John Clarke National Memorial
Proposal by the City of Newport - 2008
Dr. John Clarke (1609-1676), was Roger William's trusted partner in the founding of Rhode Island.
He drafted the King Charles II Charter (1663), which granted Rhode Islanders heretofore unprecedented rights of freedom of religion and intellectual expression, and at the same time created one of the world's first secular governments.
Clarke lived in London from 1651 to 1663 with the sole purpose of securing this charter for Rhode Island.
In August, 2007, the National Park Service recognized Colonial Newport as "worthy of future consideration" as a World Heritage site. By virtue of the King Charles Charter, the theme of Newport's nomination is that Rhode Island is the birthplace of religious freedom in the World.
The National Park Service has two sites in Rhode Island that have a staff presence. The Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence was championed by Senator Pell in the early 1970's. The Blackstone National Heritage Corridor, based in Woonsocket, was championed by Senator John Chafee in the mid 1980's.
There is a National Historic Site designation for Touro Synagogue, but no permanent NPS staff presence in a City that hosts three million visitors annually.
This project would provide a major stimulus to the Rhode Island economy and is supported by members of the Newport World Heritage Committee.
The 350th anniversary of the King Charles Charter will be in 2013. This five-year time frame provides an impetus for action.
Roger Williams National Memorial, Providence
1. Based on the National Park Service's determination that Colonial Newport is worthy as a World Heritage site, members of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation are requested to express their interest in creating a John Clarke National Memorial in Newport by requesting a National Park Service Resource Study.
The Memorial would be modeled and staffed in scale to that of the Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence. The new Memorial would serve as a visitors hub for the Colonial district of Newport, accentuate the theme of Rhode Island's place as the birthplace of religious freedom, and connect visitors to the other Colonial-era historic sites specified in the Newport World Heritage application.
The Memorial would be located in a storefront located in Washington Square, where the King Charles Charter came to Rhode Island, in October 1663.
2. The Rhode Island Congressional delegation is requested to work to enact legislation creating a John Clarke National Memorial in Newport so as to allow its opening by the 350th anniversary of the King Charles Charter, in the year 2013.