Friday, August 31, 2012

The Extraordinary Times and Adventures of Roger Williams



This month's reading group will discuss Roger Williams and the creation of the American Soul.  Unfortunately, the review by Gordon Wood for the New York Review of Books is for subscribers only.  But, here is the review by Joyce Chaplin, which I linked earlier from the NY Times.  As Chaplin notes in her review, Barry spends a lot of time setting the stage for Williams fateful voyage to America, providing the reader with an engrossing description of late 16th and early 17th century England, giving much needed background to this incredible story.  Here is James Carville introducing John Barry at Octavia Books in New Orleans for BookTV.


102 comments:

  1. Here is a summary of the book and excellent introduction to the theme behind it:


    http://www.booktv.org/Watch/13134/Roger+Williams+and+The+Creation+of+the+American+Soul+Church+State+and+the+Birth+of+Liberty.aspx


    It's about a hour long but will seem like only minutes. Very neat summary which illustrates how Williams impacted on USA history.

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  2. ''Barry spends a lot of time setting the stage for Williams fateful voyage ... giving much needed background''


    At first, I thought Barry spent too much time into this and gave too much detail. While perhaps it could have been summarized a bit more, there is no question that a good knowledge of these factors is absolutely ESSENTIAL for students of American history. These historical factors prove beyond any doubt that the USA was created as a free thinking society in contrast to the rigid and conformist society that was England at that time. Just as an example, the "wall of separation" between church and state was not invented in 1803 by Jefferson as so many delusionals from the far right claim. It was British jurist and philosopher Edward Coke (Williams' principle mentor) who created this essential concept. Barry goes to great length to prove this fact and the role this plays in ultimately creating our way of life and thought.

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  3. As Barry says in his presentation, it is book about ideas not a biography, and I thought it was important to set the stage for the religious zeal that infected the Puritans. Of course, it was understandable given the Catholic-leaning Kings James and Charles. But, what I really enjoyed was Barry's presentation of Coke and Bacon.

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  4. Far right Anthony Scalia said there is nothing in the Constitution which mentions or is intended to protect privacy. While he and other delusionals of his ilk may pretend there is or shouldn't be any right to privacy, Coke said that a man's home is his castle:


    ''In 1628 Sir Edward Coke wrote Institutes of the Laws of England. Coke coined the phrase “For a man’s house is his castle”.''


    http://mennozacharias.com/2012/03/05/a-mans-home-is-his-castle/


    For years, I thought this idea was created either by William Pitt or Thomas Paine. Well, it seems both were influenced by Coke. This proves that privacy did not begin with the Burger court and that it was valued by our Founding Fathers and by those who influenced them. As Barry points out, Williams was greatly influenced by this very wise idea.

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  5. Oh, what a goof I am - hadn't noticed that Gintaras has already posted the link to C-Span. Geez, I'm getting old and fading fast ....

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  6. It's OK, Trip. Loved Carville's introduction.

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  7. Wrapped up the Brautigan bio -- decidedly not a book of ideas but a book of what it is like to be a writer in America for sure -- so am back to Roger Williams.

    As I noted earlier, I was struck in the opening by the large amount of violence around religion and who constitutes "the church." He may not be attempting to make this point in particular but it's very clear how the church really is meant as a vessel to transfer power and control. No wonder the right wants that power as part of its politics.

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  8. As Alan Watts said many years ago, more people have been killed in the name of the Bible than for any other reason in history. Religion controls people's minds. When their minds are controlled, their money is controlled as well. And that ultimately means POWER. Thus, religion is often nothing more than a power grab.

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  9. "divine right of kings"

    In Shakespeare's time many people believed in this myth. And, of course, others did not. More often belief in this turned on whether one stood to profit from the authority granted by a society that accepted the idea.

    The Bible (which was a big influence back then) appears to suggest that kings were divinely appointed to their status. Therefore, people were forced to obey them as doing so was thought to be obedience to God:


    "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation"

    ~ Romans 13:1,2


    "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well."

    ~ I Peter 2:3,4


    In the Old Testament there are even more segments which sanction the idea of divine right of kings. Yet, many of these kings were deposed if they disobeyed divine laws. But they were deposed by God himself - therefore the question became, did human beings have a right to depose a king if he wilfully disobeyed biblical laws? Who was to interpret those laws? Who was to determine whether the king was in compliance or not? What sanctions were to be imposed? Who was to appoint the succeeding king???

    This was a big issue in England for several centuries. It resulted in the signing of the Magna Charta in 1215.

    ... more ...

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  10. In school we discussed the Magna Charta and the role it ultimately played in influencing our Founding Fathers. In essence, it denied this divine "right" and made England more democratic even though it gave power to landed men with big financial interests. Interestingly we were also taught it is possible that Shakespeare never heard of it. This despite the popularity of the historical Chronicles in his time.

    Shakespeare wrote several plays which dealt with divine right of kings. One was Hamlet in which the protagonist likened his deceased father to a hyperion (a god) and equated Claudius with a big eared mule. There was a line about Claudius "popped in between the election and hope" meaning that he usurped the throne. That this is what led to all the troubles which happened later on because the divine right of kings had been violated. In MacBeth, there were thunder & lightning, dark clouds at mid day, and other unnatural signs because the king was assassinated and his throne usurped. In Richard II there was a line about "Not all the water in the sea can wash the balm off the anointed king. Worldly men cannot depose the Deputy elected by God".

    But then, Shakespeare wrote a series of historical plays such as Henry Iv and Henry V which questioned the divine right of kings. The king was said to be from the "root of the soil". Not divinely begotten. This suggests that it is acknowledged that kings were human and subjected to human foibles. As such they had a major responsibility to act properly and were accountable to people for their errors. At least that's how I remember those writings.

    Thus, while Shakespeare was a man of his time, one initially taught to believe in divine right of kings, but a man of the Enlightenment and one inclined to question what was accepted as the norm.

    But the question was, how far can you take those questions???

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    1. Interestingly, King James assembled a group of scholars to re-translate the Bible in order to give the appearance that it sanctioned divine right of kings. "Kings are called Gods" he declared to Parliament - any failings on his part were not to be used as justification for dissent. Once the new book came out in 1611 he used it to tighten the reins on the Puritans and gave himself the authority to punish them if they did not comply with his tyrannical orders. Failure to comply meant exile. This led to great social discord and other unpleasantness. Again, all this notwithstanding the precedence set by the Magna Charta.

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    2. I suppose this was the only way he could think to circumvent the parliament to get the taxes he wanted. Seems James enjoyed an exceedingly expensive lifestyle, as did his successor Charles.

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    3. Yes, it says he had to keep Parliament in session if he wanted any money (after selling off all the lands he could to the City of London, which was fascinating) but again this seems like the same question - wherein lies the real power, with the King or with the Law? If the King is God, then he is above the law and can do as he pleases and shape any kind of religion he wants. If it is with the law and that is above the King, then even the King is subject to it.

      Sorry -- I'm probably WAY behind the two of you but I think I'm starting to get it!

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    4. Barry sets up a very interesting discourse, which he follows throughout the book, making these two initial parts very important, especially when Williams comes back to England to get a charter for Rhode Island, to stave attempts by Massachusetts to annex the territory he acquired from the Narragansett Indians.

      It is all about power and how he who is in power uses religion to justify it, whether it be King Charles in England or Winthrop in Boston. Williams seemed to be one of the few men at the time to remain honest in his convictions. The others deeply corrupted power seekers, which is why Ann Hutchinson couldn't accept any of these men as civil leaders, much less church leaders.

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  11. I thought his introduction of "common law" helpful. I hadn't understood where the "common" came from.

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  12. We discussed "common law" a very long time ago when we read Fehrenbacher's "Slavery, Law, & Politics - The Dred Scott Case In Historical Perspective". While we had a very good discussion, regrettably that was a college textbook usable in pre-law programs and one not readily accessible to laymen. If I recall correctly, that discussion took place while we were still in the NY Times forum and that was quite a while ago.

    Briefly, "common law" is judge made law where legal precedent or 'stare decisis' is used to determine the rightful outcome of a case. Many right wing pundits feel judges should not have this authority and that only Congress or a state legislature has this right. Obviously they lack understanding of even the most fundamental parts of legal history as it remains perfectly relevant under the Constitution's Bill of Rights:



    Seventh Amendment – Civil trial by jury.

    In suits at COMMON LAW, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the COMMON LAW.


    The irony being that while so many deluded right wing pundits feel judges do not have this right because it is "judicial activism", their right wing counterparts in the USA Supreme Court use judicial activism to reverse years of legal precedent.

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  13. It is not mentioned until later, but Barry notes that Williams saw a fundamental distinction between the first tablet or first four commandments and the other 6 commandments. The first four he saw as personally directed, not enforceable by the state. He felt the state had no right to tell a person to go to church or to determine his faith. The state's jurisdiction lay in punishing persons for committing murder, adultery, etc. This "freedom of religion" was what the Puritans appeared to be striving for, but when Williams came to Boston he saw the same thing he saw in England and didn't want any part of it.

    More profound, Williams appeared to feel that common law and property rights extended to the local natives, since they obviously had boundaries and tended the forests with control burns and other methods as the English did, much to the chagrin of the Massachusetts Bay Company.

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  14. And the other distinction he made (for me) in the book was that common law was common to everyone, and there couldn't be one law for one group and another law for a different group -- or the king.

    I must have missed the Slavery and Law discussion. Sounds like one of Chartres' books.

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    1. Very sorry that you missed the discussion. The book was picked by Bob Whelan ~ he and I had a very good exchange on the board at that time (we both have law degrees). Judge Taney who had been noted as a brilliant legal mind really stunk up the decision. His legal reasoning was utterly inconsistent with over 100 years (indeed, closer to 200 years) of legal precedent. To this day, it remains the most criticized ruling in legal history. After all these years, I still shake my head in utter disbelief that the US Supreme Court could render such a foolish and unprincipled decision.

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  15. THE CHOSEN OR THE NEW JERUSALEM

    We discussed a while ago that there is a persistent myth that only the Bible's Samaritan tribes (and those who chose to identify themselves with their purported descendants) were the "Chosen" and that others are Gentiles. A fair reading of the Old Testament shows that all 12 Hebrew tribes fit this description. A fair reading of the New Testament clearly shows that this definition was extended to all Christians who are now fellow heirs and are NOT Gentiles. In the time of Shakespeare & Coke, many Britons (indeed, many Christians) accepted that New Testament teaching and felt that their island nation was given a special dispensation from Above.

    But bad times existed. Many bemoaned their unhappy fates (such as political repression, the ravages of war and pestilence, foreign invasion and oppression) due to a fall from Divine Grace. One readily sees this in the motet from William Byrd:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ejdy6CL4e5w

    "Be not angry, O Lord,
    and remember our iniquity no more.
    Behold, we are all your people.

    "Your holy city has become a wilderness.
    Zion has become a wilderness,
    Jerusalem has been made desolate."


    Byrd was a Catholic who expressed his lamentation through music. Others did so through political writings and/or actions. Inspired by Calvinist belief, many "Puritans" attributed their fall from grace in England to lives of sins which had been either stimulated or caused by the purported evils of their land. They resolved to create a New Jerusalem in the New World. Thus, they saw themselves as a new type of "Chosen People" under divine inspiration "for the establishment of a New Zion" {p 10}.

    Calvinism was a form of Protestanism which held the belief that there is predestination and total human depravity. This meant that salvation could only be had through divine grace and total submission to the authority of the church. Because of this the Puritan church was marked by great authoritarianism in all aspects of life including politics. And early New England life was one of total submission to this authority.

    Roger Williams believed that forced religious conformity "stinks in God's nostrils". This is what ultimately led to his exile from the Puritan colony. As I think about it, I notice that the word "diaspora" was not used by him or by the author with regard to him or other exiled people though the word is fitting!


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  16. As I read part three of the book I was thankful that Barry spent so much time on the precedents that led to the Puritan exodus and the influences on Roger Williams. What emerges is a battle of wills, that of the Personal Rule of King Charles with William Laud as his hatchet man vs. Coke's interpretation of Common Law, with the Puritans caught in the middle of this fight. You almost start to feel sorry for them in the first two books, but then you read how they set up a similar authoritarian regime in Boston and how government very quickly befouled religion and vice-versa. Williams appears to be one of the few who seemed able to reconcile the two by dividing the commandments into two tablets. This wasn't an original thought, but it was seen as antagonistic to the authority Winthrop and Dudley had established in Boston. Barry credits Coke for inspiring Williams in the ability to draw fine distinctions where others painted in pretty broad strokes, justifying their authority.

    I guess the best place to start is the battle between Coke and Bacon over the extent of powers of the King and how King James essentially tried to forge a national religion to justify what he saw as his absolute power.

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    1. "forge a national religion"


      People had been killed for their religious beliefs and affiliations in old England. Queen Elizabeth declared:

      "There cannot be two religions in One State".

      Because of this many were prosecuted. How ironic that those who claim to worship the Prince of Peace can create such havoc! Thankfully, people like Williams learned from their mistakes and created an atmosphere in the New World where tolerance and the right to worship as one sees fit became the order of the day. This is far more in keeping with New Testament instruction which calls for refraining from judging others as to their views and Christian practices.

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    2. ''Coke's interpretation of Common Law''


      One cannot help but be utterly amazed by the wisdom and extent of Coke's knowledge of the common law. More importantly, the great influence he exerted over other legal thinkers and the Founders is unmatchable. Double jeopardy, privileges and immunities, and judicial review were all legal concepts that he established as part of the common law. Ultimately, these concepts became part of the US Constitution.

