Award-winning historian Mary Beth Norton reexamines the Salem witch trials in this startlingly original, meticulously researched, and utterly riveting study.
In 1692 the people of Massachusetts were living in fear, and not solely of satanic afflictions. Horrifyingly violent Indian attacks had all but emptied the northern frontier of settlers, and many traumatized refugees—including the main accusers of witches—had fled to communities like Salem. Meanwhile the colony’s leaders, defensive about their own failure to protect the frontier, pondered how God’s people could be suffering at the hands of savages. Struck by the similarities between what the refugees had witnessed and what the witchcraft “victims” described, many were quick to see a vast conspiracy of the Devil (in league with the French and the Indians) threatening New England on all sides. By providing this essential context to the famous events, and by casting her net well beyond the borders of Salem itself, Norton sheds new light on one of the most perplexing and fascinating periods in our history.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: In the Devil's Snare|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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In the Devil's Snare
Under an Evil Hand
January 15–March 6, 1691/2
Monday, January 25, 1691/2; York, Maine. About noon, in heavy snow, when (in the words of a contemporary historian) “the Inhabitants were in their unguarded Houses, here and there scattered, Quiet and Secure,” about 150 Indians led by Madockawando, a sachem of the Penobscot band of the Wabanakis, took York completely by surprise. One by one they captured most of the town’s garrisoned houses and split into small parties to burn houses and to kill livestock and people. Captain John Floyd, who with a small troop of militia rushed to the scene from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, found on his arrival that “the greatest part of the whole town was burned & robed,” with nearly 50 killed and another 100 captured. Among the dead was the Reverend Shubael Dummer, who was, Floyd reported, “barbarously murthered stript naked Cut & mangled by these sons of Beliall.” The Indians seemed to have known when and where to strike, and help had arrived much too late.1
From the neighboring town of Wells, the Reverend George Burroughs described “the Sorrowfull tideings” from York for the leaders of Massachusetts. “The beholding of the Pillours of Smoke, the rageing of the mercyless flames, the insultations of the heathen enemy, shooting, hacking, (not haveing regard to the earnest supplication of men, women, or Children, with sharpe cryes & bitter teares in most humble manner,) & dragging away others, (& none to help) is most affecting the heart.” Burroughs concluded that “God is still manifesting his displeasure against this Land, he who formerly