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THe Role Of Puritan Women

            The New England colonies were a direct outgrowth of a renewal of religious conflict in England. The more intense Protestants, calling themselves the Puritans, demanded a simplification of the church and less control by the English church. The Puritans intended the Massachusetts Bay colony "to be a holy commonwealth made up of religious folk bound together in the harmonious worship of God and the pursuit of their "calling" (65, Tindall and Shi)." This new land proposed new opportunities for all and demanded new ways of thinking on the part of the new colonists. However, some traditional ideals never change. In England, at this time and many centuries later, women had few rights compared to their male counterparts. Males brought these same ideals over to the New World, for example no women were brought on the first voyage to America. Women's role in Puritan society differed socially, politically, and economically numerous ways.
             It was inevitable that the holy commonwealth's efforts to maintain social discipline and a uniform code would lead to friction in a population of new individualists. The men of this time found it necessary to reassert their authority when it was being questioned especially by a woman. Governor John Winthrop and the General Court made it abundantly clear that dissention in anyway would be reprimanded to the highest degree. Thus is the case with an early troublemaker Anne Hutchinson, who challenged the principles of religious uniformity and the very basis "of an already fragile social system (70, Tindall and Shi)." The courts charged her on various accounts against the church and "after much time and many arguments had been spent to bring her to see her sin, but all in vain, with one consent, cast her out (51, Grimsted)." In a direct contrast, a young radical minister by the name of Roger Williams challenged many of the same principles as Hutchinson. Williams was allowed to settle at the head of Narragansett Bay with a few followers who believed in his ideals of separation of church and state.

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