Illusive Shadows: Justice, Media, and Socially Significant American Trials

Illusive Shadows: Justice, Media, and Socially Significant American Trials

Illusive Shadows: Justice, Media, and Socially Significant American Trials

Illusive Shadows: Justice, Media, and Socially Significant American Trials

Synopsis

As Chiasson and his contributors illustrate, trials are media events that can have long-reaching significance. They can, and have, changed the way people think, how institutions function, and have shaped public opinions. While this collection on ten trials is about withcraft, slavery, religion, and radicalism, it is, in many ways, the story of America.

Excerpt

Lloyd Chiasson Jr.

“God knows I am innocent…”

Christmastime in New England. Snow covers the rocky soil the farmers so religiously toil in the springtime. Although frenetic bursts of farm work mark late spring and summer, winter’s lethargy blankets the landscape much as the snow, and residents huddle indoors, safe from the pristine, but lethal, weather.

It is a typical Christmas for the people of Salem Village, but for one propitious addition. The hamlet has a new resident, a reverend hired to minister their spiritual needs. Villagers thank God for that. Salem has been without a religious leader for nearly two years.

Nothing more than a collection of isolated farmhouses, little sets Salem Village apart from other hamlets in Massachusetts Bay Colony. Life outside of Boston is hard and unsure. The rocky New England ground makes farming particularly laborious, and the threat of both Indians and disease provides residents with a constant reminder of their precarious existence. Yet the countryside suits the somber Puritans; the rolling hills and cold, meandering waterways enhance its melancholy beauty. A finger of the Woolesfon River, known to locals as Frost Fish River, touches the village boundary line to the southeast where the waterway turns into Frost Fish Brook. To the west, near Thomas Bailey’s home, lies Wilkins Pond. In the south, “the Great River” (also known as Ipswich River) skirts Bald Hill and Fairmaid’s Hill. Slicing through the western and less populated section of the village, the river flows near Thomas Putnam’s house, while Nichols Brook meanders through the northern part of town. Near the middle of the village runs Old Meeting Road, where Joseph Hutchinson lives. Not far away on Ipswich Road is Thomas . . .

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