The state of Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams in 1636. Williams created the first white settlement in Providence on land he purchased from the Narragansett Indians.
Roger Williams came to Rhode Island after fleeing Massachusetts, where he was persecuted for his religious beliefs. Upon establishing the settlement in Rhode Island, he instituted policies allowing religious and political freedom there. Other similar communities followed and settled near Providence along the banks of the Narragansett River. As these communities formed a union, King Charles II of England granted them a royal charter. In this charter, Rhode Island was granted greater degrees of freedom of religion and self-government than any other British colony of the period.