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Fri Nov 30, 2012, 07:50 PM

CODE USED BY RI FOUNDING FATHER IS FINALLY CRACKED

Source: Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) The obscure book's margins are virtually filled with clusters of curious foreign characters a mysterious shorthand used by 17th century religious dissident Roger Williams.

For centuries the scribbles went undeciphered. But a team of Brown University students has finally cracked the code.

Historians call the now-readable writings the most significant addition to Williams scholarship in a generation or more. Williams is Rhode Island's founder and best known as the first figure to argue for the principle of the separation of church and state that would later be enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

His coded writings are in the form of notes in the margins of a book at the university's John Carter Brown Library. The nearly 250-page volume, "An Essay Towards the Reconciling of Differences Among Christians," was donated in the 1800s and included a handwritten note identifying Williams as the notes' author though even that was uncertain at first.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/code-used-founding-father-finally-cracked



His thoughts on the conversion of Native Americans sound fascinating - "achieved through treachery and coercion".

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Reply CODE USED BY RI FOUNDING FATHER IS FINALLY CRACKED (Original post)
bluedigger Nov 2012 OP
JimDandy Nov 2012 #1
bluedigger Nov 2012 #2
ninjanurse Dec 2012 #3
csziggy Dec 2012 #4

Response to bluedigger (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 08:43 PM

1. Wonder if the improvisations indicate the writings

themselves weren't of significance to Williams-that he was simply developing his shorthand code with the writings.

"One major complication, according to Mason-Brown: Williams often improvised."

Improvisations are often found in the development part of a process. As someone in the comments section said, the 3 subject matters were not controversial enough during William's time to have warranted use of a secret code.




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Response to JimDandy (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 09:03 PM

2. I think it was probably just his private shorthand.

But it will be interesting how scholars interpret his use of it for these writings. Did he intend to keep them private, or was he just being economical?

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Response to bluedigger (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 07:11 AM

3. Proud of Rhode Island

Speaking of heritage, we have religious freedom for all as opposed to liberty for the majority religion to dominate. We have tolerance as opposed to enforced conformity. I hope Roger Williams left some thoughts on real acts of conscience vs claiming conscience as an excuse to oppress others. And today Rhode Island has snow, and damp and slush. What a place.

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Response to bluedigger (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:04 AM

4. Did he leave a note clarifying his sons?

I can trace one of my genealogical lines to a Providence Williams but cannot verify if that is the Providence Williams who might have been a son or grandson of Roger Williams. If Roger had just left a note saying his son Providence was moving to the Carolinas, that would solve a big mystery for me!

I hope the student who deciphered this writes a book about it - it could be very interesting (or a total snooze).

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