History & Culture

Bird's eye view of the Natonal Memorial
A bird's-eye view of the National Memorial

NPS Photo: David Lawlor

A Champion for Religious Freedom

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 government. Instead, that it should be a matter of individual conscience. It was a remarkable journey that brought Williams to a place called Moshassuck (he later named it Providence) where he put his beliefs into practice, giving “shelter for persons distressed of conscience.”

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.

A view of the historic well and homes behind it.

Learn more about Roger Williams and other influential people of his time.

Arial view of Providence and the National Memorial

Explore some places relating to Roger Williams

Fall colors of the National Memorial's tree canopy
Explore Roger's Life and Times

Roger's ideas are as complex as America. Explore some of these stories to learn about how we became the nation we are today.

Last updated: November 17, 2023

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