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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Anne Hutchinson

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Living in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the mid seventeenth century required most people of the community to conform to certain ideals. It was the Puritan way of life and therefore the community set high values and morals in their faith. Women kept very quite and men were the only people who were allowed to attend social events. That all changed in the community when the Hutchinson family arrived from England. Anne Hutchinson was into religion and where she came from it wasn’t wrong for women to hold meetings or be part of the community in many ways. John Winthrop and the rest of the Puritan society thought differently. When Anne was holding meetings after church and secretly talking in the antinomian way, they had to do something about it.


I believe that Anne did in a way pose a threat to the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Before she came, the Puritans did have to deal with the Antinomians. It wasn’t until she was conducting the secret “meetings” that the church felt threatened. Was it her beliefs or the fact that she was a woman? I believe it to be both of those facts that lead the leaders of the society to take action against her. Governor Winthrop told Anne “We do not mean to discourse with those of your sex but only this you do adhere unto them and do endeavour to set forward this faction and so you do dishonour us.” (pg. 7) It was a new encounter to have a woman in the society to be so “nimble and wit with an active spirit and a very voluble tongue,” as Winthrop said. (pg. ) This was one of the arguments made against Anne in the court. Another was her beliefs. Her minister from England, Mr. Cotton also came to the New World. She was blamed to have the same beliefs as the Antinomians, or that the ministers were preaching the covenant of works and not the covenant of grace. In the Puritan society that was not heard of. “I might say they might preach a covenant of works as did the apostles, but to preach a covenant of works and be under a covenant of works is another business.” (pg. 41) Anne tried to tell her court and judges that was what she meant and yet the stubborn governor and court refused to put all her accusers under oath with the stories they told. “No matter what he thought of Hutchinson’s abilities, publicly the governor was determined to get rid of her.” (pg.) The beliefs of the judges before the trial were that she was guilty and almost nothing was going to change that.


After reading the passage from the court records, Anne pleaded Winthrop to tell her what she was on trial for and to produce evidence of her so called crime. Neither was done substantially. The end grew near after Anne compared herself to Daniel of the Old Testament, after which the court called her a worshiper of the devil. “Mrs. Hutchinson is deluded by the devil,” was said by the Deputy Governor. (pg. 46) Winthrop responded that she was unfit to be in society and banishment was the only course of action. “I desire to know wherefore I am banished,” Anne pleaded, “Say no more. The court knows wherefore and is satisfied,” was her reply. (pg. 46) The judges and court went in to have a very intelligent woman with a strong religious background who was heavily respected by members of the community banished from it. It was because they felt threatened that she might come to have more power then all of them and desired to get rid of the threat before anything happened. None of their evidence would hold up in the court of law in the United States today.





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