Decoding Roger Williams

Brown students crack a secret code from a founding father


History junkies rejoice. From the depths of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University comes an unexpected discovery.

When he died, Roger Williams left behind papers, letters and books covered in his strange and hectic shorthand, with no way to decode it. Until now. Three undergraduates, led by Lucas Mason-Brown, a motivated mathematics major, have cracked it. “An Essay Towards the Reconciling of Differences Among Christians,” a nearly 250-page volume with Williams’ notes on it, was donated to Brown in the 1800s.

But what does this mean for the layman?

How does this impact the everyday life of the common Rhode Islander? We take great pride in saying what we mean and meaning what we say. We don’t take kindly to hypocrites and we certainly don’t appreciate a load of BS. These shorthand writings by Roger Williams were written towards the end of his life, and are his last known work of theology. They present within them are the same philosophies of religious freedom that our very state was founded on. What better exemplifies the Rhode Island spirit than the founder who stayed true to his beliefs until his dying day? If anyone was Providence, it was certainly him.


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