The monument, dedicated in 1877, depicts a standing Williams holding a book inscribed with the words “soul” and “liberty”.
At the monument’s base, Clio (the muse of history) is inscribing Williams’ name and 1636, the year of Providence’s founding.
The Clio figure originally held a metal quill in her right hand, and the monument once featured a bronze shield, scroll and wreath near Clio’s feet (the missing elements can be seen in the 1905 black-and-white image from the Library of Congress).
The land for Roger Williams Park, and funding for the statue, were donated to the city by Williams’ great-great-great granddaughter Betsy. The park site was part of Williams’ land grant from the Narragansett tribe and the location of the family farm.
The monument was sculpted by Franklin Simmons, whose other works include the U.S. Grant memorial at the U.S. Capitol. Another version of the statue, without the Clio figure, is displayed in the Capitol building.
Not far from the Williams monument, a bronze bust and bench honor Richard H. Deming, a former president of the Providence park commission. The bust was dedicated in 1904.