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F82.W7 G38 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Roger Williams chronicles the life of one of the most remarkable forefathers in American history. A true revolutionary, this devout Puritan championed Native American rights; wrote treatises on equal rights, flag desecration, and the separation of church and state; established the firstAmerican settlement based on total religious toleration--and he lived more than a century before independence, when America was still a vast wilderness! Williams went on to adopt adult baptism and founded the first Baptist church in America. He became president of Rhode Island colony in 1654, servedas captain in the defense of Providence during King Philip's War, and continued to write and preach passionately for religious tolerance and Native American rights until his death in 1683.

Author Notes

Edwin S. Gaustad is at University of California, Riverside (Emeritus).

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-12. Williams' experiences in the New World mirror those of other leaders, as he shared similar ideals and suffered familiar struggles. But his uncompromising stance on keeping his faith separate from any political (and often taxable) measures quickly banished him from his New England community. Exile led to his rescue by Native Americans, whom Williams got to know so well he eventually wrote a book about their language and customs that garnered acclaim throughout Europe. Gaustad points out how frustratingly few details of Williams' life have survived, but he nevertheless makes outstanding use of his information. While capturing only a cursory essence of the man, this volume in the Oxford Portraits series gives resounding voice to the minister who valiantly sought separation of church and state for "the liberty of conscience." Religious freedom owes much to Williams, Gaustad says, but he also shows that the price of that freedom, for Williams and those who aligned with his ideology, was often painfully high. --Roger Leslie

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-In this fast-paced account, Gaustad recounts Williams's life and identifies his contribution to the concept of religious liberty. His lively prose never transgresses scholarly limits, but makes the most of the few biographical details available. Readers will be engaged by a sense of Williams's personality; he was stubborn, restless, forceful, but a man of integrity and conviction. Following an overview of the life and theology of his subject, Gaustad then focuses on the man's dealings with the Indians, notably his farsighted views on their rights to their own land; his struggles to establish civil governance in Rhode Island; and his upholding of the cause of religious liberty-a radical stance in his day. The final chapter provides a lucid explanation of Williams's influence on such figures as John Locke, James Madison, and later historians and political thinkers. The author makes excellent use of primary-source excerpts and includes a chronology and annotated list for further reading (but no notes). Black-and-white photographs of sites and reproductions of artwork, documents, and maps illustrate the book. This accessible volume is well suited to reading as a biography or to use as a reference on specific topics.-Patricia Lothrop-Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.