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Black Magic: Witchcraft, Race, and Resistance in Colonial New England Author(s): Timothy J.

McMillan Source: Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Sep., 1994), pp. 99-117 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2784416 . Accessed: 28/05/2013 18:57
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BLACK MAGIC: Race,and Resistance Witchcraft, in Colonial NewEngland


TIMOTHY J.McMILLAN
StateUniversity Humboldt

inNewEngcrime ofthe ofwitchcraft Whites Blacks1 accused As Blacks accusations. from these resulted but noexecutions land tosurvive ability the society, their lowest rung within occupied the something ofthe itself indicates witchcraft trials the ordeals ofthe Thesurvival ofthe accusation of possessed. they power perceived inthe of eyes Blacks' insignificance witchcraft alsodemonstrates incategorizing Blacks as both Thiscontradiction theEuropeans. inthe toempower Blacks served actually andpowerful powerless NewEngland. ofcolonial society witchcraft New England have examined Social scientists and folk culture, gender, ofeconomic tension, analyses through interms ofraceandethnicity.2 Anthropologists but rarely politics, inscholarThislacuna Salemwitchcraft. havegenerally ignored in historical lackofinterest ofthegeneral be a result shipmay arenas than Puritan more exotic desire toexplore orthe research NewEngland. ofnorthern Calithe Yurok research among Thomas Buckley's on racearid a clue forthedearth of research fornia provides ofsociety based models inNewEngland: witchcraft preconceived Eurocentric Buckley (1982)examines experience. on20th-century and earlier inYurok reinterprets society ofwomen's power the issue a and as misinterpretaindicating onmenstruationdanger research Yurok In theliterature, menstruating status. tionof women's to anddangerous. as unclean According women are portrayed not arethreatening, that ofpower areso full they Buckley, they
199499-117 25No.1,September OF BLACKSTUDES, Vol. JOURNAL ? 1994 Inc. SagePublications, 99

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thebias ofmaleinformants to men.Buckley challenges polluting, Native ofcontemporary andthediscounting andmaleresearchers ofview. points American of colonialNew England Much thesame is trueof thestudy via thewritinterpretations Eurocentric is viewedthrough which the within biasesinherent With aneyetothe authors. ingsofWhite analya more complete New England, ofcolonial records archival is possible. inthissociety sis oftheroleofraceandwitchcraft

INTRODUCTION

Blacks therelations between governed The logicofwitchcraft inpractice Itwas a logicthat NewEngland. incolonial andWhites becauseofthe Blacksas witches from executing Whites prevented retribution. Also, it was a logic that of supernatural possibility their and to destroy Blacks physical to execute Whites prompted ofBlacksmovedoutofthe witchcraft whentheinherent remains thatEuropeans brought The presuppositions cf Whites. control ofAfrican thenature peopleand concerning theOld World from the to which with thenovelsituations thecolorblack,combined tocastenslaved inthe NewWorld, causedthem adapted Europeans to be Thisproved ofthesatanic. therealm Blackswithin andfree to theBlacksofcolonialNew andempowering bothburdensome England. ofthepopulation small Blacksmadeup a very portion Although 1% forall ofNew Eng(perhaps of earlycolonialNew England in Massachusetts concentration greater land), witha somewhat position 2% in 1715)3,theyheld an important (approximately intheMassawhoarrived Blacks4 Thefirst White within ideology. cameas enslaved 1624and16385 peoples between chusetts colony at Plyarrived The first Englishsettlers servants. or indentured White and subculofBlack in 1620.Thusthedevelopment mouth thesame time.The within New England beganat roughly tures for over100years.6 unabated forslavelaborcontinued demand inBarbados inNewEngland Africans originated Mostenslaved in thelater coloniesin theCaribbean, although and other English

