The Legacy of Logic in Rhetoric

14Sep 2021 by
Roger Williams is one of the first voices in the American liberal tradition, emerging suddenly in the midst of the New England seventeenth century. Wherever you are on the political spectrum, it is worthwhile to consider Williams as a stylist, building his prose and farming his arguments in a difficult context (he is the voice of a minority viewpoint!). Drawing from, and also resisting, the assumptions and tropes that characterize the discourse of other colonists, Williams is one of the first American authors to assume an especially powerful imaginative and intellectual position.

In A Key into the Language of America, Williams adopts the “1, 2, 3” enumeration of propositions and perceptions, an organization form favored by Puritan homilists. Why might he do this – and what does he do stylistically to set himself apart from the tradition of the homily? Have you encountered this same structure in your own writing experience? Where and how?
Williams engages in some spectacular mental gymnastics in his defense of the common humanity of Native peoples encountered by the Puritan settlers in New England. In Christenings Make Not Christians, Williams engages in an argument by definition: specifically around the term “heathen.”  Where is the word “heathen” used in the text and how does Williams go about defining it through a variety of biblical, linguistic, and historic sources? What other key terms does Williams use to build his argument? What work does he perform in redefining the term so the debate in order to win over his readers to his view on Native Americans?

Your initial response should be 8-10 complete sentences (minimum) in paragraph format.
Proofread your response before posting. While this is an informal conversation, you should still practice proper netiquette and grammar.
Include textual evidence from the reading(s) and make connections (where possible) to the other readings and videos that also explore this topic. Be sure to correctly use in-text citations for your sources.

Link to Christenings Make Not Christians:

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