Ann(e) Hutchinson (1591-1643) is regarded as having played a central role in the development of religious freedom in England’s American colonies. Originally a midwife from Lincolnshire in England, she was a huge admirer of preacher John Cotton and, when he was compelled to emigrate to New England in 1633, she and her family followed on a year later. However, her beliefs were very much at odds with many of her fellow settlers. The authorities, who espoused a doctrine based on the ‘covenant of works’ (which argued that salvation was to be gained through obedience to God’s law), took a dim view of her public preachings on the subject of the ‘covenant of grace,’ which emphasized redemption through faith in Christ. The clash gave rise to the Antinomian Controversy, and Anne was banished from the colony in 1638 along with many of her followers. She moved first to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and then to the New Netherland colony at what is now Pelham Bay, New York. The area was then the focal point of a huge clash between the Dutch settlers and the Native Americans and Anne, together with all but one of her children, was killed and scalped by Narragansett tribesmen during Kieft’s War.
Hawthorne wrote a brief historical sketch entitled ‘Mrs. Hutchinson’ in 1830 which emphasized the perceived incompatibility between social cohesion and tolerance of religious differences, providing a clear antecedent for The Scarlet Letter. Read it here.
This documentary recreates Anne Hutchinson's remarkable court appearances.