Saturday, January 25, 2014

Roger Williams in the Winter Woods

After he was banished from Massachusetts Bay in January 1636, Roger Williams was supposed to be escorted by armed guards to a ship that would take him back to England.  Ironically, John Winthrop, the governor of Massachusetts, warned him that the soldiers were on their way to take him to ship. Williams heeded Winthrop's warning and escaped into the New England woods.

Over at The Beehive, Dan Hinchen reminds us of William's difficult journey.  Here is a taste of his post:

Williams escaped with his life, liberty, and little else. Leaving his wife and children behind until he could find a new home, he plunged into the winter woods by himself. "He entered the wilderness ill and alone…Winthrop described that winter as ‘a very bad season.’ The cold was intense, violent; it made all about him crisp and brittle…The cold froze even Narragansett Bay, an extraordinary event, for it is a large ocean bay riven by currents and tidal flows."
"But the cold may also have saved his life: it made the snow a light powder . . . it lacked the killing weight of heavy moisture-laden snow. The snow also froze rivers and streams which he would otherwise have had to ford." A silver lining to the winter clouds is one that we benefited from during our last storm and surely made our shoveling much easier.
That Roger Williams endured his trek from Salem to Narragansett Bay is no doubt a testament to his personal relationships with the native peoples and their willingness to give him shelter. Yet, "There was no comfort in this shelter. For fourteen weeks he did 'not know what Bread or Bed did meane.'"