Primary Sources

Roger Williams’ "The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience"

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Social Studies


Roger Williams, through both word and action, advocated for free exercise of religion at a moment where Church and State were often indistinguishable from one another. Williams believed in the idea that religion was a matter of individual conscience, not to be regulated by a government. His legacy is evident in foundational documents of the United States like the Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights and is referenced in numerous Supreme Court rulings.

In this primary source activity, students examine Williams’ writings to learn about his influence and relevance on some of the fundamental ideals set forth in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution - particularly The Bill of Rights.


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Last updated: September 17, 2015