In 1642 a movement of 18,000 colonizers set out to New England, led by a man named John Winthrop. These so called colonizers were operating under a charter from the King to a Puritan-controlled Massachusetts Bay Company. The Puritans set out to establish their own perfect society in where they had communities where the good of the people outweighed people's individual interest. They believed they were sent to Massachusetts Bay to carry out the divine task of living the word of God. Since being led by men with experience in local government, law, and exhortation, the puritans thrived and their society kept on expanding. They began relying mostly on free labor, and their economy was based on agriculture, fishing, timbering, and trading with the local Native Americans. Even setting the foundations of self-government, allowing free male church members to annually elect governors and deputies for each town. As long as the people in the colony were there to fulfill Gods prophecy for New England then everything was functioning well. Consequently there is bound to be a couple of bad seeds that will throw things a bit off course. In the case of Puritan Massachusetts a woman by the name of Anne Hutchinson raised turmoil. Anne Hutchinson posed theological, social, and political threats to the established structures of power and authority in Puritan Massachusetts. Even though the Puritans were uptight and were settled on the idea of limited involvement of women, Anne Hutchinson's preaching's and the influence and power she had as a woman posed a threat to the power and authority to the Puritan Patriarchy in Massachusetts.
First of all, the Puritan patriarchy believed - like any up and coming community that they were going to ultimately expand and establish a respected and successful society. The goal of the Puritans was to have communities consist of only pure Christians who collectively swore a covenant with God. The Puritans weren't exactly what you would call levelheaded people either. For the most part they considered themselves above all others since they were chosen to live out Gods disposition. This can be seen in a quote by John Winthrop " We shall be as a city upon a hill [and] the eyes of all people are upon us." (Nash 85). In the quote Winthrop could be implying that they - the Puritans - are like God compared to other societies, and are all looking up at the Puritans as if they are of a superior status. The Puritans believed in the idea of Predestination, which is the concept that before birth your destiny is already predetermined. According to them God had already chosen who would be in heaven or hell, so each believer had no way of knowing which path had been laid out for them. This kept all Puritans constantly working to do well in their lives to be chosen for the next eternal one. They were also very family oriented and saw family as a spiritual unit. The female of the household was to attend to the man, educate the children, and take care of the normal household duties. Other than that they weren't allowed to do much except go to church with the rest of the community. In Puritan Society the women were degraded and oppressed. Men were believed to be superior and women had little to no say in anything. They believed women were to be naturally more sinful than men. In essence Women weren't even able to think for themselves. As uptight as the Puritan society was, any little misstep would most likely have led to banishment. Ironically it was a woman who tried to break the threshold instead of the supposedly more "superior" man.
Anne Hutchinson thought for herself instead of blindly believing in what the majority of the society thought. But before Anne Hutchinson there was a man by the name of Roger Williams who troubled the governor John Winthrop and Massachusetts. He vowed for the separation of church and state, and charged the Puritans with illegally intruding on Native American Land. Winthrop was convinced that the colony would split and undermine authority. Therefore he threatened to banish Williams, but before he was able to, Williams fled to found providence. Similarly Winthrop will ended up doing the same thing to future threats to his society. Anne Hutchinson was more of a threat due to her convincing theological views. Her movement has been labeled as antinomianism, which stressed the nature of God's free gift of grace while discounting the efforts the individual could make to gain salvation. Hutchinson's views differed from that of the Puritans, which believed in predestination. She believed the government shouldn't govern what people should follow or believe. It should be up to the person to govern his or her own beliefs and actions. If peoples destinies were predetermined what is the need of going to church? She believed in a "Covenant of Grace" in which faith alone was enough to achieve salvation and that people could communicate directly with God without the help of ministers or the Bible. Either way after church Anne would hold bible meetings for women were she proclaimed her own theological views of the sermons. These meetings ultimately began to attract men. Anne's views spread among the people, and it began to trouble the peace of the churches. The quote by John Winthrop that reinforces this is " Mrs. Hutchinson, you are called here as one of those that have troubled the peace of the commonwealth and the churches here". (Trial 1). The Puritan powers felt the threat keep expanding and tried to protect their image. A quote from the examination of her trials state reinforces that fact " but you have spoken divers things, as we have been informed, very prejudicial to the honour of the churches and ministers thereof " (trials). Accordingly throughout the rest of the trial they would accuse her of dishonoring god. Either way she followed her gut feelings with such confidence and defended her views with such spiritual influence that they began to fear her power and leadership.
Through the thick and the thin Anne Hutchison still had her band of supporters. She had the support of the woman of the colony, and even of some of the men. Hutchinson offended the male leaders because stepped out the ordinary boundaries expected of women. Which is the idea that women are the "weaker" sex. This belief that women were meant to be inferior to men can be supported by this quote " that hath been condemned by the general assembly as a thing not tolerable nor comely in the sight of God nor fitting for your sex" (trials). She was not an ordained minister, but she was preaching and explaining religion in her own home after church. She was also known to have committed some other non-woman like acts. For example it has been noted that would have affairs with other men and committed acts such as adultery. Furthermore fortifying the fact that she acted outside standards set for women. Women were not typically feared in general, but a powerful woman would have been a force to be reckoned with. Ideas are harder to banish than people are, that's why they sought out to control Anne as a threat before her preaching's spread like wildfire. Winthrop thought that women expressing their views on Church and communal matters would cause fear for the integrity and fundamentalist ideals of the Puritan way of life in the colony of Massachusetts bay. Anne Hutchison even went as far entertaining a petition, which according to the general dishonored the commonwealth. For a woman on trial, and who faced a panel of powerful well educated men, Anne held her ground really well. This shows the strength and courage that she possessed. Anne would defend every action that the governor would bring up as being unlawful or hindering the community. They argued back and forth over most of the points brought up. From my point of view it seemed as if Anne actually would win the arguments because she would defend her points and then the general would give a general response back and then bring up another point. Ultimately they would end up banishing Anne Hutchinson, deeming her as "being a woman not fit for out society". Anne may not have succeeded in changing the laws or beliefs of her time in the intolerant society of Puritan New England, but she set the foundation for religious freedom and for womans rights.
As far as women were concerned, freedom to think was their freedom to commit sin and controversy. Controversy is definitely what Anne Hutchinson stirred up. Anne as a woman set out to do fight for what she believed in and set the foundation for women to do the same today. Anne Hutchinson proved those women are just as capable as men are. If it were a man that committed all the acts that Anne did, would the Puritans have reacted in the same way? What the puritans saw as a threat was actually the demonstration a woman seeking freedoms. The threat that Anne Hutchinson posed to the power and authority to Puritan Massachusetts was not only due to her unorthodox preaching's but also because of the influence and power she had as a woman .