Hiding Salem : The Other Witch Hunt Of 1692 Essay

Hiding Salem : The Other Witch Hunt Of 1692 Essay

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In Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692 Richard Godbeer recounts to the reader the story and the history behind a witch hunt that took place in 1692 in Stamford Connecticut. The Stamford witch trial was one of two witch trials that would take place in the New England colonies during 1692. The other, more famous, witch hunt would take place in Salem, a town in Massachusetts Bay colony. The Salem witch trials are a significant event in early American history. They are often cited as evidence of the religious fanaticism and the close-mindedness of puritan society. So why then are the events that happened in Stamford not held up as another example of this fanaticism? This is the central issue of Escaping Salem.
Godbeer makes the point to compare the similarities between the Salem and Stamford Witch hunts within the prologue of the book. He points out that both began with strange “fits” that were interpreted as witchcraft. And both involve a great deal of spectral or invisible evidence of witchcraft. In both cases the accusations of witchcraft would also spread to other villages, and would cause an uproar within their communities. Unlike Salem however, the Hartford witch hunt would not lead to same outcome that happened in Salem.
Godbeer starts his narrative in April of 1692. Kathrine Branch, a poor and orphaned servant, is struck with a sudden and serious illness. Her masters, Daniel and Abigail Wescot - a prominent family in Stamford, became concerned with the symptoms and behaviors that Kathrine Branch was displaying. The Wescots consulted with a midwife by the name of Sarah Bates. Goody Bates was the closest thing Stamford had to a physician, even though she lacked formal medical training. Goody Bates examined ...


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...e blood was given from their own body, it was given through the witch’s teat, much in the same way that a baby is nursed by their mother. This teat, would manifest as a physical mark on this skin. When Mercy Disborough was examined, some unusual marks were found on her body. The author does not say what these marks were, but he does say that it was enough to convince the jury. This “evidence”, would lead to a conviction of witchcraft for Mercy. After closer examination of the case and the evidence based on a petition on behalf of Goody Disborough however, this evidence would not be enough for Stamford to carry through her sentence. And she was released from her incarceration for witchcraft.
The Stamford witch hunt is an obscure event in early American history. It has always been overshadowed by the other witch hunt that happened in 1692. Richard Godbeer



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