previous next
[380] years, he was joined by others, who fled to his asylum.
Chap. IX.}
The land which was now occupied by Williams, was within the territory of the Narragansett Indians; it was not long before an Indian deed from Canonicus
1638. Mar. 24.
and Miantonomoh1 made him the undisputed possessor of an extensive domain. Nothing displays more clearly the character of Roger Williams than the use which he made of his acquisition, of territory. The soil he could claim as his ‘own, as truly as any man's coat upon his back;’2 and he ‘reserved to himself not one foot of land, not one title of political power, more than he granted to servants and strangers.’ ‘He gave away his lands and other estate to them that he thought were most in want, until he gave away all.’3 He chose to found a commonwealth in the unmixed forms of a pure democracy; where the will of the majority should govern the state; yet ‘only in civil things;’ God alone was respected as the Ruler of conscience. To their more aristocratic neighbors, it seemed as if these fugitives ‘would have no magistrates’4 for every thing was as yet decided in convention of the people. This first system has had its influence on the whole political history of Rhode Island; in no state in the world, not even in the agricultural state of Vermont, has the magistracy so little power, or the representatives of the freemen so much. The annals of Rhode Island, if written in the spirit of philosophy, would exhibit the forms of society under a peculiar aspect: had the territory of the state corresponded to the importance and singularity of the principles of its early existence, the world would have

1 Bakus, i 89, 90. Knowles, 106, 107 Backus.

2 Backus, i. 290 Knowles, c. VIII.

3 Letter of Daniel Williams.

4 Winthrop, i. 293. Hubbard 338.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Rhode Island (Rhode Island, United States) (2)
Vermont (Vermont, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Roger Williams (2)
Knowles (2)
Backus (2)
John Winthrop (1)
Daniel Williams (1)
Miantonomoh (1)
Hubbard (1)
Canonicus (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1638 AD (1)
March 24th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: