John Clarke Letters
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SubjectWilliams, Roger, 1604?-1683
Clarke, John, 1609-1676
Rhode Island--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775
Charles II, King of England, 1630-1685
John Clarke (1609-1676) wrote these two letters in 1655 and 1658, while he was in England with Roger Williams, attempting to secure a charter for Rhode Island from Charles II. In 1663, Clarke successfully secured the charter, which not only confirmed their right to their land, but also their religious liberty. The library purchased the letters from Theodore Hofmann of England, who obtained them through a Sotheby's auction in London, 26 June 1974. "The first letter printed here shows Clarke's continuing close links with the London Calvinistic Baptist leadership in the persons of Richard Deane and Hanserd Knollys and, from a rather different circle, Sir Henry Vane the Younger. Vane is known to have taken a close interest in the affairs of Rhode Island in 1651-52. Clarke's second letter reflects some of the hopes and fears of those who supported the "Good old cause" during the anxious and uncertain winter that followed the death, on 3rd September 1658, of Oliver Cromwell. Evidently, like a number of others, John Clarke was going to have to modify his republicanism." —B.R. White, "Early Baptist Letters," Baptist Quarterly 27:4 (Oct. 1977), 142. The article by White includes complete transcripts.