Witchcraft in Early North America

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Alison Games uses documentation by means of sources. The documents begin with primary happenstances amid European missionaries and Native Americans in New France and New Mexico. She uses some documents which have never been published. Included in are excerpts from trials in Virginia, New Mexico, and Massachusetts; of outbreaks in accounts Salem. The official papers raise issues, cultural, social, religious, and gender history. The writing combines historical introduction with an imaginative and wide-reaching collection of documents. She also uses illustrations which are found intriguing; I feel I would’ve liked to see more illustration. While she uses well researched documentation I felt she used too much.

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Witchcraft in Early North America illustrates how accusations of witchcraft interceded colonial encounters between mutually illegible cultures such conflicts commanded justification and frequently provoked resistance, and therefore lent themselves to prevailing supernatural explanations and persecution. Games’ premise is that the historical record tells the story slant; accordingly, this volume represents a necessary and moral, albeit brief, attempt to counter the Anglo-centrism that has characterized witchcraft historiography. Games’ resituates chapters of witchcraft in the framework of cultural contact and conflict in which they occurred, including them into larger scholarly trends in the study of early America as a space of contact zones.

The Spanish and British each adjusted to the environment based on who they were involved with as well as what conflicts were encountered. Views on witchcraft seemed different when assessed after colonization, but Europeans, pre colonization, all agreed on the fact that Christian theology was linked to witchcraft. All witchcraft was seen as works of the Devil, anticipated through weak spirited individuals who had abandoned the path of God. The Devil was said to allow people to know the location of certain objects and the thoughts of others, also known as coincidences that had no explanation at the time. Either something was done by the hand of God, or by the wrath of the Devil and his followers. With this idea glued into the judging minds of seventeenth century Europeans, witch hunts were widespread and frequent. Most of those targeted were women, due to the stigma that women were weak and lustful creatures. Women wanted luxury and wealth, as well as sexual gratification, which the Devil could offer. Why target a man for witchcraft if men were strong and Godly, unlike women who were lustful and deceptive? Even with the infrequency of torture used during the time, torture was used extensively when excreting information from accused witches. It was thought that the Devil would allow witches to be more tolerant to pain. Understandably, many of the accused confessed.

Witch trials in the early modern period was common in Europe and in the European settlements in North America. Today, there remain areas of the globe where opinion in witchcraft is taken by many people, and women accused of being witches are subjected to severe violence. In addition, there are also states that make criminal legislation against this exercise of witchcraft. in 1658, preceding the Salem Witch Trials, there was Elizabeth ” Goody ” Garlick, Long Island’s Witch of Easthampton), who had been accused by the ill 16-year-old mother right before that teen died. Fortunately for Goody, the Governor of the colony was John Winthrop, Jr., who heard these accusations of witchcraft as plain community pathology, a viewpoint he held throughout all this witch trials he supervised around the next decade.

Part of the American Controversies series, which features works with introductory essays and pertinent primary sources, Witchcraft in Early North America focuses on the interaction of witchcraft beliefs between the Spanish, the French, and the English colonists and Native Americans and Africans in North America. Alison Games’ long introduction briefly analyzes the beliefs of each group to reveal how they joined and changed as people interacted and tried to solve problems.

This book was perfectly written and would be wonderful in classrooms when being taught this era of history. Alison stimulates the mind to a time where witchcraft was said to be devilish. The author gives the reader insight into the crimes and deception of the Salem witch trials. My overall Bias is in agreement with the Author.

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Witchcraft in Early North America. (2019, Dec 23). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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