Once again we more on--this time to our side of the Atlantic, and to a document by the Founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams. We will see that he was a man of very strong views, which he changed from time to time. But no matter how he changed them, he firmly believed in Liberty of Conscience, at a time when most people would use whatever means they could to force persons to change their beliefs--jail, torture (as we saw last Thursday) and the like.
He was a likeable man. Even his greatest debater, Reverend John Cotton, liked him, though he thought his views were very destructive. In fact, it was Cotton who warned him that he was about to be deported to England to face trial for heresy, and advised him to sneak into what would become Rhode Island, in the middle of the night.
As you read this document, be aware that, as short at it is, Williams makes a lot of points. How many times have you seen a modern writer make it to "twelfthly" when listing arguments through a debate? Not only that, you'll see that he has separate sub-arguments which he makes throughout the document.
As you read these, here's what I'd like to have you do
1.Select at least five of the arguments or sub arguments which seem most important to you. and for EACH indicate in a sticky note or a text markup why you think it is important. (I'll be a bit suspicious if you choose five in a row.
2.Do any of the arguments resemble arguments we've read this semester. I don't mean just Locke and Milton, but others which we've read before. If so, mark them and indicate which of our previous readings that section reminds you of
3.I have formatted the document to help you (hopefully) distinguish between the argument and sub arguments of the two characters in this "Dialogue". As was the case in Cicero, Williams writes as two characters, though his purpose is a bit different. His two characters, Truth and Peace, what they will do, starting on page 2, is discuss the twelve points. The principal arguments are indented once, the sub-arguments are doubly indented.
4.Again considering the contemporary age--not only in the United States, but other places in the world, there is much religious turmoil, war, imprisonment, and bullying based on different religious opinions. Take some time to peruse the news (using Google is one technique), and pick out a couple of examples here and abroad. How would Roger Williams react to these? Conclude with a note of your thoughts about this.
5.When you turn to the Simple Cobbler (a very short document) First pick out his main arguments about why toleration is a bad thing. He too, makes very strong arguments. The entire book from which the excerpt is taken is 57 pp. long. I thought a bit too long for a full read, but if the topic is of interest to you, you can find it here
6. Note that he uses satire. Consider the last line in the excerpt. Let all the wits under the Heavens lay their heads together and find an Assertion worse then this (one excepted) I will petition to be chosen the universall Idiot of the world. . If you find this interesting, you can go on to take a look at the document I linked above: I have observed men to have two kindes of Wills, a Free-hold will, such as men hold in Capacity of themselves; or a Copy-hold will, held at the will of other Lords or Ladies. I have read almost all the Common Law of England, and some Statutes; yet I never read, that the Parliament held their will in such a Capite: their Tenure is Knight service, and good Knight service too, or else they are to blame. And I am fure, a King cannot hold by Copy, at the will of other Lords; the Law calls that base tenure, inconsistent with Royalty; much more base is it, to hold at the will of Ladies: Apron-string tenure is very weak, tied but of a slipping knot, which a childe may undoe, much more a King. It stands not with our Queen’s honour to weare an Apron, much lesse her Husband, in the strings; that were to insnare both him and her self in many unsafeties. I never heard our King was effeminate: to be a little Uxorious personally, is a vertuous vice in Economicks; but Royally, a vitious vertue in Politicks. To speak English, Books & Tongues tell us, I wish they tell us true, that the Error of these Wars on our lung’s part, proceeds only from ill Counsellours. (The wars about which he writes are those of the era of the Commonwealth and Oliver Cromwell. “Ill” means bad, not sick)
John Withthrop, first governor of the colony of Massachusetts, spoke these words to the first settlers, before they left the ship. Talk about having a "captive audience" The document ,might be called "How to run a brand new settlement." In it, he proposes some things which I'd like to have you think to think about these and write about them in your markup notes.
He begins by talking about divisions in social class. He gives reasons for these. The second might be called a law of nature Do you agree with it? The Third might surprise you. Do you think the third applies to our day and age as well as the day in which it was written? Why or why not.
Next he goes on to talks about "laws". The two "laws" are "justice" and "mercy". He elaborates upon this, and says when which law should apply and when it should not. Do you agree with him? Use a sticky note to indicate your sentiments and why you do or do not agree with him.
Third he goes on to elaborate on this through a series of Questions, each of which he proceeds to answer and also occasionally think of objections his audience might have. The questions are "rules" which should apply during certain circumstances--rules about how the colonists ought to behave towards each other. Do they seem reasonable? Should we behave towards each other in similar ways in our day? Why or why not? Consider each rule individually.
Finally Winthrop compares a community to a "body". What is the point of this comparison. Is it reasonable? Is our nation "knit together" now? Should it be?