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Anne Hutchinson: A Pioneer Of Feminism And Religious Freedom Essay

I walked into the schoolroom, and I could see my children sitting in rows based on their grade. I had been asked by the teacher, Miss Ashbury, to come and talk about the remarkable journey that led me to the Narragansett, an Indian territory in the liberating colony of Rhode Island. I sat down in the creaky wooden rocking chair and began my tale: “Hello, children! I will be telling you the story of how I ended up in Rhode Island, where we all live. It all began a long time ago, when I first arrived here in America. “In a mere blink after I first set foot upon this mysterious, new land called America, two years flew by. The fall of 1636 was fast approaching. Leaves turned bright hues of yellows and orange, though mostly brown, and there was a subtle bite that crisply lingered about the air at daybreak. It was only five o’clock when I slipped out of the house, as silent as the night that had come and gone. This was my thinking time. Usually, I walked around the estate, which lay just outside of Boston, and that day was no different. I most likely started my walk by reminiscing of my hometown in Mother England.

Alford in Lincolnshire, England had been wonderfully picturesque and quaint. On July 20, 1591, I was baptized as Anne Marbury by my loving parents, Francis Marbury, a reverend, and Bridget Dryden, my wonderful mother. We moved around a lot, mostly because Father was banned from preaching at several churches due to his radical philosophies. In fact, he had been imprisoned and put under house arrest more than once (Reuben 2). I supposed the reflection of my childhood was brought about by the evening before. There had been the birth of the Atkins’ twin boys, Hugh and Silas, as well as the Doran’s, who had their firstborn, Humility (Barnett 1). Being one of the most trusted midwives in the area, of course I was there to help them (Reuben 2). Goody Atkins, after the successful delivery of two rosy cheeked boys, queried about when the next conventicle would be. I told her that they were held every Wednesday at two o’clock at my place.

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I told her that nearly fifty people, though mostly women, came regularly to discuss their beliefs about the great Puritan faith. What had begun as an intimate gathering had blossomed into a town-wide affair. She told me eagerly that once she was back on her feet, she would definitely join. I met her enthusiasm with even greater zeal on my part, recounting the numerous advancing theological thinkers that came. At this time, there were even a couple public religious leaders that had begun to join, like John Cotton, my idol and inspiration. An avid supporter of intellect, Sir Henry Vane, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, appeared at a few recent meetings too. I found this was a terrific way to pass time in a culture where virtually every other activity was banned or considered sinful (2). The women who came to these meetings found them as an effective outlet to express their views on serious topics without being mocked, ignored, or worse, punished. In this society, a woman’s voice was vanquished by the overpowering male population that governed the colony. “I had been out walking for an hour or so, and it was now six o’clock.

The sun’s rays just brimmed over the horizon. Hurriedly, I went into the kitchen where William, to whom I owe the lovely surname Hutchinson, was. Bread, milk, and porridge were on the table, prepared for another glorious day (Olver 3). Filing down the stairs, all fifteen of my pious and healthy children greeted us each with a somnolent, “Good morning, Mother. Good morning, Father.” They shuffled around the table, said a prayer of thanks, and began to eat. Since it was a Saturday, we cleaned the home, dusted, polished, washed the laundry, and did other chores. It was to be spotless for the Lord’s Day. When everyone finished, it was supper time. Another meal and prayer of gratitude was enjoyed. After, we turned in early, ready for church the next day. “Ever since I could walk, I had been going to church. My father being a pastor, no matter how outrageous, I was brought to almost all his discourses. As an adult, I found the most amazing mentors.

Clergymen John Cotton and John Wheelwright had both preached near Alford, Lincolnshire. Once, when we were still in England, I made the thirty mile trip to attend one of Reverend Cotton’s famed sermons. It was instant admiration of the utmost level. John Wheelwright had been introduced to me when I married William, since William’s sister Mary was married to Wheelwright. They influenced my beliefs and theories of religious and as chance would have it, wound up in the Boston area. My family attended the Boston Church, which had the largest congregation around (Lewis 2). Dressed in our Sunday best, we piled into the horse drawn wagon and headed to church for a blissful day of worship. Life could not be any better. “My days as a simple midwife and mother continued for a year, give or take. By then, a singularly particular thing had changed in regards to the meetings I held. Over a hundred people, men and women alike, now attended.

