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[426] were prepared for the happy negotiator, on his return
Chap. X.}
to the province which he had founded! As he reached Seekonk, he found the water covered with a fleet of. canoes; all Providence had come forth to welcome the return of its benefactor. Receiving their successfull ambassador, the group of boats started for the opposite shore; and, as they paddled across the stream, Roger Williams, placed in the centre of his grateful fellow-citizens, and glowing with the purest joy, ‘was elevated and transported out of himself.’1

And now came the experiment of the efficacy of popular sovereignty. The value of a moral principle may be tried on a small community as well as a large one; the experiment on magnetism, made with a child's toy, gives as sure a result as when the agency of that subtle power is watched in its influence on the globe. There were already several towns in the new state, filled with the strangest and most incongruous elements,—Anabaptists and Antinomians, fanatics (as its enemies asserted) and infidels, so that, if a man had lost his religious opinions, he might have been sure to find them again in some village of Rhode Island. All men were equal; all might meet and debate in the public assemblies; all might aspire to office; the people, for a season, constituted itself its own tribune, and every public law required confirmation in the primary assemblies. And so it came to pass, that the little ‘democracie,’ which, at the beat of the drum or the voice of the herald, used to assemble beneath an oak or by the open sea-side, was famous for its ‘headiness and tumults,’ its stormy town-meetings, and the angry feuds of its herdsmen

1 Knowles, 202. The work of Knowles is of high value.

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