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Withces Wife Beaters And Whores

Author: Elaine Forman Crane
Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 0801462746
Size: 37.27 MB
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The early American legal system permeated the lives of colonists and reflected their sense of what was right and wrong, honorable and dishonorable, moral and immoral. In a compelling book full of the extraordinary stories of ordinary people, Elaine Forman Crane reveals the ways in which early Americans clashed with or conformed to the social norms established by the law. As trials throughout the country reveal, alleged malefactors such as witches, wife beaters, and whores, as well as debtors, rapists, and fornicators, were as much a part of the social landscape as farmers, merchants, and ministers. Ordinary people "made" law by establishing and enforcing informal rules of conduct. Codified by a handshake or over a mug of ale, such agreements became custom and custom became "law." Furthermore, by submitting to formal laws initiated from above, common folk legitimized a government that depended on popular consent to rule with authority. In this book we meet Marretie Joris, a New Amsterdam entrepreneur who sues Gabriel de Haes for calling her a whore; peer cautiously at Christian Stevenson, a Bermudian witch as bad "as any in the world;" and learn that Hannah Dyre feared to be alone with her husband-and subsequently died after a beating. We travel with Comfort Taylor as she crosses Narragansett Bay with Cuff, an enslaved ferry captain, whom she accuses of attempted rape, and watch as Samuel Banister pulls the trigger of a gun that kills the sheriff's deputy who tried to evict Banister from his home. And finally, we consider the promiscuous Marylanders Thomas Harris and Ann Goldsborough, who parented four illegitimate children, ran afoul of inheritance laws, and resolved matters only with the assistance of a ghost. Through the six trials she skillfully reconstructs here, Crane offers a surprising new look at how early American society defined and punished aberrant behavior, even as it defined itself through its legal system.

A Storm Of Witchcraft

Author: Emerson W. Baker
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199385149
Size: 26.26 MB
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Beginning in January 1692, Salem Village in colonial Massachusetts witnessed the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft in early America. Villagers--mainly young women--suffered from unseen torments that caused them to writhe, shriek, and contort their bodies, complaining of pins stuck into their flesh and of being haunted by specters. Believing that they suffered from assaults by an invisible spirit, the community began a hunt to track down those responsible for the demonic work. The resulting Salem Witch Trials, culminating in the execution of 19 villagers, persists as one of the most mysterious and fascinating events in American history. Historians have speculated on a web of possible causes for the witchcraft that stated in Salem and spread across the region-religious crisis, ergot poisoning, an encephalitis outbreak, frontier war hysteria--but most agree that there was no single factor. Rather, as Emerson Baker illustrates in this seminal new work, Salem was "a perfect storm": a unique convergence of conditions and events that produced something extraordinary throughout New England in 1692 and the following years, and which has haunted us ever since. Baker shows how a range of factors in the Bay colony in the 1690s, including a new charter and government, a lethal frontier war, and religious and political conflicts, set the stage for the dramatic events in Salem. Engaging a range of perspectives, he looks at the key players in the outbreak--the accused witches and the people they allegedly bewitched, as well as the judges and government officials who prosecuted them--and wrestles with questions about why the Salem tragedy unfolded as it did, and why it has become an enduring legacy. Salem in 1692 was a critical moment for the fading Puritan government of Massachusetts Bay, whose attempts to suppress the story of the trials and erase them from memory only fueled the popular imagination. Baker argues that the trials marked a turning point in colonial history from Puritan communalism to Yankee independence, from faith in collective conscience to skepticism toward moral governance. A brilliantly told tale, A Storm of Witchcraft also puts Salem's storm into its broader context as a part of the ongoing narrative of American history and the history of the Atlantic World.

Law And Sexual Misconduct In New England 1650 1750

Author: Abby Chandler
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317107799
Size: 69.14 MB
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Having arriving in the Province of Maine in 1641 with a brief to create both government and law for the fledgling colony, Thomas Gorges later recorded his policy as having ’steared as neere as we could to the course of Ingland’. Over the course of the next century the various colonial administrations all consciously measured their laws against that of England, whether their intention was imitation of or conscious opposition to, established English legal system. In order to trace the shifting and contested relationships between colonial laws and English laws, this book focuses on the prosecution of sexual misconduct. All crimes can threaten orderly society but no other crime posed quite the same long term implications as illicit sex resulting in the birth of illegitimate children who became their own social challenges. Sexual misconduct was, consequently, a major concern for early modern leaders, making it a particularly fruitful subject for studying the complex relationship between laws in England and laws in the English colonies. Political and ecclesiastical leaders create laws to coerce people to behave in a certain fashion and to convey wider messages about the societies they govern. When those same laws are broken, lawbreakers must be tried and punished by a means intended to serve as a warning to other would-be lawbreakers. In this book the two-part analysis of changing sexual misconduct laws and the resulting trial depositions highlights the ways in which ordinary New England colonists across New England both interacted with and responded to the growing Anglicization of their legal systems and makes the argument that these men and women saw themselves as taking part in a much larger process.