      I have forgotten what book it was that we read in the NY Times forum which dealt with Marbury v Madison. This was the case that established judicial review in the newly founded USA. Evidently, the Supreme Court relied to some extent on the writings of Coke to justify its ruling in that case. Before that, dissenters in Massachusetts declared the Stamp Act null and void based on his writings. This ultimately led to the Revolutionary war.

      On reflection, it seems to me that the subject of Coke, his influence over the establishment of the USA, and the enactment of the Constitution are worthy of a full book.

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    3. It would make for a great book to explore Coke's influence on Revolutionary America and the Constitution, but here is one on Coke and Elizabethan Times,

      http://books.google.lt/books?id=lkEv6eccC44C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

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  17. Not related to book but I find it interesting that Louisiana law is related to civil law instead of common and is the only state as far as I know. bosox

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  18. I think this is a carry over from the French and Spanish. Throughout continental Europe you have civil law.

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  19. One forgets how powerful the church still was in the early 17th century, and although Coke questioned the King's right of divine rule, he held back from any serious criticisms. Instead, he and others took aim at King James' subordinates. The battle between Coke and Bacon is worthy of a "debate" like those we had in the old NYT forums. It seems however that Bacon argues his points mostly to gain political favor. I think he was too intelligent to dismiss Coke's Reports the way Barry describes.

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  20. It seems to me that one of the things Barry is doing here is citing the early precedents which influenced "American" thinking, both in terms of religion and common law. Gordon Wood and Bernard Bailyn similarly spend a lot of time on early charters in establishing the ideological origins of the American Revolution. Not only did the Puritans think of themselves more "pure" in terms of Christian belief, but early colonial governors felt they better understood the the dynamics of these charters and fought to keep their nominal independence, especially against what they perceived to be an antagonistic "mother country."

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  21. Isn't that early struggle also about where the church and the law sit? Is it in the king because of divine providence, or is it with some "higher power." Or in the case of the church does it sit somewhere different altogether?

    I haven't read far enough yet to know if he summarizes these points, but hope he does. This seems to be the issues they are all debating and protesting about (and getting down on their knees to accept or reject).

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  22. That's pretty much the thesis of the book, av. He starts out with the state v. religious battles in England and how they became exported to the colonies. As Trip noted, Williams stands out as he wanted to separate the two, but largely because he felt the state corrupted religion, and was determined to set up a comparatively egalitarian community where individuals were free to worship as they chose.

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  23. Thanks that helps! This book covers a lot of ground that I'm not all that familiar with, and he argues with individual points of view that I may or may not "get" because of its reliance on religious doctrine. (The rise of experiments and science is right down my alley though.)

    I'll keep reading.

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  24. Barry does not paint a very flattering portrait of Francis Bacon: he is shown to be overly ambitious, duplicitous, corrupt, one inclined to trample on others in order to advance his selfish interests. While obviously possessed of great intellectual capability, his character flaws were overwhelming. When he achieved the political office he sought, he proceeded to abuse his authority. "There is a stronge {sic} apprehension that little good is to be expected from this change, and that Bacon may prove a dangerous instrument". For this he was ultimately imprisoned.

    To his credit, Bacon's writings on political philosophy influenced Williams. He was, after all, a scientist so that experimentation and actions were more important to him than mere theory. Williams learned that practicing and not merely contemplating legal/philosophical ideas were essential. But despite Barry's comments on this, it seems to me that this particular influence was marginal. The key influence appears to be Coke's ability to decipher common law, to integrate various legal cases, apply their reasoning as precedent, and his ability to make the conclusion stare decisis in current legal application. Williams was Coke's disciple and learned to use the Bible, its laws and precepts, integrate and decipher them, and apply them in the current era. Thus, from reading Barry, it appeared to me that Bacon's influence was minimal. Coke's influence far more impactful. But perhaps my idea is due to the fact that I have never read Bacon's "Novum Organum" and do not actually know what it specifically says about science, nature, and one's relation to the natural world. Either I missed it or perhaps Barry failed to go into sufficient detail as to what extent Bacon's writing actually influenced Williams in his daily life.

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  25. I think where Bacon comes into play is in Williams relationship with the local natives and the way he allowed situations to play out in Providence, sometimes to his detriment. He didn't try to force the issue, but rather make an attempt to understand the issues and then base his opinion on what he saw. But, this is also may have simply been a part of his nature. Williams comes across as a very accepting man until things go to far, as was the case with Gorton.

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    1. OK. I take it then that we can agree that Barry may have overstated Bacon's role in influencing Williams. Or, at least, that he failed to fully illustrate it by not giving specific examples or drawing parallels between them. This, in contrast, to the very clear way he illustrated how Coke influenced Williams.

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  26. {OFF TOPIC}

    The tree root that "ate" Roger Williams:

    http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2210


    I have heard this one for many years. Even members of Williams descendants find it somewhat amusing.



    Also OFF TOPIC ~ just a bit of useless trivia for you:

    I have probably been thrown out of more churches and church related web forums than anyone else. Like Williams I question a bit too much to suit the tastes and inclinations of power hungry preachers.

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  27. Well, yes, Coke is the more obvious influence since Williams actually worked for Coke, but he would have seen Bacon in action as well. I think what Barry wanted to show was that Williams was exposed to the two schools of thought in regard to common law and divine right at a very early age, seeing the two of the masters in action.

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    1. ... and Williams saw how the unpleasant confines of the Star Chamber were used by the crown in its efforts to retain power it vested in itself.

      While this institution started out as a court of equity it evolved into a political weapon. Landed gentry who posed any threat (whether real or imaginary) were prosecuted by the crown. Often they were treated quite unfairly. When I was in law school I remember how we read of cases where the injustice displayed in it rivaled that of the Inquisition. People were brought into it without warrants, legal counseling, no juries, and no right of appeal. Anglican prelate Laud was especially inclined to use this court as a means of prosecuting what he perceived to be heretics and others who were supposedly disloyal to the king (and, of course, he was engaging in a bit of self promotion in the process). Coke wrote that these injustices were contrary to common law (and certainly contrary to the Magna Charta). While Williams was not involved in these controversies he was troubled by them and inspired to question and to write about them. No mystery as to why he thought separation of church and state was a good idea.

