History & Culture
Roger Williams National Memorial was established by Congress in 1965 to commemorate Williams’s “outstanding contributions to the development of the principles of freedom in this country.” The memorial, a 4.5 acre urban greenspace located at the foot of College Hill in downtown Providence, includes a freshwater spring which was the center of the settlement of Providence Plantations founded by Williams in 1636. It is on this site that Williams, through word and action, fought for the ideal that religion must not be subject to regulation by the state but, instead, that it should be a matter of individual conscience. It was a remarkable journey that brought Williams to what is now the capital of Rhode Island and to where he put his beliefs into practice, giving “shelter for persons distressed of conscience.”
Learn more about the life of Roger Williams under the People section of our site. For further reading, the staff at the memorial has developed a short bibliography of the most popular and best researched works by and about Roger Williams and the period in which he lived.
Did You Know?
Roger Williams was over seventy years of age when he rowed the twenty-five miles from Providence to the Newport Colony in order to debate with the Quakers. After 3 days of debates, he rowed back to Providence from Newport and, upon his return, wrote an essay on why the Quakers were wrong? More...