Anne Hutchinson was a threat to the ideals of the Puritan community because she would not subjugate her own personal convictions and beliefs to those held by the ministers and the civil authority. She was thought of as having broken covenant with the community by associating with those already banned and by freely speaking her differing ideas. These actions were compounded by the fact that she was a strong, well-spoken, charismatic individual.
Anne’s strength can be seen at the beginning of the examination. First the trial was moved from Boston to Newton to isolate her from her supporters. As a woman, alone, she was brought in front of a court full of powerful men. Then harshly rebuked by the Governor being accused of “troubling the peace of the commonwealth and churches” by “promoting and divulging of those opinions that are causes of this trouble.” (Wheeler/Becker p. 35) I imagine this was orchestrated in part to cause Anne to be ashamed and fearful. The Governor may have hoped that this would have led her to humility and to ask forgiveness and then to go back to her place of quietly tending to her family. He must have been disappointed and angered when instead of backing down she challenged his confrontation stating, “I hear no things laid to my charge.”(Wheeler/Becker p.36)
Next the Governor questions Anne concerning her association with Mr. Wheelwright. Mr. Wheelwright’s sermons had been considered divisive to the colony and hence he had been banished. Anne was accused of being guilty of the same sin through entertaining Mr. Wheelwright and his supporters. When she questions, “What law do they transgress?” Gov. W. answers, “The law of God and of the state.” I seems that the Governor considered Mr. Wheelwrights views to be detrimental to the community. By bringing division to the community Mr. Wheelwright had broken covenant with the Puritan church, then state, and ultimately God. Anne’s empathy toward Wheelwright was then thought of as covenant breaking.
This study was conducted in the community of Staten Island, a.k.a. Richmond county is one of the five boroughs of New York City. The intention of this survey was to obtain a full assessment through visual observations within the surroundings of the community. There are many variations of the definition of community, recent nursing literature addresses the concept of community by “identifying four ...
The Governor now asks, ‘Why do you keep such a meeting at your house as you do every week upon a set day?”(Wheeler/Becker p.37) This being lawful and even encouraged Anne seems agitated that she would be question regarding it. As for the legality of it the Governor states that she needed no “confutation”. Further on though he makes an insinuation. “…but what is this to the purpose that you Mrs. Hutchinson must call a company together from their callings to come to be taught of you?”(Wheeler/Becker p.38) He didn’t say taught of God, or to discuss with you, he said taught of you. Implying that Mrs. Hutchinson was promoting her own ideas and perhaps elevating herself to authority not granted to her. This would have also been considered to be outside of the Puritan community covenant.
The Governor also drills her on whether or not she has or would instruct men. After she has denied that any such thing has happened he persists with a hypothetical. I saw this as a demonstration that the Governor considered Anne to be charismatic and influential. If she was so influential to the women that would naturally affect the men.
In the first part of the trial Anne seems attempts to be submissive to the law but she is unwilling to compromise her convictions in doing so. In one attempt to she states, “Will it please you to answer me this and to give me a rule for then I will willingly submit to any truth.”(Wheeler/Becker p. 38) But, as the trial goes on Anne must sense that it is not going to be possible for her to conform to what these men want. Especially after the Dep. Gov. began to level accusations that she couldn’t fully deny and inferred this about what she had said. For example:
As everyone knows by now, there is a difference between a man and a womans outer appearance. What some people do not realize is that a man and a woman are also different in communication techniques. Generally speaking, men and women fall into two categories when dealing with communication techniques. When men talk, it is for giving information. Deborah Tannen says this informative speaking is ...
Dep. Gov. “…when the ministers do preach a covenant of works do they preach a way of salvation?”
Mrs. H. “I did not come hither to answer to questions of that sort.”
Dep. Gov. “Because you will deny the thing.
Mrs. H. “Ey, but that is to be proved first.”(Wheeler/Becker p.40)
Toward the end of the trial Anne’s true convictions come pouring out, “He(Jesus) hath let me see which was the clear ministry and which the wrong. Since that time I confess I have been more choice and he hath left me to distinguish between the voice of my beloved and the voice of Moses, the voice of John the Baptist and the voice of antichrist, for all those voices are spoken of in scripture. Now if you do condemn me for speaking what in my conscience I know to be truth I commit myself unto the Lord.
In the end Anne was a threat to the goals of this community. With all the free thinking and speaking that women do today it seems odd but her critisism of the ministers (especially as a woman) was under minding community with one another and God. This was true in the mindset of Puritan Massachusetts, anyway. the unity and authority of the Anne had convictions and he own beliefs, things that we admire today. She was an intelligent woman who could have passively submitted if she had chosen too. Anne was passionate about what she believed though and couldn’t do that. She had a choice; she made it, and stood by it. In return the authorities did what they believed they must for the well being of their society.