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Soon, the argument grew, and quickly involved political factions jockeying for position.One of Anne’s supporters, Henry Vane, lost the governorship in 1637, and that weakened her position.In March 1638, she was ordered to “go out from among them, and trouble the land no more.” It was not a shining moment for early American justice.
But she showed remarkable spirit and intelligence throughout the questioning.
In a way, that was in itself a rebuttal of one of the underlying charges – that women were not entitled to form their own opinions.
But once again, Rhode Island offers an interesting exception.
Anne Hutchinson has become famous to students of early American history for her role in a crisis that rocked Boston in its earliest years.
In other words, she acted as if God was talking to her, and to her alone.
Ironically, a direct experience of God was what so many early New Englanders wanted – but to claim it with no help from local ministers was a bit too independent for the authorities. So they simply did the opposite, and condemned her.So it is fair to say that she was crucial to the early history of two states – Massachusetts and Rhode Island.Anne was born around 1591, the daughter of an important minister, Francis Marbury, who was often speaking out in ways that were controversial. Anne Marbury grew up primarily in the town of Alford, in Lincolnshire, England, near where Captain John Smith (who helped to settle Virginia) came from.At a time when women had so few rights, she defended herself bravely and eloquently in her trial.The trial was unfair in many ways – she was never told clearly what the charges were.Rhode Island has many founders, in keeping with its democratic tradition.While Roger Williams was beginning Providence, others were coming to different places on Narragansett Bay, eager to find their own forms of freedom.This did not sit well with Boston’s authorities, who were beginning to clamp down on dissent, and to maintain their authority at a time of rapid growth.They also had religious disagreements, and here Anne’s criticisms were stinging.Anne defended herself ably, often outwitting her inquisitors.But she admitted something that was inadmissible at the time – she felt that her ideas came to her from God, directly – “by an immediate voice.” That gave the authorities more than enough reason to banish her.