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enslavedpeoplesdirectly brought colonialperiodsome traders indigenous andnotfor for Thestrong desire Africans, from Africa. in is wellillustrated Native Americans, dangerous) (butpotentially in captured Adultmale NativeAmericans the colonialrecord. Blacks for inreturn plantations be soldtoCaribbean would warfare and Africans dispossessed tocontrol simpler orCaribs. Itwasmuch peoples. localnative knowledgeable, than Caribbeans United from thesouthern ofmaterial analyses As is clearfrom African remnants oftheir Africans brought enslaved many States, people theAfrican Although tothe NewWorld. them with cultures to deal withthe new theircultures and modified transformed nonemuch persisted encountered, andcultures they environments are often and accommodation The rolesof assimilation theless. colonies.The ofthenorthern in analyses particularly overstated, andfunerary pracmarriage voodoo, languages, CreoleandGullah areall practices anddivining andconjuring folkmedicines, tices, in the Blackcommunities theenslaved andfree from wellknown over control had little direct "master class" the In South.7 particular, Africans. oftheenslaved ifnotthepractices, beliefs, thereligious to African beliefs their modified the NewWorld Blacksthroughout which situations oppressive deal withthe novel and generally and West of Catholicism The syncretism themselves. presented thebestknown invoodoois perhaps which resulted belief African in theface of New of African religion of thesetransformations pressure. World of African religions evidencethatelements Thereis strong and Witchcraft, Black population. in theNew England persisted to servefunctions ofdissiin general, areknown magicalbeliefs which control oversituations andof gaining socialtension pating In means. America, direct more physical controllable by not are above and elaborated wereemphasized theseaspectsof culture Afrithat theenslaved andsocialforms other political, economic, tothecultures brought toexploit. In addition canswerepowerless with of thesecultures European and thesyncretism from Africa African about religoftheEuropeans thepreconceptions cultures, Certainly be considered. must themselves ion and aboutAfricans were andthere toEuropean, from varied European these opinions

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the earliest among reformers and religious exploiters both religious consensus a certain however, New England; ofAnglo settlers White andtheir colonists ofthese early inthe writings manifest becomes descendants.
METHOD

isa confluence this research that informs model Theconceptual syssymbolic overlapping several mutually between andconflict religion, folk andEuropean Christianity ofEuropean tems-those beliefs (particularly, African numerous religious ofthe andthose Forboth the beliefs8). African West religious exclusively, but not America was enslaved and the Africans, immigrants European a position into forced were peoples African a NewWorld. indeed inits atleast ofassimilating, not-that were most that Europeans with the Whites, a new cultural Along system. formal aspects-into of environment and physical newsocial tothe alsoadapted Blacks America. North Anglo attitudes and the exists documentation concerning direct Much empowered (at leastthewealthier, of theEuropeans practices written other Onthe hand, ifnot indentured the Europeans). Whites the attitudes ofdataabout source major ofWhites arethe records misinterTheEuropeans often Blacks. ofenslaved andpractices of Analysis thecultures oftheAfricans. andundervalued preted of the account must take into preconceptions these interpretations Blacks. about Whites
ANALYSIS

New on colonial available material archival The voluminous in this for material the basic analysis provides society England other court trials, ofthewitchcraft Thetranscripts investigation. of and thewritings thelegalcode of Massachusetts, records, for have been mined andsocial analysts theologians contemporary ofanalotoraceandwitchcraft. Exploration information relating

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in religion of Black American on thedevelopment gous material data.Analyses andreinadditional colonies provides thesouthern source important material areanother ofthehistorical terpretations nonrefer to obscureor currently as theseoften of information materials. existent archival in New Englandis a highly The study of race and witchcraft are severalthreads of beliefand in that there complexendeavor and magicby of witchcraft (a) thepractice actionto untangle: against byWhites ofwitchcraft brought Blacks;(b) theaccusations beliefs of the Blacks; and (c) theuse by Blacks of theEuropean from ofBlackstoobtain relief economic satanic nature inherently is againsubdivided ofthese factors Thefirst andsocialoppression. of witchcraft and magicwithan originin into(a) thepractice andmagicwith an ofwitchcraft African cultures; (b) thepractice form ofa syncretic and(c) thepractice inEuropean cultures; origin witchcraft and magic.Thereis direct of Europeanand African for evidence ofBlacks,direct accusation forwitchcraft evidence evidence andcircumstantial byBlacks, the useofmagical practices Blacks. ofwitchcraft among practiced for theother categories
AFRICAN BELIEFS IN NEW ENGLAND

of material a wealth provides Piersen's (1988) Black Yankees9 NewEngland. ofBlackpeopleincolonial onthemagical practices informed thesepractices. and European ideologies BothAfrican and tended to highly observers despisethemagicalbeliefs White between of Blacks. A mostnotorious pointof friction activities inthe valuesis found funerary practices beliefs andPuritan African Piersen (1988) notes: oftheBlacksofBoston. thenumber ofbellsthat limited selectmen In 1721. .. Boston's on tocutdown funerals tooneinorder for be tolled could Negro wendtostop the funeral ordered andthey processions attendance; most route tothe direct andtotake the allover town way ingtheir (p.78) grave. and theuse of magicaltalismans funeral rites, African-inspired and belief in ghosts are all charmsof protection, divining,