They became biweekly. During these gatherings, I voiced my interpretations of Reverend Cotton’s and other ministers’ sermons. I elucidated that God did not have to speak to us through religious figures, such as priests; man could have his own personal relationship with Him. Moreover, I believed in salvation by grace, in that one could not prepare to be saved by performing virtuous deeds, which I knew upset many a congregation member. People disagreed with my sights, but, after all, this was the New World, a land of religious freedom, where people could believe what they wanted to and not be prosecuted for it, unlike in England. Oh, the irony of it all. Instead, I found the oppression of the Puritan faith, dare I say, even greater than that of the Anglican Church. Here, in Massachusetts, the Bible is law.

No more, no less. But I disagreed, and this was accepted without much grace in the community (2). “John Winthrop, a politician who strongly opposed, nay, hated my opinions, ran against dear Governor Vane. After losing to Winthrop, the beloved Governor Vane returned to England in August. My brother-in-law John Wheelwright had been promoted to the head of the Boston Church some time before. Not long after Winthrop’s succession, Wheelwright was banned from the colony for alleged sedition. Then, the final leaf in the book of misfortune was turned. It was the fall of 1637, a scant year after I had thought of my life as the epitome of the New World success story. Reverend John Cotton, a man whom I respected and followed, turned against me. He joined forces with the powerful Governor John Winthrop. Together, they brought me before the colony’s General Court on the charges of sacrilegious views and sedition, not unlike my brother-in-law (2).

I knew had no chance. My sex would be of no help either. Still, I had to try. “The trial was nothing more than a sham. The judges were the prosecutors and they were all Winthrop’s supporters. My followers had barred from activities that held any leverage \ in the community because of their theological dissent. The outcome was inevitable, so I publicly repented my sins in court, claimed to wholly espouse the orthodox Puritan ways, and prayed to God. Miraculously, I was permitted to stay, while under the custody of the sheriff Joseph Weld. During this time, I was brought to Reverend Cotton, where he and others attempted to further the orthodox ways into my morals. Not long after the trial ended, I could no longer accept the ludicrous ideals of the rigid Puritan culture and confessed to my true controversial views.

On accounts of deceit under oath, I was tried again. Known as perjury, it is, put plainly, illegal. Immediately excommunicated by the Boston Church, I packed up my belongings, family, and moved to Rhode Island, dubbed “The Sewer.” I purchased land from the Narragansett Indians and have been living comfortably and at liberty ever since (2). “Today, I simply hope for a brighter future for your generation and those afterwards. Perhaps there will be justice and liberation for them, and I would certainly like to think that I, Anne Marbury Hutchinson, was proscribed from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a place I cherished, for the benefit of the future of mankind. Thank you.”

Works Cited

Barnett, Jill. “Colonial Names: Great Names from American History.” Nameberry.com. N.p., 20 Jan. 2010. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://nameberry.com/blog/colonial-names-great-names-from-american-history>.

Lewis, Jone Johnson. “Anne Hutchinson.” About.com Women’s History. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://womenshistory.about.com/od/earlyamerica/a/anne_hutchinson.htm>.

Olver, Lynne. “The Food Timeline: Colonial America.” The Food Timeline: Colonial America. Food Timeline, 21 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodcolonial.html>.

Plant, David. “Sir Henry Vane (the Younger) 1613-62.” Sir Henry Vane, the Younger, 1613-62. British Civil Wars and Commonwealth Website, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/biog/vane.htm>.

Reuben, Paul P. “PAL: Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643).” PAL: Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643). N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap1/hutchinson.html?all>.

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