Founder of the first Baptist church in America. Roger
Williams was born in London and raised in the Episcopal
Church, of which he was made a rector. Becoming dissatisfied
with the ritual and ceremony of his church, he became a Puri-
tan. He came to America and preached in Boston and Plymouth,
Massachusetts, where he taught separation of church and state
and complete religious freedom. He was driven from Salem,
Massachusetts, because of these convictions.
He went to Narragansett Bay, where he did missionary
work among the Indians. It was there that he founded the set-
tlement of Providence, Rhode Island. At this time he became a
Baptist and was immersed in water for the first time since
his conversion. He served as governor of the new colony from
1654 to 1657, but he practiced his separation of church and
state doctrines even as a civic ruler.
Under his leadership, Rhode Island was the first col-
ony in the New World to establish complete religious liberty
for all men.