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1988, illustratedinthedocumentsofNewEnglandhistory(Piersen, pp.74-86). demonofAfricanisms wellinto the18th century The retention thesignificance hadin thelives beliefs andpractices these strates of Euroand the inability of New England'sBlack population andtheir to makefullconverts of theAfricans American society ofthe meshed very African andbeliefs descendants. practices Many beliefs arose, thoseofEuropeanda newsetofsyncretic wellwith intheareaofmagicandwitchcraft. particularly
BLACKS AS WITCHES

oftheaccuthere is evidence In theavailablearchival material, of witchcraft"0 and satanic sationof Black peopleforthecrimes incolonialNew England. Despitethesmallproportion possession of thatwas Black and despitethe low status of the population indentured EurotheEuropean population-even Blacksvis-a-vis social ranking-Blacksappearedin a had higher pean servants either thatinvolved witchcraft of criminal number proceedings as 1656,Old Ham,an enslaved As early orbyimplication. directly inStrawberry was accusedofwitchcraft Bank,New man, African 1988,p. 80). (Piersen, Hampshire three oftheaccusedwereBlack:Mary In theSalemwitch trials, Piersen(1988) statesthatOld Black, Candy,and Old Pharaoh. was "accusedofbeingoneofthosewhocametotorment Pharaoh ofOld thetrials" Lewis during andentice (p. 80). The fate Mercy to confess to having is notknown.11 Pharaoh MaryBlack refused in the demonstrated witchcraft despitethe afflictions practiced and Lewis courtroom AbigailWilliams, Mercy by MaryWalcot, Herpunishment girls)at thetimeof hertestimony. (theaccusing hadblown overin 1693, thewitch After was imprisonment. frenzy from thegovernor herfreedom by proclamation Maryobtained accusedofwitchcraft (Upham,1971,p. 137). MostoftheWhites tothecrime confessed of releaseatthis time as well.Candy gained "a of hermagicalpractices as evidence and produced witchcraft a piece knots were several wherein handkerchief tied, ragsofcloth, 70-7 of cheese,and a piece of grass"(Hansen,1969,pp. 1). This

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McMillan /BLACKMAGIC 105

indievidence, physical thecorroborating alongwith confession, sort." of some "witchcraft practicing was actively Candy catedthat came fromher of witchcraft Candy statedthatherknowledge herhomein Barbados. inSalemandnotfrom experience and bearcloseranalysis byCandy possessed The magicalitems Afroor African to connection provideevidencefora possible a doll was obviously handkerchief The knotted beliefs. Caribbean The piecesof painon others. to inflict with pinsortorend to stick the to be used to identify of clothing shreds clothwerepossibly sympathetic in the common as is victim, dolls witha particular and Moreinteresting, ofvoodoobelief. uppart makes magicwhich of Salem,arethecheeseand historians to many moreperplexing harm magical areasuchas SalemVillage, grass.In an agricultural of the destruction include victims to human beyond extends often In the case of Wonn(presented essentialcrops and livestock. (Bridget a witch between connection is an explicit below),there Bishop) and cattleand hay.Again,in the case of Candy,the possessionof cheese (curdledmilk) and grasscan be seen as destroytoward oriented time this magic, ofsympathetic evidence ofSalemas wellas itsinhabitants. ingthelivelihood Candytestified twist, butno doubt empowering In an unusual witchcraft that shehadlearned She stated her ownmistress. against inthenotoriHawksandhadbeenmadetowrite from Marguerett withSatan) (Upham,1971,p. 215). The ous book (thecovenant trial, awaited Mrs.Hawkswhilethey and Candy jailed both court in 1693despite Candy'sconfession. freed both butthegovernor
OF BLACKS THE BURNING

was indicted African woman, enslaved Maria,a less fortunate in 1681. Her Massachusetts in Roxbury, a building forburning at the one ofexecution byburning was theextraordinary sentence which a to was fate immolation p. 198).Judicial stake (Noble,1901, inNew England. was subjected witch no convicted to Mr. negroservant was thefateof "Jack, Even moretelling (Noble, 1901,p. 198) also accusedof arson SamuelWoolcotone"

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Thesentence was"that against Jack same court. pronounced bythe heCame& there tothe placewhence goefrom the barr heshould hebedead& then down & burnt till neck taken to behangd bythe 1901, p. 199). fier Maria negro" (Noble, w[i]th Ashes inthe by Satan; possessed forthose was thepunishment Burning inEurope) wasseenas a civil inNewEngland witchcraft (unlike of washanging. Theburning crime andtheultimate punishment method ofexecution wasa common thevictim after someother inEurope. Theuseofthis method ofdisposing ofwitches method ofa criminal witchcraft the suggests that strongly todestroy body wasthe actual crime. andnot arson inNewYork met the same fate asMaria and Anumber ofBlacks four In 1741, inresponse tofears ofa conspiracy, Whites and Jack. Inaddition tothe inNewYork more were 18Blacks City. hanged wasthe atthe stake fate of11 ofexecution, burning usual method traditional 1971, p. 437). Theuse ofthis other Blacks(Upham, Whites ofthe ofexecution demonstrates thefear among method the need to cleanse their Blacks and satanic by possessed power the Chase tensions underlying threat. (1983)explored society ofthe in1741 and that a great dealofAfrican concluded inNewYork City on suspiciously The were looked byWhites. religious practices when notonlya ofBlacksoccurred they presented immolation threat: Allofthese casesinvolved but alsoa physical moral threat violence Whites. Eachof orpotential against violence, physical with themost caseswasmet symbolic these European powerful Satan. topurge reaction burning possible:
BLACKSAS ACCUSERS

