The Trial of Anne Hutchinson: Heretical Teacher or Guardian of Religious Liberty


Along with the development of mankind in all its stages there have been important events in the form of wars, revolutions, scientific discoveries or religious movements. Historically important events have involved both changes in society and the human worldview, as well as specific historical individuals. However, the person who studies history is very often faced with the problem of objectivity in evaluating the activities of one or another figure. This is due to the fact that any fact can be viewed from different perspectives, depending on the angle from which a certain issue will be addressed. This phenomenon can be seen in the example of the 17th century Puritan Anne Hutchinson, who, four centuries later is a controversial figure in American history.

There are many different views of Ann’s trial, for example, some historians believe that it served to benefit contemporary society for her, as it spared it from unrest and revolutionary sentiment. But there is another view that argues that Ann was a hero, a person who came out against male pressure and a quality example for the feminisim, a hero who fought for equality and peace between the Native Americans and the English colonizers. These different views of her persona are due to the fact that historians have considered different facts about her personal life and social actions. This can be illustrated by the arguments the writers make in their books about Hutchinson and by the stories they review.

Resources Annotation

LaPlante, Eve. “The Uncommon Life f Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans”. American Lezebel. HarperOne, (2010): 50-51.

In this source the author introduces Ann Hutchinson to the reader as a woman with “strange” and “incomprehensible” religious ideas. The narrative is at times led through dialogues of the heroine with the people around her, who draw such negative conclusions about her. The main idea indicated that the woman has renounced the real God, allows himself unnecessary and unjustifiably sets up the other immigrants, in society with whom he is. It should be understood that modern society for Ann was extremely religious, so the idea of God was relevant and very weighty. Because Hutchinson had her own view of Puritanism, which was primarily to preach a covenant of works rather than a covenant of grace, many Englishmen around her were wary of her. Such disagreements soon strained relations between Ann and local ministers, who viewed her behavior as sabotage of the colony. Strange thoughts are not a crime in themselves, but Ann had many supporters and those who supported her, which became a problem and, to avoid discord in the colony, she had to be tried in order to keep a united idea and purpose.

Moore, Lisa L., Brooks, Joann, et al. Transatlantic Feminisms in the Age of Revolutions. Oxford University Press, 2012.

In another source analyzed, Ann Hutchinson is shown to the reader no longer as a religious figure and reformer, but more as a fighter against gender inequality. According to the source, Ann was convinced that local ministers and colony administrators, as well as judges, allowed themselves more than they were allowed, without regard for women’s opinions. In August 1637, when she was tried, one of the charges was that her behavior was inappropriate to her sex (Moore, 2012). According to the writer, men feared and despised the emergence of power in a woman, noticing that Hutchinson was becoming more influential, and decided to somehow stop her. Ann herself refused to bow down to any man, believing that all colonists were equal, and since all were in the same position, in matters of domesticity, religion, and settlement, the opinions of all men, regardless of their sex, must be taken into account. Based on all these arguments, Ann’s trial is shown to be subjective and unfair, and the woman is portrayed as a heroine and a brave person for whom dignity is paramount.

“A Prophetesse Raised Up of God”: Spring and Summer, 1635.

The next source examined looks at the heroine from a domestic point of view. The author states that Ann was a very good-natured and diligent immigrant, specializing in medicine and midwifery. When someone in the village fell ill or it was time to give birth, Hutchinson immediately helped her neighbors by administering first aid. She was adept at creating medicines, gathering and purchasing various herbs and ingredients for tinctures, vaccines, and cures for disease. Many neighbors in the settlement spoke of the woman as a caring and compassionate person and said that she greatly helped keep order in the community. Of course, she was not the only physician in the settlement, so she had to deal with the distrust of people who interpreted her actions as amateurish. Nevertheless, as history shows, not a single patient treated by Anne complained of poor quality services, and her deliveries took place without complications or mishaps. As for the household, Ann is also shown to be an exemplary and decent host, who was always clean and comfortable. According to this source, the trial happened because of the envy and dislike of her colleagues, who did not perceive the girl as a competent doctor, believing that she only wasted their work and money.

Differences of opinions

Ann Hutchinson’s trial was indeed a controversial event; on the one hand, the authorities were trying to prevent the divisiveness that might have resulted from the religious divisions of which Ann was the source. From this point of view it is fair and understandable, for the breakup of a c colonialists settlement on another continent would have led to disaster, since, in addition to domestic problems, there was also a war with the Native Americans. On the other hand, there are opinions that the trial was a consequence of anger, envy, and fear on the part of ministers who feared the loss of power or a diminution of their own influence. On this side, it is a terrible event and a crime that deprived the colony of a hero and a woman of genius. The arguments on this side are broader and more valid because of the words of eyewitnesses and contemporaries, so Ann Hutchinson is still a heroic and important figure for the history of colonial America. It is also an interesting fact that Ann advocated peace between the colonizers and the natives, even though many of her contemporaries held a different view. However, the woman was murdered by Indians despite her peace-loving attitude, the reason was the fact that her place of residence after her trial and exile was on the periphery of the battle between Native Americans and the British. It is conceivable that, had it not been for the trial, Ann would have had to find a new place to live, and thus she might not have died. This suggests that the trial was in any case fatal for the woman, even if it was fair.


The story of Hutchinson’s trial demonstrates how history as a science is ambiguous and dependent on the facts and the angle from which the researcher views it. From this we can conclude that for an objective assessment of any person or historical event it is necessary to consider all the facts and sides of life together, which is almost impossible, because due to various circumstances, part of the arguments almost always remain lost and unknown.


“A Prophetesse Raised Up of God”. 1635. Web.

LaPlante, Eve. “The Uncommon Life f Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans”. American Lezebel. HarperOne, (2010): 50-51.

Moore, Lisa L., Brooks, Joann, et al. Transatlantic Feminisms in the Age of Revolutions. Oxford University Press, 2012.