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WITCH HUNTS IN AMERICA: COMPARING THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS TO THE SECOND RED SCARE BY GENEVIEVE ROWLAND A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Science New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Brendan Goff Sarasota, Florida May 2012
ii Acknowledgements I would like to thank my mother and father for their constant love and support. I would like to thank Dr. Brendan Goff for his invaluable guidance, literature recommendations, and edits I would like to thank Dr. Heather White for her literature recommendations. Finally, I would like to thank my friends especially Rachel Robison and Shelby von Hofe, for putting up with me while I was writing this. Admittedly, I had a few crazy moments. A special thanks goes to Stephanie Larumbe, the best roommate ever, who put up with my pa cing, ranting, and beating up her boyfri end, David Smith.
Table of Contents Acknowledgements. .i i Abstract..iv Introduction.. .1 Chapter On e: SETTING THE STAGE FOR A WITH HUNT IN SEVENTEENTH CENTURY NEW ENGLAND .. .8 Salem as a Unique Event. .9 Religion in Seventeenth Century New England.... .. 12 Race Relations in Seventeenth Century New England .. 15 Salem Accus ation... 17 The Effect of War on the Crisis and the Case of George Burroughs 21 Chapter Two: GEORGE BURROUGHS AND HIS CONFEDERACY WITH THE DEVIL 26 Salem's History With Ministers..26 Accusations Against George Burroughs: Physical Strength...27 George Burroughs as the Devil...29 Testimony Pertaining to His First Two Wives ... .30 Accusations Made by Teenage Girls.. 32 Collusion ..37 The Execution ... ...40 Chapter Three: ANTI COMMUNISM AND ETHEL ROSENBERG ...44 The Red Scares.44 The Second Red Scare as a With Hunt 46 Arthur Miller's The Crucible ....48 Womanhood and Motherhood...51 The Rosenbergs v. The Greenglass'..53 The Un Likability of Ethel Rosenberg..57 The Trial and Conviction of The Ros enbergs...59 After the Trial62 Conclusion.66 Bibliography ..71
iv Witch Hunt s in America: Comparing The Salem Witch Trials to the Second Red Scare Genevieve Rowland New College of Florida Abstract This thesis compares the atmosph ere of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 to the trial of Ethel Rosenberg in the period of McCarthyism. The thesis considers how they both resulted in witch hunts. To explain the parallel process, I use the trials and the circumstances of George Burroughs, a seventeenth century New England minister accused of working with the Dev il, to Ethel Rosenberg, a housewife with ties to the Communist Party who was convi cted of conspiracy to commit espionage and was, along with her husband, the first American civilians to be executed for treason in 1953. This thesis analyzes and connects the two incidents, despite the many difference between Burroughs and Rosenberg and th e two hundred and fifty year gap between the Salem Witch Hunts and the Cold War. By comparing the two, the thesis concludes that Burroughs and Rosenberg were executed because both were considered to be failing in the roles that society demanded they fill. Dr. Brendan Goff Division of Social Science
1 In troduction "The comparison is inevitable." Thus was Arthur Miller's response when questioned on wh ether or not he was aware that his play The Crucible, was being used as a "case history of a series of articles in the Communist press drawing parallels to the investigations of Communists and other subversives by Congressional Committees." 1 Arthur Miller was acknowledging the practices of the U.S. Government in b lacklisting members of the community that did not the fit the ideal American identity, actions which were deemed comparable to those of government officials during the Salem Witch hunt of 1692. A witch hunt is a dangerous phenomenon that takes place in an atmosph ere of fear induced hysteria. The term witch hunt implies that there is something wrong in the community and that the individuals responsible need to be re moved The authority figure claims to kn ow what they are looking for and will not stop until they find a person or group to hold responsible. Witch hunts result in the persecution of those who do not fill the role they are supposed to filling, a person who, according to the community, is not w h o or what they are supposed to be According to this approach, t he Essex County Crisis of 1692 and the Red Scare of McCarthyism were both witch hunts. The convictions and executions of George Burroughs and Ethel Rosenberg in particular exemplify how those ide ntified as fa lling too far outside social expect ations are the most vulnerable during a wit c h hunt. Though w itch hunts are prevalent through out history, this thesis is concerned with two particular instances of witch hunts in America To call the events that transpired in the early 1690s the Salem With Trials is somewhat a misnomer. First of all, i t is 1 United States House of Representatives, Committee on Un American Activities. Testimony of Arthur Miller, Hearing. June 21, 1956.
2 inaccurate because it assigns the events of an entire county to one town, although the actual trials did take place in Salem Town. This is a problem because it paints this picture of a town imploding on i tself, and everyone turning o n each other. Also the common conception of the Salem Witch Trials is focused on women. They probably did something to garner unfavorable attention. The accused could be a woman who did not get along with the other women, or a woman who was a midwife and there were too many deaths on her watch. Perhaps she was not married or did not have children or had children while not being married The common conception of an accused witch during the Salem Witch trials, in other words, i s first and foremost a female. This is not a complete misconception however In th e accusations made during the Salem Witch Trials, one hundred and forty one were women while forty four were men. From those accusations, fifty two women were tried and seven men were tried. The Salem Witch Trials and the ensuing witch hunt are actually the witch hunt for all of Essex County. However, it is also important to know that the Salem Witch Trials represented a unique e vent. While witchcraft accusations were pre valent in New England throughout the seventeenth century and into the early eighteenth century, Salem was an explosion of accusations. The next largest group of accusations centered in Hartford thirty years earlier, which saw between eleven and thirteen ac cusations. Salem was a unique ev ent because the authorities beca me proactive instead of reactive, and then lost control. The Essex County Outbreak was the result of the government undertaking the task of getting rid of all the witches in New England. The f irst two chapters of this paper are concerned with the Essex County Outbreak. The first chapter will look at the contributing factors to the atmosphere that
3 allowed a witch hunt to take hold of the populous and result ed in the conviction and execution of o ver fifteen people. I will do this by comparing the works of Dr. Carol Karlsen, who wrote on what factors of a person s life contributed to their being accused of witchcraft in New England; Dr. Mary Beth Norton, who wrote on the effect s of war on the Salem Witch Trials; and Dr. David D. Hall, who studies religion in seventeenth century New England. Norton and Karlsen disagree with each other at some important points. Based on her analysis of what factors contribute to accusation s of witchcraft in seventeent h century New England, Karlsen con cludes that women were the most likely to be accused because the power dynamic was not in their favor. She interprets the Salem Witch Trials, primarily, as a gender issue Norton meanwhile, writes about the effect of year s of war on Essex County and the Salem Witch Trials, calling it impossible to separate the two issues. Though Hall does not focus on the Salem Witch Trials, he does write extensively on religion and how it permeated every day life in New England, which is crucial to understanding how th e Salem Witch Trials happened. His analysis of the religious environment of seventeenth century New England is helpful in understanding why the witch hunt took place. The second chapter will take a closer look at the Essex C ounty Outbreak, analyzing the case of Min i ster George Burroughs. Educated at Harvard, George Burroughs arrived in Salem soon after Casco Bay and Falmouth Maine were both attacked by Indians. He was inexplicably able to survive or avoid the attacks, despite his small stature. There were other aspects of his life that made him appear guilty as well. At the time of his execution, he was on his third wife. His previous wives had both died, the last one under suspicious circumstances. The death of his second wif e was more damning
4 to his reputation, especially in Salem, where the accusations against him originated, because he married her when he was the minster of Salem. She was someone that the townspeople would have known, and when Burroughs returned to Main e af ter it was rebuilt, she went with him. When the second Mrs. Burroughs died, the min i ster had her body shipped back to Salem and re married soon after. There was a rumor that his second wife was alive when she got on the boat to go back to Salem, but that G eorge and the third wife killed her in order to be together. That was most likely a rumor perpetrated by people who were not fo nd of Burroughs, but it adds to the reasons that he was believed to have a "confederacy with the Devil." George Burroughs was not the only man to be convicted and executed during the Salem Witch Trials; in fact, he was one of five John Willard was another man executed for being a witch. Before the accusation was brought against him, he served as town constable. Another interesting case is that of the Jacobs family. George Jacobs, Sr was also executed for being a witch; his granddaughter and his daughter in law accused him of practicing witchcraft. His son was also accused, but was not convicted. His granddaughter was also accused, yet she later retracted her statements she made against Jacobs, Sr. and Burroughs. A fourth man accused of witchcraft was John Proctor, made famous by the fictional play The Crucible Like the Jacobs family, multiple members of the Proctor family, male and female, were accused of witchcraft. The records show that some entire families were accused and investigated for practicing witchcraft. But George Burroughs was unique because he was convicted independently. That is, he was not guilt y by association of an yone (i.e., wife or kids). He did not have large amounts of land that other people wanted nor was he in Salem when the accusations began; he was in
5 Wells, Maine. An arrest warrant was issued for him after Ann Putnam Jr. claimed that his spirit visited her tortured her, and attempted to make her a witch. By the time George Burroughs arrived in Salem, there were accusations against him from those who lived with him Main e and a slew of testimonies from young girls who claimed that his spirit also visited th em, tortured them, and tried to get them to become a witch. There were testimonies against him from confessed witches, who claimed that he was the one that got them to w ork for the Devil. By the time he was convicted, George Burroughs was believed to be th e ringleader of all witches in Salem primarily because he was not adequately filling the role as husband or minister. The third chapter focuses on post WWII America, McCarthyism and especially, the conviction and execution of Ethel Rosenberg. During the Second Red Scare, Americans feared the possibility of nuclear war and dominance of the U.S.S.R. Aft er the Soviet Union obtain ed the atomic bomb before expected, and the U.S. entered the Kor ean War, those fears seemed even more like a genuine possibility. When the crimes supposedly committed by the Rosenbergs, the Greenglass' (the brother and sister in law of Ethel Rosenberg), and Martin Sobell came to light, they not only seemed to explain why the Soviets were ab le to develop the atomic bomb but also gave Americans someone to blame. T heir conviction validated the fears that the Soviets were the unseen enemy infiltrating the United States, and so the United Stats are justified in doing whatever was necessary to defeat the enemy. One of the main aspects of t he S econd Red Scare was McCarthyism, which Ellen Schrecker defined as "anti communist crusade" that was the "most widespread and longest lasting wave of political repression in American history in order to eliminate the
6 alleged threat of domestic Communism ." 2 Schrecker begins her book, Many Are the Crimes, by telling the story of her sixth grade teacher who had been fired one day in 1953. I t was not until Schrecker began studying anti communism that she realized why he had been fired She later found out that he had been forced to resign for "political reasons." Her book gives insight to the causes of the First Red Scare, the Second Red Scare, and takes McCarthy outside of the "vacuum," refusing to "ignore his connections to the broader anti communist crus ade and to the professional ant Communists who flocked to his side." 3 The House Un Am erican Activities Committee (HUAC), to investigate threats to "subversion or propaganda that attacked the form of government guaranteed by our Constitution, 4 interrogated influential members of society who were suspected of being communists or sympathizers. To be sure, t his is not the first time a comparison is being drawn between the Salem Witch Trials and the Red Scares. Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in which the e vents of the Salem Witch Trials were meant to mimic the ridiculousness yet dangerousness of McCarthyism. His testimony, while defending the play to the House Un American Activities Committee will show that there is an undeniable link bet ween the events of Essex County to the Red Scares and even though he would deniey it to the conviction and execution of the Rosenbergs. The third chapter focuses on Ethel Rosenberg because despite accusations and her execution, there was no solid evidence of her guilt She was convicted because the 2 Schrecker, Ellen. 1998. Many are the Crimes : McCarthyism in America Princeton,N.J : Princeton University Press, p. xii 3 Schrecker, Many are the Crimes, p, 241. 4 Public Law 601 79th Congress : Chapter 753 2d Session, S. 2177, an Act to Provide for Increased Efficiency in the Legislative Branch of the Government
7 press and prosecution wer e successful in portraying her as the opposite of what an American woman, mother, and wife should be. Her brother, David Greenglass, testified against her and her husband in order to save his wife fr om prosecution and himself from the death penalty. Greenglass had an obvious motivation to lie; yet he was believed. The prosecution would only make a deal with him if the jury returned with a guilty verdict, so he had to portray his sister and brother in law as evil communist traitors After he was released from prison, Greenglass admitted that he had no idea if his sister was guilty or not, but believed he had to do what he had to do to protect his family. Ultimately, Ethel Rosenberg was convicted becaus e she was portrayed as a person who was not ful filling the role that she was meant to fill. She and her husband were sentenced to death because of the heightened fear and paranoia that comes with wit c h hunts. After all, thou shall not allow a witch to live
8 Chapter One: Setting the Stage for a Witch Hunt in Seventeenth Century New England A definition for the phrase witch hunt given by the Oxford English Dictionary is "a single minded and uncompromising campaign against a group of people with unacceptable views or behavior; one regarded as unfair or malicious persecution." 5 George Orwell used it Homage to Catalonia ( written in 1938 but not published in American until 1952) in which he wrote while observing and serving against F ascists in the Spanish Civil War. In that same year, Arthur Miller came out with a new play titled The Crucible written to show the similarities between the current political climate and that of the late seventeenth century in New England Nineteen fift y two was a bad time to be a Communist in America. The co untry was in the middle of the S econd Red Scare, also known as McCarthyism. The fear of communist spies hiding in America, portraying themselves as patriotic citizens, yet actually loyal to the Sovie t Union, was very real. The Crucible drew a parallel between the House of Un American Activities Committee, established to find internal threats, and the Court of Oyer and Terminer, a specialized court commissioned to deal with specific issues, which in 16 92 was the trials of accused witches. This chapter is concerned with establishing that the environment in which the Salem Witch Trials took place was dominated by fear, created by the harsh circumstances that were present in seventeenth century New England It was because of this environment that a witch hunt was able to take hold. 5 Oxford English Dictionary Second edition, 1989; online version March 2012.