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    2. Gintaras,

      I think I found something that may be of use to a reader of Barry:


      OF PLANTATIONS

      by Francis Bacon


      ... If you plant where savages are, do not only entertain them with trifles and gingles, but use them justly and graciously, with sufficient guard nevertheless; and do not win their favor by helping them to invade their enemies, but for their defence it is not amiss; and send oft of them over to the country that plants, that they may see a better condition than their own, and commend it when they return. When the plantation grows to strength, then it is time to plant with women as well as with men; that the plantation may spread into generations, and not be ever pieced from without. It is the sinfullest thing in the world to forsake or destitute a plantation once in forwardness; for besides the dishonor, it is the guiltiness of blood of many commiserable 8 persons. 1


      -------

      In this writing Bacon recommends good government, resourcefulness in the citizenry, and good relations with "savages". This is a pattern followed by Williams and perhaps serves as illustration to part of Barry's premise that Bacon was a significant influence over Williams, his writings, his life pattern, and his outlook on life.


      http://www.bartleby.com/3/1/33.html

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    3. Bacon's Essays:

      http://www.westegg.com/bacon/index.essays.html


      Of these, the one that stands out as possibly having the most relevance to our discussion in this:


      http://www.westegg.com/bacon/unity.html


      Religious unity as a means of peaceful relations among peoples ~ gee, what a thought!

      Now I see what Barry meant.

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  28. Replies
    1. Thanx! One wonders why or how such a thoughtful person like Bacon could have resorted to such low tactics in order to get ahead. But then, it is evident that England was not ready for the enlightened ideals of Locke and others who were influenced by these teachings. Had it been so, then perhaps Bacon would have enjoyed a higher social and political standing.

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    1. So true. And it went even beyond that because there were ecclesiastical as well as political rivalries. One such 'battle' being between John Cotton and Thomas hooker. Both were very gifted and influential and ran afoul of the Laud for their extreme Puritan orthodoxy. Eventually, they found their way into New England with Hooker heading off to Connecticut after a denominational dispute with his rival. Both played a role in trying to muzzle Williams who was ever so resourceful that he overcame their efforts. He used his profound knowledge of the Bible and great reasoning skills that he easily defeated all doctrinal arguments used by the most learned of Puritan thinkers.

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  30. Speaking of power, there is one power hungry character from that era who I absolutely HATE beyond _______ . Well, I better not say it as this guy makes my blood absolutely boil. And that evil ________ is John Endicott.

    Barry discusses his episode with Thomas Morton in which Endicott made up charges and persecuted him {pp 133-135}. Read Hawthorne's "The May Pole of Merrymount" for further details:

    http://www.eldritchpress.org/nh/mmm.html


    History shows that financial interests may have had a role in this unjust persecution:


    http://www.oldenwilde.org/srasmus/oldentext/merrymount.html


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    1. Even the most evil of characters can have some redeeming value ~ evidently, Endicott was the original "Johnny Appleseed" in that he created many apple and pear orchards throughout New England. {p 166}


      Makes you wonder what his motivations were.

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  31. I first read this over 40 years ago from Gov Bradford's diary. It was regarding how several young men were corrupted by the Pequod war and how Roger Williams worked as a peace maker:

    Anno Dom: 1638.

    This year Mr. Thomas Prence was chosen Gov.584.

    Amongst other enormities that fell out amongst them, this year 3. men were (after due triall) executed for robery and murder which they had committed; their names were these, Arthur Peach, Thomas Jackson, and Richard Stinnings; ther was a 4., Daniel Crose, who was also guilty, but he escaped away, and could not be found. This Arthur Peach was the cheefe of them, and the ring leader of all the rest. He was a lustie and a desperate yonge man, and had been one of the souldiers in the Pequente wary, and had done as good servise as the most ther, and one of the forwardest in any attempte. And being now out of means, and loath to worke, and falling to idle courses and company, he intended to goe to the Dutch plantation; and had alured these 3., being other mens servants and apprentices, to goe with him. But another cause ther was allso of his secret going away in this maner; he was not only rune into debte, but he had gott a maid with child, (which was not known till after his death,) a mans servante in the towne, and fear of punishmente made him gett away. The other 3. complotting with him, ranne away from their maisters in the night, and could not be heard of, for they went not the ordinarie way, but shaped such a course as they thought to avoyd the pursute of any. But falling into the way that lyeth betweene the Bay of Massachusetts and the Narrigansets, and being disposed to rest them selves, struck fire, and took tobaco, a litle out of the way, by the way side. At length ther came a Narigansett Indean by, who had been in the Bay a trading, and had both cloth and beads aboute him. (They had meett him the day before, and he was now returning.) Peach called him to drinke tobaco with them, and he came and sate downe with them. Peach tould the other he would kill him, and take what he had from him. But they were some thing afraid; but he said, Hang him, rougue, he had killed many of them. So they let him alone to doe as he would; and when he saw his time, he tooke a rapier and rane him through the body once or twice, and tooke from him 5. fathume of wampam, and 3. coats of cloath, and wente their way, leaving him for dead. But he scrabled away, when they were gone, and made shift to gett home,) but dyed within a few days after,) by which means they were discovered; and by subtilty the Indeans tooke them. For they desiring a canoes to sett them over a water, (not thinking their facte had been known,) by the sachems command they were carried to Aquidnett Iland, and they accused of the murder, and were examend and comitted upon it by the English ther. The Indeans sent for Mr. Williams,and made a greeveous complainte; his freinds and kinred were ready to rise in armes, and provock the rest therunto, some conceiving they should now find the Pequents words trees: that the English would fall upon them. But Mr. Williams pacified them, and tould them they should see justice done upon the offenders; and wente to the man, and tooke Mr. James, a phisition, with him.

    {Part I}

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  32. {Part II}

    The man tould him who did it, and in what maner it was done; but the phisition found his wounds mortall, and that he could not live, (as he after testified upon othe, before the jurie in oppen courte,) and so he dyed shortly after, as both Mr. Williams, Mr. James, and some Indeans testified in courte. The Govrt in the Bay were aquented with it, but refferrd it hither, because it was done this jurisdiction,but pressed by all means that justice might be done in it; or els the countrie must rise and see justice done, otherwise it would raise a warr. Yet some of the rude and ignorante sorte murmured that any English should be put to death for the Indeans. So at last they of the iland brought them hither, and being often examened, and the evidence pro. dused, they all in the end freely confessed in effect all that the Indean accused them of, and that they had done it, in the maner afforesaid; and so, upon the forementioned evidence; were cast by the jurie, and condemned, and executed for the same. And some of the Narigansett Indeans, and of the parties freinds, were presente when it was done, which gave them and all the count rie good satisfaction' But it was a matter of much sadnes to them hear, and was the 2. execution which they had since they came; being both for wilfull murder, as hath bene before related. Thus much of this mater. 585


    http://mith.umd.edu//eada/html/display.php?docs=bradford_history.xml


    This was made into a PBS movie many years ago which starred Canadian-First Nations actor Chief Dan Joseph but I could not find it on their website. It was well done with good acting. Williams was portrayed as being a genuine peace maker in that movie.

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  33. Speaking of Endicott and other weasels, it really is amazing how much nastiness there was in these early colonies. Arnold was just as bad in trying to pull Rhode Island out from under Williams while he was away in England trying to secure a charter. So much for Christian brotherhood.

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  34. Thanks for the Hawthorne link, Trip.

