The Salem Witch Trials Reader
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Against the backdrop of a Puritan theocracy threatened by change, in a population terrified not only of eternal damnation but of the earthly dangers of Indian massacres and recurrent smallpox epidemics, a small group of girls denounces a black slave and others as worshipers of Satan. Within two years, twenty men and women are hanged or pressed to death and over a hundred others imprisoned and impoverished. In The Salem Witch Trials Reader, Frances Hill provides and astutely comments upon the actual documents from the trial--examinations of suspected witches, eyewitness accounts of "Satanic influence," as well as the testimony of those who retained their reason and defied the madness. Always drawing on firsthand documents, she illustrates the historical background to the witchhunt and shows how the trials have been represented, and sometimes distorted, by historians--and how they have fired the imaginations of poets, playwrights, and novelists. For those fascinated by the Salem witch trials, this is compelling reading and the sourcebook.
lift up the gun, and hold it out at arm’s end; a gun which the deponents though strong men could not with both hands lift up, and hold out at the butt end, as is usual. Indeed, one of these witnesses was over persuaded by some persons to be out of the way upon George Burroughs’ trial; but he came afterwards with sorrow for his withdraw, and gave in his testimony: Nor were either of these witnesses made use of as evidences in the trial. VI. There came in several testimonies relating to the
members of the church. Further accusations by the children followed. Examinations of the accused were conducted in Salem Village until 11 April by two magistrates from Salem Town. At that time, the examinations were moved from the outlying farming area to the town and were heard by Deputy Governor Danforth and six of the ablest magistrates in the colony, including Samuel Sewall. This council had no authority to try accused witches, however, because the colony had no legal government—a state of
shows nervous symptoms instead. In 1692, in Salem Village, the girls described sensations of biting, strangulation, convulsions, and hallucinations. The combination of the parental distance endemic to New England Puritanism and the tensions of factional conflict doubtless prevented the Salem parents from recognizing what was wrong with their children. Further, the quality of communication in 1690 probably resulted in the children’s learning about the massacres in successive waves of rumor and
heritage of English gentry. After her parents had been killed by the Indians, she was reduced to the position of servant in the household of George Jacobs, Senior of Salem. Soon after the outbreak of the witch hunt, she became one of the afflicted. Jacobs called the afflicted girls “bitch witches” and was otherwise very disrespectful of her. Sarah was often in court as part of the afflicted group. She was also a witness against her master. George Jacobs, Senior was imprisoned on May 10, as was
Chapter 1: Witchcraft On the influence of the Malleus Maleficarum, see Witches and Neighbours, Robin Briggs, p. 382. The importance of William Perkins is mentioned in The History of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, Thomas Hutchinson, vol. 2, chapter 1. The most recent edition of Mein Kampf Is translated by Ralph Manheim with an introduction by Konrad Heiden. The Turner Diaries: A Novel is by Andrew McDonald. Chapter 2: The Massachusetts Bay Colony Saint Augustine lived from 354 to 430, and