Gateway to the Classics: Ruth of Boston by James Otis
Ruth of Boston by  James Otis

The Flight of Roger Williams

Now as to the trouble which some of our people were having with Master Roger Williams: I should be able to set it down plainly, and yet it is not reasonable to suppose girls know much about the affairs of state.

A very great preacher was Master Williams, and one who took it upon himself to write, for the public reading, that the King had no right to sell or give land to us white people, because of the whole country's belonging to the Indians, and it can be well understood how much of a stir the matter caused.

Master Williams had been chosen by the people of Salem as teacher in their church, and when he declared that we had no right to hold the land which the King had granted us, which Master Blackstone had sold to us, and which Chickatabut had given to us in writing, the chief men of our town declared that he was not the kind of preacher who should be allowed to remain in the New World. Therefore they wrote to the people of Salem, demanding that he be sent back to England.

Of course our gentlemen of Boston must have been in the right, for I have heard my father say they were, and surely he would not lend his face to anything which was at all wrong. However, the people of Salem refused to listen to us of Boston, and, much to our surprise, Master John Cotton took sides with Master Williams, which seemed to me very strange.

I cannot say why it was that the people of the colony kept Governor Dudley in office only one year, or why Master Haynes was elected.

Master Haynes was, of course, ruler over the entire colony, and, as father said, not the kind of man to be trifled with by Master Williams, even though he was a preacher. Therefore, when Captain Underhill was about to sail for England, our Governor commanded him to take Master Williams back to London.

Some one, it seems, told the preacher what was on foot, and, although it was in January with the snow piled deep everywhere around, he fled from Salem into the woods, trusting himself to the mercy of the savages rather than be sent back in disgrace.


I have heard that it was a bitterly cold day, with the snow blowing furiously, when the poor man plunged into the woods in flight, taking with him nothing whatsoever save that which he wore upon his back.

Father came to know afterward, that Master Williams spent the winter with the Pokanoket Indians, some of whom he had met during the short time he lived at Plymouth, and in the spring went to the shore of Narragansett Bay, where it was reported that he was trying to build up a village.

 Table of Contents  |  Index  |  Home  | Previous: A Change of Governors  |  Next: Sir Harry Vane
Copyright (c) 2005 - 2023   Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.