Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

Synopsis

This brilliant, dramatic reconstruction of the Puritan mind in action, informed with psychological and sociological insights, provides a fresh understanding of Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and gives her controversy with the Puritan Saints a new dimension in American colonial history.

Originally published in 1962.

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Excerpt

Every American who has survived the patriotic myths of the grade school history texts is acquainted with the name of Anne Hutchinson. Her heroic defiance of the Puritan autocracy has won the admiration of liberal minds and gained her acclaim as a notable champion of our religious liberty. Only in recent years has careful restudy of her doctrines suggested that perhaps there was much to be said for the viewpoint of her oppressors. This more balanced interpretation of Mrs. Hutchinson’s controversy with the New England Saints was made possible by Perry Miller’s penetrating analysis of the Puritan mind—a contribution for which all students of American history must remain deeply indebted to him.

It is not my purpose to remove any of the credit which is properly Anne Hutchinson’s due. Indeed, although unconvinced that she was a conscious champion of any religious principles other than her own, I suspect that the most substantial strides toward religious freedom have generally been made, not by the dedicated and articulate proponents of that end, but rather by the strenuous endeavors of innumerable sectarians, such as she was, to gain religious freedom for themselves. in the long run religious heterogeneity and the force of numbers were more powerful persuaders than rational arguments in producing this great social change.

This book offers an account of a specific religious movement and its leader and of the circumstances which gave rise to that movement. in part, I have attempted to develop Professor Miller’s conclusions along lines relevant to the Antinomian Controversy and to place them within the historical narrative of that event. Somewhat more originally—and perilously—I have sought to raise certain fundamental questions which have not hitherto been applied to the career of Mrs. Hutchinson and the tempest she aroused. Although the story has been frequently retold by professional his-

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