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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 .
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BLACK MAGIC:
Race,and Resistance
Witchcraft,
in ColonialNewEngland
TIMOTHY J.McMILLAN
StateUniversity
Humboldt

inNewEngWhitesaccusedBlacks1ofthecrimeofwitchcraft
As Blacks
from
theseaccusations.
resulted
landbutnoexecutions
tosurvive
ability
thesociety,
their
rungwithin
occupied
thelowest
something
ofthe
itself
indicates
trials
theordeals
ofthewitchcraft
Thesurvival
oftheaccusation
of
powertheypossessed.
perceived
intheeyesof
Blacks'insignificance
witchcraft
alsodemonstrates
incategorizing
Blacksas both
Thiscontradiction
theEuropeans.
toempower
Blacksinthe
served
actually
andpowerful
powerless
ofcolonialNewEngland.
society
have examinedNew Englandwitchcraft
Social scientists
and
folkculture,
gender,
tension,
analysesofeconomic
through
interms
ofraceandethnicity.2
Anthropologists
butrarely
politics,
ThislacunainscholarSalemwitchcraft.
havegenerally
ignored
in historical
lackofinterest
shipmaybe a resultofthegeneral
moreexoticarenasthanPuritan
orthedesiretoexplore
research
NewEngland.
ofnorthern
Caliresearch
amongtheYurok
ThomasBuckley's
on racearid
a clue forthedearthof research
forniaprovides
based
modelsofsociety
inNewEngland:
witchcraft
preconceived
Eurocentric
Buckley
(1982)examines
experience.
on20th-century
andreinterprets
earlier
inYurok
society
power
theissueofwomen's
a
and
as
misinterpretaindicating
onmenstruationdanger
research
Yurok
menstruating
tionof women'sstatus.In theliterature,
to
as uncleananddangerous.
According
womenare portrayed
not
Buckley,
theyareso fullofpowerthattheyarethreatening,
199499-117
OF BLACKSTUDES, Vol.25No.1,September
JOURNAL
? 1994SagePublications,
Inc.

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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

99

The unabatedforover100years.154 on Sat.Thisprovedto be to theBlacksofcolonialNew andempowering bothburdensome England.causedthemtocastenslaved andfreeBlackswithintherealmofthesatanic.Thusthedevelopment tureswithinNew Englandbeganat roughlythesame time.Thefirst within chusetts colonybetween1624and16385cameas enslavedpeoples The firstEnglishsettlersarrivedat Plyservants. Much thesame is trueof thestudyof colonialNew England via thewritinterpretations Eurocentric whichis viewedthrough the within Withaneyetothebiasesinherent ingsofWhiteauthors.Itwas a logicthatinpractice Blacksas witchesbecauseofthe Whitesfromexecuting prevented retribution. ofthepopulation Blacksmadeup a verysmallportion Although of earlycolonialNew England(perhaps1% forall ofNew Engin Massachusetts land).although This content downloaded from 91.248. it was a logic that possibilityof supernatural theirphysical and to destroy Blacks to execute Whites prompted ofBlacksmovedoutofthe witchcraft remainswhentheinherent thatEuropeansbrought controlcf Whites. witha somewhatgreaterconcentration position 2% in 1715)3.combinedwiththenovelsituations EuropeansadaptedintheNewWorld.229.6 demandforslavelaborcontinued inBarbados inNewEnglandoriginated MostenslavedAfricans in thelater and otherEnglishcoloniesin theCaribbean. or indentured ofBlackandWhitesubculmouthin 1620. Native ofcontemporary andthediscounting andmaleresearchers Americanpointsofview. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .theyheld an important (approximately intheMassaBlacks4whoarrived Whiteideology.a morecompleteanalyinthissocietyis possible.The presuppositions thenatureofAfricanpeopleand fromtheOld Worldconcerning to whichthe thecolorblack. archivalrecordsofcolonialNew England. Also.Buckleychallengesthebias ofmaleinformants polluting.100 JOURNALOF BLACK STUDIES /SEPTEMBER 1994 to men. sis oftheroleofraceandwitchcraft INTRODUCTION governedtherelationsbetweenBlacks The logicofwitchcraft andWhitesincolonialNewEngland.

Thestrong in is wellillustrated NativeAmericans. in theNew EnglandBlack population.folkmedicines. themselves ion and aboutAfricans theseopinionsvariedfromEuropeantoEuropean. Caribbeansthanknowledgeable. dangerous) (butpotentially the colonialrecord.marriage CreoleandGullahlanguages. United fromthesouthern As is clearfromanalysesofmaterial remnants oftheirAfrican brought States.andsocialformsthattheenslavedAfritothecultures brought canswerepowerlesstoexploit. direct more physical controllable by not are theseaspectsof culturewereemphasizedand elaboratedabove othereconomic.areknownto servefunctions which patingsocialtensionandof gainingcontroloversituations In means.7 particular. Certainly mustbe considered. thereligiousbeliefs.In addition cultures with of these European and the syncretism fromAfrica religoftheEuropeansaboutAfrican thepreconceptions cultures.248. Thereis strongevidencethatelementsof Africanreligions and Witchcraft. beliefsto theirAfrican theNewWorldmodified Blacksthroughout deal withthe novel and generallyoppressivesituationswhich of Catholicismand West The syncretism themselves.political.McMillan/BLACK MAGIC 101 colonialperiodsome tradersbroughtenslavedpeoplesdirectly andnotforindigenous desireforAfricans. oftheenslavedAfricans. in the wellknownfromtheenslavedandfreeBlackcommunities over control had little direct "master class" the In South.Adultmale NativeAmericanscapturedin forBlacks inreturn plantations wouldbe soldtoCaribbean warfare and Africans dispossessed tocontrol orCaribs. presented invoodoois perhapsthebestknown beliefwhichresulted African of Africanreligionin theface of New of thesetransformations Worldpressure. persisted ofdissimagicalbeliefsin general.The in analysesofthenorthern particularly overstated. environments are often and accommodation theless. America. fromAfrica. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . andfunerary pracvoodoo.Itwasmuchsimpler localnativepeoples.229.Although cultures and modifiedtheirculturesto deal withthe new transformed nonemuchpersisted andcultures theyencountered.andtherewere This content downloaded from 91.154 on Sat.ifnotthepractices. practicesareall anddivining andconjuring tices.manyenslavedAfricans people theAfrican withthemtotheNewWorld.The rolesof assimilation colonies.

