Year
1631
Month Day
February 05

Roger Williams arrives in America

Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island and an important American religious leader, arrives in Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England. Williams, a Puritan, worked as a teacher before serving briefly as a colorful pastor at Plymouth and then at Salem. Within a few years of his arrival, he alarmed the Puritan oligarchy of Massachusetts by speaking out against the right of civil authorities to punish religious dissension and to confiscate Indian land. In October 1635, he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony by the General Court.

After leaving Massachusetts, Williams, with the assistance of the Narragansett tribe, established a settlement at the junction of two rivers near Narragansett Bay, located in present-day Rhode Island. He declared the settlement open to all those seeking freedom of conscience and the removal of the church from civil matters, and many dissatisfied Puritans came. Taking the success of the venture as a sign from God, Williams named the community “Providence.”

Among those who found a haven in the religious and political refuge of the Rhode Island Colony were Anne Hutchinson,like Williams, exiled from Massachusetts for religious reasons; some of the first Jews to settle in North America; and the Quakers. In Providence, Roger Williams also founded the first Baptist church in America and edited the first dictionary of Native American languages.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks at UN, justifies US invasion of Iraq

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell gives a speech to the United Nations that is both highly consequential and full of fabrications on February 5, 2003. Using talking points that many within his own government had told him were either misleading or outright lies, Powell outlined ...read more

Punic Wars, between Rome and Carthage, come to an end

On February 5, 146 BCE, the Roman Republic finally triumphed over its nemesis, Carthage, after over a century of fighting. The victory and subsequent destruction of the city of Carthage marked the end of the Punic Wars and represented Rome's replacement of Carthage as the ...read more

Southern Pacific Railroad completes New Orleans to California route

The Southern Pacific Railroad completes its transcontinental “Sunset Route” from New Orleans to California, consolidating its dominance over rail traffic to the Pacific. One of the most powerful railroad companies of the 19th century, the “Espee” (as the railroad was often ...read more

Husband of missing Utah woman kills self and two young sons

On February 5, 2012, 36-year-old Josh Powell, who had been in the public eye since police labeled him a person of interest in the 2009 disappearance of his 28-year-old wife, Susan, locks out a social worker then kills himself and his two sons, ages 5 and 7, by setting fire to his ...read more

FDR announces “court-packing” plan

On February 5, 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt announces a controversial plan to expand the Supreme Court to as many as 15 judges, allegedly to make it more efficient. Critics immediately charged that Roosevelt was trying to “pack” the court and thus neutralize Supreme Court ...read more

Mexican constitution proclaimed

After seven years of revolution and civil upheaval, Mexican President Venustiano Carranza proclaims the modern Mexican constitution, which promises the restoration of lands to native peoples, the separation of church and state, and dramatic economic and educational reforms. The ...read more

Immigration act passed over President Wilson’s veto

With more than a two-thirds majority, Congress overrides President Woodrow Wilson’s veto of the previous week and passes the Immigration Act. The law required a literacy test for immigrants and barred Asiatic laborers, except for those from countries with special treaties or ...read more

White supremacist convicted of killing Medgar Evers

On February 5, 1994, white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith is convicted in the murder of African American civil rights leader Medgar Evers, over 30 years after the crime occurred. Evers was gunned down in the driveway of his Jackson, Mississippi, home on June 12, 1963, while his ...read more

Hitler to Mussolini: Fight harder!

On February 5, 1941, Adolf Hitler scolds his Axis partner, Benito Mussolini, for his troops’ retreat in the face of British advances in Libya, demanding that the Duce command his forces to resist. Since 1912, Italy had occupied Libya because of purely economic “expansion” ...read more

Hank Aaron is born

On February 5, 1934, Henry Louis Aaron Jr., the baseball slugger who broke Babe Ruth’s legendary record of 714 homers, is born in Mobile, Alabama. Aaron began his professional baseball career in 1952 in the Negro League and joined the Milwaukee Braves of the major league in 1954, ...read more

Millard Fillmore marries Abigail Powers

On February 5, 1826, Millard Fillmore, who later becomes the 13th president of the United States, marries Abigail Powers, a New York native and a preacher’s daughter. As a youngster, Abigail’s mother encouraged her daughter’s interest in reading and urged her to take advantage ...read more

United Artists created

On February 5, 1919, Hollywood heavyweights Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith joined forces to create their own film studio, which they called the United Artists Corporation. United Artists quickly gained prestige in Hollywood, thanks to the ...read more

Georgia constitution abolishes primogeniture and entail

On February 5, 1777, Georgia formally adopts a new state constitution and becomes the first U.S. state to abolish the inheritance practices of primogeniture and entail. Primogeniture ensured that the eldest son in a family inherited the largest portion of his father’s property ...read more