9 Salem as a Unique Event The point of this chapter is to show the factors in play that allowed the Salem Witch Trials took place by reviewing the work of three authors: Mary Be th Norton, Carol Karlsen, and David Hall. The words that they use to describe Salem differ, but amount to the same thing. For instance, Norton believes that the term Salem Witchcraft Trials, in itsel f, is a misnomer. She explains that while the actual tria ls take place in Salem Village, the accusations come from all over Essex County, and New England in general. The case study that this paper is concerned with, the accusations against and trial of George Burroughs, has as much to do with Maine as with Massa chusetts. However, the spectacle that became the Salem Witchcraft Trials did originate in Salem Village (different from Salem town), and so in this paper, Salem is sometimes used as a blanket term for all of Essex County. Karlsen refers to the incident as Salem, but this is mostly because she refers to other incidents of witch trials in New England outside of the Salem incident. While referring to the large number of accusation s in Essex County, Norton calls this the Essex County crisis, while Karlsen uses the term outbreak; both terms are used interchangeably. T his chapter argues that the Salem outbreak was different from any other witchcraft accus ations in New England before it, both in degree and in nature. Witchcraft was prevalent in New England before 1692. What Carol Karlsen calls an outbreak and what Mary Beth Norton calls a crisis is described as such because the events at Salem were outliers from the usual way witchcraft was addressed in New England. Carol Karlsen's research on what demograph ics made a person in Salem more likely to be accused and executed will be discussed later in this chapter At this point
10 however, what made Salem a special case needs to be established. Karlsen touches on it briefly; one quality unique to the Salem trials was the fact that those who were accused and then confessed were not automatically sentenced to death. They would remain in custody to testify against others who were accu sed There was a real belief and fear, at least among the people, that there was a w itch problem in Salem. The problem was not just a few witches causing mischief; it was the possibility of a group of organized witches who has a connection with Satan and they needed to be found and killed. By keeping confessed witches in custody, the col ony magistrates were able to root out the witches that had yet to be found. Where Karlsen outlines what makes an accused witch in seventeenth century New England, Norton outlines what made the Salem incident unique. In Karlsen's introduction, she asks th e following question: What made Salem so different from all previous witchcraft episodes in New England? 6 First, she calls the Salem witch trials a misnomer; the crisis of Salem was actual ly the crisis of Essex County. Although t he accusations of the crisi s originated in Salem and the trials took place in Salem, the accused came from Andover, Gloucester, Topsfield, and a number of other towns, not just Salem Village and the surrounding town. 7 This contributes to Karlsen's next point: the Salem crisis was th e largest of its kind. To put it into perspective, Norton compares Salem to the Hartford outbreak of the 1660s, the outbreak with the second largest amount of accusations, where a total of eleven witches were formally charged; more than eleven came from Sa lem Village alone. 6 Norton, Mary Beth. In the Devil's Snare : The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 1st ed New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 2002. p. 8. 7 Norton, In the Devil's Snare p. 9
11 Norton also points out the difference in what the accusers were being accused of committing in Salem in comparison to other outbreaks. In Hartford, the eleven were accused of committing an actual physical crime, malefactors, as Norton puts it. In the Salem crisis, accusers spoke of "torture and tempting them spectrally." 8 That is, the accused used supernatural means to torture the accused and to tempt them to come over to the Devil's side. Accusers themselves were a unique factor of Sal em. In other instances, the accusers were adult males, in Salem, the "key" accusers were women and girls under the age of twenty five. The most interesting quality of an accusation that was specific to Salem was that it was not unusual for an accuser to ac cuse someone of witchcraft without ever have physically interacting with them ; an accuser can accuse someone of witchcraft without ever having met him or her in real life, the meeting having taken place in the spectral world. The accused shared some qualit ies with other outbreaks. As Norton puts it, accusers "failed" to accuse those who "fit the well established patterns identifying likely witches: some belonged to the church, and a few prominent men and women broke the mold entirely." 4 However, there were some mutual qualities of the accused, or at least suspect, in both Salem and other outbreaks. Older women with "dubious reputations" who had been accused of harming "neighbors' health, property, children, or livestock" were still suspect, as were relatives of suspected witches. 9 George Burroughs was one of six men to be hanged for witchcraft in 1692. There are other men who were convicted or died in prison. The case of George Burroughs is peculiar because he was convicted independently of anyone else, that is, it was his actions 8 Norton, p. 10 9 Norton, p. 1 1.
12 alone that made him a suspect, not those of a female family member. The testimonies given against George Burroughs can be sorted into three broad categories: men who knew him from Main e who testified on behalf of his strength and compared him to Natives; women, who testified on behalf of his relationship to his wives and home; and young girls, who testified that he tortured them supernaturally and tried to seduce them into witchcraft. Religion in Seventeenth Century New England I n s eventeenth century New England religion pervaded everything As defined by David Hall, religion was "the mentality of the supernatural, the symbolism of the church and the sacraments, the ritual enclosing of sickness, death, and moral disobedience, the self perception of sinners in the presence of a judging God." 10 On a smaller scale, Hall describes religion as the "social experience of withdrawing from one kind of community and uniting with another." 11 There was nothing about their life that wasn't cente red on religion. The ritual s of religi on were also important Observing Sabbath and baptizing children were crucial because they represented the symbol of the covenant. One could either be inside the covenant, with God, or outside, with Satan. 12 Because Geo rge Burroughs was not an ordained minister, he was unable to participate in the rituals in an official capacity. Piety had a multiple meanings and implications. In the mid seventeenth century, New Englanders had a sense a familiarity with their religion. Previously, people went to church in order to understand themselves and their relationship with God. They obtained 10 Hall, David. Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England, 1st ed. New York: Knopf : Distributed by Random House. 1989 p, 3 11 Hall, Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment p. 118 12 Hall p. 168
13 this relationship through their minister The parishioner minister relationship became tumultuous partly because of what Hall calls "empowerment by literacy." 13 Sometime in the 1640s, colonists began to read the scripture themselves, and they came to different conclusions than the minister, which led to their speaking up for themselves and the loss of the "formality of relig ion." 14 This feeling of unsatisfaction came from the previously mentioned empowerment by literacy. From gathering their own conclusions from the scripture, colonists had their own opinions on what was a previously undisputed topic. The colonists were no longer accepting what Hall calls the "reigning myth of purity 14 t his also came from the dissatisfaction of how the Church handled sin. In order to overcome (repent for) sin, one had to struggle. Other terms used for the word struggle included war, or warf are. 14 Life at the time was difficult enough, and so the teachings made the colonists feel that they were already struggling before they had a sin to repent for, and so in order to repent, they had to struggle more, which left them with the feeling that th ey were not able to repent at all. 12 The min i sters were no longer effective in their role because they were no longer able to reach a large group of the colonists. The colonists would revere piety, but they did not feel it necessary to "wholly follow its p rescription." 14 The result of this was evident in their children and grandchildren, which is how it became an issue pertaining to the Salem Witch trials. During the outbreak, over fifty people confessed to having "covenanted with the Devil." Hall says that this shows a "confused piety." 15 That is, the reason that they confessed was because they were convinced of their guilt because of their lack of 13 Hall Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment, p, 119 14 Hall p. 118 15 Hall p. 144
14 education of formal religion. This was blamed on the min i sters, for not being able to reach this generation, an d th erefore, the Devil was able to. George Burroughs would be accused of this very crime There is also the aspect of the supernatural, which is very prevalent in the Salem Witch Trials. A majority of the testimony aga inst George Burroughs is based o n t he supernatural. The ghosts of his dead wives came to warn young girls about his wicked ways. Apparitions of his form appeared to torture and coerce the girls into signing his book a nd siding with the devil. Adult s testimonies held an element of the super natural a s well. A former housemaid of the Burroughs' testified that the minister would know when she said certain things when he was out. There were testimonies from a servant that he could not get upstairs to help Burroughs' wife when she was sick becaus e an invisible force stopped him from going up the stairs; the wife later died. 16 The supernatural was not a ridiculous phenomenon that was known to part of a child's imagination. The supernatural, called "wonder working," was God's "making manifest the re ach of his sovereignty; such acts represented God's clearer and more explicitly than usual intervention into the affairs of man." 17 Hall talked about the dissatisfaction that townspeople felt about the formal religious practice concerning piety, repentance and later, the ministers' failure to reach the younger generation. To restate, townspeople were unhappy with the formal ity of religion concerning repenting and sin because they had a difficult life, and the fact that the church was telling them that they 16 Boyer, Paul S., Stephen Nissenbaum, and United States. Work s Progress Administration. The Salem Witchcraft Papers : Verbatim Transcripts of the Legal Documents of the Salem Witc hcraft Outbreak of 1692 New York: Da Capo Press. Essex County Archives, August 2, 1692. 17 Hall, Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment, p. 72
15 had to struggle more, left them with a feeling that they were never going to be forgiven by God. Race Relations in Seventeenth Century New England One issue that pointed towards being guilty of witchcraft was the aspect of the other; the "other" would be the Natives. This speaks to race relations between the Puritans and Natives, and the Puritan 's opinions on the Natives after King Philip's War (1675 8) Matthew Edney and Susan Cimburek argue that : "King Philip's War was a traumatic experience f or the EnglishTheir brutal and vicious response to the initial attacks. threatened the ideals of civility, virtue, and godliness on which their self image rested." 18 Edney and Comburek also revealed that English soldiers, after the war, would write narrat ives of the battles in which they downplayed their own "ferocious" acts and emphasized the violent acts of the Indians. This was their way of "reaffirming an d preserving their Englishness, over the "other". 1 6 Edney and Cimburek use three primary sources t o prove their thesis. They compare the two personal narratives of Increase Mather and William Hubbard and Hubbard's map of New England. They argue that be cause Puritan s believed they were God's chosen ones, the Puritan s viewed King Philip's War as a produc t of divine intercession. Because of this, Hubbard and Mather based their narratives around the relationship between the Puritans and their God, and not between the Puritans and the Indians. Hubbard and Mather fundamentally disagree on the cause of King Ph ilip's War. They were both ministers and they both believed that the cause of the war had something to do with religion, but the similarities ended there. Mather argued that the war was a way 18 Edney, Matthe w H., and Susan Cimburek. Telling the Traumatic Truth: William Hubbard's "Narrative" of King Philip's War and His "Map of New England". The William and Mary Quarterly 61 (2) (Apr. 2004 ): p. 325.
