Roger Williams and his ideas were considered dangerous in the 1600s. Not insightful, not enlightened—outright dangerous. Join National Park Ranger John McNiff as he explores why and to whom Williams ideas were considered dangerous.
This talk is presented as part of Rhode Island Historical Society’s “Take a Stand” programming theme for 2021.
John McNiff was born and brought up in RI. He attended Rhode Island College and received his BA in History with a minor in Anthropology in 1979. He spent the summer of 1980 studying archaeology in England through Christ’s College, Cambridge University, and then came back to the US where he worked as a commercial fisherman, in sales, and advertising. In 1984 he began graduate studies at SUNY Binghamton, now Binghamton University in NY, studying Anthropology, specializing in Archaeology. He worked with the Public Archaeology Lab, Inc of Pawtucket and Rhode Island College’s Public Archaeology Program on numerous archaeological projects around New England the 1980s and 1990s. In 1988 he was part of a National Science Foundation funded expedition to map archaeological sites in the Sonoran Desert in northwest Mexico. He received his MA in Anthropology, specializing in archaeology, in 1990 from Binghamton University. In 1996 John began working with the National Park Service and in 1997 was stationed as a Park Ranger at the Roger Williams National Memorial on North Main Street in Providence.
Mr. McNiff has been an historical re-enactor since the mid-1970s, first with the Kentish Guard and then with the Second RI Regt. of the continental Line. For the last 20 years he has been a re-enactor of the nautical aspects of Rhode Island history, as a privateer and pirate.
Mr. McNiff is a Ranger with the National Park Service at the Roger Williams National Memorial, and has presented countless public programs for schools, libraries, historical societies, retirement groups, scouts, religious groups, family groups and visitors from all over the world. He has also consulted, worked on and appeared in several films about the colonial period and particularly dealing with the early Colonial history of Rhode Island.