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[427] and shepherds. But, true as the needle to the pole,
Chap X.}
the popular will instinctively pursued the popular interest. Amidst the jarring quarrels of rival statesmen in the plantations, good men were chosen to administer the government; and the spirit of mercy, of liberality and wisdom, was impressed on its legislation.1 ‘Our
1647 May 19.
popularitie,’ say their records, ‘shall not, as some conjecture it will, prove an anarchie, and so a common tirannie; for we are exceeding desirous to preserve every man safe in his person, name, and estate.’2

Yet danger still menaced. The executive council of state in England had granted to Coddington a

1651 April 3.
commission for governing the islands; and such a dismemberment of the territory of the narrow state must have terminated in the division of the remaining soil between the adjacent governments. Williams was again compelled to return to England; and, with
John Clarke, his colleague in the mission, was again successful. The dangerous commission was vacated,
1652 Oct. 2.
and the charter and union of what now forms the state of Rhode Island confirmed. The general assembly, in its gratitude, desired that Williams might himself obtain from the sovereign authority in England an appointment as governor, for a year, over the whole colony. But if gratitude blinded the province, ambition did not blind its benevolent author. Williams refused to sanction a measure which would have furnished a dangerous precedent, and was content with the honor of doing good. His entire success with the executive council was due to the powerful intercession of Sir Henry Vane. ‘Under God, the sheet-anchor of Rhode Island was Sir Henry.’3 But for him,

1 II. Mass. Hist Coll. VII. 78, &c.

2 Ms. Records of R. I. for 1647.

3 Backus, i. 286.

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