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  35. I'm still reading (I'm in section II now) but have yet to rise to the enthusiasm for the book that has been expressed here. I'm assuming I have to get to the Colonies -- where the Puritans keep threatening to leave for. I'll keep after it.

    You don't have to get to the colonies, though, to experience real nastiness. Lots of deaths, beheadings, be-earings (that was a particularly horrendous punishment), nose-splitting, and sending to the dungeons. Really was a horrible time to be an Englishman/woman subject to the orneriness of the King. Even the city of London itself seems to be conspiring against the thousands of migrants who keep flooding in to replace all those who are dying. Very bleak picture of those times.

    The privatization of all the King's land to raise money for more wars, also rang true. If you fence it all off, people aren't able to feed their families. Bleak indeed.

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  36. I found the first two parts very interesting, mostly in terms of Williams relationship to Coke. I think once you get to Williams in America your enthusiasm will pick up quite a bit.

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  37. Good! I'm just about finished. The most compelling aspect of this book is Williams' attempt to separate church and state, not only in the Providence territory, but throughout Great Britain in the tracts he published while back in London seeking a charter for this territory.

    It is in Part VI, Soul Liberty, that Barry does a good job of showing how Bacon and Coke converged in Williams' thinking, noting his largest publication on the subject of Freedom of Religion in Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, noting both these men in his preface.

    Here is a reprint of that tract,

    http://books.google.lt/books?id=IL8MAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

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  38. Winthrop's "A Model of Christian Charity" ~

    On the one hand, he acknowledges that there are differences in class. But that these differences were divinely ordained and that all are to benefit from them. Therefore, one must accept one's fate if they are in a lower social position - obviously, a Calvinist idea that he subscribed to. The rich would benefit by being kind to the poor, the poor would benefit by obedience to the rich. And the government through "holy ordinances" would decide what is what. "Love" being the thing that binds all ~ "we must delight in each other ... make other's conditions our own ... the Lord make it like that in New England ... for we shall be a City Upon a hill".

    As Barry points out, this was not considered new or particularly revolutionary in that time period. Winthrop learned these ideals from a William Perkins who was well known many years before. The difference being that it was thought then that England was the New Promised Land but had forfeited that 'Divine Birthright'. Once it succumbed to such "sin", New England would evolve into the New Promised Land. Winthrop's ideas would now be transferred to the new home base.

    While he saw society as a "commonwealth", it would take government to enforce all these ideals. A theocratic type government, that is. He developed a General Court and "Courts of Assistance" to employ a heavy hand and enforce his rules. Democracy be damned as "the authority to rule came from God". All this was in violation of the charter he and his followers had been granted because they had no legal right to make laws. Thus, the government as practiced at that time hardly befit the title of "model of Christian charity".

    The subsequent abuses of authority led to abandonment of the colony by many. Others were exiled. And from their pathetic example sprang the idea of separation of church-state and to democratization under Williams.

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  39. I suppose Winthrop felt he was preaching "compassionate conservativism.' The church and state were one, as it was in the minds of many Puritans, as Barry notes. That's why Williams became "dangerous" with his view that the state should have no role in the church.

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    1. Your reply raises the key question to today's political wrangling over the right wing television evangelist campaign as opposed to the truth:

      The right wing embraces Winthrop as the source/inspiration for the Founding Fathers and their ideals. In other words, "compassionate conservatism" as a form of disguised or counterfeit Christianity as the authority or foundation for their ideal government and politics.

      But the TRUTH is that Williams is that ultimate source: a system of disestablishment, one where the courts are equitable, one where the majority of people decide on issues (history shows us that the old fashion New England town meeting was and remains a democratic institution still in use to this day). One need only do as we have done on this forum by reading Barry, Madison's "Remonstrance", Professor McGarvie's "One Nation Under Law ...", and other writings to see that my assertion is correct.

      So the question is, why does the right wing ignore the TRUTH?

      Delete
    2. I think that is why Barry wrote this book. He wanted show that the church v. state debate goes back to the original colonies and that essentially Williams won the debate by being able to get a charter for Providence as a "free state."

      The Enlightenment would further shape this debate, but it seems to me that many religious conservatives are still not very enlightened.

      Delete
    3. I once invited one of those know-it-all right wing Republicans to join us in this group. He thinks he knows his history, lives by the Fox network lies, and feels the right wing can do no wrong. We had a little debate and I destroyed every argument he came up with. He left the conversation in total frustration and never joined us. He realized we discuss the Truth here that the Fox network and other liars fail to see.

      All too often, the Truth hurts.

      Delete
    4. You have better luck than I do, Trip. My arguments with my conservative friends on facebook are endless. I don't let them know about this forum, otherwise they would sully up the place pretty fast.

      Delete
    5. There is so much on Winthrop that this subject deserves a book and discussion as well.

      "Liberty, in the view of Winthrop and his fellow magistrates ... was to live a life which the magistrates defined as good and godly

      "Naturall liberty - The freedom to choose was evil and corrupt

      "[real] freedom to choose was Winthrop's way, the magistrates way, God's way

      "People were to act the same, live the same, even rise at the same time."


      Such dictated rigidity was viewed as "liberty". This sounds so much like the type of anti-utopian paradise [sic] envisioned by today's far right television evangelists. Luckily, Williams set the stage for the ultimate downfall of this totalitarian state.

      Delete
    6. Liberty in this case seemed mostly to apply to Winthrop and his magistrates. They expected the people of their "city upon a hill" to be as sheep.

      Delete
    7. Speaking of Winthrop, I recall reading Francis Bremer's book about 4 years ago:

      http://www.amazon.com/John-Winthrop-Americas-Forgotten-Founding/dp/0195179811

      While it makes for a quick read, I do not feel it is quite up to a group reading. Here is the author on C-Span:

      http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Winth

      Delete
  40. To convert or not to convert ~

    "Converting Indians had always been one the main - arguably the main - justifications for every effort to plant in America ... all Europe are looking upon our endeavors to spread the Godspell among the Heathen."

    Of course this was pure bunk. Converting Indians into Christianity was more a matter of resourcefulness and convenience rather than humanitarian in scope.

    However, once again Williams' outlook strayed from this unrighteous path. He endeavored to learn their languages, trading customs, and their agricultural practices. He learned, for example, the practice of burning forests into tillable land. This convinced him that Indians were better off in a society which was not governed by a rigid religious conformity. Therefore he did not try to convert them.

    Interestingly, the authorities all sought to take the lands on the grounds they were unoccupied as Indians did not claim ownership as understood under common law. Claiming such land and title to it is known as "adverse possession". Williams argued that such land was occupied and defended Indian rights to them. This is one of the reasons why he was ultimately exiled from Plymouth.

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  41. But it seems Williams was successful in forcing the colonies to buy land from the local native tribes, as it was part of the charter they received. Unfortunately, you had guys like Arnold who short-circuited the process by going to lower "sachems" when all land deals were supposed to be with the paramount chiefs in the region.

