Rhode Island: 1636

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ED101sp09/denimj/images/neng18.jpg

Roger Williams was educated in England by Sir Edward Coke about the belief in Antinomianism. When he started to preach about it, he was excommunicated and fled to New England in 1631. When he came to America, he was a minister for the Church of Salem. His beliefs in Antinomianism were still strong and he highly believed in the separation of church and state. Antinomianism is a belief similar to Quakers. Anti meaning against and nomos meaning law, it defies the structure of the bible and the laws which it holds.
Antinomianism is specifically the belief in resisting the moral law of God, or the belief that Christians are not bound by moral law. In 1636 he wrote a letter to his own congregation, voicing his opinion. Their response is now known as the "letters of defamation" and it wrote, ""It is therefore ordered that the said Mr. Williams shall depart out of this jurisdiction within six weeks now next ensuing, which, if he neglect to perform, it shall be lawful for the governor and two of the magistrates to send him to some place out of this jurisdiction, not to return any more without license from the court."" (www.rogerwilliams.org) (Conley)

Williams fled west with a handful of followers and traveled along the Seekonk River and the Mooshansic River, looking for a haven to practice his belief and came across open land in which he named Providence. Among his followers was Anne Hutchinson. She was born in England and immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634. She was known for her interest in deep theological ideas. She would hold discussions on Sundays after the regular Sunday services. Her ideas were similar to the ideas of Antinomianism and were shunned by the Puritan churches. John Winthrop attended one of Anne's discussions and cautioned that women could do irreparable damage to their brains by pondering deep theological matters, which wasn't uncommon. Winthrop, along with John Cotton, accused Ann and her followers of Antinomianism heresy. She was put on house arrest and then tried and found guilty in 1637 and was banished from the Bay Colony. In 1638 Anne along with her husband William Hutchinson and 60 followers left the Boston area and settled in the Narragansett Bay area. They purchased the area from the Indian Chief, Miantomah and in March of 1638 founded the town of Portsmouth, the island of Aquidneck and, in 1639, Newport. (http://virts.rootsweb.ancestry.com/) (http://www.u-s-history.com)

Anne Hutchinson at Trial: http://constitutioncenter.org/timeline/html/cw01_11804.html
Anne Hutchinson at Trial: http://constitutioncenter.org/timeline/html/cw01_11804.html
At this point there were four areas founded in Rhode Island: Providence, Portsmouth, Aquidneck and Newport. Neighboring colonies began to covet the land they found; Williams, feeling threatened, journeyed to England and received a parliamentary patent in March 1644 uniting the four areas into one single colony. Rhode Island was known for its religious freedom and became a safe haven for many religious sects. Antinomianism was established in Aquidneck and made it the colony's center for political and economic life. A Jewish congregation was established in Newport along with other religious congregations. (Beals)


Williams always held a good relationship with the Narragansett Indians. He believed they should be paid for all the land they took from them. Even though Williams was friendly with the Indians, the Pequot Indians were being treated unfairly and threatened to invade Rhode Island and Connecticut. As soon as the brink of war was moving closer, Williams traveled across the bay and spoke with the Pequot tribe, arguing to keep peace and the good intentions that Williams had toward the Narragansett Indians. The Pequot tribe retreated and Williams single-handedly saved Providence from destruction. This war soon grew into what is known as King Phillip's war, and at first the Narragansett Indians remained neutral, but eventually helped their fellow Wampanoag Indians try to defeat the white man. More than six hundred whites and several thousand Indians were consumed by this war. War was not the only thing the Indians died from, famine and disease also played a part. King Phillip's War was officially ended in August of 1676 when King Philip was killed by an Indian. The remaining Narragansett and Wampanoag tribes seeked refuge, which was the foundation of the new Indian community in Rhode Island that adopted the name of Narragansett. (http://virts.rootsweb.ancestry.com/)


In 1686, the colonial war between England and France had begun when James II, the dominion for New England when he tried to consolidate the northern colonies under royal governor Edmund Andros. This was a seventy-five year struggle that often involved Rhode Island men, money and ships. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, Newport had emerged as a prosperous port and the colony's dominant community, often rivaling with Providence. The two towns began to challenge for supremacy. By the mid 1740's a two party politics was developed, one led by Samuel Ward and the other by Stephen Hopkins. Rhode Island was brought into a better relationship with London when Samuel Cranston was governor from 1698-1727. In 1747 a settlement with Massachusetts annexed Cumberland, Tiverton, Little Compton, Warren and Bristol. Rhode Island was looked at as a safe haven as acceptance for many; by the year of 1774 their population had reached 59,707. (http://www.slavenorth.com)

http://home.comcast.net/~DiazStudents/ColonialSlavery3.jpg
http://home.comcast.net/~DiazStudents/ColonialSlavery3.jpg


Rhode Island had one of the highest slave populations in the north. The slave ratio was 8 to 1 in 1758. Rhode Island was one of the most active colonies in slave trade and had ports were in Newport and Bristol. Rhode Island slaves were used for trade and labor and the only northern colony to do so. After an industrial boom from 1715-1755, Rhode Island slave population tripled. (http://www.slavenorth.com/rhodeisland.htm)








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