical Society.

Spouse: Mary Barnard Williams (1609-1676)

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