Along the Waterfront Looking North Jamestown

Early Industrial and Social Life

Roger Williams reached Providence in a canoe; by what method of traveling he reached the easterly bank of the Seekonk River, the seat of his tentative settlement, after the winter escape from Salem, is not known. Nor is it known where he obtained the canoe, or the tools with which he began to build a house and plant in the spring of 1636 before he was requested by Plymouth to move on. From the Puritans of his day and generation Roger Williams differed in other respects than religion and politics; unlike most of them he did not write a diary …

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Organizing A Democracy

My soul’s desire was to do the natives good, and to that end to have their language (which I afterwards printed), and therefore I desired not to be troubled with English company,” said Roger Williams in 1677, referring to the founding of Providence Plantations. He planned to serve the Indians as a social missionary, living among them; it was not his purpose to found a colony or a state. Yet he yielded to the urgent requests of other souls troubled by persecution as his was, and made Providence a refuge for those ostracized by neighboring colonies. He soon had companions …

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Broad Street, Pascoag

Rhode Island’s Relations With Massachusetts And Connecticut

William Blackstone sold his home and left Boston for the wilderness of the Blackstone Valley to escape the tyranny of the lord brethren, as he styled the magistrates-ministers of Massachusetts. Roger Williams was persecuted because of his advocacy of soul liberty, subjected to inquisition because of suspicion, formally banished from Massachusetts by the General Court for advocating his opinions and asking others to judge the validity of them, and escaped ignominious transportation back to England only because he anticipated arrest by earlier departure for the wilderness in the midst of a New England winter. He was warned away from the …

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Rhode Island - three centuries of democracy vol 1

Rhode Island Relations with the Indians

Verrazzano, in his letter to King Francis, recorded the general friendliness of Indians along the Atlantic Coast south of Maine to white visitors, and particularly the cordial relations maintained with the Indians for the two weeks the Florentine navigator spent in Narragansett Bay. The relations between the settlers of Pennsylvania and the Indians, established under William Penn’s treaty, indicate the possibilities for peace with aboriginal inhabitants. The Dutch were wise enough to purchase Manhattan Island from the Iroquois, and had little trouble with them thereafter. When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth they encountered no Indians, and learned subsequently that Squanto …

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Old Church Built in 1707, Wickford, Rhode Island

Early Rhode Island Settlers

For the failure of Christopher Columbus to find China or India, Spain quickly found ample compensation in the wealth of tropical and semi-tropical lands scarcely realized by primitive native races and awaiting exploitation by Europeans. Colonization of the new lands followed discovery so closely as almost to be simultaneous; thus, Columbus founded a colony at Navidad, Hayti, on his first voyage. On his second voyage he commanded a fleet of seventeen vessels, carrying 1500 persons, and founded two colonies. Romantic tales of conquistadors like Hernando Cortez and Francisco Pizarro yield in human interest to the story of the building of …

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Old Stone Mill, Newport

Early Visitors To Rhode Island

The answer to the school teacher’s question, “By whom was America discovered?” resolved into a conventional sentence beginning with the name of a celebrated fifteenth century Genoese navigator some time engaged in the service of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, and long associated with the year-date in history best known and best beloved by American schoolboys, is still sufficient unto itself. Another answer to the question is somewhat irrelevant to the real purpose of the dialogue, to wit, to establish an episode that was a fact of transcendental importance. That “Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492” is significant …

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A Topograhical Chart of the Bay of Narraganset in the Province of New England, 1777, by Charles Blaskowitz

Narragansett Bay

The outstanding features of any map of Rhode Island are Narragansett Bay and the rivers that empty their waters into the bay. On a topographical map, showing contours and elevations, land and waterways, the last are dominating features, for the highest elevations, except a few scattered hills, rise gradually to barely 800 feet above mean high water mark, and interpose scarcely an obstacle to travel on lines as straight as those laid out by Roman engineers constructing military roads and aqueducts. Rhode Island roads are far from being straight, nevertheless; after the fashion in New England, they parallel shore or …

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