Marilyn J. WesterkampOct 27, 2021
The Passion of Anne Hutchinson
An Extraordinary Woman, the Puritan Patriarchs, and the World They Made and Lost
Oxford University Press 2021
When English colonizers landed in New England in 1630, they constructed a godly commonwealth according to precepts gleaned from Scripture. For these 'Puritan' Christians, religion both provided the center and defined the margins of existence. While some Puritans were called to exercise power as magistrates and ministers, and many more as husbands and fathers, women were universally called to subject themselves to the authority of others. Their God was a God of order, and out of their religious convictions and experiences Puritan leaders found a divine mandate for a firm, clear hierarchy. Yet not all lives were overwhelmed; other religious voices made themselves heard, and inspired voices that defied that hierarchy.
Gifted with an extraordinary mind, an intense spiritual passion, and an awesome charisma, Anne Hutchinson arrived in Massachusetts in 1634 and established herself as a leader of women. She held private religious meetings in her home and later began to deliver her own sermons. She inspired a large number of disciples who challenged the colony's political, social, and ideological foundations, and scarcely three years after her arrival, Hutchinson was recognized as the primary disrupter of consensus and order--she was then banished as a heretic.
Anne Hutchinson, deeply centered in her spirituality, heard in the word of God an imperative to ignore and move beyond the socially prescribed boundaries placed around women. The Passion of Anne Hutchinson: An Extraordinary Woman, the Puritan Patriarchs, and the World They Made and Lost (Oxford UP, 2021) examines issues of gender, patriarchal order, and empowerment in Puritan society through the story of a woman who sought to preach, inspire, and disrupt.
Hannah Smith is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She can be reached at email@example.com.