Should you head out into the storm today think of Roger Williams who spent 14 weeks surviving outdoors in just such conditions — exposed, hungry, and wearing 17th-century boots. Following his banishment from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his “new and dangerous opinions,” Roger learned he was to be deported back to England, and headed south in search of a safe haven — Narragansett Bay and his Indian friends. Roger’s frostbitten feet caused him pain the rest of his life.
Daniel F. Harrington has written a two-part column for the Providence Journal providing a concise life-and-times of this exceptional man, and how Roger Williams shaped the America we live in today.
From Part One: “The Journey of America’s first hero.”
Learning soldiers were on their way to seize him, Williams, sick with fever, fled Salem in January 1636 during a blizzard, alone, and with no way to sustain himself. As he disappeared into the snow he must have thought it strange to be facing such a bitter death after living so invigorating a life.
Luckily for us, the Wampanoag sachem Massasoit found him near death and took him in. Williams spent three months with the tribe who nursed him back to health.
You know how this ends. The title of Part Two says it all: “Williams created the freest place on earth.”