TheEuropeans ofenslaved andpractices of Analysis thecultures oftheAfricans.102 JOURNALOF BLACK STUDIES /SEPTEMBER 1994 theearliest among reformers andreligious exploiters bothreligious consensus a certain however. ifnottheindentured Europeans). a newcultural Alongwith system. andEuropean Christianity ofEuropean tems-those beliefs(particularly. AngloNorth and theattitudes existsconcerning documentation Muchdirect empowered (at leastthewealthier. Whites ANALYSIS availableon colonialNew material archival The voluminous foranalysisin this material the basic provides society England othercourt trials. Whites ofWhites arethemajorsourceofdataabouttheattitudes records misinteroften Blacks.229. African religious andthoseofthenumerous Forboththe beliefs8). ofthewitchcraft Thetranscripts investigation. Exploration information relating This content downloaded from 91. WestAfrican religious butnotexclusively. Europeanimmigrants intoa position peopleswereforced African indeeda NewWorld. settlers White andtheir oftheseearlycolonists inthewritings manifest becomes descendants. of and thewritings thelegalcode of Massachusetts. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .248. andundervalued preted of thepreconceptions musttakeintoaccount theseinterpretations aboutBlacks. thatmostEuropeans theWhites.154 on Sat. METHOD isa confluence thisresearch modelthatinforms Theconceptual syssymbolic overlapping severalmutually between andconflict folkreligion. for havebeenmined andsocialanalysts theologians contemporary ofanalotoraceandwitchcraft. ofAngloNewEngland. America was enslaved and the Africans. records. formal aspects-into of environment and physical the new social to Blacksalsoadapted America. of theEuropeans practices written Ontheother hand. atleastinits werenot-thatofassimilating.

Thereis direct of Europeanand Africanwitchcraft accusationofBlacks. Boston'sselectmen tocutdownon tooneinorder couldbe tolledforNegrofunerals tostopwendthefuneral ordered andthey processions attendance. routetothe wayallovertownandtotakethemostdirect ingtheir grave.248. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .78) funeralrites.Piersen(1988) notes: thenumber ofbellsthat limited In 1721. onthemagicalpractices thesepractices.andcircumstantial theuseofmagicalpractices ofwitchcraft amongBlacks.Analysesandreincoloniesprovidesadditional thesouthern source important material areanother ofthehistorical terpretations nonas theseoftenreferto obscureor currently of information existent archivalmaterials. .(p.229. in New Englandis a highly The studyof race and witchcraft complexendeavorin thatthereare severalthreadsof beliefand and magicby actionto untangle:(a) thepracticeof witchcraft Whites against by of brought witchcraft the accusations (b) Blacks. A mostnotoriouspointof friction valuesis foundinthefunerary practices beliefsandPuritan African oftheBlacksofBoston. and magicwithan originin into(a) thepracticeof witchcraft andmagicwithan Africancultures.154 on Sat. BothAfricanand Europeanideologiesinformed tendedto highlydespisethemagicalbeliefsand Whiteobservers between activitiesof Blacks.. practiced fortheothercategories AFRICAN BELIEFS IN NEW ENGLAND providesa wealthof material Piersen's(1988) Black Yankees9 ofBlackpeopleincolonialNewEngland.(b) thepracticeofwitchcraft form and(c) thepracticeofa syncretic origininEuropeancultures.McMillan/BLACK MAGIC 103 of Black Americanreligionin gous materialon thedevelopment data.and belief in ghosts are all This content downloaded from 91.theuse of magicaltalismansand African-inspired charmsof protection.directevidencefor evidenceforwitchcraft evidence byBlacks.divining. and magic. Blacks. and (c) theuse by Blacks of theEuropeanbeliefsof the satanicnatureofBlackstoobtainrelieffromeconomic inherently is againsubdivided ofthesefactors Thefirst andsocialoppression.

