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New England Puritans & Pilgrims

New England Puritans & Pilgrims

Anne Hutchinson in New England Puritans & Pilgrims

Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) was an outspoken and controversial figure in the religious development of Massachusetts Bay Colony. After migrating there in 1634, Anne organized weekly meetings to discuss recent sermons, in which she also expressed her own theological views. In particular, she stressed the individual's relationship with God as opposed to reliance upon ministers. She thought ministers erred in emphasizing good works as though they could bring a person salvation, since the destiny of a person's soul was—according to Calvinist theology—predetermined by God from the day he or she was born.

Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop considered Anne Hutchinson's opinions blasphemous and led the successful counterattack against her. Hutchinson was pregnant when she was tried before the General Court in 1637. Though court testimony showed that she held her own in the sophisticated theological debates with the testifying ministers and the presiding magistrates, she was convicted of "traducing [slandering] the ministers" and banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony. After she was held for a time at the marshal's house in Roxbury, Massachusetts, she still refused to recant, and was then tried before the Boston church and formally excommunicated. She settled on Aquidneck Island (now Rhode Island) in 1638 and her baby was stillborn there. After the death of her husband, Anne resettled on Long Island Sound, where she was murdered by Indians. Her enemies, including Winthrop, took this in combination with the stillbirth of her daughter as confirmation of God's judgment against heretics.

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