Portsmouth Compact

John Clarke immigrated  from England to Massachusetts Bay in 1637.  Dr. Clarke immediately sided with Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomians and was one of those forced into exile by Massachusetts Bay. He learned from Roger Williams that Aquidneck Island (Rhode Island) was available, and he, William Coddington, and other settlers purchased it from the Narragansett Indian Tribe. They left Massachusetts and established Portsmouth in 1638. Dr. Clarke framed the Portsmouth Compact referencing his person bible and is the second of the 23 signers, the text of which reads:


The purpose of the Portsmouth Compact was to set up a new, independent colony that was Christian in character but non-sectarian in governance. It has been called “the first instrument for governing as a true democracy.”

Portsmouth Compact Sources and References:


Highlights in Portsmouth, RI, History, 1638-2013
By Anne B. Wagner, Portsmouth Historical Society