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  42. Uncas ~

    Highly idealized, romanticized, and elevated to monumental status in American lore as a peace maker. But, as is so often usual, this image is inconsistent with reality. This Mohegan (not Mohican) sachem was crafty, duplicitous, blood thirsty, and scheming. From the narrative, I find him to be terribly loathsome, in all honesty. But then, I would suppose he was a man of his times. The deals he cut with the British/colonial authorities were not only expedient, they were downright crucial to the survival of his people. He, like all else, made war against the Pequods and then made all kinds of duplicitous arrangements to steal their land (and their women). It was his machinations which kept various tribes from becoming allies so that this facilitated British military success against Pequods. This, in turn, made it far easier for more British to migrate into New England as they took over hunting and farm lands.

    Because of all this, I liken Uncas to Benedict Arnold. But while Arnold is still held in contempt in England to this day, Uncas enjoys a hood reputation. One which for the most part is undeserved.

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    1. Barry briefly discusses the myth that Native Americans are descended of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Some used this myth as an excuse for suppressing pagan religions practiced by Native Americans. Williams, of course, did not. But the hilarity and stupidity of such a myth is beyond all comprehension. I have been involved in this debate on youtube where people like me have literally crucified those ignorant buffoons who keep spreading this garbage as if it was Gospel Truth. One of pretenders insists that the Olmec were part of that "Lost" party. Those delusionals obviously know nothing about history as the pre-Olmecs existed at the time of Abraham. The great statuary and pyramids they built were created well before the tribes of Israel became suddenly and inexplicably "lost". Such delusionalism is for another book discussion but I thought it might be worth a word or two here.

      Delete
  43. It is amazing, but the myth was perpetuated well into the 19th century with the Mormons believing that Central American Indians were part of the lost tribe of Israel, as they hunted for their imaginary ancient city in the Yucutan and other places. Hampton Sides has great fun with this in his book, Americana.

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  44. Not surprised to see Arnold trying to play lower sachems off the principal chiefs to come up with his phony land claims. I'm up to the last part and look forward to reading how Williams sorted this mess out.

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  45. "Salem"

    The name is derived from the old Hebrew word "peace". Considering all the violence and discord that originated there, this name turned out to be quite ironic.

    Roger Conant was the founder of Naumkeag and attempted to make it a peaceful community of hard working settlers without all the rigidity of Puritanism. He changed the name to Salem to show that it would be a refuge from the usual discord that befell other settlements. Unfortunately for him and the others that [blankety-blank] Endicott usurped the role as governor and the political difficulties followed.

    Conant:

    http://www.dcpages.com/gallery/d/150827-2/DSC03787.jpg


    The city of peace now became one of martialism:

    "People of Christ [must] store all sorts of weapons for war ... swords, Rapiers, and all other piercing weapons ... Powder, Bullets, match, Armes of all sorts, and all kinds of Instruments for war ... artillery [and] great ordnance".


    Initially it was the largest colony of British settlers at that time. It quickly declined and Boston emerged as the largest settlement. Initially it welcomed Williams. But soon enough he became disillusioned with it and left for Plymouth.

    With all the troubles over land ownership, property rights, political roles, acceptance or rejection of authority, it's no surprise why Salem descended into a dystopia.

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  46. That was new to me. I hadn't thought of that connection, especially since the spelling and pronunciation is different. Salem pretty much got squeezed by Boston. It had few options and Williams was made the sacrifice.

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    1. Barry's book reveals so many ironies in the conduct & practices those peoples did back then. We are told Cotton "wanted Williams gone. Nearly all clergy and elders did. But Cotton and Wilson seem to have been the most active, the most virulent, the most convincing in arguing against him". Cotton denied any role in Williams ultimate exile. Again, very ironic in that Cotton's grandson Cotton Mather was said by some to have been instrumental in the Salem witch craft trials though he vigorously denied any such doings. And another irony being that Cotton was the inspiration behind Ann Hutchinson's controversial works and ultimately in her exile as well!

      Delete
    2. "Antinomian controversy" ~ Covenant of works vs covenant of grace:

      This issue illustrates why the church should never dictate how the state operates and vice versa. If I understand it correctly, covenant of works affirms that one earns divine eternity by hard work in compliance with the law as dictated by the magistrates and government authorities. Since this is based on Calvinism only a select few are entitled to this salvation. Winthrop and others imposed this idea.

      Covenant of grace affirms that one is saved through Jesus' redemption and is available to all. Cotton created this idea and had religious followers who were not viewed favorably by the authorities.

      Let's see what the Bible says:

      "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it."

      Ephesians 2:8,9


      The New Testament clearly affirms covenant of grace. Thus the "Antinomians" (the word roughly means rebels or nonconformists) were correct. One can readily see why religious dictators like Winthrop and others were on the side of COW because it allowed them to dictate to others how to live, work, and ultimately how to die. No wonder they persecuted those who dissented from their rigid and unsupportable ideas. Williams, of course, dissented from the rigid COW. As we saw previously, force or religious conformity as dictated by the state, he said, stunk in God's nostrils. Thus, Rhode Island was created to allow refuge from this state dictated rigidity.

      Delete
    3. Recommended reading:

      "American Jezebel: the Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson" by Eve LaPante

      http://www.amazon.com/American-Jezebel-Uncommon-Hutchinson-Puritans/dp/0060562331

      Anne Hutchinson, a forty-six- year-old midwife who was pregnant with her sixteenth child, stood before forty male judges of the Massachusetts General Court, charged with heresy and sedition. In a time when women could not vote, hold public office, or teach outside the home, the charismatic Hutchinson wielded remarkable political power. Her unconventional ideas had attracted a following of prominent citizens eager for social reform. Hutchinson defended herself brilliantly, but the judges, faced with a perceived threat to public order, banished her for behaving in a manner "not comely for her] sex." Until now, Hutchinson has been a polarizing figure in American history and letters, attracting either disdain or exaltation. Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was haunted by the "sainted" Hutchinson, used her as a model for Hester Prynne in "The Scarlet Letter." Much of the praise for her, however, is muted by a wish to domesticate the heroine: the bronze statue of Hutchinson at the Massachusetts State House depicts a prayerful mother -- eyes raised to heaven, a child at her side -- rather than a woman of power standing alone before humanity and God. Her detractors, starting with her neighbor John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts, referred to her as "the instrument of Satan," the new Eve, the "disturber of Israel," a witch, "more bold than a man," and Jezebel -- the ancient Israeli queen who, on account of her tremendous political power, was "the most evil woman" in the Bible.


      Like Williams (and I years later), Hutchinson, merely quoted the Bible. Because of this all three of us were kicked out churches by preachers more intent on maintaining power and the appearance of holiness rather than in teaching the truth. For those who believe all women were meant to be silent in the church read Romans 9 where you see an entire roster of women preachers from all over the known world at that time. By the way, the stricture against women preachers only applied in the Greek churches, not anywhere else. But that's a subject for another book.

