Throughout history we as historians can see that in the past civilizations religion was taken to an extreme in crimes, trials and other subjects. In the 1600s religion was what the country was believed to be founded on, the “holy” land, “God built this land for us! ” This also transferred into the courtroom; people who could’ve been suspected to do committing a crime, who really didn’t, but are found guilty because it goes against the beliefs of the higher court. Ann Hutchinson’s trial is a great example of being treated unfairly in a courtroom and also an example of how the court was used during trials.
Anne Hutchinson’s trial was an example of how woman should not go above and beyond of a man or church in society, the reason being is because woman should follow a man. In the case of Mary Dyer it shows that woman would be a bad idea to put on display as an example of death, but it would eventually come to that because of Dyer’s actions. “Ann Hutchinson, a skilled midwife and herbal healer with her own interpretation of Puritan doctrine, challenged the leaders of this “wilderness theocracy,” as Barbara Ritter Dailey describes it” (Knappman 1).
The trial of Anne Hutchinson is very interesting because the leader john Winthrop was “the Magistrates of Massachusetts” (Knappman 2). Winthrop was also head of the religious trial that she had to face after her Civil trial. The story starts when Ann Hutchinson will be attending Puritan church in Massachusetts and I would say she either got bored with the sermon or thought it could be explained in a different way that people would be able to understand. The date is 1637 and not everyone understands the sermon because it is probably given to them at such a high vocabulary.
Hutchinson decides to allow people to come to her house and have what she would call “Bible Study. ” Nothing big, she wasn’t preaching, she was simply giving people a chance to listen to God’s word in a simpler way. This is a bad idea for Anne Hutchinson because more and more people would come and hear what she had to say and now there was no reason to go to church, instead they would go hear to see what Ann had to say and realize that the bible is all they need. Winthrop believe it or not, lived right across the street from Ann’s house which caused him to be concerned.
Eventually she got caught and was taken to court to begin the trial. During her trial it was completely unfair. The elders of the trial, who had the ultimate decision in her fate were not for her (Halttunen 89). They believed that no woman should be head of a religious group or preach to other men and woman because that was a man’s job. She was charged with “Traducing the ministers and their ministry and heresy” (Knappman 1). Winthrop did not belive that Hutchinson got what she deserved and believed that she was doing work of the devil and that God would punish her one day.
Anne would later have to go in front of the church now in a religious trial to receive more punishment. She was sentenced to “Banishment from the colony and excommunication from the Church of Boston” (Knappman 1). Anne would leave Boston and later be killed by a group of Indians who would slaughter her whole family. Winthrop believed that that was God punishing her for the crimes she committed in Boston. Hutchinson’s trial is still very famous today, “A verbatim record of Anne Hutchinson’s trial survives. It is a record of trial by examination, the very essence of Star Chamber Method” (Chapin 103-104).
It is strange because Hutchinson’s death was by Indians and according to John Winthrop it was God punishing her for the crimes that she committed in Boston, but it is said that Indians are sent from the devil (Notes). So was that the devil killing her for doing something good in God’s eyes? Mary Dyer also had a case that occurred 20 years after the Anne Hutchinson trial and Dyer’s case had a hint of gender roles for women during the mid-1600s. Her trial occurred also in Boston and was a very entertaining selection of events that occurred.
Dyer was a Quaker which was a different religion compared to what the people of Boston are used to. She became so involved with the Quakerism religion (Rapaport 20), that she became a well-known preacher to the Quaker people. She was put on trial for Quakerism and was banished from Boston. Dyer not taking the punishment seriously would return back to Boston for the second time and would be put back into he was released with a warning and was told that if she would return then she will be hanged. A few weeks later she returned again and was put in prison and released with her last and final warning.
The trial committee did not hang Dyer because she was a woman. What is meant by that is that a woman is usually a follower and not a leader in the colonial times, a woman can be taught the wrong things because of a man teaching her something that he does. Well, Dyer returned again to Boston saying that she returns because she wants to see if they would really put a woman to death, and they did eventually hang her to set an example to the rest of the people of Boston that gender would not matter according to your crimes.
Religion played huge roles in decision making in these early America times. The reason why is because people founded this country in God’s will and religion should be everything in society. Religion is taken a little too far in these trials but they do have a reason. If it’s not done the way that God would like it or if it’s against God then it is wrong to the colonists. In Anne Hutchinson’s case she was doing what was never to be done in church, have a woman speak for the church or speak as a leader of the church.
In the era of today’s world there are woman that are head of churches or are even preachers of churches. She was looked down on simply because she was doing a man’s job by giving a message and taking people away from the Puritan church. As for Mary Dyer, she brought a total different religion to Boston compared to what the city is used to. She was a high up in her church standards which was against the Church of Boston religion based rules for a woman to be a leader over a man. The role that gender plays in these trials is not really surprising during this era.
It is established that Anne Hutchinson as a woman shouldn’t have went above a man or even worse the church to hold bible study at her house, but Mary Dyer’s case was a little different. The Boston leaders did not want to kill her because she was a woman and it would look bad on them, but they would eventually have to because she needed to be used as an example. The reason why Dyer was not killed is because they believed that a man leads a woman, that it was a man leading Dyer in the wrong direction which lead her to make these wrong decisions by returning to Boston.