On This Day, Oct. 9, 1635 – Rhode Island Founder Roger Williams Banished from Massachusetts

1635 – Puritan minister Roger Williams was found guilty of spreading “newe & dangerous opinions” and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Like many of those who came to Plymouth Colony in the 1620s and ’30s, he was a Separatist, who believed that Puritans must break with the Church of England. His Separatism as well as his unorthodox ideas on freedom of worship got him into trouble with church officials, and he fled England to avoid arrest. Before leaving England in 1630, Williams had seen heretics whipped, imprisoned, and burned at the stake. He called for religious freedom, a serious threat to the social order, and avoided arrest only by fleeing to Boston. Once in Massachusetts, he began preaching religious tolerance. The colony’s leaders agreed with the English authorities that this was nothing less than “Satan’s Policy.” They denounced his views and forced him out of the colony. He...

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