Every Thursday in October Rhode Island public school teachers can book free field trips (transportation included!) to the Rhode Island State House for programming provided by the Carter Roger Williams Initiative, Rhode Island Secretary of State, Roger Williams National Memorial and the Tomaquag Museum.
Free Field Trips and In-school Programming for Educators
Grade Level: All Levels | Source:
Bringing Roger to Life
Learn more about funding for field trips, in-class Roger talks, and individualized educational resources for educators provided by the Carter Roger Williams Initiative and Roger Williams National Memorial.
Having been banished from Massachusetts Bay for his religious beliefs, Roger Williams turned his new community into a model of respect for other beliefs, accepting those with whom he did not agree, in religious and political matters, as long as they were good citizens and worked for the good of the colony. Teaching tolerance is more relevant than ever in today’s diverse world in order for freedom and equity to prosper.
Read the article on the Smithsonian website adapted from Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul, by John M. Barry to understand more about how Roger Williams originated a principle that remains contentious to this day—separation of church and state.
In this lesson, students examine Williams’ writings to learn about his influence and relevance on some of the fundamental ideals set forth in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, particularly The Bill of Rights.
Grade Level: Middle School | Source: Rhode Island Historical Society, Carter Roger Williams Initiative
At the end of King Philip’s War, in August 1676, Roger Williams led his fellow citizens of Providence as they sold a group of Native American captives into slavery. In so doing, he reversed course from his earlier position, as expressed in a 1637 letter to John Winthrop, that recommended against long-term enslavement. “Slavery” had not yet become the permanent form of servitude that it would evolve into, but this reversal reveals that there were limits to Rhode Island’s early idealism, made evident in the angry aftermath of the conflict. Like many Rhode Islanders, Roger had suffered grievously during the war, and seen his house and much of his city go up in smoke. But the Native Americans sustained an even deeper loss, as they saw a way of life disappear forever.
Ira Glass talks to historian Ted Widmer about two of the first pen pals in the New World. John Winthrop and Roger Williams were both Puritans in Massachussetts in the 1630's. Then Roger Williams was banished for suggesting the revolutionary idea that there should be separation between church and state. John Winthrop was the Governor of Massachussetts, which exiled him. But the two men somehow stayed friends, writing letters long after Williams was sent away.
Grade Level: All Levels | Source: Carter Roger Williams Initiative
A few years ago, some local Brown University students helped unlock the code to Roger Williams's shorthand writings. Try your hand at using the code to write some messages to your friends and fellow students!
Grade Level: Middle School | Source: Lesson Planet
This lesson provides the historic background of the religious liberty clauses of the First Amendment, with a focus on the establishment clause. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the First Amendment erected a "wall of separation between church and state", likely borrowing the language from Roger Williams, founder of the Colony of Rhode Island.
Roger Williams and the Separation of Church and State
Grade Level: High School | Source: National Park Service
Roger Williams believed in the idea that religion was a matter of individual conscience, not to be regulated or supported by a government. In this lesson, students examine both sides of the issue of a proposed Rhode Island bill that would provide tax-supported school vouchers for private schools. The students will research the issue using primary and secondary sources and then participate in a debate to answer the question:
Do school vouchers violate the principle of the separation of church and state?
Grade Level: Middle School | Source: National Park Service
This lesson plan introduces students to A Key into the Language of America and provides a glimpse into the complex relationship Roger Williams had with the Narragansett people. It also gives a first-hand account of 17th-century native culture.
By the end of the lesson, students will be able to answer the question: How did Roger Williams’ A Key into the Language of America foster understanding of daily life, work, and relationships between the Native Americans and colonists?
The Carter Roger Williams Initiative provides annual scholarships to high school seniors, helping Rhode Island students who appreciate and embody Roger Williams’s values attain a college education. The Carter Roger Williams Scholarship is intended to inspire students and their parents to think big about what’s possible for their future and to value the role of education. By providing resources about Roger Williams and his teachings, the Initiative is intended to establish a sense of place and pride for all Rhode Islanders.
The Carter Roger Williams Initiative was conceived of and funded by philanthropists Letitia and John Carter and is managed by the Rhode Island Foundation. Learn more here.
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