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Between June 10 and September 22, 1692, nineteen people were hanged for practicing witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. One person was pressed to death, and over 150 others were jailed, where still others died. The Story of the Salem Witch Trials is a history of that event. It provides a much needed synthesis of the most recent scholarship on the subject, places the trials into the context of the Great European Witch-Hunt, and relates the events of 1692 to witch-hunting throughout seventeenth century New England.
This complex and difficult subject is covered in a uniquely accessible manner that captures all the drama that surrounded the Salem witch trials. From beginning to end, the reader is carried along by the author’s powerful narration and mastery of the subject. While covering the subject in impressive detail, Bryan Le Beau maintains a broad perspective on events, and wherever possible, lets the historical characters speak for themselves. Le Beau highlights the decisions made by individuals responsible for the trials that helped turn what might have been a minor event into a crisis that has held the imagination of students of American history.
1. "A Biography of a Terrible, but Perfectly Normal Superstition"
The Origins of European Witchcraft
The Development of European Witchcraft
The Great European Witch-hunt
A Summary View of Witch-hunts in England
2. "Having Familiarity with the Devil"
Witch-hunts in Seventeenth Century America
Witch-hunts in Seventeenth Century New England
Some Notable Witch Trials in Seventeenth-Century New England
The Pattern of Witch-hunt Activity in Seventeenth-Century New England
3. "The Evil Hand" is upon Them
A Glimpse at Salem's Past
The First Signs of the Devil
The Hearings Begin
4. "Is Not this a Brand Plucked from the Burning?"
The Cases of Martha and Giles Corey and Dorcas Good
Deodate Lawson's Lecture Day Sermon
Sarah Cloyce is Charged
Mary Easty is Summoned
The Pace Quickens
5. "If They are Let Alone, We Should All be Devils and Witches"
The Cases of Elizabeth and John Proctor
Mary Warren Tries to Recant
Bridget Bishop and Abigail Hobbs Are Charged
Seven of the Nine Are Formally Charged
The Ordeal Begins for Mary and Philip English
The "Black Minister" is Apprehended
Dorcas Hoar is Jailed
6. "God Will Deliver Us Out of the Hands of Unmerciful Men"
The Case of George Jacobs Sr.
John Willard Changes Sides
Daniel Andrew Is Charged
The Carys Escape
John Alen is Arrested
The Andover Witch-hunt
7. "God Will Give You Blood to Drink"
The Court of Oyer and Terminer Is Established
Bridget Bishop is Tried
The Court Completes Its First Session
The First Mass Execution and Its Effects
8. "What a Sad Thing it is to See Eight Firebrands of Hell Hanging There"
The Case of George Burroughs
The Proctors Are Condemned
The Cases of George Jacobs Sr., John Willard, and Martha Carrier
The Hangings of August 19
The Trials of September: The Cases of Martha Corey and Mary Easty
9. "It were Better that Ten Suspected Witches Should Escape, than that
One Innocent Person Should be Condemned"
Voices are Raised in Opposition to the Trials
Phips Dismisses the Court of Oyer and Terminer
The Jails Are Emptied
The Superior Court of Judicature
The Magistrates and the Court of Oyer and Terminer, Guilty As Charged?
10. "Ruined in the Mistaken Mismanagement of the Terrible Affair
Cotton Mather and His "Wonders of the Invisible World"
Salem in Ruins
The Repenting Begins
A Select Bibliography.