154 on Sat. Afterthewitchfrenzy was imprisonment. The fateofOld Pharaohis notknown. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . pp.Candyconfessed and producedas evidenceof hermagicalpractices"a witchcraft severalknotsweretied.AbigailWilliams.and Old Pharaoh.Piersen(1988) statesthatOld Pharaohwas "accusedofbeingoneofthosewhocametotorment andenticeMercyLewis duringthetrials"(p.Despitethesmallproportion of the populationthatwas Black and despitethe low statusof EuroBlacksvis-a-vistheEuropeanpopulation-evenindentured pean servantshad highersocial ranking-Blacksappearedin a either thatinvolvedwitchcraft numberof criminalproceedings As earlyas 1656. 80). fromthegovernor Maryobtainedherfreedomby proclamation ofwitchcraft of the Whites accused (Upham.248.a piece wherein handkerchief of cheese. and satanic sationof Black peopleforthecrimesof witchcraft"0 possessionincolonialNew England.pp. practices ManyoftheAfrican beliefsarose.New Africanman. 70-71). Mercy Herpunishment (theaccusinggirls)at thetimeof hertestimony. Most tothecrimeof gainedreleaseatthistimeas well. wellwiththoseofEuropeanda newsetofsyncretic intheareaofmagicandwitchcraft. 80).1969.104 JOURNALOF BLACK STUDIES /SEPTEMBER 1994 1988.1971.Old Ham. Hampshire In theSalemwitchtrials.was accusedofwitchcraft (Piersen. 137).threeoftheaccusedwereBlack:Mary Black.and a piece of grass"(Hansen. Candy.229.p. This This content downloaded from 91. hadblownoverin 1693.11 MaryBlack refusedto confessto having in the demonstrated despitethe afflictions practicedwitchcraft and Lewis courtroom by MaryWalcot. illustratedinthedocumentsofNewEnglandhistory(Piersen.an enslaved orbyimplication. particularly BLACKS AS WITCHES thereis evidenceoftheaccuIn theavailablearchivalmaterial.74-86).ragsofcloth.1988. demonofAfricanisms wellintothe18thcentury The retention thesignificance thesebeliefsandpracticeshadin thelives strates of New England'sBlack populationand the inabilityof Euroof theAfricansandtheir Americansocietyto makefullconverts andbeliefsmeshedvery descendants.p. directly inStrawberry Bank.

The courtjailed bothCandyandMrs.the possessionof cheese (curdledmilk) and grasscan be seen as towarddestroymagic.The piecesof to stickwithpinsortorendto inflict the clothwerepossiblyshredsof clothingto be used to identify sympathetic in the common victim.was indicted Maria.thistimeoriented evidenceofsympathetic ingthelivelihoodofSalemas wellas itsinhabitants. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .magicalharm grass.1971. 198) also accusedof arson This content downloaded from 91. HawksandhadbeenmadetowriteinthenotorifromMarguerett ous book (thecovenantwithSatan) (Upham. Even moretellingwas thefateof "Jack. 198).p.a less fortunate in 1681. 215).Candytestified In an unusualbutno doubtempowering She statedthatshehadlearnedwitchcraft againstherownmistress.arethecheeseand to manyhistorians moreperplexing areasuchas SalemVillage. experience The magicalitemspossessedbyCandybearcloseranalysisand to Africanor Afroprovideevidencefora possibleconnection was obviouslya doll handkerchief Caribbeanbeliefs.Hawkswhiletheyawaitedtrial.In the case of Wonn(presented betweena witch(Bridget below).Again. SamuelWoolcotone"(Noble. ofsomesort.p. butthegovernor THE BURNINGOF BLACKS enslavedAfricanwoman.154 on Sat. of Salem.248. twist. freedbothin 1693despiteCandy'sconfession.McMillan /BLACKMAGIC 105 physicalevidence. at the one ofexecutionbyburning sentencewas theextraordinary which a to was fate immolation stake(Noble. Her Massachusetts forburninga buildingin Roxbury.as is dolls witha particular and magicwhichmakesuppartofvoodoobelief." "witchcraft practicing catedthatCandywas actively came fromher Candy statedthatherknowledgeof witchcraft inSalemandnotfromherhomein Barbados.p.Judicial no convictedwitchwas subjectedinNew England.229.in the case of Candy.The knotted painon others.thereis an explicitconnection Bishop) and cattleand hay.negroservantto Mr.In an agricultural of oftenextendsbeyondhumanvictimsto includethedestruction essentialcrops and livestock.indialongwiththecorroborating confession. 1901.Moreinteresting.1901.

was thepunishment Burning inEurope)wasseenas a civil inNewEngland witchcraft (unlike of washanging. Ashesinthefierw[i]th forthosepossessedby Satan. Theuse ofthistraditional ofthe ofexecution demonstrates thefearamongWhites method the need to cleanse their Blacks and satanicpowerpossessed by theunderlying Chase(1983)explored tensions society ofthethreat. reaction burning possible: BLACKSAS ACCUSERS butonseveral accuseBlacksofwitchcraft. physical symbolic thesecaseswasmetwiththemostpowerful European topurgeSatan.1901.Theuseofthismethod ofdisposing ofwitches method thebodyofa criminal suggests thatwitchcraft strongly todestroy andnotarsonwastheactualcrime. that a great dealofAfrican inNewYorkCityin1741andconcluded The werelookedon suspiciously byWhites.inresponse In addition to the inNewYorkCity. 437). 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Anumber ofBlacksinNewYorkmetthesamefateasMariaand four tofearsofa conspiracy. Theburning crimeandtheultimate punishment ofexecution wasa common thevictim after someothermethod inEurope. accusedBridget drovehishorseaway.p. heCame& there thebarrtotheplacewhence heshouldgoefrom down& burnt to behangdbythenecktillhebedead& thentaken Marianegro" (Noble. BlacksalsoaccusedWhites Candyimplioccasions In 1679.anddisturbed assedhimwithapparitions.p. religious practices whentheypresented notonlya ofBlacksoccurred immolation threat: Allofthesecasesinvolved butalsoa physical moralthreat violenceagainst Whites.In 1741. burning usualmethod otherBlacks(Upham.p.1979. 151).248. NotonlydidWhites ofthiscrime. catedhermistress He stated thatOliverharOliver"2 ofwitchcraft.a BlackmannamedWonn as a witch. Eachof orpotential violence.154 on Sat. 199). indicated that the himinthehayhouse (Konig.1971. Whites and Jack. more 18Blackswerehanged atthestakewasthefateof11 ofexecution.Wonn himfromdoinghis agricultural harassment prevented spectral This content downloaded from 91.229.106 JOURNALOF BLACK STUDIES /SEPTEMBER 1994 Thesentence against Jackwas"that pronounced bythesamecourt.

