About Sowwe Roger Williams
Rhode Island's first permanent settlement (Providence Plantations) was established at Providence in 1636 by English clergyman Roger Williams and a small band of followers who had left the repressive atmosphere of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to seek freedom of worship. Narragansett Indian Sachems Canonicus and Miantonomi granted Williams a sizable tract of land for his new village. Roger Williams named this land “Providence”, in tribute to “God’s merciful providence unto me in my distresse”. The word “Plantations” is an old English term meaning “new settlement or colony”. Other noncomformists followed Williams to the Narragansett Bay area and founded the towns of Portsmouth (1638), Newport (1639) and Warwick (1642). Because titles to these lands rested only on Indians deeds, neighboring colonies began to covet them. To meet this threat, Roger Williams journeyed to England and secured a parliamentary patent in March 1643-44 uniting the four towns into a single colony and confirming his fellow settlers' land claims. This legislative document served adequately as a basic law until the Stuart Restoration of 1660 made it wise to seek a royal charter.
The Royal Charter granted by King Charles the Second in 1663. Dr. John Clarke was commissioned to secure a document from the new king, Charles II, that would both be consistent with the religious principles upon which the tiny colony was founded and also safeguard Rhode Island lands from encroachment by speculators and greedy neighbors. He succeeded admirably. The royal charter of 1663 guaranteed complete religious liberty, established a self-governing colony with total autonomy, and strengthened Rhode Island's territorial claims. It was the most liberal charter to be issued by the mother country during the entire colonial era, a fact that enabled it to serve as Rhode Island's basic law until May 1843. The present name of the state, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, was officially adopted in the Royal Charter of 1663.
“Rhode Island” – In 1524, Italian explorer Giovanni Verrazano compares what we now call Block Island to the Island of Rhodes.
“Providence Plantations” – In 1636, Roger Williams receives land at the head of Narragansett Bay from the Indian Sachems (chiefs) Canonicus and Miantonomi. Williams names this land “Providence” in tribute to God’s merciful providence towards him after his banishment from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He and his followers then establish the settlement called “Providence Plantations”. The word “Plantations” is and old English term meaning “new settlement or colony”.
Statue of Roger Williams In the National Statuary Hall Of the United States Capitol Roger Williams: English clergyman who, in 1636, left the repressive atmosphere fostered by the puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to found the first permanent European settlement in Rhode Island. This settlement, called “Providence Plantations” was the first organized colony in America to be founded on the principles of freedom of thought and worship.