      Hutchinson spoke the truth as did Williams. For this she was exiled and ultimately died in New Amsterdam where she was killed in a war provoked by the Dutch governor there. This proves that ignorance and prejudice yields nothing more than death and it again justifies the separation of church and state as Williams demanded.

      Delete
    4. Anne Hutchinson interested me too.

      Delete
  47. Shalom & Salem:


    In Hebrew the letter h is silent and often dropped in transliteration. Also, there are no vowels in the language. Therefore, the o in Shalom and e in Salem have the same significance.

    Thus, Shalom becomes Salem in translation.

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  48. Except the accent is on the first syllable.

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    1. Yup. Just like the Hebrew/Spanish surname Perez (also spelled Phares in the Bible):


      Most North Americans pronounce it PeREZ. The correct pronunciation, however, is PErez.

      Delete
  49. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/0/04/Key_Into_the_Language_of_America.jpg/220px-Key_Into_the_Language_of_America.jpg



    A KEY TO THE LANGUAGE OF AMERICA

    by Roger Williams

    This was Williams attempt to learn and to spread knowledge of Algonquin Indians language and customs.

    As Gintaras pointed out previously, land could readily be bought from various tribal sachems. Therefore, there was no need for conflict or violence in getting tillable lands and fishing rights. The colonies could readily gain these things by trading. Indeed, after only a handful of years and after some initial difficulty in which many settlers died, the communities started to thrive and expand thanks to the farming methods they learned and fishing/hunting rights they got. Williams book provided the means to do so peaceably.

    It proves that knowledge, tolerance, and open mindedness could achieve what violence could never do. This is why Williams was so popular in the 1960s with so many peace advocates.

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    1. Just as Williams reached out to Native Americans, so did Ben Franklin:

      Benjamin Franklin
      Remarks concerning the Savages of North America


      ''Savages we call them, because their Manners differ from ours, which we think the Perfection of Civility. They think the same of theirs.''


      http://www.wampumchronicles.com/benfranklin.html


      While Franklin did caution against potential threats from certain tribes, he urged subtlety and suggested ways of communicating with Indians as did Williams. Clearly his sympathies did lie with those Native Americans and supported efforts to bring about social integration and reconciliation.

      Delete
  50. Here's a Google copy of Williams' book,

    http://books.google.lt/books?id=wOfpAPRxlVYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+key+to+the+language+of+america&source=bl&ots=QtKYu5-gRV&sig=yC5OoBzjkynX6L9-xYMGYaiVsmA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=94VYUJW9KcjXtAapiYCYDA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=the%20key%20to%20the%20language%20of%20america&f=false

    I was interested to see when was the first translation of the Bible into a Native American language, since ostensibly this was the purpose of these early charters. The first attempt was a Natick version by John Eliot, started in 1653 and completed 10 years later,

    http://myloc.gov/Exhibitions/Bibles/OtherBibles/ExhibitObjects/TheEliotIndianBibleFirstBiblePrintedinAmerica.aspx

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    1. More of Williams writings on religious liberty:

      http://books.google.com/books?id=DUn2VWvZG0sC&pg=PA46&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false


      one particular subheading stands out:


      ''Persecutors Would Appreciate Tolerance More If they Were The Ones Persecuted''


      How very true!

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  51. Finally wrapped up the book. Interesting afterward in which Barry writes that he was initially interested in exploring the religious roots of Billy Sunday,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Sunday

    in reference to the events surrounding WWI. Also, wanted to take the religion v. state debate back to its original sources.

    The last chapter on the Quakers was also very interesting.

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    1. Quackers ~ woops, I mean Quakers!

      Yeah, that was very interesting assuming those reports about their erratic behavior is correct, and the response by Williams and others. I have read of these things in the past but am not too sure I can accept the historical notion that they were would strip down to bare essentials in order to make themselves heard or viewed or whatever. I have not any accounts from Quakers themselves that these reports are accurate. All we have is reports from Puritans who were naturally biased against them.

      Quakers disdained tithe paying to a clergy that was only too eager to take the money for their own good. In that society as in today, money is power. And an established clergy as we've seen from Barry creates political power - too much political power. Quakers would not pay tithes, allowed all congregants to utilize the pulpit (it was felt that all members had the inner light which Baptist preachers or others seemed to reserve for themselves), and even allowed women to preach. This was viewed as a great threat by the established order.

      Williams clearly was troubled by Quakers and their beliefs. But it seems to me that they were exiled from RI because of political agitation from the powers that be in Boston rather than because Williams thought it was a good idea. And in just a few years they found a new refuge in Pennsylvania which again proves that this country was founded as a refuge from religious persecution. This as opposed to the notion of a totalitarian state where religions could be used to persecute innocent non-compliant worshipers.

      Delete
    2. Billy Sunday!

      I read a bio of his about 15 years but cannot remember who wrote it. There are a few videos of him in the pulpit:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbZQ0gxjbu0&feature=related


      He was quite a character to say the least.

      Delete
  52. The term apparently comes from their tendency to "quake" or shake in church. I guess they were the first of the "Holy Rollers," but they shaped into one of the more conscientious religious groups in America.

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  53. Contrary to the endless idiocies of a Jerry Falwell and others like him, the concept of a "wall of separation" did not begin with Jefferson in 1803. It was discussed by numerous British scholars, by Coke and then by his disciple Williams:

    http://www.wallofseparation.us/quotes/

    Many years ago Senator Dirksen wanted to create a Constitutional Amendment which would sanction school prayer. After initially approving of it, Senator Ervin (the "good old country lawyer") gave it much consideration and then balked at the idea. He was largely inspired to change his mind by Roger Williams' ideas:

    http://content.ebscohost.com/pdf27_28/pdf/2012/NAT/21May12/74980806.pdf?EbscoContent=dGJyMNLr40SeprE4yOvqOLCmr0qep7NSsq64SbSWxWXS&ContentCustomer=dGJyMODb8nm52%2BKL3%2BbnU%2FTr5IHs2uJ96%2BUA&T=P&P=AN&S=R&D=f5h&K=74980806


    As I mentioned earlier, Williams enjoyed a FAR greater reputation among Americans in the 1960s for his ideas, his nonconformity, his open mindedness, and his valor in the face of rigid and the narrow thinking and ways of that era. Again, contrary to the delusionalism of a Falwell or others, this great country was founded upon the ideals of free thought, religious tolerance, and equity. Author Barry succeeds in proving that Williams had a major role in leading our Founders in that direction. Society would be FAR better if it stayed along that path.



    I believe this is my final comment on the book. Needless to say I enjoyed it very much.

