Posted by Doc M on January 20, 2000 at 14:49:15:
In Reply to: Re: Historical Background Regarding Witchcraft ... Continued posted by Bill R on January 20, 2000 at 14:38:04:
: : : I have heard the theory put forth that some, if not a great part, of the motivations for the continued craze in Salem was that it was a land grab. Nataniel Hawthorne's "House of Seven Gables" puts this theory into fiction, but being from around there likely he felt there was some basis for that theory in part. It could be said that most of those charged were women who were outspoken...but as the craze grew many were accused....men and women...and not coincidentally they were land owners and land was confiscated. Only when the accusations hit the household of the Governor himself was the craze squelched. But many profited from the craze.
: : : I could be wrong here, but there are civil suits (or were) directed at the city and descendants of the accusers by the descendants of the accused. I know part of the suit was motivated by the descendants of those accused trying to clear the good name of their forbears, however I believe (and could be wrong here) that there was also an attempt to regain lost property or seek financial compensation also.
: : : Other opinions?
: : : Bill R
: : Oh, absolutely. I read another book awhile ago -- can't
: : remember the title -- where the author drew a detailed
: : map of Salem Village showing that the properties of
: : many of the accused just happened to abut the properties
: : of the accusers...and of course since the families of
: : the accused were often turned out of their houses and
: : had to leave their stock and everything else, their
: : *good neighbors* obtained a lot of property for next to
: : nothing.
: : When I visited the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, the
: : tour guide mentioned another theory -- that ergot
: : poisoning of the grain that was used at that time might
: : have caused hallucinations of sorcery by the afflicted.
: : This has since been pretty much discredited though.
: : I must say the tour guide got pretty snorty when I
: : told her that...go figure.
: : Doc M
: I'm laughing a little here....the theory of ergot the tour guide mentioned most likely came from a work of fiction...about some researchers looking into the witch craze having resulted from a characteristic mold that grows on rye seeds and when ground and made into bread causes some of the symptoms described. Most likely she had read the book (I think it might have been by Robin Cook but am not sure and for the life of me cannot remember the title) and all of a sudden - walla! - THE answer to the mystery. It actually was an interesting book, the main character had ancestors involved in that period of time, and his estate and property descended from acquisitions of his ancestors taking over property from those accused. I believe he was trying to prove the ergot theory to downplay the theory of the girl's behavior being motivated and encouraged by parents and others wanting to profit from it. GGGG at work again. I am sure the tour guide got her idea and statement from the novel, and I remember the broad strokes of it...but forget title and author. *shrugs*
: Bill R
Yeah, my friends and I wanted to take over the tour and
give folks the REAL story, but we decided to give the
poor thing a break. I mean, she had to wear a dopey-looking
pilgrim outfit and talk to people in polyester leisure
suits all day, so her life was hard enough.
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