Thomas Thornton, a tanner with reformed religious convictions, underwent a transformation in 1647 when influenza took the lives of four of his six children and Connecticut authorities hanged his next-door neighbor, Alice Young, for witchcraft. Hers was the first such execution in New England.1 The magnitude of these events in Thornton's life cannot be understated, for they changed its entire trajectory. Preoccupation with witchcraft also changed the trajectory of early American historical writing. In his famous 1970 essay “Underlying Themes in the Witchcraft of Seventeenth-Century New England,” John Demos quoted the late Harvard professor Perry Miller, “The intellectual history of New England can be written as if no such thing ever happened.” Demos concurred, to a point. He acknowledged that witchcraft “exerted only limited influence” on New England's historical trajectory. Yet, he said, the one set of issues that remained was the roles played by individuals most “directly involved”...
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Research Article| October 01 2022
Between God and Satan: Thomas Thornton, Witch-Hunting, and Religious Mission in the English Atlantic World, 1647–1693
Katherine A. Hermes;
Beth M. Caruso
Connecticut History Review (2022) 61 (2): 42–82.
Katherine A. Hermes, Beth M. Caruso; Between God and Satan: Thomas Thornton, Witch-Hunting, and Religious Mission in the English Atlantic World, 1647–1693. Connecticut History Review 1 January 2022; 61 (2): 42–82. doi: https://doi.org/10.5406/26395991.61.2.04
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