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THE STORY OF ANNE HUTCHINSON AND THE FOUNDING OF RHODE ISLAND
 ABOUT a year before Harry Vane came to Massachusetts another
interesting and brilliant colonist arrived. This was a woman named
Anne Hutchinson. She was clever, "a woman of a ready wit and bold
spirit." Like Williams she was in advance of her times, and like
him she soon became a religious leader. She was able, she was deeply
interested in religion, and she saw no reason why women should not
speak their minds on such matters.
Men used to hold meetings to discuss questions of religion and
politics to which women were not allowed to go. Anne Hutchinson
thought this was insulting; and she began to hold meetings for
women in her own home. These meetings became so popular that often
as many as a hundred women would be present. They discussed matters
of religion, and as Mrs. Hutchinson held "dangerous errors" about
"grace and works" and justification and sanctification, this set
the whole colony agog.
By the time that Harry Vane was chosen Governor the matter had
become serious. All the colony took sides for or against. Harry Vane,
who stood for toleration and freedom, sided with Mrs. Hutchinson,
while Winthrop, his great rival, sided against her. Mrs. Hutchinson
was supported and encouraged in her wickedness by her brother-in-law
John Wheelright, a "silenced minister sometimes in England." She
also led away many other godly hearts.
The quarrel affected the whole colony, and was a
stum-  bling-block in the way of all progress. But so long as Harry Vane was Governor,
Mrs. Hutchinson continued her preaching and teaching. When he sailed
home, however, and Winthrop was Governor once more, the elders
of the community decided that Mrs. Hutchinson was a danger to the
colony, and must be silenced. So all the elders and leaders met
together in assembly, and condemned her opinions, some as being
"blasphemous, some erroneous, and all unsafe."
A few women, they decided, might without serious wrong meet together
to pray and edify one another. But that a large number of sixty
or more should do so every week was agreed to be "disorderly and
without rule." And as Mrs. Hutchinson would not cease her preaching
and teaching, but obstinately continued in her gross errors, she
was excommunicated and exiled from the colony.
Like Williams, Mrs. Hutchinson went to Rhode Island. To the sorrow
of the godly, her husband went with her. And when they tried to
bring him back he refused. "For," he said, "I am more dearly tied
to my wife than to the Church. And I do think her a dear saint and
servant of God."
In Rhode Island Mrs. Hutchinson and her friends founded the towns
of Portsmouth and Newport. Others who had been driven out of one
colony or another followed them, and other towns were founded;
and for a time Rhode Island seems to have been a sort of Ishmael's
land, and the most unruly of all the New England colonies. At
length however all these little settlements joined together under
At first the colony had no charter, and occupied the land only
by right of agreement with the Indians. But after some time Roger
Williams got a charter from Charles II. In this charter it was
set down that no one should be persecuted "for any difference in
opinion on matters of religion." Thus another new state was founded,
 Rhode Island there was more real freedom than in almost any
other colony in New England.
Massachusetts was at this time, as we can see, not exactly an
easy place to live in for any one whose opinions differed in the
slightest from those laid down by law. Those same people who had
left their homes to seek freedom of conscience denied it to others.
But they were so very, very sure that their way was the only
right way, that they could not understand how any one could think
otherwise. They were good and honest men. And if they were severe
with their fellows who strayed from the narrow path, it was only
in the hope that by punishing them in this life, they might save
them from much more terrible punishment in the life to come.