American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans

by Eve LaPlante

Paperback, 2005




HarperOne (2005), Edition: Reprint, 312 pages


In a time when women could not vote, hold public office, or teach outside the home, the charismatic Hutchinson wielded remarkable political power. Her unconventional ideas attracted a following of prominent citizens eager for social reform. Charged with heresy and sedition, she defended herself brilliantly, but the court, faced with a perceived threat to public order, banished her for behaving in a manner "not comely for [her] sex." The seeds of the American struggle for women's and human rights can be found in her courageous story. Nathaniel Hawthorne used her as a model for Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter; her detractors referred to her as "the instrument of Satan," a witch, "more bold than a man," and Jezebel--the ancient queen who, on account of her tremendous political power, was "the most evil woman" in the Bible.--From publisher description.… (more)


½ (59 ratings; 3.7)

User reviews

LibraryThing member arelenriel
Colonial New England history has always fascinated me. I grew up in Massachusetts where so much of Anne Hutchinson's story occurred. This is a wonderful book. It is well researched a presents a balanced picture of how women were perceived and treated in 17th century American.
LibraryThing member karenmerguerian
Anne Hutchinson was alternately respected and feared by the people and clergy of the 17th-century Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony. In this book, author (and Hutchinson descendent) Eve Laplante convincingly demonstrates that Hutchinson's intelligence and defiance of the clergy was brave and
Show More
admirable. Though it led to her exile it never led to her marginalization. Laplante is less successful in demonstrating that Hutchinson's persecution had to do specifically with her gender. Hutchinson in fact was exonerated for teaching women in her home, which she successfully argued was allowed by scripture. However, she doomed herself to exile by announcing that she received direct revelation from God, and that the clergy were wrongly preaching a covenant of works. In this she was like Roger Williams, and though he was a man, their punishment --exile-- was the same. John Cotton is portrayed here as a slippery betrayer of Hutchinson, his one-time prodigy, and Winthrop as a vengeful pragmatist. The author discusses Hutchinson's continuing legacy (always a problematic issue when it comes to the Puritans), and closes by reviewing her own exploration of sites around New England and New York that are connected to Hutchinson's life.
Show Less
LibraryThing member cmbohn
Themes: gender roles, religion, separation of church and state, individual freedom versus community
Setting: Massachusetts 1638 or so

Anne Hutchinson was a terrible threat to the Puritan fathers of Boston. She discussed scriptures. And she was a woman. That's really about it. She also didn't agree
Show More
with them, but I think even if she had, the idea that a woman was perfectly capable of reading, writing, reasoning, and preaching was going to make them very uncomfortable, no matter what else she did.

This is a biography of Hutchinson and a story of the time and place she lived in. It includes a bit about the religious controversies involved and talks a lot about the other players in the case. She was eventually brought to trial, more than once, and charged with “traducing the ministers.” John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, conducted the trial himself and made it his mission to get her punished for her behavior. He won, eventually, and Hutchinson and her family were forced to move to Rhode Island and then to Long Island where Hutchinson died.

Hutchinson is an interesting subject, but something about this book just couldn't hold my interest. At one point I skipped ahead 100 pages and I really hadn't missed anything. I didn't enjoy this book very much. But I won't anti-recommend this book, if you know what I mean, because I think for the right reader, this would be a good book. Just not for me. 2 stars
Show Less



Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

312 p.; 5.31 inches


0060750561 / 9780060750565
Page: 0.1371 seconds