Roger Williams's Uses of Legal Discourse: Testing Authority in Early New England
Christopher D. Felker, ROGER WILLIAM'S USES OF LEGAL DISCOURSE: TESTING AUTHORITY IN EARLY NEW ENGLAND, THE NEW ENGLAND QUARTERLY, Vol. 63, No. 4, pp. 624-648, December 1990
26 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2009 Last revised: 24 Aug 2009
Date Written: December 1, 1990
The legal establishment in the seventeenth century was increasingly hostile to the use of elaborate language and rhetorical flourish; the copiousness and amplification so typical of Puritan discourse, on the other hand, served to suppress the desire to eliminate abstruse and unverifiable terms, concepts, and doctrines from the debates of the day. A firm believer that there ought to exist some sort of fundamental law (a charter) to curb the excesses of government, Roger Williams presided over a shifting sensibility about power and authority.
Keywords: Legal understanding, legal language, Roger Williams 1604-1683, Puritans, Separatists, Freedom of religion, Rhode Island History Colonial period
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