Anne Hutchinson: An Activist for Equal Rights and a Pioneer of Suffrage

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The Puritans based their lifestyles heavily on religious beliefs. Calvinism served as their primary religion. This religion encompassed beliefs that held on the idea that their lives have been planned out by God from birth and any disruption to that plan should be eradicated. During the 17th century, witch hunts occurred due in part to Puritan’s stringent religious way of life. The controversy between John Winthrop and Anne Hutchinson rose up out of sexism, pose of threat and flawed theory in the form of a trial against Hutchinson.

Winthrop and Hutchinson’s personalities clashed immediately. They were neighbors in Boston and disliked each other from the start. Winthrop was an intransigent Calvinist Puritan. Predestination is at the heart of his religion. Winthrop’s understanding was that God had a plan for everyone and had already selected whether a person would be a member of the elect, the invisible church. God’s selection of saints was not based on human criteria. Puritans wanted to keep away from people who committed wrong actions. Any stray from the predestined life was a result of sin. He also believed that every church should expel the wicked. On the other hand, Hutchinson held a differed opinion on the Puritan religion. She came to America in hopes of breaking away from the Church of England. She wanted to be free to express her views. However, the community she entered into was not very welcoming of her ways.

The acknowledgement of a Covenant of Grace and a Covenant of Works came from John Wheelwright. He expressed that through a Covenant of Grace, people are predestined to be saved or be damned and there is nothing a person can do to change the outcome. However, through a Covenant of Works, a person can be saved th...

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...rial may have went differently or not even been held at all. Winthrop’s intention was to persecute Hutchinson’s flawed theory when, in actuality, his own flawed theory was the root cause of the witch hunts and punishments of innocent women. No toleration existed in the Puritan way of governing.

Hutchinson was a remarkable woman. She held great intelligence, wit and bravery. She was treated unfairly. She was denied a voice in society. Her beliefs were shunned away and mocked. She was a part of a male-dominated society with very conservative beliefs. Her liberal view of religion and government held no place in 17th century Boston. Winthrop was stubborn in his beliefs as well, and would let no woman, someone he viewed as his inferior, alter them. Hutchinson’s motives may never be identified, yet she is viewed as a Puritan religious dissenter and a feminist activist.

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