The Specter of Salem: Remembering the Witch Trials in Nineteenth-Century America

Hardcover | January 15, 2009

byGretchen A. Adams

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In The Specter of Salem, Gretchen A. Adams reveals the many ways that the Salem witch trials loomed over the American collective memory from the Revolution to the Civil War and beyond. Schoolbooks in the 1790s, for example, evoked the episode to demonstrate the new nation’s progress from a disorderly and brutal past to a rational present, while  critics of new religious movements in the 1830s cast them as a return to Salem-era fanaticism, and during the Civil War, southerners evoked witch burning to criticize Union tactics. Shedding new light on the many, varied American invocations of Salem, Adams ultimately illuminates the function of collective memories in the life of a nation.

“Imaginative and thoughtful. . . . Thought-provoking, informative, and convincingly presented, The Specter of Salem is an often spellbinding mix of politics, cultural history, and public historiography.”— New England Quarterly

“This well-researched book, forgoing the usual heft of scholarly studies, is not another interpretation of the Salem trials, but an important major work within the scholarly literature on the witch-hunt, linking the hysteria of the period to the evolving history of the American nation. A required acquisition for academic libraries.”—Choice, Outstanding Academic Title 2009

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In The Specter of Salem, Gretchen A. Adams reveals the many ways that the Salem witch trials loomed over the American collective memory from the Revolution to the Civil War and beyond. Schoolbooks in the 1790s, for example, evoked the episode to demonstrate the new nation’s progress from a disorderly and brutal past to a rational prese...

Gretchen A. Adams is associate professor of history at Texas Tech University.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:January 15, 2009Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226005410

ISBN - 13:9780226005416

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Chapter 1. Mysteries, Memories, and Metaphors: From Event to Memory

Chapter 2. Memory and Nation: The Early Republic

Chapter 3. Not to Hell but to Salem: Antebellum Religious Crises

Chapter 4. Witch-Burners: The Politics of Sectionalism

Chapter 5. Witch-Hunters: The Era of Civil War and Reconstruction

Epilogue: The Crucible of Memory

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

2009 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

"An important major work within the scholarly literature on the witch-hunt, linking the hysteria of that period to the evolving history of the American nation."