Recently in the news was the strong criticism by two experts on the Texas Board of Education to review Texas social studies curriculum standards…
In the criticism expressed by two of these consultants, they specifically mentioned Anne Hutchinson as overrated. Peter Marshall, an evangelical minister who also advocated for stronger emphasis on the role of Christianity in U.S. history, dismissed Hutchinson, saying “She was certainly not a significant colonial leader, and didn’t accomplish anything except getting herself exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for making trouble.”
It’s exactly because she made trouble that she became an important figure in that early Massachusetts colony. The division of that colony over ideas that she was key in promoting nearly caused a schism in that colony — a religious schism, as well as a political one. Her story highlights a problem that the early colonists had in navigating between establishing a land of religious freedom for a group, and allowing that freedom for individuals who disagreed with that group. Without her story, the presentation of that early history…will be significantly skewed.
Rev. Marshall’s words remind me of those read by Governor Winthrop at her trial: “Mrs. Hutchinson, the sentence of the court you hear is that you are banished from out of our jurisdiction as being a woman not fit for our society.” I hope that the majority of the board making curriculum decisions in Texas does not decide to represent only one side in what Gov. Winthrop saw as a turning point in colonial history!
I suppose we should be glad that these consultants didn’t dismiss Rosa Parks as a woman who was arrested for making trouble, or Harriet Tubman for making trouble by challenging the then-current law of the land! History is often about people making trouble.
–Reprinted from an article by Jone Johnson Lewis on About.com