Blacks ofwitchcraft, but onseveral didWhites accuse Notonly ofthis crime. Blacks alsoaccused Whites Candy implioccasions a Black named In 1679, man Wonn as a witch. her mistress cated He stated that Oliver harOliver"2 ofwitchcraft. accused Bridget anddisturbed drove hishorse with assedhim away, apparitions, Wonn indicated that the inthe him 1979, p. 151). hayhouse (Konig, himfrom his agricultural harassment doing prevented spectral

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/BLACKMAGIC 107 McMillan

theslaveswereable to express In bothoftheseinstances chores. form and also in a socially acceptable ofWhites resentment their to escapepunishment.
BLACKS THE SATANIC

Blacksand among ofmagical practices to evidence In addition another betweenBlacks and Whites, accusations of witchcraft aboutBlacks thatare sourceof data is the attitudes significant andlaypeople.Theclearest oftheologians inthewritings manifest ofBlacks thereligious makeup about attitudes ofWhite statement Mather's (1706) work Cotton Bostonminister noted comesfrom TheNegroChristianizaed: hath hemay devour, whom seeking Lionwho goesabout A roaring ofthem dowith many Very slaves]. [Black a seizure ofthem made a magical Devils,or maintain worship Ritesactually Devillish slaves toSatan aremore And allofthem with Devils. conversation them inthe SonofGodhasmade a Faith until aretoYou, they than of Jaws outofthe them topluck Willyoudo nothing indeed. free the Devourer? (pp.14-15) Satan landrampant andheathen Africa wasa strange Whites, To many by its withdemonsand devilswho weretheobjectsof worship and of colonists the in the thoughts were often Devils inhabitants. The beliefthatBlacks were were foundat almosteveryturn. of satanicforcesno doubt to the worship connected inherently of to suspect them automatically Whites many influenced greatly of the to the fear efficacy also causedWhites Thebelief witchcraft. Not onlywere demonicforces. of the familiar Blacks' control withSatan in Africaand in New England, Blacks consorting but ofmany Europeans, andmisconceptions tothefears according Satan'simageas well. also mirrored Africans 1987) is thetitle (Karlsen, TheDevil in theShape ofa Woman butmore inNewEngland appropriate ofa recent bookonwitchcraft is the courts in New England admitted evidence spectral the from devil's imagein the shape of a Black man.WilliamBarkerof calledmetoConfess "Godhaving mysinand Andover confessed,

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me appearing over ingiving advantage Devil inthat the fall Apostasy is the man," p. 419)."Theblack 1914, (Burr, a Black" tomelike in accusers ofthe inthe ofmany testimonies ofSatan description described woman, anIndian EvenTituba, trials. theSalemwitch color black.'3 Peoples interms ofthe animals and hisfamiliar Satan and actually devils with to traffic considered were origin ofAfrican himself.'4 Satan resembled sacrifice, encodedblackness, systems symbolic European ways invery different a few) but (toname fate, andmagic prayer, however, systems, The two systems. symbolic from theAfrican Theformal andpossession. intheareas ofwitchcraft overlapped meanings mythical-ritual the be similar but may ofthese structure I argue Africans that divergent. are highly systems these underlying White butthey culture, of structure oftheformal much adopted benefit. totheir own this transformed system then
A ZUNI EXAMPLE

at ofreligious beliefs oftheconfluence example Anexcellent toSalem"in levelcanbe seeninthe"Zunivisitation theformal for discovlauded the Salem townspeople Zunivisitors which the were seen tobe evil, that ofwitches themselves andridding ering in bothreligious (Proper, systems and disposable destructive, ofthe Zuni and andideologies cosmologies Theunderlying 1968). in but the belief were divergent, of Salem highly inhabitants the the cultures. Much ofconnection between a node witches provided inNew Whites Blacks and England. the occurred between same the
BLACK RELIGION IN THE SOUTH

ofthe Euroandprejudices ofthe hierarchy TheusebyBlacks of focus this research. is the central themselves Americans against andindenAfricans ofenslaved the between responses Analogies to the are seenin comparison in New England servants tured ofBlacks enslaved ofthe better-documented experiences responses device heuristic Thisis animportant Sates. United inthe southern

