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Anne Hutchinson
by [?]

The Puritans left the Old World to gain religious liberty, but to give religious liberty in the New was beyond their power. The only liberty they allowed was the liberty to believe as they believed. Others were wrong, they were right–therefore it was right for them to take the wrong in hand and set them right. They were filled with fear, and fear is the finish of everything upon which it gets a clutch. Were it not for fear man’s religion would reduce itself to a healthful emotional exercise, a beautiful intermittent impulse. Institutional religion is founded on the monstrous assumption that man is a fully developed creature, and has the ability, when rightly instructed, to comprehend, appreciate and understand final truth–hence the creeds, those curious ossified metaphors, figures of speech paralyzed with fright.

Sufficient unto the day is the knowledge thereof. What is best today is best for the future. We must realize that life is a voyage and we are sailing under sealed orders. We open our orders every morning, and this allows us to change our course as we get new light.

These Puritans knew the voyage from start to finish, or thought they did. They never doubted–hence their inhumanities, their lack of justice, their absence of sympathy. And all the persecutions that had been visited upon them, they in turn visited upon others as soon as they had the power. Their lives were given over to cruelty and quibble.

These church-groups seemed to understand intuitively that a little separation was a good thing. If this were not so, things would have been even worse than they were. There were groups at Salem, Charlestown, Newtown, Cambridge, Watertown, Roxbury, Dorchester, Mystic and Lynn, each presided over by a “minister.” This minister was a teacher, preacher, doctor, lawyer and magistrate. In times of doubt all questions were referred to him. The first “General Court” was a meeting composed of the ministers, presided over by the Governor of the Colony, and all things ecclesiastic and civil were regulated by them.

Of course these men believed in religious liberty–liberty to do as they said–but any one who questioned their authority or criticized their rulings was looked upon as an enemy of the Colony. So we see how very easily, how very naturally, State and Church join hands.

Puritans were opposed to a theocracy, but before the Colony was six weeks old, the ministers got together and passed resolutions, and these resolutions being signed by the Governor, who was of their religious faith, were laws. The “General Court” was a House of Lords, where the members, instead of being bishops, were ministers, and the State religion was of course Congregationalism.

All that is needed is time, and the rebels evolve exactly the same kind of institution as that from which they rebelled. The Puritans fled for freedom, and now in their midst, if there be any who want the privilege of disagreeing with them, these, too, must flee. And so does mankind ever move in circles.

Successful religions are all equally bad.

* * * * *

Anne Hutchinson arrived in Boston, September Eighteenth, Sixteen Hundred Thirty-four, on board the good ship “Griffin.” With her was her husband, William Hutchinson, and their fifteen children. It had been a pleasant passage of seven weeks.

The Hutchinsons came from Boston, England, and had been members of the Reverend John Cotton’s church. It had been their intention to leave for the New World with him the year before, but they had been detained by the authorities, for just what reason we do not know. If the persons who held them back a year had succeeded in keeping them entirely, it would have been well for them, but not for literature, for then this “Little Journey” would not have been written.

The Hutchinsons were accounted rich, having a thousand guineas in gold, not to mention the big family of children. John Cotton had told of them, and of the many fine qualities of heart and mind possessed by Mrs. Hutchinson. Several of the Hutchinson children were fully grown, and we are apt to think of the mother as well along in years. The fact was, she had barely turned forty, with just a becoming sprinkling of gray in her hair, when she reached the friendly shores of America.