America's First Rebel: Roger Williams and the Birth of Liberty


"Williams was really America's first individualist, the first contradictor of authority, the first rebel," explains John M. Barry, author of Roger Williams and The Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty. While best known as the founder of Rhode Island and for being a leading proponent of a "wall of separation" between church and state, Barry argues that Williams' imprint on America is deeper than most recognize. "When I started writing the book I quickly realized that I was not simply writing about the emergence of the idea of religious liberty, but liberty itself."

Barry sat down with ReasonTV's Nick Gillespie to discuss the book, the enduring lessons of Roger Williams' life, and why he is not yet a household name.

About 9:10 minutes.

Cameras by Meredith Bragg and Jim Epstein. Edited by Meredith Bragg.

Barry is the author of numerous books, including The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History and Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America.

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