Roger Williams Mystery Book Decoded

If I had to pick someone to speak from The Beyond, Roger Williams would be in the top ten. A Brown University mathematician has cracked Roger Williams personal code and translated his notes.

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.

When Roger Williams wrote his notes, he had taken refuge in Rhode Island because he was the wrong kind of Christian, and the Puritans of Massachusetts occasionally hanged people like him.

Good to remember history, and remember that freedom of conscience was hard won.

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