In 1692 the people of Massachusetts
were living in fear, and not solely of satanic afflictions. Horrifyingly violent Indian attacks had all but emptied the northern frontier of settlers, and many traumatized refugees—including the main accusers of witches
—had fled to communities like Salem
. Meanwhile the colony’s leaders, defensive about their own failure to protect the frontier, pondered how God’s people could be suffering at the hands of savages. Struck by the similarities between what the refugees had witnessed and what the witchcraft “victims” described, many were quick to see a vast conspiracy of the Devil (in league with the French
and the Indians) threatening New England on all sides.
By providing this essential context to the famous events, and by casting her net well beyond the borders of Salem itself, Norton sheds new light on one of the most perplexing and fascinating periods in our history.
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Massachusetts had some of the earliest English colonies in America and was central to the American Revolution. Based on groundless accusations, the trials for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 and 1693 resulted in the executions of 20 people. Salem, Massachusetts, was an early settlement in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, best remembered today for the witch trials of 1692.