Complete the spoke diagram by describing the key features of the colony. Draw a simple symbol to represent each feature. A sample is shown here.
The Puritans of Massachusetts gained the freedom to practice their religion without being persecuted. However, instead of granting similar freedom to others, they created a government that required everyone in the colony to worship the same way as they did.
When a young minister named Roger Williams began preaching different ideas, the Puritans put him on trial. Williams believed that all people should be able to worship in any way they chose. “Forced worship,” he declared, “stinks in God's nostrils.”
Although the Puritans ordered Williams to be sent back to England, on a cold winter day in 1636, he left his wife and children and escaped to the south. After trudging through snow for days, he met a group of American Indians near Narragansett Bay who cared for him until spring. When his family and a few followers joined him,Williams bought land from the American Indians for a settlement. He called it Providence, a word meaning “the guidance and care of God.”
Williams welcomed people with different religious beliefs to Providence. Two years after he and his followers settled Providence, a colonist named Anne Hutchinson was forced to leave Massachusetts for preaching against the Puritans. She followed Williams, and together they established a settlement called Portsmouth. In 1647, these and other settlements united to become the colony of Rhode Island. In 1663, Rhode Island elected an assembly to govern the colony.
While the people of Rhode Island sought freedom to follow their own beliefs, this ideal did not extend to enslaved Africans. Sea merchants soon discovered the riches that could be made in the slave trade. As a result, Rhode Island became one of the largest slave-trading centers in the world. Some of the wealthiest families in New England made their fortunes from slave trading.
At the same time, the isolated coves along the Rhode Island coast provided perfect refuges for pirates and smugglers. Puritans in other colonies were disgusted by the slavery, pirating, and smuggling taking place in Rhode Island. Reverend Cotton Mather of Boston called Rhode Island “the sewer of New England.” The actions of slave traders in Rhode Island led many Puritans to believe that rejecting these people and their ideas was justified. Using a word that implied “criminals,” they invented their own name for the colony: “Rogues' Island.”