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A Key into The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution: Roger Williams, the Pequot War, and the Origins of Toleration in America

A Key into The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution: Roger Williams, the Pequot War, and the Origins of... Roger Williams is best known for publishing an ethnographic language guide to the Narragansett Indians, <i>A Key into the Language of America</i> (1643), and a plea for religious toleration, <i>The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution</i> (1644). Although Williams penned these works within a year of each other, historians have paid scant attention to their intersections. This article fills this gap by demonstrating that Williams formulated the underlying premises of both works while acting as a mediator between New England settlers and Native American groups during and after the Pequot War (1637-38). At the beginning of the war, Williams, like his Puritan neighbors, suspected that the Pequot Indians were the devil&apos;s agents. Though the Pequot War hardened the line between white Christians and Native Americans in the minds of most New England settlers, it convinced Williams that religion never justified violence and that Native Americans and Christians shared a moral code. Williams devoted the rest of his life to arguing that people of various religions could join together in civil societies and that "the sword of the Lord" should never be used for civil ends. There were two prongs in Williams&apos;s argument for religious and cultural toleration: first, individuals are prone to misunderstand foreign peoples and ideas and thus should not be trusted to judge outsiders; second, civil peace relies on locating existing similarities and tolerating differences. In <i>The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution</i> Williams highlighted the Native Americans as key in his creation of a model peaceful, civil society. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal University of Pennsylvania Press

A Key into The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution: Roger Williams, the Pequot War, and the Origins of Toleration in America

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The McNeil Center for Early American Studies.
ISSN
1559-0895

Abstract

Roger Williams is best known for publishing an ethnographic language guide to the Narragansett Indians, <i>A Key into the Language of America</i> (1643), and a plea for religious toleration, <i>The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution</i> (1644). Although Williams penned these works within a year of each other, historians have paid scant attention to their intersections. This article fills this gap by demonstrating that Williams formulated the underlying premises of both works while acting as a mediator between New England settlers and Native American groups during and after the Pequot War (1637-38). At the beginning of the war, Williams, like his Puritan neighbors, suspected that the Pequot Indians were the devil&apos;s agents. Though the Pequot War hardened the line between white Christians and Native Americans in the minds of most New England settlers, it convinced Williams that religion never justified violence and that Native Americans and Christians shared a moral code. Williams devoted the rest of his life to arguing that people of various religions could join together in civil societies and that "the sword of the Lord" should never be used for civil ends. There were two prongs in Williams&apos;s argument for religious and cultural toleration: first, individuals are prone to misunderstand foreign peoples and ideas and thus should not be trusted to judge outsiders; second, civil peace relies on locating existing similarities and tolerating differences. In <i>The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution</i> Williams highlighted the Native Americans as key in his creation of a model peaceful, civil society.

Journal

Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary JournalUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Aug 10, 2011

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