(Anne Hutchinson is a woman to be admired as a woman who fought for freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom to worship as one pleases. She was a wife, mother, religious leader, and perhaps the first American Feminist)
She was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1591. In 1634, Anne, with her husband and family, immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in search of a place where they could worship freely. Anne was a very intelligent woman who hosted Bible study classes in her home...first with very small groups of women, but soon, she was leading larger meetings which included both ministers and magistrates. But, it wasn't long before her religious views and outspoken nature put her into a precarious position with the religious
First of all, according to the established religion, people were told they could only find God by following the teachings of the Bible and only by whose who belonged to an 'approved' church could vote. Anne, on the other hand, preached that people could communicate directly with God--without the help of ministers or the Bible. Each person's soul was implanted with God's grace. Add this to the fact that she was a woman--a woman presuming to teach me--something that was forbidden in the Bible.
John Winthrop, the governor of the colonies, was very leery of her views and cautioned that women could do 'irreparable damage to the brain' by pondering deep theological matters. (Yes, you read that right). Anne was placed on trial for heresy and charged with violating the Commandment 'to honor thy father and mother; essentially what they were saying was that she was undermining the father's of the Church with her preaching.
Anne stood trial alone, With no lawyer willing to defend her, she face a panel of 49 powerful and well-educated men who accused her of trying to undermine the government. (Remember, church and government were very tied together back then.) In addition, they said she stepped beyond her bounds of what was allowed for women. Anne may not have had a chance, but she sure was a fighter. As more and more men spoke up against her, she used the Bible and the men's own words to defend herself...but, in the end, the verdict went against her, and she was banished and excommunicated from Massachusetts Bay in 1637.
She left in the spring of 1638 to settle in Rhode Island, where she and her husband helped found Portsmouth. Then, after her husband's death in 1642, she and her younger children moved to the Dutch territory in what is now New York's Pelham Bay. In 1643, she and all but one of her children were slain in an Indian attack.
REal heroes are those who, despite facing adversity, refuse to betray their ideals and ethics. Anne Hutchinson was such a woman. Her only crime was expressing religious beliefs that were different from the colony...and that was against the law--especially for a woman. Her courageous actions helped set the stage for an American in which religious freedom was a reality. To honor her unrelenting advocacy for the freedom of religion, the right to free assembly, and women's rights, the Hutchinson River and the Hutchinson River Parkway were named for this feisty woman.