Day 6 - Lecture

Day 6 - Lecture - Witch-hunting History 156: History of the...

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History 156: History of the United States to 1865 1. Why did New Englanders believe in witch-craft? 2. Witch-hunting Patterns 3. Prosecuting Witch-craft 4. What Happened in Salem 5. Some Historical Explanations Witch-hunting 1. Why did 17 th century New Englanders believe in witch-craft? Across America and across Europe. New England pilgrims balanced their faith in reason Comets, lights in the sky and other natural wonders large and small required interpretation. Why do they fill such natural phenomena with this sort of meaning? Humans have a natural thirst for understanding why things are the way they are and technology did not yet have the answer. They are in a New World – 17 th century, being in America was a new thing so they are not used to the “rules of the game”. Easy to blame things that you do not like on the devil – scapegoat. The rhythms of peoples lives were dominated by the natural force of seasons, and the weather and sometimes by natural enemies (fires, floods, etc.) they lived in much more contact with the natural world then we do today. Some sort of understanding was required and they turned to g-d and Satan to explain the world around them. The alternative was to believe that such life ruining events (deaths) were just random and devoid of meaning. Puritans preferred to believe in g-d and the devil and in witches as a result. The Devil was understood to be a fallen angel. (Satan was an angel that turned against g-d and recruited witches who would use their blood to sign away for eternity). Some women admitted to being witches – some of these confessions were before they were accused and some of these confessions were after they were accused of being a witch. Location of Witchcraft Accusations, New England, 17 th century. At least 100 men and women were accused before 1692. In Salem in 1692, 200 more people were accused. Witch-hunting
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Day 6 - Lecture - Witch-hunting History 156: History of the...

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