September 19, 2005
The Threat of Anne Hutchinson
What had Anne Hutchinson done?
Why was Anne Hutchinson such a threat to the Massachusetts Bay colony? How was Anne Hutchinson's trial an ordeal for her and how was it an ordeal for the community?
Anne Hutchinson, for centuries now, has been seen as a woman who paved the way for religious freedom. She was a great leader in the cause for religious toleration in America and the advancement of women in society. Anne Hutchinson was "a magnetic woman of extraordinary talent and intellect" as well as a woman "who quickly gained respect among Boston's women as a midwife, healer, and spiritual counselor" (AP, p. 92).
Although Hutchinson is documented to have been banished as a religious dissenter, the real motive for her persecution was that she challenged the submissive role of women in Puritan society by standing up and expressing her own religious convictions.
Anne Hutchinson seemed destined for banishment from the Puritan Church and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. She had a strong demeanor, no doubt from the 14 children she bore to her husband William, and possessed an avid interest in religion and theology. Add to this the influence of John Cotton, and the fact that her father and brother-in-law had been banished from their respective colonies, and you certainly see the role fate played in her life. When the Hutchinson's arrived in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634, they were received with open arms. With the prosperity of William, and Anne's background of medicine and nursing, it is no surprise they were welcome additions to the community. This, however, was short lived. Anne had high expectations, originally, for finally having the freedom to express her beliefs away from the Church of England. However, once the Hutchinson's settled, she found no religious freedom at all in Massachusetts Bay Colony. The roles of men and women married under the Puritan religion were clearly defined....