1987) is thetitle inNewEnglandbutmoreappropriate ofa recent bookonwitchcraft inNew Englandcourtsis the admitted evidence spectral the from devil's imagein the shape of a Black man. Blacks consorting but ofmanyEuropeans.14-15) SatantheDevourer? landrampant andheathen Africawasa strange To manyWhites. withdemonsand devilswho weretheobjectsof worshipby its ofthecolonistsand Devils wereofteninthethoughts inhabitants.Very madea seizure a magical Devils. This content downloaded from 91.or maintain worship DevillishRitesactually aremoreslavestoSatan withDevils. also mirrored Africans TheDevil in theShape ofa Woman(Karlsen.229.248. Blacks' controlof the familiardemonicforces. (pp. THE SATANICBLACKS In additionto evidenceofmagicalpracticesamongBlacksand accusationsbetweenBlacks and Whites.until thanthey outoftheJawsof topluckthem Willyoudo nothing freeindeed. whom Lionwhogoesaboutseeking A roaring ofthem dowith many ofthem[Blackslaves].154 on Sat.WilliamBarkerof "GodhavingcalledmetoConfessmysinand Andoverconfessed. were foundat almosteveryturn.another of witchcraft aboutBlacks thatare sourceof data is the attitudes significant andlaypeople.Andallofthem conversation a FaithintheSonofGodhasmadethem aretoYou.Not onlywere withSatan in Africaand in New England./BLACKMAGIC 107 McMillan chores. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .The beliefthatBlacks were connectedto the worshipof satanicforcesno doubt inherently to suspectthemof manyWhitesautomatically greatlyinfluenced ofthe to theefficacy fear Thebeliefalso causedWhites witchcraft.Theclearest oftheologians inthewritings manifest aboutthereligiousmakeupofBlacks ofWhiteattitudes statement CottonMather's(1706) work comesfromnotedBostonminister TheNegroChristianizaed: hath hemaydevour. tothefearsandmisconceptions according Satan'simageas well.In bothoftheseinstancestheslaveswereable to express ofWhitesin a sociallyacceptableformand also theirresentment to escapepunishment.

in ofmanyoftheaccusers ofSataninthetestimonies description described anIndianwoman. EvenTituba.154 on Sat.'4 resembled Europeansymbolicsystemsencodedblackness.p.229. and disposablein bothreligioussystems destructive.248. is the central themselves Americans against andindenAfricans ofenslaved theresponses between Analogies to the in New Englandare seenin comparison turedservants ofBlacksenslaved ofthebetter-documented experiences responses device heuristic Sates.andmagic(tonamebuta few)inverydifferent prayer.Theunderlying butthebeliefin divergent. oftheZuniand andideologies cosmologies 1968). 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . ofwitches themselves eringandridding (Proper. 419).sacrifice."is the tomelikea Black"(Burr. intheareasofwitchcraft overlapped meanings butthemythical-ritual ofthesemaybe similar structure I argue Africans that divergent. Much between a nodeofconnection witches provided inNewEngland. theSalemwitchtrials. thissystem thentransformed A ZUNI EXAMPLE ofreligious beliefsat exampleoftheconfluence Anexcellent toSalem"in levelcanbe seeninthe"Zunivisitation theformal fordiscovlaudedtheSalemtownspeople whichtheZunivisitors thatwereseentobe evil. however. ways fate."Theblackman. arehighly thesesystems underlying White butthey culture.Thisis animportant United inthesouthern This content downloaded from 91. symbolic fromtheAfrican Theformal andpossession. The two systems. systems. ofSalemwerehighly theinhabitants thecultures.108 JOURNALOF BLACK STUDIES /SEPTEMBER 1994 overmeappearing inthat theDeviladvantage fallingiving Apostasy 1914. Peoples interms ofthecolorblack.'3 animals Satanandhisfamiliar and actually devils with to traffic considered were origin ofAfrican Satanhimself. of structure adoptedmuchoftheformal totheir ownbenefit. theBlacksandWhites between thesameoccurred BLACK RELIGION IN THE SOUTH oftheEuroandprejudices TheusebyBlacksofthehierarchy of focus this research.

tomeettheirownuniqueneeds. The Nat Turneruprisingin Southampton in 1831. uprisings Thewell-documented SouthCarolina Virginia(1800) andDenmarkVeseyinCharleston. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . comingof a Moses to sethispeoplefreeare all indicativeofthe thesouthern slave thatcharacterized typesofculturalelaboration community.parby Christianity (1822) werebothinformed thosefolkbeliefsoftheGullahpeopleoftheSea Islands ticularly of South Carolina. werecommon voodoo.Adaptations The use of spiritualsas a the changingculturalenvironment.it wouldbe By analogywiththe southern faciletoassumethatNewEnglandBlackseither fullyacceptedthe tothembytheWhitesorfullymaintained their religionpresented did Africa.Neithroughout thertheAfricannortheEuropeanculturalelementsweremaininbothoccurred inresponseto tainedwithout change.to make theiroften andtocreatea cultural breathing precarious livesmorepredictable and huspace in whichtheycouldasserttheirownindividuality including ThepracticeofbothChristian andfolktraditions manity. Black experience.McMillan /BLACKMAGIC 109 ofthedeveloping religiouslifeofa Black thatallowsinterpretation New Englandcultureinthecontext ofcolonialAmericanculture. It is clear their southern beliefsfrom thatthey(as kin) This content downloaded from 91. of African methodof secularcommunication.herbalmagic.The expressionof thesefearswas an anxietyoversatanic Nat possessionratherthanthe Christianbeliefsthatinformed Turner'srevolt.The aftermath andcallsforincreasing spreadpanicamongtheWhitesofVirginia of 11 controloverthereligionpracticedby Blacks. Virginia theabilityofenslavedAfricans totransform demonstrates tianity. thetransformation and thebeliefin the mythsintoeducationalstoriesforchildren.229.although focusedonChrisverystrongly County."5 Italso demonstrates Christianity thefeargeneratedin Whitesby theactionsof theirsupposedly of theNat Turnerrevoltwas widedocile slaves.and witchcraft divination. theSouthandoftenwerenotmutually exclusive.The burning thesametypesofWhite Blacksin New YorkCityacknowledges fears.248.154 on Sat. Blacks in the South used variedreligiousformsto protect themselvesfromthe ire of theirmasters. and folkbeliefs. ofGabrielProsserinRichmond.

