Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty

Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty

by John M. Barry


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A revelatory look at the separation of church and state in America—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Great Influenza

For four hundred years, Americans have fought over the proper relationships between church and state and between a free individual and the state. This is the story of the first battle in that war of ideas, a battle that led to the writing of the First Amendment and that continues to define the issue of the separation of church and state today. It began with religious persecution and ended in revolution, and along the way it defined the nature of America and of individual liberty. Acclaimed historian John M. Barry explores the development of these fundamental ideas through the story of Roger Williams, who was the first to link religious freedom to individual liberty, and who created in America the first government and society on earth informed by those beliefs. This book is essential to understanding the continuing debate over the role of religion and political power in modern life.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143122883
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/24/2012
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 173,181
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John M. Barry is the author of the New York Times bestselling The Great Influenza and the prizewinning history Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America. He divides his time between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I The Law 7

Part II The Covenant 79

Part III The New World 145

Part IV The Wilderness 211

Part V The Mission 255

Part VI Soul Liberty 297

Part VII The Test 347

Afterword 388

Acknowledgments 397

Notes 399

Bibliography 427

Index 439

What People are Saying About This

Joe Nocera

"To call it a biography sells it short. What it is, really, is the history of an ideaabout the critical importance of separating church from state. So revolutionary was this idea that it caused Williams to be banished from Massachusetts. . . . Williams created the first place in the Western world where people could believe in any God they wishedor no God at allwithout fear of retribution."

From the Publisher

“Roger Williams is one of those figures, famous but forbidding, who hover at the periphery, imposing, important, indispensable to our history and culture and yet still distant, unknown to most Americans … and yet Williams may be … the one whose breath gives life to modern American culture and whose fingerprints are most evident on the American Constitution. The task of reviving Williams has fallen happily to John M. Barry, chronicler of the great influenza of 1918 and the great Mississippi flood of 1927.”

The Seattle Times

 “Roger Williams deserves our thanks for his courage to fight for religious freedom and individual liberty with his very life at a time when few thought it anything but the rankest heresy. And John Barry deserves our thanks for illuminating this critical and timely chapter of American history … Barry tells the story with passion and an eye for fine detail.”

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