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Student Essays Reveal the Ideas and Legacy of Roger Williams

For a student's perspective on Roger, here are four essays that earned awards in the "Roger Williams — the Man and the Legacy" competition
A modern interpretation of Roger Williams's Providence settlement, circa 1650. Painting created by Jean Blackburn.

BRISTOL, R.I. — From a hipster spirit to his focus on creating civil order in the new society he founded as Providence, students described the principles embodied by Roger Williams in a University-wide scholarly essay competition held last spring. For a student's perspective on Roger, read these four essays that earned awards in "Roger Williams — the Man and the Legacy."

Granted, we don’t know exactly what Roger looked like – but trucker hat, scraggly beard and ironic t-shirt? In an essay penned last spring, RWU junior Nora Bisaccio imagined Roger roaming the halls of his namesake university today, in full hipster spirit – independent thinker, early adopter and progressive student politician, leading the counter-culture via the Student Senate and Multicultural Student Union. 

Read Bisaccio's essay titled, "A Modern Roger Williams: How His Legacy Would Transfer to the RWU Campus."

RWU senior Leah Catania submits that Roger's contributions to American society proceeded beyond his well-known pioneering of religious liberty. Read about how Roger's focus on civil order allowed his new society of Providence to succeed and flourish in Catania's essay, "The Experimental Colony: Roger Williams’ Ideas on Religious Liberty and Civil Order."

Roger's outspoken beliefs about religious liberty and the separation of church and state got him chased out of England and earned him a banishment order from Puritan Massachusetts. RWU junior Nicole David writes about the people, events and environments that influenced Roger in her essay "Roger Williams, A Young Puritan."

Tom Sojka '13 portrays Roger as a man ahead of his time. In his essay "Bloudy here, Bloudy there: Roger Williams in a Transatlantic Context," Sojka presents examples of Roger's contributions to governance, the U.S. Consitution, and religious toleration.