16 for the "second generation Puritans" to redeem themselves. 19 Mat her believed that the relationship between the Puritans and God had fallen into disarray, and therefore God was punishing them. It was only when they started to act in accordance with his will that the war start ed to go the way of the Puritans. He uses chr onology as his evidence, claiming that the English were in a position to capture King Philip within the first month of the war, but because God felt that the Puritan s efforts to recommit to him (fasting, giving thanks) were not sincere, he all owed for the war to continue for another year. Hubbard believed that the war was due to the lack of Christianity on behalf of the Indians and their "innate savagery and perfidywhich had been exacerbated by the greedy and unthinking French and Dutch traders." 20 Both views paint American Indi ans in a negative light. Mather suggests that the Indians were a punishment to the English. They had strayed from his path and to remind them of their need for Him, God made the Indians a problem. When they returned to him, they tr iumphed over the Indians. The message is that God rewards the English by killing off the Indians. Hubbard's thesis is even more explicitly anti Indian. Edney and Cimburek quote Hubbard 's description of the war as a conflict between "Christian people" and t heir "Pagan neighbors;" between the English whom "the Father of Light hath called out from the dark places of the Earth" and the "Savages who have yet to hear the glad tidings of gospel salvation." 21 The Puritans believed that t he war was happening because the Indians were not Christian or civilized and the only civilized people with whom they associate d were the 19 Edney and Cimburek, p. 327 20 Edney and Cimbureck, p. 329 21 Edney and Cimburek, p. 328
17 French and the Dutch, who were Catholic, and therefore a bad influence because of their dubi ous spiritual status in the eye s of the Puritans. The people in the Massachusetts colony in 1692 were alive and directly impacted by King Philips War; either the y or their parents would have fought in it. To be a Native was to be barbaric, uncivilized, and therefore not worthy of knowing God. To the Puritans, there was nothing worse A result King Philip's War was a shift in thinking Puritans about the Native s The Natives went from having the potential to be civilized to being beneath the Puritans. The fact that George Burroughs was a minister and displaying qualities of being uncivilized, and therefore an un Godly creature, was definitely cause for concern. It is important to not e that throughout all of this, men were in charge. There was not one particular man who kn ew exactly what was going on, but men, as a group, de finitely had the power over women. The relationship between gender and power in seventeenth century New England seemed to be simple in some aspect, and incredi bly complicated in others. Karlsen shows how women were seen as the helpers Men were the judges and councilmen, and so husbands had the option to go to those men to defend their wives if an accusation was made in order to stop the accusa tion from being taken seriously, husbands wer e a protection for their wives. Wives, however, were a vulnerability for the ir husbands. Therefore, it is not a surprise that a man would be painted as the ringleader of the witches, especially by a group of teenage girls, especially when powerful men who have an adversarial relationship, at best, with the a ccused, are using them.
18 Salem Accusations Carol F. Karlsen's The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England interprets the Salem Witchcraft Trials through gender. Witchcraft, and the hysteria surrounding it, was not something tha t happened only in Salem. Witchcraft had been present throughout the New World' before 1692. Karlsen, however, a sks specifically why witchcraft was treated as such a spectacle in Salem. Why was witchcraft treated as devil possession and why were women t he target? Her a nswers to these question focus on the vulnerability of women in the colonial times. The point of Karlsen's book is to create a demographic of a witch, or, to identify which factors made a person living in New England more or less vulnerabl e to accusation, prosecution, and execution during normal times let alone during an "outbreak." She argues that the profile of what was considered a witch varied, but the most vulnerable factor was being a woman. An outbreak is what Karlsen calls instance s like Salem, where there w as a high amount of accusations made at the same time in the same place. Karlsen creates a demographic, or profile, of an accused, persecuted, and executed witch by comparing the number of men and women who were accused to the nu mber of men and wome n who were tried, to the number of men and women who were con victed, and finally, to the number of men and women who were executed for their crime. Ultimately, Karlsen argues, the biggest vulnerability to any New England citizen in bei ng a victim of a witchcraft accusation was being female. "The idea that witches were women seems to have been more strongly held by local authorities, magistrates and
19 juries than it was by accusers as a whole." 22 Males, when accused, were usually "suspect by association," a husband, son, family member, of public supporter of a female witch. 23 Half of the men accused of witchcraft from 1620 to 1725 fall into this category. Not all accusations were treated equally. Some were outright rebuffed as soon as they were made; others were taken seriously by a local court, but not a colony court; while other accusations were believed. In the time between an accusation being made and trial, Karlsen believed that it was married women who had the advantage. For several re asons Unmarried women were defined by what they were not doing. An unmarried woman was not a "helpmate" to her man. 24 An unmarried woman was not having children, or at least, was not having legitimate children. Marital status defined a woman's relationship to her family and her status in society. Unmarried women were more vulnerable because they lacked the connections that a husband afforded married women. It was the local authorities (prominent men in the community) that decided if an accusation was to be taken seriously, and the husband of the accused would go to the authorities, unofficially, and attempt to stop the accusation from becoming anything more. Whether or not an accusation was important depended not only on the accused, but also on the family and friends of the accused All fourteen single women who were tried during the Salem outbreak were the daughters or granddaughters of suspected witches. 25 Once an accusation moves on to an indictment, then those in the accused family were the next step. While marriage provided a certain protection for women in the 22 Karlsen, Carol F. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England 1 st ed. New York: 1987, p, 48 23 Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman p, 47 24 Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman p. 75 25 Karlsen p. 71
20 post accusation phase, it was the opposite for the husband of an accused witch when the accusation was taken seriously. If a man was married to an accused witch, and it was not d ismissed, then it was likely that he would also be accused of witchcraft. As previously mentioned, over half of the men accused during the Salem outbreak were suspect by association. 26 Another important characteristic of whether an accusation woul d be made and taken seriously was age. Women who were considered to be middle aged and/or old were vulnerable because "the women in both of these groups had reached a point in their lives when they no longer perform what Puritans considered to be the major role of women: they were no longer bearing children." 27 This is more significant for "old" women because not only were they not bearing children, but they were not responsible for raising children either. Karlsen is concerned with profiling an accused witch in th e Essex county outbreak while Norton is more concerned with the outbreak as a whole. While it is not their main conclusion, they both agree that it is the fault of authority figures that the trials and the witch hunt got so out of control, but say it in di fferent ways. Karlsen faults the magistrates who let the profile of a witch in Essex County become that of a woman. That is, it is the responsibility of the courts for allowing there to be a profile in the first place, where the only true requisite is bein g a woman. Norton in contrast, states that it falls on the governor, council, and judges for letting the crisis get out of hand not that a profile was created 26 Karlsen, p, 42 27 Karlsen p, 71
21 Norton recogni zes a significant shift in what the magistrates paid attention to. Outside of the Essex county crisis, the opinions of teenage girls were not of any concern to them. The fact that the profile of an accuser shifted from an adult male to young women and girls coupled with the fact that the Essex crisis was the first of its kind to reg ularly accept accusations against people who had never met their accusers, it is not difficult to see why the situation got out of hand. 28 However, this isn't entirely accurate. While there was an increase in accusations from the females, and definitely an increase from the younger generation, that is not to say that men were not accusers as well. In the initial deposition given by Ann Putnam Jr. in which she speaks of a spectral activity, it is noted that her father and uncle are affirming that this was a ll true, and from there, an arrest warrant was issued. Burroughs had been living in Wells, Ma ine at the time. When he was brought to Salem, P utnam J r., had another vision, and then other young girls came forward, claiming to have been tortured by apparitio ns of a man who called himself George Burroughs. The imagination of Satan also differs from the previous accusations of witchcraft and the accusations made at Salem. In the past, including Salem Village there was an established precedent that Satan was cap able and did work by himself, including attacking people. During the outbreak, however, it was "rapidly concluded" that Satan was using human emissaries to torture and recruit witches. 28 Norton's final explanation for why the Essex County outbreak was a u nique situation is the legacy it leaves. In past occurrences of accusations of a witchcraft in New England, garnering the reputation of a witch to the degree that actual charges are filed took time. With the Essex County outbreak, however, it began in earl y spring of 1692, 28 Norton, In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, p, 8
22 and had lost much of its support by October, finally ending in May of the following year. 29 The Effect of War on The Crisis and the Case of George Burroughs Norton expands more on what that suffering is: war. As a result, she believes that in order to understand the Essex county crisis, one needs to understand the trauma that New Englanders went through during the wars with the Natives (King Philips' War). 30 First, it must be acknowledged that George Burroughs occupies a large part of No rton's bo ok, and so there may be a bias where ascertaining the degree of importance of the effect of the Indian Wars on the crisis as a whole, because it was a very important aspect of the George Burroughs trial. However, while the degr ee of importance is in question, whether or not it was important is not questioned here Hall and Norton both discuss townspeople 's being unsatisfied with the formality of religion and with the inability of the min i sters to reach the townspeople. In Salem, the basis of this problem was the separation between Salem Town and Salem Village. The problem was that there was no church in Salem Village, and the villagers were expected to go to the town every Sunday in order to attend church. In order for a child to be baptized, they needed to have at least one church attending parent. The formality of religion was not appealing to the villagers, especially for those who could read the B ible on their own. The Essex County cr isis reached such porportions because it was meant to be the last of its kind. The goal of Essex County, of New England as a whole, was to get all of 29 Norton In the Devil's Snare, p, 11 30 Norton p, 12
23 the witches out their part of the world in order to get back into the good graces of God. They believed th at they were not in the good graces of God because of the wars with the Indians. The ancestors of the Puritans left England because they were unhappy with the English Anglican Church, as they believed it was not conservative enough, and had too much in com mon with the Catholic Church. While they may have believed that their government was secular, they also firmly believed that that government was accountable to God. At the time of George Burroughs' arrest, he was one of two min i sters left in Main e The re st had either been killed in the wars, or fled to escape them. He benefited from this position, which would not make him look good once on trial, as it afforded him more responsibility, on e of which was to communicate with the governor of Massachusetts on the state of Wells in dealing with the Indian Wars. In his last letter before his arrest, he wrote to Boston about the fall of York. Norton quotes this letter to show how oblivious he wa s to what was going to happen to him in the coming months. However, th is let ter serves a more basic purpose: it shows the though t process on how God and the Indian Wa rs were related. Burroughs wrote, "The course of God's most sweet and rich promises, and gracious providences may justly be interrupted by the sins of his Peopl e." 31 George Burroughs, as a minister, claimed the people of New England must be doing something wrong and angering God, and that is why the wars with Indians were happening. These were not new ideas. Increase Mather had the same thoughts on King Philips' W ar, which Norton calls the First Indian War. Cotton Mather son of 31 Burroughs to Massachusetts Governor an d Council, 27 January 1691/2
24 Increase, was also a minister a very vocal one, and was quite active in the Salem Witchcraft trials. The fact that the Indian Wars might be a punishment from God was not an isolated beli ef held exclusively by ministers. People in Essex County, including those in Salem, also saw the result of the Indian Wars in a similar light When different settlements in Maine were attacked, those luck y enough to survive fled to Massachusetts. George Bu rroughs was n ever in Salem because Falmouth Maine was attacked, and so he needed a job. Salem was a safe haven for refugees, and after Maine was attacked again, some made Salem their permanent home. Some lost every male member of their family while other families were wiped out completely. One of the points of contentions that townspeople had with George Burroughs was that he survived attacks, or he left the settlement and a short time later the entire settlement wo uld be destroyed. Cotton Mather recorded his reactions to the trial as well, and note d that he believed Burroughs was guilty as soon as he heard the testimony that he survived so many close calls and of the rumors of his seemingly supe rnatural strength. Mather thought that Burroughs was too "puny to be able to accomplish such feats. 32 Because the attacks were seen as forms of God's punishment, only help from the Satan could explain Burroughs' survival. It is myopic to attribute the Essex County Crisis only to fear, but it would also be an error to disregard the role that fear did play in the crisis. The fear was not of witchcraft per se it was of the possibility that life could get wor se far worse as the colony drifted even further from its original spiritual mission The Essex County government had the primary responsibility of serving God. Therefore, when people were 32 Mather, The Wonder s of the Invisible World, p. 219
25 convicted of witchcraft, which was seen as serving Satan, it was a victory of God over Satan. The next chapter centers on the case of George Burroughs. He was convicted of having "a confederacy with the devil which is different from any other of the accused, because he is portrayed as being the ringleader. His situation highlights the dangers of witch hunts. Chapter two will prove that the entire case was a conspiracy against Geo rge Burroughs. He was convicted of working with the Devil because people in Salem, most n otably the Putnams, did not trust him.
