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American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritansby Eve Laplante
"America has never been one nation under God, not even at the very beginning, and no one proved that more definitively than Anne Hutchinson, the Puritan dissident. ....At the dawn of the nation, Hutchinson set the tone for American religion; faith would be the source of furious controversy and hot accusations, a power that binds our people together and a force that tears us apart. Since then, everything — and nothing — has changed." Laura Miller, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)
"Eve LaPlante, the author of this fascinating biography and yet another of Hutchinson's illustrious descendants....structures the most engaging half of her biography around the transcript of the first trial.....As she moves through this biting debate, LaPlante brings it alive by effectively explaining the theological arcana, fleshing out the personalities involved, and filling in the relevant history." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
Synopses & Reviews
In 1637, Anne Hutchinson, a forty-six-year-old midwife who was pregnant with her sixteenth child, stood before forty male judges of the Massachusetts General Court, charged with heresy and sedition. 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 had attracted a following of prominent citizens eager for social reform. Hutchinson defended herself brilliantly, but the judges, faced with a perceived threat to public order, banished her for behaving in a manner "not comely for [her] sex."
Written by one of Hutchinson's direct descendants, American Jezebel brings both balance and perspective to Hutchinson's story. It captures this American heroine's life in all its complexity, presenting her not as a religious fanatic, a cardboard feminist, or a raging crank—as some have portrayed her—but as a flesh-and-blood wife, mother, theologian, and political leader. The book narrates her dramatic expulsion from Massachusetts, after which her judges, still threatened by her challenges, promptly built Harvard College to enforce religious and social orthodoxies—making her the mid-wife to the nation's first college. In exile, she settled Rhode Island, becoming the only woman ever to co-found an American colony.
The seeds of the American struggle for women's and human rights can be found in the story of this one woman's courageous life. American Jezebel illuminates the origins of our modern concepts of religious freedom, equal rights, and free speech, and showcases an extraordinary woman whose achievements are astonishing by the standards of any era.
"[A] fast-paced and elegant account...LaPlante's first-rate biography offers glimpses into the life and teachings of a much-neglected figure in early American religious history." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"What true heroes can I tell my students about?...[R]ead LaPlante's biography to make [Hutchinson] and her courage come alive." Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States
"[A] well-researched account...LaPlante paints a fascinating portrait...[and] deftly depicts the gritty world of colonial New England." Booklist
"[A] powerful biography of a woman who refused to still her voice." Dallas Morning News
The Dramatic Story of America's Founding Mother
About the Author
Eve LaPlante — a direct descendant of Hutchinson's — has degrees from Princeton and Harvard. She has written for The Atlantic, the New York Times, Ladies' Home Journal, Gourmet, and Boston Magazine. Her previous book, Seized, was published to critical acclaim in 1993. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.
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