The Witchcraft Delusion in Colonial Connecticut, 1647-1697

By John M. Taylor | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI

"Remembering all this, it is not surprising that witches were tried, convicted and put to death in New England; and the manner in which the waning superstition was dealt with by Connecticut lawyers and ministers is the more significant of that robust common sense, rejection of superstition, political and religious, and fearless acceptance of the ethical mandates of the great Law-giver, which influenced the growth of their jurisprudence and stamped it with an unmistakable individuality." Connecticut; Origin of her Courts and Laws (N. E. States, 1: 487- 488), HAMERSLEY.

"They made witch-hunting a branch of their social police, and desire for social solidarity. That this was wrong and mischievous is granted; but it is ordinary human conduct now as then. It was a most illogical, capricious, and dangerous form of enforcing punishment, abating nuisances, and shutting out disagreeable truths; fertile in injustice, oppression, the shedding of innocent blood, and the extinguishing of light. No one can justify it, or plead beneficial results from it which could not have been secured with far less evil in other ways. But it was natural that, believing the crime to exist, they should use the belief to strike down offenders or annoyances out of reach of any other legal means. They did not invent the crime for the purpose, nor did they invent the death penalty for this crime." Connecticut as a Colony ( 1: 206), MORGAN.

"As to what you mention, concerning that poor creature in your town that is afflicted and mentioned my name to yourself and son, I return you hearty thanks for your intimation about it, and for your charity therein mentioned; and I have great cause to bless God, who, of his mercy hitherto, hath not left me to fall into such an horrid evil." Extract of a Letter from Sec. Allyn to Increase Mather, Hartford, Mar. 18, 1692-93.

AN accusation of witchcraft was a serious matter, one of life or death, and often it was safer to become an accuser than one of the accused. Made in terror, malice, mischief, revenge, or religious dementia, or of some other

-45-

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The Witchcraft Delusion in Colonial Connecticut, 1647-1697
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • TWO INDICTMENTS FOR WITCHCRAFT viii
  • Contents xi
  • Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 6
  • Chapter III 15
  • Chapter IV 23
  • Chapter V 35
  • Chapter VI 45
  • Chapter VII 62
  • Chater VIII 79
  • Chapter IX 101
  • Chapter X 122
  • Chapter XI 142
  • HISTORICAL NOTE 161
  • BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 165
  • Index 167
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