26 Chapter Two: George Burroughs and his Confederacy with the Devil George Burroughs was a Harvard educated minister born in Virginia to an English merchant and his wife, and raised in Maryland. Burroughs moved around a lot, working as a minister He started in Casco Bay, Maine and then we nt to Falmouth, Maine; at both places, he was forced to leave b ecause of Indian attacks that destroyed each town. After leaving Falmouth in 1676, he and his family moved to Salisbury, Massachusetts, which is in Essex County. In 1680, Burroughs was hired as the town minister in Salem, so he and his family moved there. It was t here that George Burroughs m et Thomas Putnam, although it was possible that Burroughs was already familiar with Putnam's wife, as her family lived in Salisbury at the same time he was there. While Salem was building a home that was to be used by th e town minister and his family provided to the minister by the church, the Burroughs family lived with the Putnams. T he first accusation made against George Burroughs came from the Putnams' daughter, Ann Putnam Jr while the first accuser outside of Salem was Mercy Lewis. When they made their first accusations against Burroughs, T homas Putnam, Ann's father, swore that he had witnessed the afflictions that the spectral Burroughs inflicted on the two girls, which validated the depositions Me rcy Lewis and Abigail Hobbs lived in Falmouth when Burroughs did. Their homes were close enough to each other that they knew each other. When Lewis' family perished in an Indian attack, she lived with Burroughs and his family. Salem's History with Min i ste rs Over a period of almost twenty five year s (1672 96), Salem Village went through four min i sters. There seemed to be a problem with the two finances, for two of them
27 (George Burroughs and Deodat Lawrence) complained at one point about not being paid on time. Samuel Parris, the town minister at the time of the crisis, was in a dispute with the town council over his salary when the accusations began A t one point, the town decided that they were not goin g to pay him. However, since he stayed until 1696, th ey at one point reversed that decision. This could speak to the larger issue that David Hall writes of, the unsatisfied nature, in general, that New Englanders had with religion, and because the minister was the physical personification of religion, that f eeling was transferred on to the minister Before he left Salem, there was a complaint from the residents that George Burroughs cared more about preaching than about the churchgoers themselves. The complaint implies that George Burroughs was failing to do his job. So for the families of those who had felt compelled confess to being a witch, George Burroughs was someone they could blame with relative ease. Accusations Against George Burroughs: Physical Strength The testimony against George Burroughs was fil led with accusations of otherworldly abilities, torture, and ghosts. The first of the depositions will be about his alleged preternatural strength. Samuel Webber was a neighbor of Burroughs when he lived in Casco Bay. His testimony was that Burroughs ha d told him that he could pick up a "barrel of molasses" with two fingers, carry it around, and then set it down. 33 Thomas Greenslit gave a similar testimony. He claimed to be an actual witness of Burroughs strength. He testified that he once saw Burroughs "take up a full barrel of molasses with but two fingers of one of his 33 Boyer, Paul S., Stephen Nissenbaum, and United States. Work s Progress Administration. The Salem Witchcraft Papers : Verbatim Transcripts of the Legal Documents of the Salem Witchcraft Outbreak of 1692 New York: Da Capo Press 1977.
28 hands and carry it from the stage hear to the door at the end of the stage without letting it down." 34 He claimed that there were other witnesses to this event, but they were already dead Greenslit also testified that he had observed Burroughs during an Indian war and saw him lift a six foot gun and hold it by the muzzle with either one or two fingers of his right hand. Simon Willard and William Wormwall testified that the two of them w er e with George Burroughs one night when he was showing off and demonstrated how he could hold a gun with "near seven foot barrel and very heavy" with only one hand. Willard testified that afterwards, he attempted to hold the gun the same way and was unable to do so. 35 This testimony, as it was the only one on supernatural strength that was based on actual eyewitness account, was not obtained until after his execution. The other testimonies that were about preterna tural strength were based on rumors. Other depositions against Burroughs accuse d him of knowing peoples thoughts and traveling from one place to another faster than humanly possible. 36 The significance of the depositions against him for his physical strength was that his fellow member s of th e community found it suspicious: Whether it be because they truly believed that it was devil possession, or because of a more human reason. After leaving Salem, Burroughs moved to Casco Bay, and then to Falmouth, and then to Wells, Main e Natives ev entually attacked every settlement that he lived in, and the colonists were forced to move elsewhere. Each time, families lost loved ones. T his would only add to the loss that impacted the New England Community from King Philip's War. Every time a communi ty was in 34 Thoma s Greenslit v. George Burroughs, Essex County Archives August 2, 1692. 35 Simon Willard and William Wormwall v. George Burroughs Essex County Archives, Ausut 3, 1692. 36 Memorandum in Case of George Burroughs. Essex County Archives, Sa lem Witchcraft Vol. 2, Page 17
29 trouble, G eorge Burroughs survived, and it was reasonable to believe that colonists held a grudge against him for that. One of the depositions given against him mentioned how he used the powers of the Devil to k ill soldiers who "went Eastward an d attempted to preach without him. 37 The townspeople did not accept that an educated man, who was s mall in statur e, could survive a number of attacks when men who were more adept at fighting were killed. It had to be because Burroughs had something in comm on with their attackers, the Natives; and that was the fact that both of them were barbaric and had no t accepted God into their lives a nd if they hadn't accepted God, then they had to be accepting the Devil. There was no in between, as with HUAC and McCar thyism. George Burroughs as the Devil George Burroughs was thought to be working with the devil because he could carry a barrel of molasses with two fingers and lift and shoot a gun with two fingers. When he said that he was trying to show up an Indian, who was doing the same thing, he was told that, obvi ously, the Indian was the devil George Burroughs represented, literally, the devil. Burroughs was a minister, yet he did not observe the Sabbath and only one of his children (the oldest) was baptized. 38 T his was significant to the Puritans, as they valued greatly the fulfillment of this basic Christian rite According to David Hall, th is act symbolized the covenant, and one could either be inside, and with God, or outside, with Satan. 39 The fact that he was able to commit various acts of seemingly super human strength, and then try to excuse his be havior by saying that he saw a native do it so that 37 Ann Putnam Jr. v. George Burroughs Essex County Archives August 3, 1692. 38 Examination of George Burroughs and Summary Evidence Essex County Archives May 9, 1692. 39 Hall, David. Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment p, 167.
30 he had to prove that he could do it as well, did not work in his favor. Testimony Pertaining to His First Two Wives Women who testified against George Burroughs accused him of different qualities that reflected on his failure to fulfill the gender role that he, as a male, was supposed to fill and of supernatural happenings that occurred concerning Burroughs. Mary Webber was a neighbor of Burroughs when he lived at Casco Bay and a friend of his first wife. Her testimony is hearsay, as they were stories that Webber said came from Burroughs' wife. Webber testified that Burroughs' wife feared her husband, and although she was literate and able to write, asked Webber to write to her father so that he would come get h er as she was miserable. S he described Mr. Burroughs as "unkind 40 Webber also testified to two supernatural incidents that Mrs. Burroughs told her of. Th e first was when, one night, Mrs. Burroughs was "affrightened" by a noise in the chamber. Mrs. Burroughs called to her slave to come to her, but the slave later told her that something or someone was blocking his way, and so he was unable to make it up the stairs. Her husband, however, was able to come to her. Mrs. Burroughs then saw something that she described as a white calf jump down in between the chimney and the house, and then George Burroughs followed it. There was another incident where Mrs. Burrou ghs awoke to someone coming into their house, came into their room, stood by her bed, and then breathed on her. Mrs. Burroughs was scared and tried to wake up her husband; as soon as Mr. Burroughs woke up, the apparition disappeared. Webber ended her testi mony by saying that she "knew nothing of it herself" except by "common report 40 Mary Webber v. George Burroughs, Essex County Archives August 2, 1692.
31 of others also concerning such things." 40 The end of her testimony suggests that there were rumors about the unrest in Burroughs' house. This idea is also perpet ua ted by somethin g George Burroughs said during his examination. He makes a point to say that his house is not haunted, but there were toads. He also denies forbidding his wife from writing to her father. 41 Hannah Harris' testimony gives insight into the relationship betwee n George Burroughs and his second wife. Harris worked as a maid in the Burroughs' house when they lived at Falmouth. Harris testified that whenever she had any "discourse" with Mrs. Burroughs, after Harris left the main house, Mr. Burroughs would come home and tell his wife that he knew what she told Harris and would scold her for it. 42 Harris was at the house when Mrs. Burroughs got sick. Harris testified that Burroughs kept his wife in the house by "discourse at the dore" until she fell ill. Hannah Harris said that her illness would get worse at night and that Harris feared for Mrs. Burroughs' life. Harris ended her testimony by telling the court that Mr. and Mrs. Burroughs' daughter told many of their neighbors that the cause of her mother's illness was he r father and/or his actions. This accusation suggests George Burroughs was not fulfilling his role as a good husband, as a good husband does not kill his wife. Harris' statement that Mrs. Burroughs' illness got worse at night, wh en she wasn't there, could only come from two people: the Burroughs' daughter or M rs. Burroughs herself. Since the daughter told neighbors that Mrs. Burroughs' illness was her father's fault, it would make sense that it was she who told Harris. Harris' statement about it getting wor se at night gives credence to the daughter's claim. George Burroughs had a job and was not in the house during the day, but he was at 41 Examination of George Burroughs and Summary Evidence, Essex County Archives, May 9, 1692. 42 Hannah Harris v. George Burroughs, Essex County Archives August 1692.
32 night. The fact that her illness got worse at night made one question if Burroughs was do ing something to her while he was home especially when the daughter wa s te lling neighbors that he wa s. When George Burroughs left Salem, it was right after his second marriage. He had not yet been paid by Salem and was going to Falmouth, which had been rebuilt. There was an incident wit h his first wife's funeral that reveals his relationship with Thomas Putnam. Burroughs hadn't been paid, and so he was unable to cover the full cost of his wife's funeral. Thomas Putnam paid for a part of the funeral. In early March of the next year (1681), Burroughs moved out of Salem, returning in late April to finish any outstanding business as he still had not been paid. H e had not expected Thomas Putnam to have him ar rested for not re paying him for the money for the funeral. Putnam did not drop the charges until Burroughs proved that he had allocated a portion of his soon to be paid salary to go to Putnam. Accusations Made by Teenage Girls The following depositions ar e from young girls who claim that George Burroughs used supernatural abilities to try to seduce them to become witches. Ann Putnam Jr. 's testimony makes a lot of accusations toward Mr. Burroughs and other girls in the colony. She testified that she saw an apparition of a minister, who scared her; she then asked for his name so that she could report him. According to her testimony, George Burroughs identified himself, and then tried to get her to write in his book, which she refused to do. 43 This happened s everal times. Then, George Burroughs confessed many things to 43 Ann Putnam Jr. v. George Burroughs Essex County Archive August 3, 1692.
33 her: that he had two wives that he had bewitched to death; that he had killed a Mistress Lawson because she would not leave the village; that he ha d killed Mr. Lawson's child because he went eas t to preach with Sir Edmon; that he had bewitched soldiers to die when Sir Edmon was there; that he had made Abigail Hobbs and sever al other girls witches and that he was not going to stop; and that he w as no t just a witch, but a conjurer. At so me time t hat evening, Burroughs tortured her by beating, pinching, and choking her. Putnam gave two depositions, and the following information is from her second deposition. Later, in the same evening that Ann claimed Burroughs tortured, Ann claims that Burroughs' first two wives appeared to her, dressed in "winding sheets with napkins over their head." 44 Apparently, Burroughs had warned Ann that his first two wives would appear, and instructed her to believe anything that they might say. Putnam testified that the two women told her how Burroughs killed them, Mistress Lawson, her daughter Ann, and Goodman Fuller's first wife; they also told Ann that Burroughs had "tormented and affected" Mary Walcott, Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth H oward, and Abigail Williams 44 The two wo men made sure to mention that Ann Putnam should tell the magistrate all that they had told her. Also, in that same evening, Mistress Lawson, her daughter, Ann Lawson, and Goodman Fuller's first wife all appeared to Ann and told her how George Burroughs mur dered them. Finally, the two women told George Burroughs "they should be in white robes from heaven and h e should be cast into Hell." 42 Her father and her uncle, Thomas and Edward Putnam, respectively, swore that they were with A nn, and saw her being afflic ted during this encounter. 44 Ann Putnam Jr. v. George Burroug hs, Essex County Archive, August 3, 1692.
34 Norton points out the many ways that Putnam, J r. could learn everything that she claims to have learned from the apparitions of George Burroughs and his late wives. George Burroughs' matrimonial affairs had long been a source of gossip in Salem, ever since he and his first wife lived with the Putnams. At Burroughs' trial, Thomas Putnam spoke about his observations of the minister's treatment of Hannah. He testified that Burroughs was "a sharp man" to Hannah, despite her being "a very good and dutiful wife to him." 45 Putnam J r. would have been a very young child at the time of the Burroughs living with her family, but would still hear of it. After his first wife died, George Burroughs married a widow from Salem named Sarah. It is b ecause of her that the idea that George Burroughs is a bad person truly forms in the mind of t he townspeople. Eventually, Sarah dies as well, and Burroughs marries his third, and last, wife almost instantly. Burroughs has his second late wife shipped back to Salem to be buried. Norton reported that there were rumors that Burroughs was complicit in his wife's death, one rumor went as far as saying that Sarah Burroughs (the second wife) was alive when she got on the boat that brought her body to Salem, and th at Burroughs and his new wife (Mary) killed her. 46 The next deposition is from Sarah Bibber. Sarah also claimed to see an apparition of George Burroughs. Although she did not know who he was at the time, she claimed that she saw a little man who "look liked a minister" on her way to Salem. 47 He pinched her and tried to her to go somewhere with him, Sarah refused. Sarah said that once she got to Salem, she saw Burroughs, and instantly knew that he was the apparition Sarah 45 Notron, In the Devil's Snare, p, 124 46 Norton, In the Devil's Snare, p, 130. 47 Sarah Bibber v. George Burroughs Essex County Archive August 3, 1692.
