The Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693 were by far the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft hysteria in American history. Yet Salem was just one of many incidents during the Great Age of Witch Hunts which took place throughout Europe and her colonies over many centuries. Indeed, by European standards, Salem was not even a large outbreak. But what exactly were the factors that made Salem stand out?
In A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience, Emerson Baker places the Salem trials in their broader context and reveals why it has become an enduring legacy. He explains why the Salem crisis marked a turning point in colonial history from Puritan communalism to Yankee independence, from faith in collective conscience to skepticism toward moral governance. Below is an infographic detailing some of the numbers involved in Salem and other witch hunts.
Headline image credit: Witchcraft at Salem Village. Engraving. The central figure in this 1876 illustration of the courtroom is usually identified as Mary Walcott. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.