Mostsouthern Blacks. bothenslaved andfree.110 JOURNAL OF BLACKSTUDIES/SEPTEMBER1994 developed religious thathelpedthemcopemoreeffecsystems tivelywiththerigors oflifein servitude.229. norexplained inthesameway. Itis likely thatany possiblelinkbetween thebeliefsoftheBlacksandthoseofthe wasemphasized. Whites thusthesignificance of"witchcraft" and "folkmagic. The differences between theMethodist andBaptistSouthandNew England puritanism alsoarehighly significant. usefulness ofa slaveeconomy. ofthepreexisting beliefsofEuropeans Oneresult concerning ofAfrican nature wasthatsome thesupernatural religious practice descent envicouldcreatea morecomfortable peoplesofAfrican theoppression ofNewEngland inwhich toescapeorresist ronment in severaldifferent was manifest society.17 thesewereneither Blacks justified also brought muchhigher or Native pricesthandidEuropeans Americans duetotheir totallegalandpolitical Under the bondage. thesocial Nonetheless. Whites denied church religious toBlacks membership stillstressed thatBlacksadheretothe andtomanyWhites-but Puritan codeofbehavior. couldmaintain andcreate cultural forms in thecompany ofotherBlacksdueto thelargepercentage ofthe population thatwasofAfrican origin. inwhich andmoral world northern Blackslivedwasoneofoppressionandprejudice. than their England enslaved brothers andsisters tothesouth."categories thattranscended theethnicandracial barrier BlacksandWhites.This attitude ways: This content downloaded from 91. Blacksinthenorth hadtobe intheir muchmorecovert attempts atreligious transformation. in New Blacks fared much better did law. separating THE NEWENGLANDBLACK EXPERIENCE NewEngland differed from theother areasofAnglo markedly NorthAmericain theacknowledgment of thelegalrightsof whileinsisting on theutterlegitimacy Blacks"6 of theslavery Thedesireforenslaved Africans theeconomic exceeded system. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .154 on Sat. NativeAmerican andEuropean enslavement existedsidebysidewithAfrican but enslavement.248. someofitfounded onNewEngland Puritan beliefs.

andthrough againsttheWhitepowerstructure. taryevidenceavailableaboutwitchcraft shouldmakethisa concernsof anthropology and thetheoretical arenaforresearch.229. for ground proving dataprovidesanexcellent ofsocialandcultural theoriesand modelsand needsto be more manyanthropological accusationsthat generallyexploited.colorand social tailedsymbolicinformation on earlyNew Englandsocietyand records the statusexistswithin This content downloaded from 91. CONCLUSION trialsof Salem. thathas thewellofinformation inplumbing amonganthropologists of documenThe wealth beenso popularintheworksofhistorians. It has been 300 years since the witchcraft toconsiderthelackofinterest Itis thusappropriate Massachusetts. through fortune(particularly traditions practiceofEuropeanfolkreligious moredirectmeanssuchas arsonorattempted telling). in social Carneiro's(1982) theoryof successivereequilibration elementsthatcame evolution.248. incolonialNew England.Responsesto this but tookmanyforms.154 on Sat.The analysisofthemyriadcultural in New Englandwitchcraft providesmuchinformation together and reversecolonization(the acquiringof about enculturation by thecolonizersinsteadofthecolonized).McMillan/BLACK MAGIC 111 the through thepracticeof Africanreligioustraditions.Deculturalpatterns on gender. uprisings Racial oppressionhas been a majorpartof Black lifein the UnitedStatessincetheearlycolonialperiod.The patternof witchcraft fitswell into boiledup in 1692 and thensubsidedpermanently.A significant of a syncretic was development the of Black power development This view view of Europeanand Africanconceptsof witchcraft. socialandpoliticaldiscrimination consistent a culturalbreathing in creating effective religionwas particularly inthe factor overlooked entirely andheretofore space. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Blacksinthatitgavethema degreeofcontroloverthe empowered practiceand accusationthattheEuropeans systemof witchcraft nevercould.A recentreviewof bibliographies productive Thewealth makesitclearthatthisareahasbeenalmostuntouched.religion.