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  54. I was reading Boorstin's section on the Puritans in his book The Americans,

    http://books.google.lt/books/about/The_Americans_The_National_Experience.html?id=YXVMTJMf9ZAC&redir_esc=y

    last night and it was interesting that he approached them more as a political entity in America than a religious one, setting the foundations for the idea of a "political platform" and congregational style meeting house, the forerunner to the "town hall." Pretty effective argument.

    Looking forward to reading his section on the Quakers, which follows.

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  55. Anybody else have any comments or analysis on the book or on Williams' role in influencing the Founding Fathers or politics today?

    ReplyDelete
  56. It was interesting to read Boorstin downplay Williams influence on American politics, but rather point to the Puritans as the model of American politics. He argued that the Puritans essentially stuck with the English model with a relative handful of modifications based on their religious temperment. He treated them more as a political entity than a religious one, saying that they pretty much stuck with the idea of Common Law.

    Barry shows that the Puritans had a very strong religious bias and that they often defied English Common Law, rather imposing their religious will on the small New England communities, which is why Williams, Huntington and others found themselves "excommunicated" from the fold.

    Both Boorstin and Barry seem to view the Puritans as the bedrock of American society. Boostin is more favorable to the Puritans, since he comes from a more conservative mindset, whereas Barry is more inclined to view Williams favorably since he comes from a more liberal mindset. Of course, Barry is careful not to paint Williams as a liberal, since he was very much a social conservative.

    How much influence Williams had on the Founding Fathers is anyone's guess. The Founding Fathers were products of the Enlightenment, but Barry does make the effort to connect Williams to Locke, thereby forging a link between Williams and the Founding Fathers.

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    1. It is understandable why right wingers are so eager to say Puritans are the true Founders whereas Williams was only a minor character. The key to that being the words "wall of separation".

      The delusional Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons of the political right continue to insist that this concept was invented by Jefferson in his famous letter of 1803. Nothing you say or do will persuade them that the concept originated at least 100 years before Jefferson was born. As shown by Barry, Williams believed in the right of free conscience and that the state had no right to use coercive power to enforce the rulings of the churches. Williams saw the unhappy consequences which resulted when the state had that power in England, in Spain under the Inquisition, and in the Plymouth-Boston colonies. Therefore, under the inspiration of Coke, he sought to create a political climate that would adopt this important social-political concept. The establishment of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania (the latter's history was not part of our reading) prove that this was Williams' intent as well as that of other like minded reformers.

      Boorstin and others who are not persuaded may readily read Jefferson's "A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom" (1779) where he wrote that compulsory religion was unwanted. Just as the Bible indicates people are free to accept or reject Christianity, the state should afford people that same freedom. His Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom (derived somewhat from the ideas of Locke) solidifies this argument. Previously, we have discussed Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments" which was written two years before the Constitution was enacted. Again, this proves without the slightest shadow of a doubt that our Founders intended to have separation of church and state.

      Regardless of anyone's political affiliation or inclinations, there can be no possible doubt as to the fact that our Founder intended to have disestablishment. The historical facts cannot be more clear.

      Delete
  57. Believe it or not, I'm still reading the book. I did get them to New England this weekend, finally!

    But I feel like I"m reading a different book -- for some reason it has been difficult to garner the enthusiasm for it that you both have had. Sorry I was so slow on this one. Have enjoyed your comments, however.

    Also started American Canopy. Have great hopes for this one (but I usually have great hopes when I start a new book).

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    1. BRAVO avrds!

      You may possibly recall my posts on the NY Times forum where I always ended my analysis of each book with what I called PAST IS PROLOGUE.

      My idea behind reading these books is, "what can we glean from history that we can apply today in order to improve upon society or the social order". This in view of Santayana's notion that we are doomed to repeat mistakes if we fail to learn from history.

      The fanatical Fallwells and Robertsons of this country gain a lot of political power (and a whole heck of a lot of $$$) because they tell nothing but lies. The result being the continued decay of our society.

      But if only people would learn, speak, and write the TRUTH we would stop this decline. By reading Barry, Kevin Phillips' AMERICAN THEOCRACY, Gary Wills' JAMES MADISON, and others we can readily refute the right wing lies and, hopefully, get the USA on the proper path. So keep reading Barry in order to learn the truth that the right wing liars won't tell you.

      You know the old story - knowledge is POWER.

      Delete
  58. Nice to see we didn't completely lose you av. It was the theme more than the story itself that interested me, although there was much that was new to me. Kind of curious now to read how Philbrick viewed the Puritans in Mayflower,

    http://books.google.lt/books/about/Mayflower.html?id=qk9AXww_XysC&redir_esc=y

    although Barry holds Edmund Morgan in high regard, so maybe this is the better book to turn to,

    http://books.google.lt/books/about/The_Puritan_Dilemma.html?id=Tpg0cAAACAAJ&redir_esc=y

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  59. Not so sure a Bravo is in order, but I keep chipping away. If nothing else, I'm inspired by the discussion of the issues here.

    I have read almost all of Philbrick's books -- I really like his maritime histories. I haven't read the Mayflower one and I think he wrote one on the Little Big Horn, which seemed a little too far afield for him.

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    1. "I'm inspired by the discussion of the issues here. "

      That's a very nice thing to say.

      I hope others may feel so inspired, especially in view of the many contributions made by Williams to the foundation of the USA.

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  60. I'm enjoying Boorstin's book. He's a wonderful writer. His section on the Quakers is very interesting. He gets into their early martyr complex and how they purposefully went into Puritan communities to stir up trouble, but eventually settled into a more sedentary life in Pennsylvania, where they spent the greater part of their time quarreling among themselves. Of course, a longer work is in order to more fully understand the Quaker mentality.

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  61. I read quite a bit of Quaker history a few years ago, but don't remember a particularly good book about them. I'm sure there must be one, though.

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    1. I also recall reading a bio of Penn and his very busy life but this was likely about 20-30 years ago and don't remember the author of that book. The only thing that has stayed with me all these years is the fact that he returned to England when he should have stayed and managed the colony. Perhaps it is because his family owned so much property in England and his priority was in managing all that money rather than in promoting religious freedom. If I recall correctly from my readings, Philadelphia was the most successful commercial center from his time to the Revolutionary war. And the state did become a hub of ethnic/racial/religious tolerance (at least as this was measured at that time). Therefore, Penn's ventures were a big success.

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  62. The history of early Philadelphia is fascinating. I got hooked on it for awhile after going there a few years back.

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  63. One last word on Williams:


    Brown University students crack centuries-old code used by Roger Williams

    Students at Brown University deciphered marginal notes made in code by Roger Williams, religious dissident and founder of Rhode Island. Scholars at Brown had been studying the texts for years, but it was a group of undergraduates who cracked the code.


    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2012/1202/Brown-University-students-crack-centuries-old-code-used-by-Roger-Williams


    Fascinating!



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  64. Fascinating Indeed! Great that young students cracked the code.

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