In Murray Rothbard’s opinion, the early colonial controversialist Anne Hutchinson merits great esteem:
Very shortly after the expulsion of Roger Williams, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was rent far more widely by another heresy with roots deep in the colony — the “antinomianism” of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson.
A major reason for the crisis that Anne Hutchinson’s heresy posed for Massachusetts was that she occupied a high place in the colony’s oligarchy. Arriving in Massachusetts in 1634, she and her husband lived close to Governor Winthrop’s mansion in Boston and participated in Boston’s high society. A friend of the eminent Reverend John Cotton, she first confined her religious activities to expatiating on Cotton’s sermons.
Soon, however, Mrs. Hutchinson developed a religious doctrine of her own, now known as antinomianism. She preached the necessity for an inner light to come to any individual chosen as one of God’s elect. Such talk marked her as far more of a religious individualist than the Massachusetts leaders. Salvation came only through a covenant of grace emerging from the inner light, and was not at all revealed in a covenant of works, the essence of which is good works on earth.
This meant that the fanatically ascetic sanctification imposed by the Puritans was no evidence whatever that one was of the elect. Furthermore, Anne Hutchinson made it plain that she regarded many Puritan leaders as NOT of the elect. She also came to assert that she had received direct revelations from God. — Murray N. Rothbard, “America’s First Individualist Anarchist”, Mises Daily, May 22, 2012
Such independent thinking didn’t sit well with the oligarchical Puritan leadership, and a bitter and protracted struggle ensued. The ultimate weapon for the theocrats was ostracism and exile rather than execution for religious nonconformity (although charges of witchcraft could lead to capital punishment); and when Hutchinson and her followers suffered illness and hardship, her opponents weren’t above gloating about it in a most un-Christian manner:
When the ill Anne Hutchinson arrived at her haven in Aquidneck [in Rhode Island where the Hutchinsonians settled], the many months of persecution had left their mark and she suffered a miscarriage, as did her beautiful young follower Mary Dyer, who had stood up to walk out of the Boston church with the excommunicated Anne.
The Puritan leaders of Massachusetts Bay, preoccupied for years afterward with the Hutchinsonian menace, characteristically gloated in righteous satisfaction at the misfortunes of Anne and Mary. The theocrats were jubilant and the Reverend John Cotton, Governor Winthrop and the Reverend Thomas Weld all hailed Anne’s and Mary’s sufferings as the evident judgment of God. It was typical of the Puritans to hail the misfortunes of their enemies as God’s judgment, and to dismiss any kindness shown them by others as simply God’s will and therefore requiring no gratitude to those showing it. — Ibid.
Furthermore, as Rothbard notes:
To the Puritans of Massachusetts, Aquidneck was an abominable “Isle of Errours” and the Rhode Island settlements were “Rogue’s Land.” Massachusetts began to plot to assert its jurisdiction over these pestiferous settlements and to crush the havens of liberty. Indians were egged on to raid the Providence and Aquidneck territories. Massachusetts then shut off all trade with the Rhode Islanders, who were thus forced to turn to the neighboring Dutch settlements of New Netherland for supplies. A son and son-in-law of Anne’s, visiting Boston, were seized and very heavily fined by the authorities, and then banished from Massachusetts on pain of death. — Ibid.
Before she died, she would take her antinomianism to what Rothbard, with approval, feels to be its logical extreme:
Soon, however, Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, ruminating in the free air of Rhode Island on the meaning of her experience, came to an astounding and startling conclusion — and one that pushed the logic of Roger Williams’ libertarianism far beyond the master. For, as Williams reported in bewilderment, Anne now persuaded her husband to give up his leading post as assistant in the Aquidneck government, “because of the opinion, which she had newly taken up, of the unlawfulness of magistry.”
In short, the logic of liberty and a deeper meditation on scripture had both led Anne to the ultimate bounds of libertarian thought: to individualist anarchism. No magistracy whatever was lawful. — Ibid.
Rothbard’s account of early America — Conceived in Liberty (1975) — is definitely not what we’re taught in government-run schools. You can purchase it here, or read it online here. Rothbard’s article is excerpted from that book.