Whiteswho wereafflictedby witchesoftenturnedblackand blue fromsupernatural andprodding.Why byenslavedAfricans planneduprisings exactedon Blacks forthe crimeof thenwas the punishment witchcraftless severe than the punishmentsgiven to some than Whites-a groupmuchmorelegallyandsociallyempowered whenthese Blacks?Whywereso fewBlacksaccusedofwitchcraft tensionandfear? wereovertactsexpressing underlying accusations executedin WhywereBlackswhowerenotaccusedofwitchcraft withtheexecutionofwitches? consistent a manner thepeoplesofAfricanorigin Severalfactorsworkedto protect Blackswerevaluaccusations. social orexpressing ofreducing andmagicas methods ofwitchcraft socialtensionexistedbetweenEuropean tension.Therewas duetothefear tensionbetweenWhitesandnon-Whites mounting White over apprehension of Native Americanaggressionand (Konig. The areaholdingthemostpromise. sense-theywereinherently in theanthropological In conto satanicwickedness. inNew Englandagainstwitchcraft was costly. therolesplayedbyrace in theaccusationsof able to investigate and in the legal and social consequencesof these witchcraft accusations.Blackswereaccusedofwitchcraft theywerebasicallypowerlesswithinthatsocialorder. people who had to undergocertainrites-in thiscase.The expenses andthustheirdestruction able property This content downloaded from 91.112 JOURNALOF BLACK STUDIES /SEPTEMBER 1994 in themannerof Claude interpretations wouldallow fascinating Geertz. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . enslavedAfricans.Witchcraft to Whites.orVictorTurner. unableto controltheirconnection WhiteswereviewedbyotherWhitesas morelikesorcererstrast. pinching and IncolonialNewEngland. BlacksinNew EnglandwereviewedbyWhitesas truewitches evilcreatures. signing was low-levelevil.229.154 on Sat. 167).248. Clifford Levi-Strauss.Becauseextreme itis reasonandNativeAmericans.p.playSatan'sbook-to becomeevil.Conjuring was ingwithsatanicmagicbutnotplayingwithSatan.butthe tonotethat oftheirevilwas possible.According theinternalization notbecomeWhitetheycould notbe curedof theirevil. immigrants. is thatontheories however.It is interesting containment althoughBlacks could notbecomeWhite.1979.ifBlackscould ofSatan.

craft. therefore. punishhimorherseverely. criminals norwas itused forWhitearsonists.The expressionof thisfearwas throughthe symbolic systemof Puritanwitchbeliefs.154 on Sat. was nota punishment Burning in uprisings againsttheenslaveagainstWhiteswhoparticipated of suchas theoneinNew York. and tothecrimeofwitchcraft confessed whenan enslavedAfrican thecourtdid not demonstrated his or hermagicalparaphernalia.As theEuro-American ened. In theeconomically timesofthecolonialperiod.248. was reserved immolation andculturally Blacksweremorphologically In Whiteideology.even standards fromAfricansas theydidfromthemselves. enslavedAfricans torecoverbutalso theirownerslostexpensivecapitalinvestments.229.if ofjailingandexecuting notonlywerethecostsdifficult wereexecuted. associated andEuropeans.The courtstreatedsome Black as associatesofSatananddealtwiththemappropriately. EuropeansconceivedofSatanas a Black Africans thisimagestrengthculture developed. thepeoples factorwhichservedtoprotect The mostsignificant ofwitchofAfricanoriginfromtheaccusationsandpunishments wasthatWhitesfearedthebelievedmagicalpowers however.A tantalizing piece ofnegativeevidenceis thatSatannever himselfas a NativeAmerican. fortheso-calledsatanicBlacks. ofWhitesaboutBlacksalso servedtoproThe preconceptions Blackswereseenas morally extraction. man.thiswas a trying notto accusean enslavedAfricanofwitchcraft strongmotivation (accusationsagainstenslavedpeoples by theirownersdid not occur).McMillan/BLACK MAGIC 113 Whiteswerebornebytheirownestates.NativeAmericanswere presented ofNew Englanddue to manyoftheWhiteinhabitants frightening warfare betweenthem. ofone Blackwomanand ofBlacks.Infacttherehasbeen tothealmostconstant outbreaks occurredwhenthere some speculationthatwitchcraft fromintense Whites resulting was a greatdeal of anxietyamong This content downloaded from 91.Thepunishment mentofAfricans. to inferior Thus. tectthepeoplesofAfrican did notexpectthesame Europeans Whites.The executionbyimmolation remainsinthefireis a strong ofhercodefendant's thedestruction ofthefearwhichBlack violenceagainstWhitescould indication inspire. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . between contact the New World Even before with Satan.

