September 18, 2012 - Anne Hutchinson Arrives in the New World

– 1634

 A couple of days ago, we celebrated a Puritan woman–and today we celebrate another!

Like Sunday's Bradstreet, Anne Hutchinson was born (in 1591) in England and became well educated (“for a woman”), and also like Bradstreet, she moved to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Boston. (She arrived in North America on this date in 1634.) Like Bradstreet, Hutchinson had a lot of kids—she had 11 children!

However, Hutchinson didn't totally fit in with the other Puritans. She and her husband had different Puritan-Christian beliefs than the Puritan-Christians ministers who gave sermons at church. And she shared her opinions: a group of women came to her house each week to hear her ideas. The weekly meetings became so popular, Hutchinson offered meetings for men, too.

The ministers who disagreed with Hutchinson's religious ideas complained, and soon the Hutchinsons faced a trial over their religious ideas. They were convicted of wrongdoing and banished from the colony.

This wasn't as shocking back then as it would be today. Throughout history and all over the world, there was commonly a religion of power—different religions in different places, of course, and at different times. The religion of the king or state was often established, and the populace was expected to follow. People who believed any other way (and were bold enough to say so) sometimes faced imprisonment, banishment, or death.

The Hutchinson family was welcomed by Roger Williams in what was to become the colony of Rhode Island. Although Hutchinson's life ended badly (she and all but one of the 16 members of her household were killed during an attack by native Siwanoy Indians), Anne Huchinson is an important part of the development of religious freedom in the North American colonies, and she is now honored by the state of Massachusetts as a “courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration.”

Also on this date:

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