Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

SPECTRAL EVIDENCE, NON-SPECTRAL ACTS OF WITCHCRAFT, AND CONFESSION AT SALEM IN 1692

  • WENDEL D. CRAKER (a1)
    • Published online: 01 June 1997
Abstract

It is commonly asserted that people were hanged at Salem on charges of spectral appearance; and the way to avoid hanging was to confess. Non-spectral acts of witchcraft are regarded as inconsequential to the outcome of the trials. Yet it was the non-spectral acts which provided the one magnet that attracted attention from the court. No one charged only with spectral appearance was even tried. The reprieves granted to confessors were the last decisions the court was allowed to make. This profile provides evidence that the standard claims about the court of oyer and terminer's use of evidence are the reverse of what actually happened, and highlights a number of patterns that have gone unremarked, requiring fresh interpretations.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
The original study, of which this is an extension, was under the direction of Barry Schwartz. Thanks also to Fred Bates, Robert Bogue, Dwight Freshley, Sandy Martin, and Ira Robinson for dialogue and commentary. Richard Weisman provided critical comments on an earlier draft of this argument. Larry Gragg's comments have shaped the outcome, and the argument is sharpened by responses of anonymous referees. The article grew, in part, out of participation in the ‘Perspectives on Witchcraft’ conference, a tercentenary observance of the Salem witchcraft trials, held in Salem, MA, June 1992, sponsored by Salem State College, the Essex Institute, et al. An abbreviated form of this argument was presented at the New England Historical Association, Waltham, Massachusetts, 23 Apr. 1994.
Footnotes
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Historical Journal
  • ISSN: 0018-246X
  • EISSN: 1469-5103
  • URL: /core/journals/historical-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed