According to the Internet, today is Anne Hutchinson Memorial Day. Maybe, like me, you vaguely remember her from high school history class. When I looked her up, I found that her life had many elements of a romance novel.
Born in 1591, the daughter of a clergyman, Anne received a far better education than most other girls at that time. She and her husband were followers of a dynamic preacher named John Cotton, and joined him in emigrating to Boston in search of religious freedom. There, Anne practiced as a midwife (she had fifteen children herself!), and spoke about her personal religious understandings. Soon she was hosting weekly meetings for women at her house, commenting on recent sermons and criticizing the Puritan clergy. Her views exposed the subordination of women in colonial Massachusetts. As a result, she was banished for heresy, sedition, and "assuming postures to which only men were entitled."
Anne moved her family to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in 1638, where she was welcomed by Roger Williams. Later, she relocated to the area that later became the Bronx in New York. In August 1643, her whole household there was massacred during an attack by the native Siwanoy. The only survivor was her nine-year-old daughter, Susanna, who was taken captive.
What a life in just over fifty years! What a woman.
Today, Anne is remembered as someone who helped pave the way for religious freedom in the United States, and a key figure in the history of women in ministry. A monument at the Massachusetts State House calls her a "courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration."