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Colonial Woman and Religion-"Woman and Witchcraft"

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Colonial Woman and Religion-"Woman and Witchcraft"

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  • Jan. 2002
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It was at staid Boston that Anne Hutchinson marshaled her forces; it was at peace-loving Salem that the Devil marshaled his witches in a last despairing onslaught against the saints. To many of its readers there seemed to be little or no connection between witchcraft and religion; but an investigation of the facts leading to the death sentence of the various martyrs to superstition at Salem will convince the skeptical that there was a most intimate relationship between the Puritan belief and the theory of witchcraft. Looking back after the passing of more than two hundred years, it was said to believe the bizarre explanation, skilled and thoroughly intelligent folk as the Puritans could have believed in the possession of this evil power. It especially appeared incredibly when it was remembered that here was a people that came to this country for the exercise of religious freedom, a citizenship that descended from men trained in the universities of England, a well-built band that under extreme privation has created an institution within sixteen years after the settlement of wilderness. It was borne in the mind that the Massachusetts colonies were not alone in this belief in witchcraft. It as common throughout the world, and was as aged as humankind. Deprived of the aid of modern science in explaining odd methods and activities, man had long been adapted to fall back upon devils, witches, and evil spirits as premises for his arguments. While the execution of the witch was not so common an event elsewhere in the world, during the Salem period, yet it was unknown among ‘so-called' open-minded people. In 1712, a woman was burned near London for witchcraft and several city clergymen were among the prosecutors. The religion of Salem and Boston was well fitted for developing this very theory of hateful power in "possessed" persons. The teachings that there was a personal devil, that God allowed him to tempt mankind, that there were myriads of devils under Satan's...

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