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McMillan /BLACKMAGIC 109

ofthe religious life ofa Black developing that allowsinterpretation inthecontext New England culture ofcolonial American culture. to protect Blacks in the South used variedreligiousforms to make theiroften themselves fromthe ire of theirmasters, andtocreate a cultural breathing predictable precarious livesmore ownindividuality and huthey couldassert their space in which ofboth traditions including Thepractice Christian andfolk manity. werecommon voodoo,herbalmagic,and witchcraft divination, theSouthandoften werenotmutually exclusive. Neithroughout northeEuropean cultural elements weremainther theAfrican inboth inresponse occurred to tained without change. Adaptations The use of spirituals cultural as a the changing environment. of African method of secular thetransformation communication, forchildren, and thebeliefin the stories myths intoeducational are all indicative ofthe coming of a Moses to sethispeoplefree characterized thesouthern slave that ofcultural elaboration types community. inRichmond, ofGabriel Prosser uprisings Thewell-documented inCharleston, Carolina South Vesey Virginia (1800) andDenmark parand folkbeliefs, by Christianity (1822) werebothinformed beliefs oftheGullahpeopleoftheSea Islands thosefolk ticularly in Southampton uprising of South Carolina. The Nat Turner in 1831,although onChrisfocused strongly very County, Virginia ofenslaved Africans theability totransform demonstrates tianity, tomeet their ownunique needs."5 Italso demonstrates Christianity in Whites thefeargenerated supposedly by theactionsof their revolt was wideof theNat Turner docile slaves.The aftermath andcallsfor theWhites ofVirginia increasing spread panicamong of 11 overthereligion control practiced by Blacks.The burning thesametypes ofWhite Blacksin New YorkCityacknowledges of thesefearswas an anxiety oversatanic The expression fears. thanthe Christian beliefsthatinformed Nat possessionrather revolt. Turner's Black experience, it wouldbe By analogywiththe southern Blackseither NewEngland the that facile toassume fully accepted orfully tothem maintained their bytheWhites religion presented Africa. It is clearthat southern beliefs from kin) (as didtheir they

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110 JOURNAL OF BLACKSTUDIES/SEPTEMBER 1994

developed religious that systems helped them copemore effecwith tively therigors oflifein servitude. Mostsouthern Blacks, both enslaved andfree, could maintain andcreate cultural forms in thecompany ofother Blacksdueto thelarge percentage ofthe population that wasofAfrican origin. Blacks inthe north had tobe intheir much more covert attempts atreligious transformation. The differences between theMethodist andBaptist South andNew England puritanism alsoarehighly significant. Itis likely that any link possible between thebeliefs oftheBlacksandthose ofthe wasemphasized; Whites thus the of"witchcraft" significance and "folk magic," that categories transcended theethnic andracial barrier Blacks andWhites. separating
THE NEWENGLANDBLACK EXPERIENCE

NewEngland differed from the other areas markedly ofAnglo in theacknowledgment North America of thelegalrights of whileinsisting on theutter Blacks"6 of theslavery legitimacy for Thedesire enslaved Africans the exceeded economic system. usefulness ofa slaveeconomy. Native American andEuropean sidebysidewith enslavement existed African but enslavement, were nor inthe these neither same Blacks justified explained way.17 didEuropeans also brought much than or Native higher prices Americans duetotheir total and Under the legal political bondage. in New Blacks fared much better did law, than their England enslaved brothers andsisters tothe south. thesocial Nonetheless, inwhich and moral world northern Blacks lived wasoneofoppressionandprejudice, someofitfounded onNewEngland Puritan beliefs. Whites denied church religious toBlacks membership still stressed that andtomany Whites-but Blacks adhere tothe Puritan codeofbehavior. ofthepreexisting beliefs ofEuropeans Oneresult concerning ofAfrican nature wasthat some the supernatural religious practice a more descent create comfortable enviofAfrican could peoples the of New inwhich toescape orresist ronment oppression England in several This attitude was manifest different society. ways:

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the through traditions, religious of African thepractice through fortune(particularly traditions religious folk ofEuropean practice orattempted suchas arson means direct more andthrough telling), powerstructure. theWhite against uprisings has been a majorpartof Black lifein the Racial oppression UnitedStatessincetheearlycolonialperiod.Responsesto this but forms, tookmany discrimination socialandpolitical consistent breathing a cultural in creating effective was particularly religion inthe factor overlooked entirely andheretofore space.A significant of a syncretic was development the of Black power development This view of witchcraft. concepts and African view of European overthe ofcontrol a degree itgavethem Blacksinthat empowered theEuropeans that and accusation practice of witchcraft system could. never