(1932) American Harrington's ofslavery as thedefinition 4. as willingly wars. Amongtheplethoraof historical (1974).229. It is orderedby thisCourtand authoritie us.returned inNew England.andsuchstrangers in Israel usageswhichthelaw ofGod established and christian havetheLibertyes suchpersonsdothmorallyrequire. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This content downloaded from 91.1984). servitude. intoNew Englandwerethosenotsalablein imported theenslavedAfricans is. Exactlywhytherewas anydesireforenslavedAfricans Whites.it wouldhave been imprudent amplecause lesttheywreaktheirunholyrevenge.p.ChadwickHansen's(1969) Witchcraft Entertaining concepts All oftheseworksuseanthropological (1987) TheDevilintheShapeofa Woman. Fora discussionoftheproblems and thebestfiguresavailableof theBlack populationin New England. themwithout NOTES willbe referred originandtheirdescendants device. whoshallbejudgedthereto servitude ofAfricans (as tobejustwarsandthustheenslavement ThewarsinAfricawereconsidered intoslavery) well as NativeAmericanscapturedin warand Whiteswho sold themselves was legallydefined.Desire. 4) byAuthoritie. The statusoftheseearlyBlacksis legallyindeterminate By 1641. Thereis conflicting dateat thistimeis 1638.see Greeneand PopulationBeforetheFederalCensusof1790. bondspeople arrivalofAfrican evidenceforthedateofthefirst 5. thesocietyofcolonialNewEnglandbutall fallsquarely tointerpret andculture ofwitchcraft scholarship.see Greene(1942.SalemPossessed.248. fromthatofindentured had notyetbeenfullydifferentiated ofMassachutheInhabitants Concerning in TheBookoftheGeneralLawes andLibertyes ofbondslaveryis tobe found: description setts(see Barnes. unlessitbe lawfullcaptives. oraresoldtous: andsuchshall sellthemselves.JohnDemos's(1982) areBoyerandNissenbaum's mostinfluential at Salem. As a heuristic origins.154 on Sat. fromtheWestIndies. 16-17).Satan remaineda Black man.andBlackswerehisclosest inhabitants to accusethemor to execute kin.peoplesofAfrican 1.thefollowing thatthereshallneveranybondtherof.however. Generally.The low by freeand indentured economyof New Englandwas amplysupported thatanyBlackswereputintoslaveryin New England numberofBlacksis notsurprising.theyearthatthe themostconvincing in New England.Fora discussionoftheorigin toMassachusetts ship. If Satan was testingthe mettleof the ofcolonialNew England. of theirculturaland geographical to as Blacksin thisarticledespitethediversity toas Whites(onceagain willbe referred PeoplesofEuropeanoriginandtheirdescendants in thispopulation).takeninjust amongst villenageorcaptivite slavery. oftheBlackpopulation clearas the is notentirely 6.and Carol Karlsen's Satan. andclassdifferences themanycultural ignoring the ofNew Englandwitchcraft.providedthisexemptsnonefrom concerning (1648.however. reinterpretations 2.114 JOURNALOF BLACK STUDIES /SEPTEMBER 1994 raidsbyNativeAmericans(Kences. withintherealmofhistorical ofcolonialAmerica thepopulation in ascertaining 3.1975).pp.In spiteofthis.

McMillan/BLACK MAGIC 115 work. HenryTragle's(1973) TheSouthampton which thesocialandeconomictensions rebellion.demand withAfrica-Ham.discussionof the development ofthevalues oftheconnection meaningofthecolorblackin Americaandthedevelopment seeWinthrop Jordan's (1968) origin.fromtimeto time. beliefsin NorthAmericanBlack oftheroleofAfrican 7. In an endnote.thecursed connection Bothnameshavea strong investigation. itis slavefromBarbados"(p. thiscontrol. spirit. 18.ofcourse.27. However.18. in East Africamayexplainsomeof ThissourceofenslavedAfricans obtainbondspeople.154 on Sat.thosewhowerethought evidencethat. Fora detailedinvestigation culture.thatis. Madagascar. inNewEnglandas opposedtothoseintheSouthwhere inAfrican retentions thedifferences origin. Piersen'sworkis an admirabledescendantof LorenzoGreene'sThe Negroin inthisbookrelating element is onedisturbing ColonialNewEngland(1942).Many 8. 81).orWhy roots. Tituba.Blacks.1550-1812. brought is includedas well. mostoftheenslavedwereofWestAfrican 9. Holloway's(1990) Africanisms peoples. witchcraft betweenWhites.Old Ham andOld Pharaoh.Pharaoh.thoughsomewhatdated. 43-48).andmostinteresting.see Puckett's(1969) The Magic and Folk Beliefsof the SouthernNegroand inAmericanCulture. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .However.thereis to be unfitforplantation theCaribbean. Theunderlying Christian BlacksandWhitesintoconflict. 1969.248.10-11. no evidencetobelieveTitubatohavebeenanything thereis absolutely was a shortbut in Massachusetts ofthecapitalcrimeof witchcraft 10. In termsoftheunderlying suchas shedescribedsatanicapparitions tonotethatin Tituba'sconfession itis significant rats-one redand twotalking a talking blackdog. of the 14. particularly ontheNatTurner information themesarefullyexplored.to particularly manyNewEnglandslaverswenttoEasternAfrica. The definition witha familiar pointedone:"Ifanymanorwomanbe a WITCH. Attitudes WhiteOverBlack:American SlaveRevoltof1831 providesa wealthof 15. 22.Hansen(1974) in hisseminalarticle"TheMetamorphosis clearlythat Can'tTellan IndianWitchFroma Negro"demonstrates AmericanIntellectuals buta Caribwoman.whosesonCanaanandhisdescendants ofCanaanmovedto Africaandwereburned It hadbeenbelievedthatthecursedchildren blackas a markoftheirservilestatus.In fact."Exod.it wouldbe interesting mostBlacks boremoreorthodoxChristian discoverif thesenamesindicateda moreovertlyexpressedpagannatureeitherto their bearersortotheWhitesinthecommunity. The completetextofNatTurner'sconfessions This content downloaded from 91.an Afro-Carib muchromanticized believeTitubato havebeena Caribpersonwithno African thatseveralauthors mentioned ofTituba.Thenamesofthesetwoaccusedmalewitches. further byGodtobe servants.229. BridgetOliverwas BridgetBishop in 1692 whenshe was again chargedwith andthistimewas executedfortheoffense.is thetitleofa rulerofEgypt. For a complete.Deut.specialordersweremade for"firstquality"enslaved peoplesfromeithertheCaribbeanorfromAfrica.andNativeAmericans.hathorconsulteth theyshallbe puttodeath.there Piersen(1988) notesthat"themostfamousoftheaccusedwas the toBlacksandwitchcraft. 12. werecondemned sonofNoah.a bestialhairyman. one black(Woodward. 11. NewEnglandwas unusualincolonialAmericainitssourceofAfrican fromtheCaribbean(andoftenas forsale in New Englandweretransported oftheAfricans from slavery)andnotdirectly unfitfortherigorsofplantation rejectedpeoplesseemingly To circumvent AfricaduetothecontroloftheAfricanportsbySpanishandDutchtraders.Lev.pp.As to namesof theera. tensions 13. 20. associatedwiththecolorblackwithpeoplesofAfrican TowardtheNegro.