35 then testified that she believed that George Burroughs tortured her, Mary Walcott, Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbert, Ann Putnam Jr. and Abigail Williams by pinching, twisting, and choking them. She ended her deposition by stating that she believed "in her heart that Mr. George Burroug hs is a dreadful wizard and that he has most grievously tormented me and the above mentioned persons by his acts of witchcraft." 48 Mercy Lewis gave a similar deposition. She claimed that she saw an apparition of George Burroughs "who [m] she knew very well." 49 Mercy said that Burroughs tortured her and tried to get her to write in his book. He also took her to the top of a mountain to show her the kingdom he could give her if she wrote in the book and threatened to throw her off the mountain if she refused. Thom as Putnam and Edward Putnam also swore that they were present when this was happening to Mercy Lewis. In their deposition, they claimed that they were surprised that Mercy Lewis had survived, for they thought, "every joint of her body was ready to be displ aced." 50 They also claimed that they "perceived her hellish temptations by her loud out cries Mr Burroughs, I will not write in your book t h ough you do kill me.'" 50 Elizabeth Hubbard, who was accused of being a witch by Ann Putnam (although Putnam called h er Elizabeth Howard) and Sarah Bibber, gave a deposition against George Burroughs as well. She testified that George Burroughs appeared to her as an apparition, identified himself, and wanted her to put her hand in his book; but she refused. The next morni ng, the apparition of Burroughs appeared again and told Hubbard that he 48 Sarah Bibber v. George Burroughs Essex County Archive, August 3, 1692. 49 Mercy Lewis v. George Burroughs Essex County Archive, August 3, 1692. 50 Thomas Putnam and Edward Putnam, v. George Burroughs Essex Count y Archive, August 3, 1692.
36 was a wizard and a conjurer. 51 He then appeared to her every day and night to convince her to set her hand in his book and would tell her that if she gave in, then she would have nothi ng to worry about and would not have to fear anybody. However, if she refused, then he would kill her. During his visits, he would torture her by biting, pinching, squeezing her body, and running pins into her. She ended her testimony by saying that she "b elieved in her heart that Mr. George Burroughs is a dreadful wizard and that he has often tormented me and also the above named persons by his acts of witchcraft." 52 Abigail Hobbs and Mary Warren gave a joint deposition against George Burroughs, and then Ma ry Warren gave a separate deposition against Burroughs and several other defendants. The joint deposition told of a secret meeting, led by George Burroughs, attended by a number of accused witches, where they drank wine that was actually blood, ate sweet b read, and then Burroughs sounded a trumpet to call the meeting to order. Hobbs and Warren both claimed that Burroughs had tortured them. Hobbs said Burroughs "almost shook her to pieces" 53 when she would not write in his book and Burroughs said that Burroug hs "grievously tormented her" 54 when she would not write in his book. Mary Warren ended her deposition the same way that Elizabeth Hubbard and Sarah Bibber did, by saying that she believed "in her heart that Mr. George Burroughs is a dreadful wizard and tha t he has several times tormented me and the aforesaid persons by his acts of witchcraft." 54 The last deposition is that of Mary Walcott. She testified that she knew George 51 Elizabeth Hubbard v. George Burroughs Essex County Archive, August 3, 1692. 52 Elizabeth Hubbard v. George Burroughs Essex County Archive. August 3, 1692. 53 Abigail Hobbs and Mary Warren v. George Burroughs Essex County Archi ve, June 1, 1692. 54 Mary Warren v. George Burroughs, John Alden, Martha Corey, and Ann Pudeator Essex County Archive. August 3, 1692.
37 Burroughs and so she could identify him when he appeared to her an as apparition. 55 W alcott claimed that he "grievously tortured" her and wanted her to write in his book. Walcott refused, and when she did, he told her about how he had planned to kill his first wife and child. Instead, he kept his first wife in the kitchen and gave her deat h wounds. He then charged her in the name of his God that she should not tell anyone. But then, his first two wives appeared in their "winding sheet" and told her that Mr. Burroughs had murdered them and "their blood did cry for vengeance." Mary Walcott al so ended her deposition by stating that she "believed in my hear t that Mr. George Burroughs is a dreadful wizard and that the had often afflicted and tormented me and the aforementioned pers ons by his acts of witchcraft." 56 Collusion The young girls who testified against Geor ge Burroughs were lying. Because of their testimony, George Burroughs was thought to be the ringleader of the witches in Salem. One way that shows that their depositions were less than credible is that they say all the same things the same way. Most of the girls who testified against George Burroughs talked about the first two wives. Those that do mention his wives also include that they appeared to them and they told the accuser that Burroughs had murdered them. Ann Putnam Jr. and Ma ry Walcott both describe the women as being dressed in winding sheets. All the young girls say that the wives claim that they were murdered, not that Burroughs killed them or that they died. All of the young girls use the term "grievously" to describe thei r torture and they always describe the torture with three different items, like choking, pinching, squeezing, biting and beating. Also, in the cases where George 55 Mary Walcott v. George Burroughs Essex County Archive. August 3, 1692. 56 Mary Walcott v. George Burroughs Essex County Archive. August 3, 1692.
38 Burroughs tells the girls that he has murdered pe ople, they are always the same f ive people: h is wives, Mrs. Lawson, her daughter Ann, and Goodman Fuller's first wife. However, in some of the depositions the girls never mentio n ed the name of Ann Lawson nor Goodman Fuller's first wife The wives also made sure to mention that whichever young girl th ey were talking to should definitely tell the authorities what happened, b ut neither of them ever mentioned how they died or what their names are. The only person who ever identified him or herself was George Burroughs. The teenage girls' identification of George Burroughs as their torturer also point s to some kind of collusion. The first thing that any of them say at the beginning of their deposition was how they kne w it was George Burroughs. This was not the result of lawyers' interrogation. Even if i t were, it would not explain how all the girls used the same words and terms to describe identical experiences. One of them said she just knew it was George Burroughs without giving any explanation as to how, just that she saw him in the village and she knew his name. Ann Putnam Jr. claimed that she had asked for him for the express purpose that she could report him to the magistrate. Also, in a few of the depositions, the young girls claim ed that Geo rge Burroughs outright confessed to murdering his wives. T his even happens in the depositions where the young girls recognize him without having to ask who he was. It was also suspicious that at least four of the young girls end ed their deposition by saying that they "believed in my hear that Mr. George Burroughs is a dreadful wizard and that the had often afflicted and tormented me and the aforementioned persons by his acts of witchcraft." Also, all the girls name the same names when talking about whom George Burroughs had affecte d with his witchcraft. There were two in stances where a young girl talked about being taken to the
39 top of a mountain and shown what they could have if only they agree d to write in his book. The two girls describe d the experience with similar terms. As previously mentioned, George Burroug hs originally left Salem because of a salary dispute. The person who controlled his salary was Thomas Putnam, father of Ann Putnam Jr. whose deposition was the first of its kind and was the most damaging to Burroughs' case. Also, Thomas and Edward swore that the depositions that Ann Putnam Jr. and Mercy Lewis gave were true. The two men claim ed that they were surprised that Mercy survived, because they though t that she had broken every bone in her body and that Ann had s igns of torture. They only swore to these two depositions because they were the two depositions that encompass what the rest of the depositions said The timeline of events, beginning with Ann Putnam Jr.'s first accusation against Burroughs and e nding with his conviction, was all too co nvenient for it not to be collusion. Ann Putnam, Jr. claimed that she got her first visit from George Burroughs, spectrally, on April 20, 1692. An arrest warrant was issued for him ten days later and he was in Salem by May 3 rd From that date until May 9 th when his examination took pl ace, every girl who testified to having a spectral vision of him, had it in that time frame. George Burroughs was a scapegoat for these girls (and Thomas Putnam). At the time of his death, George Burroughs was known as the ri ng leader, the creator of them all In all of these depositions, Mary Walcott, Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Howard, and Abigail Williams were named as witches. George Burroughs appeared to them every n ight and tortured them until they gave in. By making George Bu rroughs out to be an evil monster, especially as he was a minister and therefore supposed to be a trusted member of the Salem community, it was understandable that they had turned and accepted witchcraft.
40 Also, the fact that the girls accused someone of ma king them a witch meant that they would not be sent to the gallows, because if someone admitted to being a witch, they would be kept to testify against the others. During his examination in front of the magistrates, his accusers, including the young girls were present. They had to be removed from the court because they claim ed that Burroughs was trying to choke, torture and kill them w hile bring examined, and this was reflected i n the summary evidence. Other than that, there was no evidence that was on his person that signified him as a witch. There is a note in the summary evidence that Burroughs did not bear the physical sign of the witch. 57 The Execution of George Burroughs George Burroughs was hanged on August 19, 1692. As he was waiting at the gallows, it is reported that Burroughs began to say the Lord's Prayer, flawlessly. This bothered many who were present sinc e one of the signs o f being possessed by the Devil wa s the inability to quote scripture. The fact that George Burroughs was doing so concerned the laymen of the village. Before the y could organize, Cotton Mather a minister from Boston, insisted that he was convicted in a court of law of a capital offense, and so the executio n had to go forward George Burroughs was the only minister to be executed in the Salem Witchcraft Trials. Twenty years after his hanging, his family was given compensation for his wrongful execution. 58 Minister George Burroughs was a victim of the heighten ed paranoia of his community. From the depositions against him and the few statements from him that are available, some things about his life can be inferred. Burroughs was not thought of as a 57 Examination of George Burroughs and Summary of Evidence Essex County Archive, August 3, 1692. 58 Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "George Burroughs." Encyclopedia Britannica (11 th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
41 good husband. However, he was thirty nine years of age when he was hanged, and had had three wives by that time. Based on the assumption that in each rumor, there is at least a kernel of truth, his marriages, at least to those outside of them, were not happy ones. Witnesses from two locations where Burroughs lived tes tified that he was cruel to his wives. The first depositions about his home life w ere from when he lived in Falmouth, Mass; the other testimonies were from the young girls who were less then credible, and it seems likely that most of the girls got the info rmation from Ann Putnam, Jr. who got the infor mation from her father. It is not the purpose of this paper to decide whether or not Burroughs was an abusive husband and/or he killed at least one of his wives. What it important is that the community believed that he had killed them In th e case of George Burroughs, the Salem Witchcraft Trials were a tool to get rid of a man who did not fit into the community. Witchcraft ma y be a way to explain what cannot be understood, but in this case, a select few who hel d power within the community used the pretext of witchcraft to get rid of a man who was not adequately filling the role [ either as a hu man or a s a minister ] that he was supposed to. When George Burroughs was charged, his arrest warrant read that he was su spect ed of having a "confederacy with the devil." 59 Arrest warrants issued for other accused in the Essex County crisis, even other male s accuse d varied in that they were charged or suspected of practicing witchcraft; but the devil was not mentioned. The w ord confederacy is defined as a union by league or contract between peoples, bodies of men, or states, for mutual support or joint action; a league, alliance, compact. The legal 59 Georg e Burroughs Arrest Warrant Essex County Archive. May 4, 1692
42 definition is a league for an unlawful or evil purpose; a conspiracy. 60 George Burroughs was not charged with practicing magic, he was charged with having a literal deal with the Devil. The campaign against George Burroughs was a conspiracy. He was the minister who left to go back to Falmouth, and then was able to escape eve ry attack afterwards. For the families in Salem who had been there for generation s to the families who were in Essex County because their home had b e en destroy ed in Maine, who already had a reason to resent George Burroughs. Thomas Putnam knew this. Burrou ghs was a man who treated his wives badly, escaped death at every turn when men better and stronger than him perished, and benefited from being one of the only min i sters left in Maine, being given the responsibility to consult with the governor of Mass achu setts on the results of the attacks He, as the minister of these various New England towns, was supposed to look out for the parishioners, something that he failed to do. For that reason, Thomas Putnam conspired to make George Burroughs the quintessential ringleader for witches, acting on the orders of Satan, because Thomas Putnam believed that he was. T he Essex County Crisis was fueled, at least in part, by the fear that things could get worse. The way to repent for sin was to suffer. Life was already di fficult, and it was not getting better. The fear that a band of Indians might come to their home and destroy it and kill them all was constant and realistic. For some residents, this had already happened once. Their ministers were telling them that these w ars were punishment from God for not being as devout as possible, but people were being as holy as they could. The Crisis was driven by the need to get rid of anything that was making God unhappy with them so 60 Oxford English Dictionary
43 that He might stop punishing them. In this cont ext, t he fact that there was a man working with the Devil passing himself off as a minister made sense. The presumed "confederacy with the devil" of George Burro ughs was the reason that why the awful things that had been happening in New England, and the f act that the townspeople had been letting it happen by not realizing that he was evil, was what warranted the punishment. Eventually God sent visions to the young girls, and possible future victims, in order to stop the Devil's work. When George Burroughs was convicted and executed, New Englanders truly believed that they were doing away with the cause of their problems. The next chapter will take place in the heightened paranoia of the Cold War. The chapter will show that the conditions that allowed for t he Essex County Crisis and the conviction of George Burroughs were also responsible for the Second Red Scare, McCarthyism, and the conviction and execution of Ethel Rosenberg.