CONCLUSION trialsof Salem, It has been 300 years since the witchcraft thelackofinterest toconsider Itis thus appropriate Massachusetts. has that thewellofinformation inplumbing anthropologists among of documenThe wealth ofhistorians. intheworks beenso popular incolonialNew England, availableaboutwitchcraft evidence tary shouldmakethisa of anthropology concerns and thetheoretical reviewof bibliographies A recent arenaforresearch. productive Thewealth untouched. this areahasbeenalmost itclearthat makes for ground anexcellent proving dataprovides ofsocialandcultural and modelsand needsto be more theories manyanthropological that accusations of witchcraft The pattern exploited. generally fitswell into permanently, boiledup in 1692 and thensubsided in social of successivereequilibration Carneiro's (1982) theory came that elements cultural ofthemyriad The analysis evolution. information much witchcraft in New provides England together of colonization (the acquiring and reverse about enculturation ofthecolonized).Deinstead by thecolonizers cultural patterns colorand social on gender, information religion, tailedsymbolic and New on society records the England within early exists status

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of Claude in themanner interpretations wouldallow fascinating Turner. orVictor Geertz, Clifford Levi-Strauss, is that ontheories however, themost promise, The areaholding social orexpressing ofreducing as methods andmagic ofwitchcraft European between existed socialtension Becauseextreme tension. itis reasonAmericans, andNative Africans, enslaved immigrants, of therolesplayedbyrace in theaccusations able to investigate and in the legal and social consequencesof these witchcraft accusations. as true witches wereviewed byWhites BlacksinNew England evilcreatures, sense-theywereinherently in theanthropological In conwickedness. to satanic their connection unableto control likesorcerersas more Whites byother Whites wereviewed trast, rites-in thiscase, signing certain people who had to undergo was low-level evil,playevil.Conjuring Satan'sbook-to become Satan.Witchcraft was with magicbutnotplaying satanic ingwith ifBlackscould to Whites, ofSatan.According theinternalization evil,butthe could notbe curedof their notbecomeWhitethey tonotethat It is interesting evilwas possible. oftheir containment Whites who wereafBlacks could notbecomeWhite, although supernatural turned blackand blue from often flicted by witches andprodding. pinching and accusedofwitchcraft Blackswere Incolonial NewEngland, Therewas socialorder. within that werebasically powerless they duetothefear Whites andnon-Whites between tension mounting White over and apprehension of Native Americanaggression p. 167).Why Africans (Konig,1979, byenslaved uprisings planned exactedon Blacks forthe crimeof thenwas the punishment given to some less severe than the punishments witchcraft than more andsocially much empowered Whites-a group legally when these wereso fewBlacksaccusedofwitchcraft Blacks?Why andfear? tension actsexpressing were overt underlying accusations in executed WhywereBlackswhowerenotaccusedofwitchcraft ofwitches? with theexecution consistent a manner to protect thepeoplesofAfrican origin worked Severalfactors Blackswerevaluwitchcraft accusations. inNew England against The expenses was costly. destruction andthustheir able property

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if ownestates; bytheir Whites wereborne ofjailingandexecuting notonlywerethecostsdifficult Africans wereexecuted, enslaved investments. capital lostexpensive butalso their owners torecover thiswas a ofthecolonialperiod, In theeconomically times trying ofwitchcraft African notto accusean enslaved strong motivation againstenslavedpeoples by theirownersdid not (accusations occur). toproaboutBlacksalso served ofWhites The preconceptions Blackswereseenas morally extraction. thepeoplesofAfrican tect did notexpectthesame Europeans therefore, to Whites; inferior Thus,even themselves. as they didfrom Africans standards from ofwitchcraft and African tothecrime confessed when an enslaved did not thecourt demonstrated his or hermagicalparaphernalia, himorherseverely. punish served toprotect thepeoples factor which The mostsignificant ofwitchandpunishments theaccusations from ofAfrican origin the believed Whites feared wasthat magical powers however, craft, and ofone Blackwoman ofBlacks.The execution byimmolation is a strong inthefire remains ofhercodefendant's thedestruction could Whites Black violence ofthefearwhich against indication the symbolic of thisfearwas through The expression inspire. treated some Black witchbeliefs.The courts of Puritan system them ofSatananddealtwith appropriately. as associates criminals norwas itused White for arsonists, was nota punishment Burning in uprisings theenslaveagainst Whites whoparticipated against of Thepunishment suchas theoneinNew York. ofAfricans, ment satanic Blacks. for theso-called was reserved immolation andculturally Blacksweremorphologically In White ideology, between contact the New World Even before with Satan. associated ofSatanas a Black conceived andEuropeans, Europeans Africans this Euro-American culture imagestrengthAs the developed, man. is that Satannever evidence ened.A tantalizing piece ofnegative were Americans Native American. himself as a Native presented due ofNew England inhabitants to many oftheWhite frightening hasbeen Infact there them. warfare between constant tothealmost whenthere outbreaks occurred thatwitchcraft some speculation intense from Whites resulting deal of anxiety among was a great

