What exactly did Anne Hutchinson do in her lifetime?

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lprono | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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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.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The link below is to a long biography of Anne Hutchinson.  Please follow it for much more detail.

Anne Hutchinson is famous for the fact that she was a religious dissenter who was expelled from the Massachussetts Bay Colony because of her beliefs.  Her dissent is seen as something of a democratic type of dissent.  She believed that she had received divine revelations and that people were capable of receiving such revelations themselves.  This meant that they could understand the Bible on their own instead of having to have the religious leaders of the community interpret the Bible for them.  As the link notes, her ideas

challenge(d) prelatic claims to spiritual leadership and authority, (and) suggested that worship and the reception of divine truth might flourish outside the arena of the formal church.

Because there was no separation of church and state in those days, the government of the colony expelled her.  They felt that her views were heretical and would undermine the society of the colony.

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