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Anne Hutchinson: Our Founding Mother



The word literally means 'against the law'. It was used to describe Anne Hutchinson and her followers in a derogatory manner and had connotations of licentious behavior and heretical doctrine.

puritan vs Puritan

The word puritan is used in a general sense to describe intangible characteristics such as character, concious leanings or allegiance to certain religious beliefs as opposed to Puritan which implies something distinctly set such as membership in an organization or establishment. The puritans were in agreement about the need for further cleansing of the church institutions through evangelical means and held a basic set of common beliefs, but there was never an official institution of puritanism.

Puritan Beliefs

  • The total depravity of man
  • Unconditional Election
  • Limited Atonement
  • Irresistible Grace
  • Perseverance of the "Saints"

Anne Hutchinson

Anne Hutchinson

Anne Marbury Hutchinson is sometimes referred to as the first American feminist but she was more than that. She was also a pioneer in religious freedom and freedom of speech in a time when women were subjugated to men, were not allowed to talk in public and when there was little tolerance for opposing religious beliefs regardless of gender.

The story of Anne Hutchinson takes place in the 17th century during what has become known as "the Great Migration" of British puritans seeking relief from religious persecution. During the period of 1630-1640 thousands from the middle ranks of English society sailed across the Atlantic landing at present day Salem. They soon relocated to what is today the Boston area and settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The colonists were united by the persecution they had faced in England and in the words of their leader, Governor John Winthrop, a sense of religious mission to build "a city on a hill".

Feeling spiritually deprived because her favorite preacher, Reverend John Cotton, had migrated to New England to avoid pesecution in England, Anne Hutchinson and her family followed him and arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634.

Ironically, three years after her arrival Anne Hutchinson was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony at the court in Newtown and the next year, in 1638 excommunicated from the Boston church. She was accused of "errors" of religious opinions and was convicted of conspiracy and of undermining the most central tenets of the church. Conservative from a modern perspective, she was seen as an "agent of Satan", a witch, a Jezebel.

Antinomian Controversy Background

Contrary to the convictions of the ruling magistrates and orthodox ministers, the split in the Massachusetts Bay Colony didn't begin with the arrival of Anne Hutchinson. There were other person's, events and even social, political and religious theories of organization that opened the way for the two year period known as the "Antinomian Controversy".

Let's first take a look at indications inherent in the Massachusetts Bay Colony settlement's organization that opened the cracks for the impending split. Read more

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Anne Hutchinson's Crimes

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  • Crimes
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Peril to the Welfare of the Colony

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The Magistrates and Ministers Speak

" I look at her as a dangerous instrument of the devil, raised up by Satan amongst us to raise up divisions and contentions and take away hearts and affections, one from another "

Reverend John Wilson

(assigned minister to the Boston militia that conducted the Pequot war)

Called Anne Hutchinson an American Jezebel who was given the chance to repent but " instead kept a back doore to have returned to her vomit again "

Governor John Winthrop

I am " fully persuaded that Mrs Hutchinson is deluded by the devil " would inspire her " hearers to take up arms against their prince and to cut the throats of one another "

Deputy Governor Thomas Dudley

" your opinions fret like an Gangrene and spread like a Leproise, and infect far and near, and will eate out the very Bowells of Religion, and hath soe infected the churches that God knows when they will be cured "

Reverend John Cotton

" Some quote or other "

Thomas Weld

Preface to John Winthrop's "Short Story"

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Established Culprits and Culprits In the Establishment

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The Horror of Absurdity

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Historical Musing

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