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Satan (Kences,1984).In spiteofthis, raidsbyNativeAmericans of the the mettle a Black man. If Satan was testing remained andBlackswerehisclosest ofcolonialNew England, inhabitants to accusethemor to execute kin,it wouldhave been imprudent their revenge. unholy wreak amplecause lestthey without them

NOTES
willbe referred descendants andtheir origin ofAfrican peoples device, 1. As a heuristic origins. and geographical cultural of their thediversity despite to as Blacksin thisarticle toas Whites (onceagain willbe referred descendants andtheir origin PeoplesofEuropean population). in this andclassdifferences cultural themany ignoring the ofNew England witchcraft, of historical reinterpretations theplethora 2. Among Demos's(1982) John (1974),SalemPossessed, andNissenbaum's areBoyer influential most at Salem,and Carol Karlsen's Hansen's(1969) Witchcraft Satan,Chadwick Entertaining concepts useanthropological works All ofthese Shapeofa Woman. (1987) TheDevilinthe butall fallsquarely NewEngland ofcolonial thesociety tointerpret andculture ofwitchcraft scholarship. ofhistorical therealm within ofcolonialAmerica thepopulation in ascertaining oftheproblems 3. Fora discussion see Greeneand in New England, availableof theBlack population and thebestfigures theFederalCensusof1790. Before Population (1932) American Harrington's ofslavery as thedefinition indeterminate Blacksis legally early ofthese 4. The status By 1641,however, servitude. that from ofindentured differentiated had notyetbeenfully ofMassachutheInhabitants Concerning Lawes andLibertyes in TheBookoftheGeneral is tobe found: ofbondslavery description 1975),thefollowing setts (see Barnes, shallneveranybondthere that therof, by thisCourtand authoritie It is ordered injust taken captives, itbe lawfull us; unless amongst orcaptivite villenage slavery, oraresoldtous: andsuchshall sellthemselves, as willingly andsuchstrangers wars, in Israel thelaw ofGod established usageswhich and christian havetheLibertyes nonefrom thisexempts provided dothmorally require, suchpersons concerning (1648,p. 4) byAuthoritie. whoshallbejudgedthereto servitude ofAfricans (as enslavement the tobejustwarsandthus wereconsidered ThewarsinAfrica intoslavery) who sold themselves in warand Whites captured well as NativeAmericans defined. was legally bondspeople ofAfrican arrival for thedateofthefirst evidence is conflicting 5. There the is 1638,theyearthat dateat thistime themostconvincing however, in New England; oftheorigin Fora discussion theWestIndies. from toMassachusetts Desire,returned ship, see Greene inNew England, (1942,pp. 16-17). oftheBlackpopulation clearas the is notentirely Africans enslaved for was anydesire whythere 6. Exactly The low Whites. and indentured was amply by free supported of New England economy in New England that anyBlackswereputintoslavery ofBlacksis notsurprising; number werethosenotsalablein intoNew England Africans imported theenslaved is. Generally,

