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Anne Hutchinson
by [?]

During the Civil War it was assumed by a large contingent that if you believed in equal rights for the colored man you were desirous of having your daughter marry a “nigger.”

Many good men assume that if you believe in giving the right of suffrage to women, you want your wife to run for the office of constable. There are those who assume that men who do not go to church play cards; those who play cards chew tobacco; those who chew tobacco drink whisky; those who drink whisky beat their wives; therefore all men should go to church.

All of Anne Hutchinson’s troubles came from inferences; these inferences were the work of the clergy.

* * * * *

Those first Colonists lived practically communal lives, as pioneers usually do. In their labors they worked together and for one another. If a house was to be built, there was a “bee” and everybody got busy. When a shipload of emigrants arrived, the entire town welcomed them at the waterside. The Hutchinsons were especially welcome, coming as the near and dear personal friends of John Cotton. Mrs. Hutchinson and several of her children were housed with the Cotton family, until they could build a home of their own.

Mrs. Hutchinson was regarded as an especially valuable arrival, for she had rare skill in medicine and a devotion in nursing the sick that caused her to be looked upon with awe. With children she was especially fortunate. Hers was the healing touch, for she had the welling mother-heart, the heart of infinite love; and the cures she worked by simply holding the stricken child in her arms and breathing upon it were thought to be miraculous.

With pioneers, children are at a premium. Puritans regarded the death of a child as a visitation of the wrath of God; it filled the whole settlement with terror. So naturally, any one who could stay the hand of death was regarded as divinely endowed. Also, they were regarded by some with suspicion, for these people believed there were two sources of power, God and Satan.

Anne Hutchinson smiled at this, and told the people that sickness was a result of wrong living or accident, and was not a manifestation of the wrath of God at all, and the cure was simply worked by getting in harmony with the laws of Nature.

Here, unwittingly, Mrs. Hutchinson was treading on very thin theological ice. She was contradicting the clergy. She thought Nature and God were one–they knew otherwise. But her days were so filled with the care of the sick who besieged her house, that she was forced in self-protection to give the people strong meat.

There were times when the weather was bad, and the whole settlement would sink into melancholia. These people were on the bleak hillside, facing the sea. Back of them, hedging them close, was the forest, dim, dark and mysterious. In this wood were bears, wolves, panthers, which in Winter, lured by the smell of food, would occasionally enter the village to the great danger of life. At nightfall the settlers would go inside, bar the windows and doors, and look to their matchlocks, which in emergency might be needed.

Now and again came Indians, proud and painted, and paraded through the village threateningly, and innocently helped themselves to whatsoever they saw which they needed. Mrs. Hutchinson’s power of healing had gone abroad among these red men, and now and again an Indian mother would stop at her door with a stricken papoose, and such were never turned away.

The houses were small, ill-ventilated, overcrowded, and the singing, praying and exhortation were not favorable to the welfare of the sick, nervous or tired. The long severe Winter was a cause of dread and apprehension. This was weather to which English people were not used, and they had not grown accustomed to battle with the snow and ice. Instead of facing it, they went into their houses to protect themselves against it. So there was much idle time, when only prayer and praise for a God of wrath filled the hours. Not a family was free from disease, not a house but that upon the doorposts were marks of blood.