The metamorphosis 47(1).(1978). The book of thegenerallawes and libertyes Library.(1982). 3-12. 110-115).In thematter ofcolor:Race & theAmericanlegalprocess: Higginbotham. (1979).New York:Columbia Press. (1990). L.E. ofthewitchcraft Burr. as themechanism R. (Facsimile oftheMassachusets. (1942). Entertaining Press. Successivereequilibrations Carneiro. MA: HarvardUniversity Cambridge. The 1741conspiracy 22(6).J. in thephysicaland social sciences(pp. theirimmortal REFERENCES concerningthe Barnes. ChapelHill: University This content downloaded from 91. W.Self-organization ofTexasPress. ofNorthCarolinaPress. Thedevilintheshapeofa woman.154 on Sat. Salempossessed:The social originsof witchcraft.116 JOURNALOF BLACK STUDIES /SEPTEMBER 1994 ofBlacksunderthelaw incolonialAmerica.C.San Marino. Oxford:OxfordUniversity censusof1790. Witchcraft can'ttell ofTituba. Fora fullaccountofthetreatment (1978) In theMatterofColor:Race & theAmericanLegal Process:The Higginbotham's ColonialPeriod. 9. Severalprevailing peoplesofAfricawereoftenseenas theproductofthecurseofHam (see note11).G. Warsof 1675and 1689. (1968). 969-981.NewEnglandQuarterly. Scieve & P.(1932).J.American Buckley. toneedthecareofWhitemasters bymanyEuro-Americans soulssaved.see 16. Law and societyin PuritanMassachusetts: ofNorthCarolinaPress. TheNegroincolonialNewEngland:1620-1776. Glouster. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . ChapelHill: University Karlsen. (Ed.Black andBlackswerethought peoplewereoftenviewedas satanicin appearanceandcharacter..CA: The Huntington inhabitants ofthe1648edition).J. (Ed.London:Hutchinson. tohave tosurviveand.(Ed. thatjustifiedthekeepingofenslavedBlackswere:The theories 17. Konig.T. Boyer. (1969).perhaps. Press.orwhyAmericanIntellectuals Hansen.American beforethefederal population Greene. Jordan. 120(3). (1974).Austin:University toburnNewYork:Blackplotorblackmagic?Social Chase. Thecolonialperiod. S.New York:Scribner. & Harrington. (1974).248. Someunexplored HistoricalCollections. 1629-1692. Hansen. Press. Narratives In ofcultural evolution. V.).). ScienceInformation.D.P.Africanisms sityPress. Ethnologist. (1982). and thecultureofearlyNew England.229. Menstruation 47-90. (1987).(1984). Holloway. totheIndian ofEssexCountywitchcraft relationships Kences.EssexInstitute Essex County.L.J. WhiteoverBlack: AmericanattitudestowardtheNegro. (1982).1550-1812.C..T. Greene. Satan: Witchcraft Demos.).New York:OxfordUniversity IndianaUniverinAmerican Bloomington: culture.(1983). 179-212.New York:Norton.C. andthepowerofYurokwomen.Allen(Eds. cases: 1648-1706. University at Salem. an Indianwitchfroma Negro. MA: PeterSmith. (1975). Jr. structures: Applications and dissipative W. & Nissenbaum.. A. (1914).).

W. Press. (1984).McMilfan/BLACK MAGIC 117 Anessaytoexciteand assistthatgoodwork C.New York:Vintage. inanthropology andethnicstudiesatHumboldt a lecturer currently This content downloaded from 91.229. andkindred opinionsonwitchcraft of 1867edition). ofMassachusetts University Amherst: copiedfromtheoriginal Woodward.154 on Sat. to Salem.J. Themagicandfolkbeliefsofthesouthern Puckett. (1973). ChapelHill in anthropology.D. theinstruction oftheColonyoftheMassachusetts Noble. House. (1988). (1901). TheSouthampton of Withan accountofSalem Village.). Salemwitchcraft: MA: Corner Williamstown. Black Yankees:The development Press. Witchcraft. inKenya.RecordsoftheCourtofAssistants Bay: 1630-1692. N.Boston:The CountyofSuffolk. Green. (1969). The Zuni visitation 104(1). subjects. 21 Jun 2014 14:15:14 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . (1971).Amherst: eighteenth-century HistoricalCollections.D. TheNegroChristianizaed: Mather. ofMassachusetts University NewEngland.W. Negro. Boston:B.in one New York:Da Capo.80-85.C. slave revoltof1831. Tragle. (1969).McMillanreceivedhis Ph.New York:Dover. (Ed.248.). Essex Institute Proper.H. Weisman.He is " was conducted ChangeinHighlandKenya:TheKipsigisOrgoiik. of the1864 and 1865 works. fromtheUniversity Timothy "Resistanceto Colonial His dissertation fieldwork. volume). StateUniversity. E.and a history Upham. (1706).(Reprint Massachusetts. ofNorthCarolinaat J. in subculture of an Afro-American Piersen. century magicand religioninseventeenth R. ofNegroservantsin Christianity. (Republication documents. (1968). Recordsof Salem witchcraft.Vol 1. intwovolumes.(Ed.