Switching Sides

Author: Tony Fels
Publisher: JHU Press
ISBN: 142142438X
Size: 44.59 MB
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For most historians living through the fascist and communist tyrannies that culminated in World War II and the Cold War, the Salem witch trials signified the threat to truth and individual integrity posed by mass ideological movements. Work on the trials produced in this era, including Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and Marion L. Starkey’s The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry into the Salem Witch Trials, left little doubt that most intellectuals’ sympathies lay with the twenty innocent victims who stood up to Puritan intolerance by choosing to go to their deaths rather than confess to crimes they had never committed. In Switching Sides, Tony Fels traces a remarkable shift in scholarly interpretations of the Salem witch hunt from the post–World War II era up through the present. Fels explains that for a new generation of historians influenced by the radicalism of the New Left in the 1960s and early 1970s, the Salem panic acquired a startlingly different meaning. Determined to champion the common people of colonial New England, dismissive toward liberal values, and no longer instinctively wary of utopian belief systems, the leading works on the subject to emerge from 1969 through the early 2000s highlighted economic changes, social tensions, racial conflicts, and political developments that served to unsettle the accusers in the witchcraft proceedings. These interpretations, still dominant in the academic world, encourage readers to sympathize with the perpetrators of the witch hunt, while at the same time showing indifference or even hostility toward the accused. Switching Sides is meticulously documented, but its comparatively short text aims broadly at an educated American public, for whom the Salem witch hunt has long occupied an iconic place in the nation’s conscience. Readers will come away from the book with a sound knowledge of what is currently known about the Salem witch hunt—and pondering the relationship between works of history and the ideological influences on the historians who write them.

A Companion To American Legal History

Author: Sally E. Hadden
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 1118533763
Size: 11.69 MB
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A Companion to American Legal History presents a compilation of the most recent writings from leading scholars on American legal history from the colonial era through the late twentieth century. Presents up-to-date research describing the key debates in American legal history Reflects the current state of American legal history research and points readers in the direction of future research Represents an ideal companion for graduate and law students seeking an introduction to the field, the key questions, and future research ideas

Faithful Bodies

Author: Heather Miyano Kopelson
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 1479852341
Size: 80.41 MB
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In the seventeenth-century English Atlantic, religious beliefs and practices played a central role in creating racial identity. English Protestantism provided a vocabulary and structure to describe and maintain boundaries between insider and outsider. In this path-breaking study, Heather Miyano Kopelson peels back the layers of conflicting definitions of bodies and competing practices of faith in the puritan Atlantic, demonstrating how the categories of “white,” “black,” and “Indian” developed alongside religious boundaries between “Christian” and “heathen” and between “Catholic” and “Protestant.” Faithful Bodies focuses on three communities of Protestant dissent in the Atlantic World: Bermuda, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. In this “puritan Atlantic,” religion determined insider and outsider status: at times Africans and Natives could belong as long as they embraced the Protestant faith, while Irish Catholics and English Quakers remained suspect. Colonists’ interactions with indigenous peoples of the Americas and with West Central Africans shaped their understandings of human difference and its acceptable boundaries. Prayer, religious instruction, sexual behavior, and other public and private acts became markers of whether or not blacks and Indians were sinning Christians or godless heathens. As slavery became law, transgressing people of color counted less and less as sinners in English puritans’ eyes, even as some of them made Christianity an integral part of their communities. As Kopelson shows, this transformation proceeded unevenly but inexorably during the long seventeenth century.

Killed Strangely

Author: Elaine Forman Crane
Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 0801471443
Size: 67.62 MB
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"It was Rebecca's son, Thomas, who first realized the victim's identity. His eyes were drawn to the victim's head, and aided by the flickering light of a candle, he 'clapt his hands and cryed out, Oh Lord, it is my mother.' James Moills, a servant of Cornell . . . described Rebecca 'lying on the floore, with fire about Her, from her Lower parts neare to the Armepits.' He recognized her only 'by her shoes.'"—from Killed Strangely On a winter's evening in 1673, tragedy descended on the respectable Rhode Island household of Thomas Cornell. His 73-year-old mother, Rebecca, was found close to her bedroom's large fireplace, dead and badly burned. The legal owner of the Cornells' hundred acres along Narragansett Bay, Rebecca shared her home with Thomas and his family, a servant, and a lodger. A coroner's panel initially declared her death "an Unhappie Accident," but before summer arrived, a dark web of events—rumors of domestic abuse, allusions to witchcraft, even the testimony of Rebecca's ghost through her brother—resulted in Thomas's trial for matricide. Such were the ambiguities of the case that others would be tried for the murder as well. Rebecca is a direct ancestor of Cornell University's founder, Ezra Cornell. Elaine Forman Crane tells the compelling story of Rebecca's death and its aftermath, vividly depicting the world in which she lived. That world included a legal system where jurors were expected to be familiar with the defendant and case before the trial even began. Rebecca's strange death was an event of cataclysmic proportions, affecting not only her own community, but neighboring towns as well. The documents from Thomas's trial provide a rare glimpse into seventeenth-century life. Crane writes, "Instead of the harmony and respect that sermon literature, laws, and a hierarchical/patriarchal society attempted to impose, evidence illustrates filial insolence, generational conflict, disrespect toward the elderly, power plays between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, [and] adult dependence on (and resentment of) aging parents who clung to purse strings." Yet even at a distance of more than three hundred years, Rebecca Cornell's story is poignantly familiar. Her complaints of domestic abuse, Crane says, went largely unheeded by friends and neighbors until, at last, their complacency was shattered by her terrible death.

The Poison Plot

Author: Elaine Forman Crane
Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 150172133X
Size: 41.55 MB
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"Explores in colonial Newport, Rhode Island, the tumultuous marriage of Benedict and Mary Arnold in the 1720s and 1730s. In and through their sordid and possibly criminal marital story, in which Mary is accused of poisoning Benedict, Crane sheds light on the liabilities and possibilities for women under couverture, the complex social and economic networks that bound together the elite and laboring classes of Newport, and the trans-oceanic cultures of trade, consumption, and sociability that came to shape expectations for marital satisfaction on both sides of the Atlantic"--