Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692 / Edition 1by Richard Godbeer
Pub. Date: 01/06/2005
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
The Salem witch hunt of 1692 is among the most infamous events in early American history; however, it was not the only such episode to occur in New England that year. Escaping Salem reconstructs the "other witch hunt" of 1692 that took place in Stamford, Connecticut. Concise and accessible, the book takes students on a revealing journey into the mental
The Salem witch hunt of 1692 is among the most infamous events in early American history; however, it was not the only such episode to occur in New England that year. Escaping Salem reconstructs the "other witch hunt" of 1692 that took place in Stamford, Connecticut. Concise and accessible, the book takes students on a revealing journey into the mental world of early America, shattering the stereotype of early New Englanders as quick to accuse and condemn.
Drawing on eyewitness testimony, Richard Godbeer tells the story of Kate Branch, a seventeen-year-old afflicted by strange visions and given to blood-chilling wails of pain and fright. Branch accused several women of bewitching her, two of whom were put on trial for witchcraft. Escaping Salem takes us inside the Connecticut courtroom and into the minds of the surprisingly skeptical Stamford townspeople. Were the pain and screaming due to natural or supernatural causes? Was Branch simply faking the symptoms? And if she was indeed bewitched, why believe her specific accusations, since her information came from demons who might well be lying? For the judges, Godbeer shows, the trial was a legal thicket. All agreed that witches posed a real and serious threat, but proving witchcraft (an invisible crime) in court was another matter. The court in Salem had become mired in controversy over its use of dubious evidence. In an intriguing chapter, Godbeer examines Magistrate Jonathan Selleck's notes on how to determine the guilt of someone accused of witchcraft, providing an illuminating look at what constituted proof of witchcraft at the time. The stakes were highif found guilty, the two accused women would be hanged.
In the afterword, Godbeer explains how he used the trial evidence to build his narrative, offering an inside perspective on the historian's craft. Featuring maps, photos, and a selected bibliography, Escaping Salem is ideal for use in undergraduate U.S. survey courses. It can also be used for courses in colonial American history, culture, and religion; witchcraft in the early modern world; and crime and society in early America.
Table of Contents
Prologue: "A Witch! A Witch!"
1. Katherine Branch's Fits
2. Who Is It That Torments Her?
3. "By The Law of God And The Law Of The Colony Thou Deservest To Die"
4. Angry Speeches And Strange Afflictions
5. Weighing The Evidence
6. "Persisting In A Non-Agreement"
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For those who are looking for a story close to that of Salem, Massachussetts, this isn't it. This is a seperate story altogether. Although it's a good story and not something that I'd heard of before, it didn't really retain my attention for long periods of time. It's a small book and a short read but not something I would recommend to those who are still fascinated by the situation that occurred in Salem.
This book is well written, clear, concise, and an easily understandable read. Mr. Godbeer has done his homework and pieced together all the information regarding the circumstances surrounding some of the accused. He presents the information and then asks the reader to stand back and weigh the evidence against the accused, as if the reader were really there. Though he may be a professor, he does not make the reader feel like they are lost in his writing. Though there are no pictures to view, the reader can vividly see the world that the accused and their accusers lived in. Mr. Godbeer paints the scenes based on the documents recorded, he asks insightful questions to the reader, and his writing is unbiased. He is painstaking in his attention to detail. I commend Mr. Godbeer on an excellent, riveting, and informational book. If you are interested in the Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692, then this book would be necessary in your library. Don't let the size of the book fool you. This book is jam-packed full of information! Don't miss out and pass this book by. What a waste it would be if you did!