Public Choice Economics and the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria by Franklin G. Mixon Jr. PDF

By Franklin G. Mixon Jr.

Public selection Economics and the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria offers an economics standpoint at the witchcraft episode, and provides to the turning out to be physique of labor examining popular old occasions utilizing the instruments of economics.

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Example text

10 Salem Town was, with its commercial and industrial growth, more cosmopolitan. , Salem Village) which increased her tax base and supplied the food that she could not provide for the Town proper. As Boyer and Nissenbaum (1974: 39–40) state: The town’s concern over the separatist tendencies of her agricultural regions was intensified when several of these regions did, in fact, break away to become independent towns; Wenham in 1643, Manchester in 1645, Marblehead in 1648, and Beverly in 1668. Clearly, this trend needed to be checked, and when the Salem [Village] farmers showed signs, late in the 1660s, of going in the same direction, the town determined to take a stand.

In their well-regarded history of events in 1692 Salem, Boyer and Nissenbaum (1974) detail some of the economic and social patterns of the accusations of witchcraft (Mixon and Treviño, 2003). Although the first three people accused of witchcraft were considered “deviants” or “outcasts,” a clear dichotomy exists in the accusation pattern beginning in March of 1692. Two of the accused that month were church members and wives of prosperous freeholders. In April of 1692, 22 people were accused, including Phillip English, the wealthiest shipowner in Salem, and George Burroughs, a Harvard College graduate who owned a considerable estate in England (Boyer and Nissenbaum, 1974; Mixon and Treviño, 2003).

6 Although she “eluded [Winthrop’s] grasp” during his questioning of her on the trial’s first day, she admitted on the second day that God spoke directly to her, an admission that constituted “blasphemy” in the eyes of the court, thus giving it grounds to convict her (Public Broadcasting System, 2014a). Hutchinson was not only found guilty by the Court, she was also condemned and excommunicated by the Puritan church in a religious trial held in 1638 by the First Church in Boston (Crawford, 1970).

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