There is some dispute over the origin of the first Baptist Church established in what is now the United States of America. The following inscription from the tombstone of Dr. John Clarke establishes the truth to the claim that he, not Roger Williams, established the first Baptist Church on what is now the United States of America. It was scanned from the book, The First Baptist Church in America, by Graves and Adlam.
To the Memory of
DOCTOR JOHN CLARKE,
One of the original purchasers and proprietors of
this island and one of the founders of the
First Baptist Church of Newport, its first pastor and munificent benefactor; He was a native of Bedfordshire, England, and a practitioner of physic in London.
He, with his associates, came to this island from Mass.,
in March, 1638, 0. S., and on the 24th
of the same month obtained a deed thereof
from the Indians. He shortly after gathered
the church aforesaid and became its pastor.
In 1651, he, with Roger Williams. was sent to England,
by the people of Rhode Island Colony,
to negotiate the business of the Colony with the
British ministry. Mr. Clarke was instrumental
in obtaining the Charter of 1663 from Charles II., which
secured to the people of the State free and
full enjoyment of Judgment and conscience in matters
of religion. He remained in England
to watch over the interests of the Colony until 1664,
and then returned to Newport and
resumed the pastoral care of his church.
Mr. Clarke and Mr. Williams, two fathers of the Colony, strenuously and fearlessly maintained that
none but Jesus Christ had authority
over the affairs of conscience. He died
April 20, 1676, in the 66th year
of his age, and is here interred.
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Last updated on Friday, March 04, 2011