Anne Hutchinson arrived in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634 with her husband and her eleven children. She was an admirer of John Cotton. Yet, her activities as a spiritual adviser to women and later as the organizer of meetings where past sermons were discussed soon proved too destablizing for the social and religious balance of the colony. In the meetings, Hutchinson quickly moved from mere comments to the sermons to challenging one of the foundation of the Puritan theocracy: the connection between works and salvation/election. On the contrary, she argued for the principle of free grace where election cannot be tested with reference to outward means, a theory that came close to the heresy of antinomianism. Accused of heresy, she was excommunicated in 1638 and forced to escape to Rhode Island and then to New York.
Anne Hutchinson has acquired almost a mythical aura through the centuries also because of the absence of any direct record by her. For a reconstruction of her activities, we must rely on trial transcripts and on the journals of those notables. She challenged. Perhaps because of this, she has come to represent a strong female figure unwilling to defer to male authority. Yet, to call her a proto-feminist, would be to overlook that her concerns were mostly theological and that she had no coherent project to improve the condition of women in the colony.