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is there However, work. forplantation to be unfit thosewhowerethought theCaribbean, enslaved quality" weremade for"first from timeto time,specialorders evidencethat, Africa. orfrom theCaribbean either peoplesfrom Black American in North beliefs oftheroleofAfrican investigation 7. Fora detailed Negroand (1969) The Magic and Folk Beliefsof the Southern see Puckett's culture, Culture. inAmerican Holloway's(1990) Africanisms Many peoples. initssource ofAfrican incolonial America was unusual 8. NewEngland as (andoften theCaribbean from weretransported for sale in New England oftheAfricans from andnotdirectly slavery) ofplantation for therigors unfit peoplesseemingly rejected To circumvent andDutchtraders. bySpanish ports oftheAfrican duetothecontrol Africa to Madagascar, Africa, particularly toEastern went slavers NewEngland many this control, mayexplainsomeof in East Africa Africans Thissourceofenslaved bondspeople. obtain where intheSouth tothose as opposed inNewEngland inAfrican retentions thedifferences origin. African wereofWest oftheenslaved most of LorenzoGreene'sThe Negroin descendant 9. Piersen'sworkis an admirable bookrelating inthis element is onedisturbing there (1942). However, NewEngland Colonial oftheaccusedwas the most famous that "the (1988) notes Piersen toBlacksandwitchcraft. itis (p. 81). In an endnote, Barbados" slavefrom an Afro-Carib Tituba, romanticized much with no African to havebeena Caribperson believeTituba authors several that mentioned orWhy ofTituba, "TheMetamorphosis article Hansen(1974) in hisseminal In fact, roots. that clearly a Negro" demonstrates From Witch Can'tTellan Indian Intellectuals American buta Caribwoman. tohavebeenanything tobelieveTituba no evidence there is absolutely but was a short in Massachusetts of witchcraft ofthecapitalcrime 10. The definition a familiar orconsulteth with is,hath be a WITCH,that one:"Ifanymanorwoman pointed Exod. 22.18,Lev. 20.27,Deut. 18.10-11. shallbe puttodeath." they spirit, demand Old Ham andOld Pharaoh, twoaccusedmalewitches, 11.Thenamesofthese with Africa-Ham,thecursed connection Bothnameshavea strong investigation. further byGodtobe servants. werecondemned sonofNoah,whosesonCanaanandhisdescendants andwereburned ofCanaanmovedto Africa children that thecursed It hadbeenbelieved As ofEgypt. is thetitle ofa ruler ofcourse, servile status. oftheir Pharaoh, blackas a mark to namesof theera,it wouldbe interesting Christian mostBlacks boremoreorthodox either to their a moreovertly pagannature expressed if thesenamesindicated discover inthecommunity. ortotheWhites bearers with Bishop in 1692 whenshe was again charged Oliverwas Bridget 12. Bridget for theoffense. was executed time andthis witchcraft Americans, Blacks,andNative Whites, between tensions oftheunderlying 13. In terms suchas satanic apparitions confession shedescribed in Tituba's tonotethat itis significant rats-one redand twotalking andmost interesting, man, hairy a talking blackdog,a bestial 1969,pp. 43-48). one black(Woodward, of the of the development somewhat dated,discussion though 14. For a complete, ofthevalues oftheconnection andthedevelopment ofthecolorblackin America meaning seeWinthrop Jordan's (1968) origin, colorblackwith peoplesofAfrican with the associated 1550-1812. theNegro, Toward Attitudes OverBlack:American White of a wealth SlaveRevolt of1831 provides Tragle's(1973) TheSouthampton 15. Henry which tensions thesocialandeconomic rebellion, particularly onthe NatTurner information arefully themes Theunderlying Christian explored. into conflict. BlacksandWhites brought as well. is included confessions ofNatTurner's text The complete

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116

JOURNALOF BLACK STUDIES /SEPTEMBER 1994

ofBlacksunder see ofthetreatment thelaw incolonialAmerica, 16. Fora fullaccount American Legal Process:The ofColor:Race & the (1978) In theMatter Higginbotham's ColonialPeriod. ofenslaved Blackswere:The that thekeeping theories justified 17. Severalprevailing ofthecurseofHam (see note11),Black wereoften seenas theproduct peoplesofAfrica andBlackswerethought andcharacter, in appearance viewedas satanic peoplewereoften tohave tosurvive masters and, perhaps, toneedthecareofWhite bymany Euro-Americans soulssaved. immortal their

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goodwork and assistthat Anessaytoexcite Christianizaed: C. (1706). TheNegro Mather, B. Green. Boston: servants in Christianity. ofNegro theinstruction Massachusetts ofthe Colony ofthe ofAssistants ofthe Court Noble, J.(Ed.). (1901).Records ofSuffolk. The County Vol 1.Boston: Bay: 1630-1692, in subculture of an Afro-American The development W. (1988). Black Yankees: Piersen, Press. ofMassachusetts University Amherst: NewEngland. eighteenth-century HistoricalCollections, to Salem. Essex Institute Proper, D. (1968). The Zuni visitation 104(1),80-85. New York:Dover. Negro. ofthesouthern beliefs N. (1969). Themagicandfolk Puckett, of1831.New York:Vintage. slave revolt Tragle, H. (1973). TheSouthampton and a history of an account ofSalem Village, With C. (1971). Salemwitchcraft: Upham, MA: Corner Williamstown, intwo volumes. subjects, andkindred onwitchcraft opinions of 1867edition). House.(Reprint Massachusetts. century inseventeenth magicand religion R. (1984). Witchcraft, Weisman, Press. ofMassachusetts University Amherst: copiedfromtheoriginal W. E. (Ed.). (1969). Recordsof Salem witchcraft, Woodward, in one of the1864 and 1865 works, New York:Da Capo. (Republication documents. volume).

Carolinaat ofNorth theUniversity his Ph.D. from J.McMillanreceived Timothy to Colonial "Resistance His dissertation fieldwork, ChapelHill in anthropology. He is inKenya. " was conducted Orgoiik, Kenya:TheKipsigis ChangeinHighland StateUniversity. atHumboldt studies inanthropology andethnic a lecturer currently

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