Birth of an Unlikely Leader

Anne Hutchinson and her husband arrived in Massachusetts in September of 1634, settling down quickly. The fiery spirit that marked her stand against the Puritan leaders in the colony had not yet erupted, but rather continued to simmer, as she and her husband established themselves in a two-story house in what would become present-day downtown Boston.

Having been trained as a midwife in England, Hutchinson continued the practice in the America, becoming a respected figure in the community amongst the colony’s women. While still constrained by the pressures and rules of the day, she was able to establish a base of followers whom she and Minister John Cotton preached the “Covenant of Grace,” which would spark what is the called the Antinomian Controversy, the first schism within Puritan New England, one which threatened to undermine the power of both the church and government in the infant society.

An easy target, due to a disregard of social mores and overall womanhood, Hutchinson found herself at the center of a legal quandary. She had preached publicly, wholly unacceptable for a Puritan woman, and had questioned the doctrine taught by the church, claiming that the “Covenant of Works” espoused by Massachusetts’ ministers led followers to believe they could simply do good and get into Heaven, apart from finding personal salvation.

Within two years of moving to Boston, Hutchinson faced an uphill battle against the the colony’s magistrates. Any man would have been intimidated, but Hutchinson went head-to-head with the most powerful men in the hemisphere.


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