A few years ago I read Sarah Vowell's excellent book 'The Wordy
Shipmates', which is about the founders of the Massachusetts
Bay Colony. One of the people who shows up fairly late in the
book is Anne Hutchinson, a woman who was put on trial for
having bible studies at her house and for generally being a
troublemaker; she then went on to found Portsmouth, Rhode
Island (which is a whole amazing story in its own right -- check
out a biography of her, or even just her Wikipedia page, for more
about her interesting and inspiring life). On reading the story of
her trial, I thought to myself, "Someone should write a
heroic folk song about this." Then a year passed, and I thought,
"OK, maybe the person who should write a heroic folk song
about this is me." It was a tricky endeavor -- I was trying to write
an engaging song that essentially centered itself around an
obscure theological argument from 350 years ago. Also, while I
allowed myself some poetic license, I also wanted to give a
flavor of the sorts of arguments that were being used. (If you
look at the trial transcript you should be able to find the ones I
was referring to pretty easily.) Once I got the idea of using 'The
Ballad of John Henry' as a model the whole thing came into
focus and the song came together very quickly, with occasional
pauses to check  Vowell's book and a transcript of the trial to get
things straight. I should note that, although he is too polite to
say so, I think my brother-in-law, an American historian, may not
agree with my interpretation of the events of the trial. I
encourage songwriters out there to write other songs about
Anne Hutchinson's life. There's certainly plenty of material there!
                                                                                      Jacob Haller
                                                                                November 2011
© 2011 Jacob Haller

Anne Hutchinson was a mighty woman.
She was the daughter of Francis Marbury.
She was put on trial in 1637
for preaching in the Boston colony, lord, lord.
For preaching in that Boston colony.

The governor said to Anne Hutchinson
"You've broken the Biblical law.
A woman's place is honoring her husband,
not speaking out in church at all."

"Well let me read to you from the Bible,"
Anne said to that governor,
"It says that my duty, as an older woman,
is to teach to those that are younger."

Anne said, "What law have I broken?
Just tell me, and I'll see if it's true."
The governor shouted, "Now hold on, sister,
'Cause we're the judges here, not you."

They argued for days into evenings.
The governor was losing his cool.
Despite all his learning, this self-taught midwife
was making him look like a fool.

Now Anne said, "You know that I'm not worried,
'Cause God said you can't hurt me."
The judge laughed out loud and the court retired
To convict her of heresy.

Some might say the moral of the story
is the danger of too much pride.
I say it shows it's hard to break that glass ceiling,
even with God on your side.

Anne Hutchinson was a mighty woman.
She was the daughter of Francis Marbury.
She was put on trial in 1637
for preaching in the Boston colony.
Jacob Haller: vocals, acoustic guitar, Hammond organ
Natalie Markward: electric guitar
Jack Hanlon: double bass
Joe Auger: drums

The track was recorded and mixed at Machines with Magnets by
Keith Souza and Seth
Manchester and mastered at Sound Mirror by Mark Donahue.
JACOB HALLER is a singer/songwriter in Providence, RI.  Much of his music might be described as bluesy
alternative folk; some of the folks he's been compared to are Andy Breckman, Leon Redbone, Greg Brown,
Paul Geremia, and Randy Newman.  He plays regularly in AS220's Empire Revue cabaret show and has
been nominated for various local music awards, most recently 'best singer/songwriter' in the 2010
Providence Phoenix music poll. On this recording, he is joined by two members of the folk/jazz group Anne's
Natalie Markward, a talented jazz guitarist, and Joe Auger, a multi-instrumentalist (he plays drums here) who
is also a great singer/songwriter in his own right, as well as Jack Hanlon, a fantastic upright bass player who
plays with the Throttles and other bands.
JACOB HALLER - Discography:
'Relatively Human', a 12-track CD of original music, much of it solo
2011: 'Circumstantial Evidence', a 13-track CD of original music, mostly band stuff
2011: 'Covers EP', a 3-track EP with covers of some of my favorite songs

All three can be purchased here: