Decoding Roger Williams
The Lost Essay of Rhode Island’s Founding Father
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Baylor University Press
Title Page, Copyright
Download PDF (61.0 KB)
Figures and Maps
Download PDF (62.5 KB)
Download PDF (74.2 KB)
It has been a singular opportunity to collaborate on a project like this. Many people graciously gave of their time and shared information with us along the way, including Ted Widmer and Kimberly Nusco at the John Carter Brown Library; Steven Lubar, Hal Cook, Tim Harris, Jeff Hoffstein, and Eugene Charniak at Brown University; Frances Henderson at...
Download PDF (91.0 KB)
It is not the easiest thing in the world to surprise an institution that knows itself as well as the John Carter Brown Library. Each book is beautifully catalogued by devoted librarians. Detailed files are kept on the provenance of each item in the collection. Scholars then pore over the Library’s treasures, adding to the store of bibliographic information. Knowledge is...
Part I. A Key into the Language of Roger Williams: Cracking and Interpreting the Roger Williams Code
Download PDF (1.3 MB)
Around 1680, in the twilight of his life, Roger Williams picked up his polemical pen once again to sketch out his last major treatise.1 Because paper was scarce, he selected a book from his library, flipped to a section with blank space in the margins, and began to write in a shorthand script that he had learned as a young boy.2 The resulting marginalia essay never...
Part II. “A Brief Reply to a Small Book Written by John Eliot” (ca. 1680)
Download PDF (2.4 MB)
The text of Williams’ essay poses a variety of interpretive challenges. Williams’ shorthand system is personalized and idiosyncratic. For many English words, there is no standard shorthand correlate, and Williams appears to have improvised new symbols and constructions while drafting the essay. Moreover, as with any shorthand system, the writing is highly abbreviated. Most...
Part III. Baptism Discovered Plainly and Faithfully, According to the Word of God (London 1675 )
Download PDF (343.7 KB)
When he wrote Baptism Discovered Plainly in 1672, John Norcott (?–1676) was the second minister of one of London’s oldest Baptist churches on Wapping Lane (a position he held between 1670 and 1676).1 Outside of this one publication, Norcott has not left an extensive paper trail, but his importance can be gathered from the prominence of his ministerial post, his...
Part IV. A Brief Answer to a Small Book Written by John Norcot Against Infant-Baptisme (1679)
Download PDF (333.2 KB)
John Eliot (1604-1690) was born in Widford, Hertfordshire, England, one year after James I came to the throne. Eliot received his B.A. from Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1622. After a brief stint as the assistant of a school run by the Puritan minister Thomas Hooker in Little Baddow in the late 1620s, he emigrated to Boston in New England in 1631, following...
Suggestions for Further Reading and Research
Download PDF (103.9 KB)
The study of Roger Williams must begin with his writings and correspondence. The Publications of the Narragansett Club issued six volumes of Williams’ writings between 1866 and 1874, and these were reprinted in 1963 with a seventh volume of additional material as The Complete Writings of Roger Williams (New York: Russell & Russell). This latter project...
Download PDF (92.7 KB)
Page Count: 212
Publication Year: 2014