A rising tide of witchcraft hysteria overwhelmed the sober Puritan communities of 17th-century New England, culminating in the notorious Salem witch trials of 1692. Rooted in religious zealotry as well as political friction and property disputes, the witch-hunts ranged beyond the gallows to ruin countless innocent lives. Voices from both sides of the controversy can be heard within this compilation of revealing documents from one of American history’s darkest eras.
Assembled by a distinguished historian, this volume comprises 13 original narratives by judges, ministers, government officials, and others involved in the trials and persecution of the accused. Many firsthand reports from the men and women charged with sorcery appear here, along with accounts of the evidence against them, tests for witchcraft, trials and executions, and much more. Written by such famous figures as Increase and Cotton Mather (and featuring the first publication of the latter's "A Brand Pluck'd Out of the Burning"), the narratives include "Lithobolia, or the Stone-Throwing Devil," by Richard Chamberlain (1698); "Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions," by Cotton Mather (1689); "A Brief and True Narrative of Witchcraft at Salem Village," by Deodat Lawson (1692); "A Modest Inquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft," by John Hale (1702); and more.
A peerless source of firsthand information, this compilation offers a superb resource to anyone interested in the belief in witchcraft and its effect on colonial America.