Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Source of Magic

It is well known that we Amelia Islanders are trouble makers. But did you know it was someone from here, or roundabouts, that was responsible for the Salem Witch Trials? Or so says a noted historian writing for the Gilder Lehrman Quarterly Journal. The article is entitled The Years of Magical Thinking: Explaining the Salem Witchcraft Crisis.

Author Mary Beth Norton has reached some fascinating conclusions about the trial, which began when a local slave named. Tituba was accused of being a witch and then confessed, in great detail and naming many others as fellow witches.

Many recent historians assumed she brought these ideas of witchcraft with her from Africa. But Tituba was not African, but rather Native American; she probably had been captured by England’s Indian allies in a raid on one of the Spanish missions in the region that is now northern Florida or southern Georgia. One reliable source terms her a “Spanish Indian,” as such captives were known in New England. (Nineteenth-century authors concluded she was African or half-African because they knew she was a slave, and at that time historians did not realize how many enslaved Indians lived in New England.)

In the end, twenty-seven people were convicted, nineteen of them (fourteen women, five men) hanged; the last executions were on September 22, 1692. Our local Tituba was among the victims

The article is short and a nice read. The issue also has several other articles of interest.