44 Chapter Three: Anti Communism and Ethel Rosenberg Ethel Rosenberg was a married mother of two sons. She was active in her Young Communist chapter and her Communist Party chapter. Her husband, Julius Rosenberg, was the president of their chapter. She and her husband were executed for treason the day after their fourteen th wedding anniversary. T hey were the first American citizens to be convicted for treason. This chapter explores the trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The husband and wife, along with co conspirators who were not executed, were charged with conspiracy to commit treason against the United States of America. While Julius Rosenberg and the other co defendants were m ore than likely involved in nefarious criminal activity, there was no proof that Ethel was. Still, she was sentenced to death, along with her husband. This chapter builds on two key questions: why and how she was convicted (as there was little to no credib le evidence of her guilt) and why did she receive the death penalty? In important way, t his was the country's worst nightmare. Much like the minister who was actually working with the Devil to corrupt the townspeople, Ethel Rosenberg was housewife who was actually a Soviet spy working to bring down the United States of America. The possibility that Ethel Rosenberg a mother and a housewife, was a spy tore down the security that the family unit was supposed to provide. Her conviction and execution w as suppos ed to assure the public that the government was making real progress in rooting out unseen threats to national security. The Red Scares Communism in twentieth century America was not looked upon fondly to say the least I n 1917, the Espionage Act was p assed, which made it illegal to interfere with the
45 draft. By the end of 1917, the government had raided sixty four offices of the Industrial Workers of the World ( the Wob blies) looking for incriminating evidence to try them o n. In 1918, leading up to th e F irst Red Scare, the U.S. Congress passed the Sedition Act, which outlawed disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language about the government, Constitution, flag, or uniform of the Army or Navy. 61 These laws came at the end of the First World War, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, when the ultra patriotism of America mixed with radical ideas such as Communism and Socialism. Ellen Schrecker an authority on the history of anti communism in the U.S., compare d the First and S econd Red Scares I n her book Many Are the Crimes, she focuses on the similarities of the First and S econd Red Scare. The First Red Scare flourished in the atmosphere of panic that resulted from the mass strikes that took place in 1 9 19 Details about the supposed violent strikes were vast ly exaggerated and sometimes just made up by Schrecker hints, "Corporate America and their allies in the press 61 It was also believed that the strikers were seeking "the closed shop, Soviets, and the forcible distribution of property." 61 It ended because of the violations of civil liberties and the "obvious" lack of revolutionary danger. 62 By the end of the scare over 2,100 people had stood trial for violation of the Espionage and/or Sedition Acts. In some of these trials, over 100 defend ants were tried at one time. The effects of the scare were felt afterwards, and no doubt influenced the postwar era of McCarthyism. As an example, in 1921, when the sc are was over, there were still statute s in all 48 states, and in the territories of Hawai i and Alaska, criminalizing labor radicalism. Some states and cities also had laws banning revolutionary flags. 61 Schrecker, Ellen. Many Are the Crimes : McCarthyism in America Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1998, p. 56 62 Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes, p. 59
46 Th e most important legacy of the F irst Red Scare was The American Legion. It was created by powerful American corporations but wanted, and ach ieved, a middle class identity. Corporate America was worried that returning soldiers would return to America influenced by the Bolsheviks and "infected by the revolutionary unrest." 63 The Ame rican Legion agenda was veteran s benefits, good work ers, America nis m, and fun; its founding belief was that Communism was anti Americanism. The Legion avoided taking a controversial standpoint on any issues in order to attract as many veterans as possible. 61 The Legion was involved in violence against communists. In bo th Red Scares, Schreckner believes that the government was more influenced by the literature of the Communists than their actions, the former being much more radical. 64 She surmises that J. Edgar Hoover's first impression of Communist literature, which was a lasting impression, was the literature that came from the party just after the Russian Revolution, w hen the literature was, arguably at its most radical. Immigrants (Schreckner specifically mentions Slavs, Italians, and Jews) were easy targets of the An ti Communist movement. They had already been demonized and repressed by the government and popular opinion. It was a popular belief that immigrant (foreigners) and their radical ideals caused the social unrest, which made them convenient targets of harsh g overnment action. 63 The Second Red Scare as a Witch Hunt It is easy to draw parallels between the Essex Country Crisis and the Red Scares. In both instance s fear was a great motivator. In Essex County, it was the fear that they were not pleasing God, and that was why the Indian Wars were as damaging to their lives as they were. New Englanders had difficult lives, and struggled, which they were told 63 Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes, p, 62 64 Schreckner, Many Are the Crimes, p, 57
47 was th e way to repent for sin. So why was God still punishing them? Their fear was based in the possibili ty that things could somehow get worse. So when they were presented with the possibility that the reason their lives were so difficult was because there were devil worshippers in their mi d st, they needed to get rid of them before the next bad thing happene d. The fear in the Second Red Scare was based in the possibility that the U.S.S.R. was going to take over America through espionage and pre emptive use of the atomi c bomb. In 1968, when the House of Un American Activities Committee was still in existence, Roy Cohn, the assistant prosecutor of the Rosenburg case, wrote a book called McCarthy. He worked on the Rosenberg Trial, for the prosecution, and descri bed the experience as one of the most "terrifying, confusing, and sobering" times of his life because it brought to him the realization of the strength of the "criminal conspiracy dedicated to the establishment of world Communism." 65 The fact that someone was able to steal the country's plans for its greatest, most secret weapon completely terrified him even in 1968 There is no doubt that he was not the only one terrified by this. Essex County and the Second Red Scare both vilified foreigners. In Salem in 196 2, though Essex County was more overt about it, t hey truly believed that Native Americans were barbaric, sub human creatures that were a punishment from God; they represented the Devil, literally. The Red Scares of the twentieth century meanwhile, blamed immigrants for bring ing these radical ideas with them to America and causing the social unrest, which eventually could turn in to economic and political unrest. However, the threat of a Communist takeover also helped some group s transform themselves from th e other into American s namely Catholics and Jews Communism was seen as godless 65 Cohn, Roy M. McCarthy [New York]: New American Library, p. 27
48 and fully secular in nature. S o the fact they went to church made them appear more America n However, Catholics had a step up because the Catholic Church actively worked ag ainst the Communist Party. There is also the fact that both were witch hunts. In Essex County, this was more literal, but this chapter uses the definition from the first chapter, where a witch hunt is "a single minded and uncompromising campaign against a group of people with unacceptable views or behavior; one regarded as unfair of malicious persecution." 66 In both instances, the authorities knew what they were looking for and would not stop searching until they found it. The people that they found were co nsistently those who did not fit the role that society demanded of them. Arthur Miller's The Crucible Written by Arthur Miller in 1952, The Crucible does perfectly what this chapter seeks to achieve. When questioned by the House of Un American Activities Committee (HUAC) on whether or not he was aware that the play was being used as a "case history of a series of articles in the Communist press drawing parallels to the investigations of Communists and other subversives by Congressional Committees." Arthur Miller answered: "the comparison is inevitable." 67 The Crucible begins with a young girl unconscious in her bed. Her father, Rev. Sam Parris, is worried about his daughter's state, and also about his standing in the town. He tells his niece, Abigai l Williams, who is living with him, that witchcraft is being suspected. The affected girl, Betty, indicates that witchcraft is the culprit, and it stemmed from an incident that took place in the woods where a group of young girls danced naked 66 Oxford English Dictionary 67 United States House of Representatives, Committee on Un American Activities. Te stimony of Arthur Miller, Hearing. June 21, 1956.
49 around a fire chanting the names of the guys who they wished to married. One girl, Abigail Williams, sacrificed a chicken and drank its blood, hoping to kill off the wife of the man she was in love with and with who m she had previously had an affair. The fact that w itchcraft was affecting Betty Parris m ade its way throughout the town. I n order to avoid suspicion of affecting the girls, Abigail, who was the clear ringleader, and the other girls began to act affected. They would moan in pain when Tibitua, the Parris' s lave from the Caribbean, who taught them the spell was in the room She claimed that the Devil made her do it and that he would hurt her is she disobeyed or told anyone, and that she was desperate to be back with God. A min ister from the state who had ex perie nce in identifying witchcraft i s summoned to Sale m, and from there things tumble out of control. John Proctor, the object of Abigail's obsession, doubts the tria ls from the beginning, and tries to get Abigail to stop it all, especially when John hears that his wife's name was mentioned when discussing possible witches. In the end, John is convicted of being a witch, while his wife is left alive in the end. Martha and Giles Corey are featured characters as well. Upon the arrival of the inspector, Giles asks him something peculiar about his wife. He says that his wife is literate and at night reads a book that is not the Bible. Giles, who is not literate, claims that he is unable to fall asleep when she is reading this book, but as soon as she stops, he f alls to sleep. Both are accused and Martha is walking to the gallows to be hanged, along with John Proctor, at the end of the play. By the end of the last scene, the inspector realizes that the trials and conviction are false, that there are no witches in Salem, but he is no longer in control and can do nothing to stop it.
50 What is perhaps most haunting is that Miller used actual people from the Essex County crisis as characters for his play. John Proctor was hanged on t he same day as George Burroughs whil e Martha Corey wa s hanged about a month later. Giles Corey is known for not giving a plea, and was to be pressed until he gave one; he died instead. In the play, this was portrayed as his way to keep his land in the family. Four years after The Crucible was published, on June 21, 1956, Arthur Miller was ca lled to testify in front of HUAC In addition to the previously mentioned question, he was also asked about his association with Howard Fast, who in addition to writing "Why the Fifth Am endment" in the c ontext of the F irst Red Scare, worked for the Daily Worker, a Communist publication. Fast wrote that Arthur Miller was the "American Dramatist of the Day." 68 Miller testified that he had met Fast but had never collaborated with him. In response to Fast's "p romotion" (phrased by staff interrogator Richard Arens), Miller describes Fast as a person who had a "remorseless attachment to the political line, and that Fast's ap preciation meant nothing to him." 6 8 Miller is implying that it is not his responsibility h ow people interpret his plays, and mention s how the Daily Worker trashed his previous play, Death of a Salesman. Miller testified that many people had different opinions on what The Crucible was actually about. Concerning this paper, what he says next is most intriguing. He testifies that he began thinking about The Crucible at the end of the 1930s, almost twenty years after the F irst Red Scare, but that "they now saw was written about the Ros enbergs." 6 8 This was not possible, and not only because Miller testified that he had not heard of the Rosenbergs at the time of writing the play, bu t because the Rosenbergs were not executed until a year after the play was 68 United States House of Representatives, Committee on Un American Activities. Testimony of Arthur Miller, Hearing. June 21, 1956.
51 published. The issues of Julius, and more importantly, Ethel Rosenberg, will be discussed later in this chapter. Womanhood and Motherhood In Homeward Bound; American Families in the Cold War Era, Elaine Tyler May explores how the Cold War affected the family. She uses the Kitchen Debat es in formed talks that took place between then Vice President Richard Nixon and So viet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1959 when Nixon went to the Soviet Union for the American National Exhibition. Nixon framed the debate between Communism and Capitalism wi th a kitchen and made it a women's issue. Capitalism enabled m en to be the breadwinner for their families become a consumer, and provide high tech appliances, which made the lives of their wives easier. 69 Therefore, Capitalism kept women in the home, marri ed and with families, with easy lives. Communism in contrast, "desexualized women especially through its work and politics. Russian women were hard workers, unfeminine, and unattached. The Communist party took the place of the family American women me anwhile, were "sexually attractive housewives and consumers under the American Capitalistic system." 70 The idea that identity of the American women was a married housewife was not an incorrect one. As May points out, t he generation that came of age during and directly after WWII was the most marrying generation on record. The marriage rate from the year 1940 to 1950 went from 60% to 66%. 71 By 1960, 68% of the popula tion was married. In that twenty year span, 70% to 79% of the American population was married, divorced, or 69 May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era New York: Basic Books, 1988, p, 17 70 May, Homeward Bound, p. 19 71 May, p. 21
52 widowed at all time. 72 This meant that only thirty percent of the population had not entered into the institution of marriage. Also prevalent at this time was the deep seated f ear of the atomic bomb. In 1959, two thirds of Americans believed that the threat of a nuclear war was the country's most urgent issue. 73 Howeve r, family was a cure for that since g etting married and having children built a sense of security. "A home filled with children would create a feeling of wa rmth and security against the cold forces of disruption and alienation." 71 A woman was supposed to foster that home. If a wo man worked outside the home, the n it was at a menial job. The job of a homemaker was the preferred career, and provided independence Women who were force d to work outside the home typically worked low paying jobs and were bound by employments, while homemakers were free and able to relish in their family. In Time Passages the author uses pop ular culture to show what the role of the woman was in the first half of the twentieth century; he uses the novel, turned radio show, turned television show Mamma Goes to the Bank 74 The main character is an immigrant woman with a husband, and depending on which version of the story, two to four c hildren. The show focuses on the role of the mother (the woman) in keeping the family together, despite the hardships that might befall them. The story changed depending t on w hichever medium The final adaptation of Mama was the complete opposite of what it started out as. The book went from being a tale of how an immigrant family made it to America, lived 72 May, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era, p, 21 73 May, Homeward Bound, p, 23 74 Lipsitz, George. Time Passages : Collective Memory and American Popular Culture. Minneapolis: Univ ersity of Minnesota Press. 1990, p, 77.
53 in a city, and the parents taught their children that family was more important than material goods, to a television show where immigrant parents move d to the suburbs and are taught by their American children of the importance of material good a nd how those material things were necessary to an American identity. 75 No matter which interpretation of the story, the role of the mother remains central, which sp eaks to the importance of the women's identity in America in the early 1950s The mother keeps the family together, making sure her family does not go without and that it embraces America. According to these criteria, Ethel Rosenberg did not fill the role of what a woman or a mother was supposed to be. Julius did not begin giving secrets to the USSR until after Julius was fired from his job and his small business venture failed. Julius was fired from his job because he and Ethel were former members of the Communist Party. So not only was she unable to keep her family together during hardships, she was partly responsible for t he hardships. This is detrimental to Ethel R osenberg's image, and adds to her guilty image. The Rosenbergs v. The Greenglass' Ethel Rosenberg and her husband Julius are the first American civilians to be convicted and executed for treason against the U.S. by a civilian court The exact charge is conspiracy to commit espionage. They were accused of passing information ab out the atomic bomb to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). It is generally accepted that Julius Rosenberg was guilty of passing secrets to the Soviet Union. It was believed that his job was two fold; to steal information and recruit others to do the same. It is now known that Julius did not tell the U.S.S.R. anythin g they did not already know. 75 Lipsitz, Time Passages: Collective memory and American Popular Culture, 1990, p, 84
54 But the US government had no pro of of any illegal actions on Ethel's part, other than the testimony of her own brother, David Greenglass. Eth el Rosenberg was born in New York City. She graduated high school at fifteen and got a job at a shipping company, but was fired for participating in the planning of a strike of women workers. While in school, s he joined the Young Communist League, and then the American Communist Party. She married Julius in 1939. Unfortunately, she was not physically healthy, and was unable to work after her marriage, and stayed at home. Julius Rosenberg was also politically active. When he was in college, studying to becom e an engineer, he joined a branch of the Young Communist League. After graduation and marriage, he became part of the Communist Party. He was the chairman of his branch and the meetings took place at the Rosenb ergs' apartment. The Rosenbergs left the party in 1943. In 1945, Julius was fired from his job as a civilian employee of the U.S. Army Signal Corps because that he had been a member of the Communist Party. In the next year, he attempted to found a small business with his brothers in law ; but they were unsuccessful. 76 In mid June of 1950, Julius was arrested for espionage after being accused by David Greenglass; Ethel was arrested two months later. David Greenglass, Ethel's brother, was also part of the Young Communist League, but never a formal member o f the Communist Party. He joined the army in 1945, and although he annoyed his fellow soldiers with his Communist rants, he was a skilled machi nist. 76 Because of his skills, his unit was shipped out of Mississippi, Greenglass did not join them; he had been selected to work on the Manhattan Project. 76 Any news that Julius passed to the U.S.S.R., he got from Greenglass. Apparently, Greenglass did not 76 Chermak, Steven M., and Frankie Y. Bailey. Crimes and Trials of the Century West port, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007, p, 192.
55 know the purpose of the Manhattan Project until his wife told him after Julius told her. When he was arrested, he accused Julius of being the traitor, and pled guilty. 77 In return for pleading guilty and testifying against his sister and brother in law his wife received immunity and he got a fifteen year sentence. 77 Something that has to be acknowledged was Ethel Rosenberg's religion. She and her husband w ere Jewish. In the post war era, a nti Semitism conjured images of Nazi s and the Holocaust and so it was not something that was us ed against her, per se There was an aspect of her not being Jewish enough. She was a Communist. The Rosenbergs were part of t he Young Communist Party and then the Communist Party, which had a strong re putation for being anti religious The prosecutors and the press were able to portray her as being a disciple of the Communist Party, and not of the Jewish faith In her section on marriage, May quoted a Catho lic woman who had five children, who said that, even though she was not Jewish, she felt that it was her duty because of all the death in WWII Ethel Rosenberg only had two sons who were almost five years apart. In a sense, s he was not doing her duty as a woman or a Jew to have more children, which only added to her failures in the public eye. Why did the government go after the Rosenbergs? David Greenglass was a soldier who worked on Project Manhattan. Julius Rosenberg was a fired engineer whose final business venture before his arrest was a failed engineering c ompany. Julius, who passed the information he received from Gree nglass to another person, would eventually make it to the U.S.S.R., but there would not have been any i nformation to pass if not for Greenglass. Also, there was no proof that Ethel Rosenberg had any knowledge of her 77 Chermack and Bailey, Crimes and Trials of the Century, 2007, p, 192.
56 husband's activities, let alone was complicit with them. It is known that Ruth Greenglass was at least aware of her husband's activities, as sh e told her husband what the outcome of the Manhattan Project was to be. Also, Julius Rosenberg's parents were Polish immigrants, but it was reported in di fferent newspapers, most notably the New York Times that his parents were from Russia. He was born in America, but compared to David and Ruth Greenglass', who had been in America longer, it could be c onstrued that he was not a real American. Julius had been a part of other radical groups before joining the Communist Party. All of them were Jewish, and a lthough religious backgrounds that weren't Protestant had started to be accepted because religion was anti Communist, it stil l came with its own stigmas. Also, being actual, card carrying member s of the Communist party blotted out whatever good will they m ight have garnered for bei ng religious. David and Ruth were a military family who were willing to speak up and bring the true traitors to justice; Julius and Ethel were unemployed, radical traitors. Though David Greenglass did not relish testifying as a witness aga inst his family, he was the most convenient for prosecution by the U.S. government. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg maintained their innocence until the end. David Greenglass was the man who had passed the actual secrets to Soviets; he was the one who had the information to give. Greenglass gave them to Julius who gave them to the Soviets. However, it was David Greenglass who was willing to testify while the Rosenbergs who remained stoic while refusing to talk to the authorities. If the government had refused to make a deal with Greenglass then they would have never have had a sta r witness who backs up their story. Prosecuting Julius and Ethel Rosenberg gave them a physical manifestation of the Soviet
57 Union and the problem of their having the atomic bomb The Rosenberg trial let the government show the country that they were doing something. The fact that they were put to death shows that the government was doing something to combat the threat of Communism in the U.S. The Un Likability of Ethel Rosenberg There is no greater example of Ethel's unlikable demeanor than comparing her image to the image of her brother, and main accuser, David Greenglass. The Rosenberg's lawyer, Emanuel H. Bloch, noted after the trial was over that "Not only [were] they [the Greenglass'] self confessed spies, but they were mercenary spies. They'd do anyt hing for money. They'd murder people for money, and they are trying to murder people for money." 78 Unlike Julius and Rosenberg, who invoked the Fifth Amendment throughout their testimony, David Greenglass pled guilty, confessed to being a spy, and testifie d that his sister and brother in law were the main perpetrators. While Bloch called him "repulsive, revolting...is lower than the lowest animal I have ever seen," his testi mony against his own family reflected poorly on his family, not on him. 7 8 Ethel Ro senberg always appeared to be very stoic; but that was not an accident. Ethel and Julius made a decision not to react emotionally in public to her husband's arrest, and later her own, because to appear scared or concerned would indicate a guilty conscien ce. Instead, it made her look like a cold and unfeeling Soviet spy. Ethel Rosenberg, as the wife of a working husband and the mother of a young child, was also unable to bond with other women in her situation. According to Ilene Philipson, author of Et hel Rosenberg: Beyond the Myths this was because of her hands off 78 Conklin, William. Spy Jury Locked Up After D eciding on 2 in Atom Conspiracy," New York Times March 29, 1951
58 a pproach to childrearing and their 9Ethel and Michael's) anti social behavior. Philipson seems to put a lot of the blame on Michael Rosenberg, Ethel's oldest son for the fact that Ethel di d not have any friends within her community. Her son would not get invited on play dates, nor would other mothers allow their children to play with Michael, because every time they came home they would talk about how Michael was allowed to do anything that he wanted. 79 It was also known that Ethel never left Michael a lone. She doted on him, and was so overbearing that whenever she attempted to speak to the other women in the a partment building where the Rosenbergs lived Michael would cry and act up until she gave him her undivided attention. Philipson described Ethel and Michael's status in the neighborhood as pariahs. Ethel Rosenberg reacted to this like she would later react to t he accusations against her with stoicism This is another basis of the cold, unfeeling, unlikeable demeanor that was her national reputat ion while she was on trial. It made Ethel look uninterested in forming any relationships with those in her community because she was a spy in USSR and did not like anyone in her community because they were American. David Greenglass' testimony added to th at cold, unfeeling persona. According to his testimony, it was Julius and Ethel that recruited him and his wife into the spy ring; it was Julius and Ethel who were the real criminals. David Greenglass and the material evidence he provided was the only evid ence that the prosecution had against Ethel. The Rosenbergs did not know what Greenglass said in his testimony or that he was testifying until the last minute. However, Ethel's entire family was aware of what was going on. David gave the testimony to get a n arrest warrant for Julius. According to Philipson, 79 Philipson, Ilene. Ethel Rosenberg : Beyond the Myths New York: F. Watts. 1998, p. 149
59 Ethel's mother was aware of his arrest and the search of the Rosenberg home before Ethel because David told her. They all knew and did not tell Ethel a thing. When Ethel was arrested, her family supporte d David Greenglass. After Greenglass was released from prison, he told authorities and members of the press that he honestly had no idea if his sister was guilty or not, just that if he had not testified, then his wife would have been indicted as well, and he was not going to sacrifice his wife for his sister. The damage that David had done was the fact that he testified in the first place. Ethel was already presented to be a cold, unfeeling spy. The fact that her own b rother would testify against her and h er husband, and with the support of the rest or her family (including her mother) did tremendous damage to how to public perceived her. It also did a lot of damage to family relations. Once the Rosenbergs were convicted, in fact, a friend of the Rosenbergs not their parents, siblings or the number of aunts and uncles who were living in the United States adopted their two children. The Trial and Conviction of The Rosenbergs As in Essex County, the government kept a viable witness alive to testify against d efendants because, as in Essex County, the goal was not to get rid of the traitors they happen ed to find, but to get rid of all the traitors. In a New York Times article written on the day the Rosenbergs were convicted, William Conklin wrote that "the Gove rnment agency [the F.B.I.] feels like convictions will be a substantial deterrent to anyone tempted to spy for a foreign power ." Also, with the conviction, the "F.B.I. belie ve s that other s who have engaged in espionage may be prompted to confess their acti vities." 80 The conviction and death sentence of both Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were what happened 80 Conklin, 3 in Atom Spy Case Are Found Guilty; Maximum is Death ," New York Times, March 30, 1951
60 when you spied on America and t hen not take responsibility for it, let alone help the government find other spies. In the same vein, David Greenglass confesse d his sins, and as a result got a prison sentence and his family was left alone. This is comparable to the Essex County practice of keeping confessed witches alive as witnesses against others convicted, and killing those who tried to defend themselves. Why was Ethel Rosenberg convicted in a court of law? The testimony of her brother and the fact that she was a Communist aside, she still had a trial. The fact that she was convicted had a lot to do with who her co defendants were. First, there was her husb and who, although the reality of what he had done was greatly exaggerated, was still guilty of espionage against the United States of Amer ica. Also there was Martin Sobell, who was extradited from Mexico after fleeing there under a false identity, with h is family afte r the arrest of Greenglass. Finally there was a man named Anatoli A. Yakovlev, a Russian engineer, who had fled to Russia in 1946, and was tried in absentia. The Rosenbergs were charged with conspiracy to commit espionage, which meant that secondhand conversations could be admitted into evidence, which otherwise would have been dismissed as hearsay. 81 The evidence that they had against Ethel was hearsay and the testimonies of convicted spies Harry Gold, a chemist and courier, David Greenglas s, the brother of the Ethel and confessed spy, who had his wife's safety on the line, and Ruth G reenglass. This evidence, along with the fact that Ethel was successfully portrayed as a cold, unfeeling Soviet Spy, worked and they were all found guilty. The next question is, why death? The presiding judge on the case was Judge Irving R. Kaufman. He gave a statement 81 Caute, David. The Great Fear: the Anti Communist Purge Under Truman and Eisenhower. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978, p. 64
61 after the conviction of the Rosenbergs to the New York Times and also explained his giving the death sentence to the Rosenbergs. In the same art icle that expressed the government's belief that the conviction would encourage other spies to turn themselves in, there is a section of the article titled Judge Thanks Attorney where Judge Kaufman gave his opinion on the defendants. He said that t he "th ought that citizens of our country would lend themselves to the destruction of their own country by the most destructive weapon known to man is so shocking that I can't find words to describe this loathsome offense." The judge then acknowledged the "splend id job" that the FBI did on the investigation. He then calls the verdict a "warning that our democratic society...can fight back against treasonable activities." 82 The jury gave no sentence suggestion, so the sentence wa s completely based on the judge's di scretion David Caute describes Kaufman's decision as a result of his "indoctrination of the paranoid xenophobia of the time." 83 Kaufman explained his reasons for sentencing the Rosenbergs to death, in a manor that Caute calls an "outpouring of prejudice." Judge Kaufman was the pers onification of the spirit of HU AC. He said that the Rosenbergs deserved it because "they made the choice of devotion themselves to the Russian ideology of denial of God, denial of the sanctity of the individual." Also, that the de fendants were well aware of the "Marxist goal of world revolution and the destruction of communism" and described their actions as a "diabolical conspiracy to destroy a God fearing nation." 84 Kaufman truly believed that the Rosenbergs masterminded this whol e thing because they believed that the United States should not be the only country to wield 82 Conklin, 3 in Atom Spy Case Are Fou nd Guilty; Maximum is Death. New York Times, March 30, 1951 83 Caute, The Great Fear: the Anti Communist Purge Under Truman and Eisenhower p. 66 84 Caute, The Great Fear, p. 67
62 the power of atomic weaponry. Caute points out that it is extremely unlikely the Rosenbergs and Greenglass es posses sed the ability to do so, since Julius graduated seventy ninth out of his class of eighty five, Ethel had not been in school since she was fifteen, and David Greenglass was an "incompetent mechanist." 85 After the Trial Another aspect that Essex County Crisis and the Red Scares have in common is the eventual realization by the survivors that what had occurred was wrong in some way. In that aspect, however, it is difficult to compare the aftermaths. The House of Un America n Activities Committee was not disbanded until the mid seventies, after the height of the hysteria. Similar to dissenters during the Essex County Crisis, there were skeptics on the validity of the outcome of the Rosenburg trial. There was no real reaction to the Rosenberg conviction until they were sentence d to death. Whereas the Essex County perpetrators recognized that the actions during the Salem Witch Trials were in fact, the result of hysteria. In the case of the Rosenbergs, the Supreme Court refused to review the case twice. Religious leaders from all over the world called on the American government to spare their lives. People gathered near Sing Sing Prison to protest their sentence and people from all around the world sent letters to American embas sies to ask for mercy on their behalf. The Attorney General advised the President not to give executive clemency. 8 5 Just as George Burroughs was hanged minutes after reciting scripture, a feat belie ved to be impossible for someone possessed by the Devil J ulius and Ethel Rosenberg were electrocuted to death. Ethel Rosenberg was sentenced to death because of the nature of what a witch hunt 85 Caute, The Great Fear: the Anti Communist Purge Under Truman and Eisenhower p. 68
63 is. She was not what she was supposed to be. S he did not fit the mo ld of the stereotypical housewife of the 1950s Geor ge Burroughs was convicted of having a confederacy with the D evil and sentenced to death because he defied all notions of what a minister in seventeenth century New England was supposed to be. George Burroughs and Ethel Rosenberg were two very different people: Burroughs was a minister in New England in 1692, Ethel a housewife in the 1940s; Burroughs was Harvard educated, Ethel was a high school graduate. George Burroughs was convicted because of his, albeit misinterpreted, actions; Ethel was accused beca use of the actions of her husband, her brother, and his associates. But t he y share some important similarities, as well. George Burroughs was convicted for making a literal deal with the devil while part of the judge's reason for sentencing Ethel Rosenberg to death was because she devoted herself to the "ideology of denial of God." 86 Both were convicted in a time of war, although in very different wars. For George Burroughs, the Indian Wars were a constant threat and the fact tha t he survived them when so ma ny perished meant that he was obviously working with the Devil, because the Indians were a curse fro m God because New England was not being holy enough, evidenced by the fact that they were harboring witches and allowing them to live. Ethel Rosenberg wa s l iving in the aftermath of WWII and during the Korean and Cold War. She was blamed for the U.S.S.R. 's gaining access to the power of the atomic bomb. George Burroughs was believed to be a cruel man, who did not treat his wives well. Ethel Rosenberg was unab le to make friends with other women and was thought of as cold. In a witch hunt, those in charge go into it knowing what they are looking for. They 86 Caute, The Great Fear. p. 67
64 do not stop until they find the evil thing that they are looking for. In Essex County, if someone spoke ou t against the trials or seemed to not be suffering enough, then there was something wrong with them; they were an other. In this sense, Ethel Rosenberg and George Burroughs were "others Everyone in their community was aware of a threat to their lifesty le; in Essex County it was the threat of witches ga rnering God's wrath, in post WWII America it was the fear of Communists whose goal was to take over and rid the world of religion and capitalism. There was an idea of what people were supposed to be, and i f you did not conform to that idea, then you were the evil alternative (the other). George Burroughs and Ethel Rosenberg were that other. Xenophobia plays a big part in this as well It was an accepted belief in the seventeenth century that Native Americans were sub human barbarians and that colonist s were a superior race This was believed of the time the English spent trying to convert them to their Puritan ways, and a large group of the Native s failed to accept God into their lives. They were, in a word, un savable. Communists threate ne d to change the status quo. It was seen as more than just a political party, but a way of life. It was the goal of the Communist s to get rid of religion, overthrow Capitalism, and redistribute wealth. That was the a ntithesis of what an American should believe in. Burroughs and Rosenberg were seen as this "ot her for a multitude of reasons, in societies that were trying to get rid of all others so that they could be their best. As with John Proctor in The Crucible neither Burroughs nor Rosenberg was perfect. John Proctor was trying to hide the fact that he had cheated on his wife while trying to protect her from the main accuser of witchcraft in their town, Abigail Williams, who was the girl he had had the affair w ith them. George Burroughs only baptized two of
65 his four surviving children and was most likely not a very kind man to his wives. Ethel Rosenberg's husband and brother were sneaking information about the atomic bomb to the Soviets. However, the fact that B urroughs was not a perfect husband did not mean he was evil enough to make a deal with the devil. As for not baptizing his children, he was not an ordained minister, and was therefore unable to baptize children. Ethel Rosenberg was nowhere near personally responsible for the Russians having atomic power, and neither were her husband or brother. Even if she was aware of her husband's actions, the information that he passed on was not anything the U.S.S.R. did not already know. Ethel Rosenberg was not thoug h t of as an American. A woman in the 1950s was supposed to be a happy homemaker a politically inactive consumer who loved being a wife and a mother and did not yearn for a life outside the home. The home was her life. Ethel Rosenberg was a politically act ive woman who could barely control the two children that she had, was unable to bond with those surrounding her, and was in the home because she was physically unable to have a life outside the home. Ethel was presented as a stoic woman who identified with the Russian identity of a woman, not an American identity. It was for this reason that she was convicted of espionage. She was not seen as an American, and so she must have been a Russian spy.
66 Conclusion The exact number of victims of the Es sex County Outbreak is unknown. Nineteen convicted witches and wizards, including George Burroughs, were hanged in 1692 on Gallows Hill in Salem, Massachusetts (now Danvers). One man, Giles Corey, died while refusing to give a plea, and was pressed to deat h in the process of the authorities attempting to get a plea from him. There are conflicting numbers on the exact amount of people who died in prison, but the number sometimes goes as high as accused witches perished while imprisoned. It was not until Octo ber of 1692 that, upon orders from Governor Sir William Phips, spectral evidence was no longer accepted in witchcraft trials. He also forbade any further arrests, released many accused witches and wizards from prison, and disbanded the Court of Oyer and Te rminer. However, there were still witchcraft trials going on. In November, a Superior Court was established to deal with the remaining accused wh o had not been set free, but it s authority was not as strong as its predecessor. When one of the judges, Judge Stoughton, ordered that all convicted witches who had been able to avoid execution because of pregnancy be executed in January in 1693, Governor Phips refused to enforce the order and Stoughton left the bench. Elizabeth Proctor, wife of John Proctor, was one of these women. Later that month, all but a few of the surviving accused witches were freed because their accusations and cases were based on spectral evidence. In May of 1693, a year after the first accusation was made against George Burroughs, Phips granted a pardon to those still in prison on witchcraft charges. In January of 1697, a day of mourning took place for the Essex County Crisis. In that same year, Minister Parris was fired and replaced by a man named Joseph Green.
67 Five yea r s later, in 1702 the trials were declared unlawful. Four years later, in 1706, Ann Putnam Jr. apologized for her actions. In 1711, Massachusetts passed a legislative bill officially clearing the names of the accused and/or convicted of witchcraft. The bill restored any r ights and/or goods lost (because although they might not have been convicted, those on trial lost property), and paid six hundred pounds to the heirs of those killed. In 1957, Massachusetts officially apologized for the events in 1692. It is in this way t hat the Essex County Crisis differs the most from McCarthyism. The governor in Massachusetts realized that the situation had gotten completely out of hand, and took great steps reign in the crisis. The fact that trials continued after the initial release o f prisoners points to at least one group, the local government or public opinion, believed that witches were still a threat and the trials needed to continue. However, the governor was staunch in his decisions that downgraded the power of the courts until the hysteria was over. The Second Red Scare and the House of Un American Activities did not end as swiftly. The House Un American Activities Committee, originally known as the Dies Committee, was first formed in 1938 and was not officially disbanded until 1975. The decline of HUAC began in the late fifties however, and in attempts to shed the target of political satirist, was renamed the Internal Security Committee. It was abolished in 1975 and the House Judiciary Committee assumed its function. Both cou rts, the Court of Oyer and Terminer and the House Un American Activities Committee, were used in the witch hunts to seek out the targets. In Essex County, the target was a witch; in Washington D.C., people who acted in ways and actions that were considered un American. In both instances, the targets were painted as evil, and therefore, guilty of whatever the courts were charging them with. That is the very nature of a wit c h hunt.
68 A witch hunt is a dangerous phenomenon because it takes place in an atmospher e of fear induced hysteria. A witch hunt implies that there is something wrong and that the peoples or group s responsible need to be reprimanded. The authority figure knows what they are looking for and will not stop until they find a person or group to ho ld responsible. It is safe to say that George Burroughs did not have meetings with the Devil or have a habit of seducing young girls into being the Devil's emissaries. The reason that George Burroughs survived the Indian Wars was not because he was receivi ng help from the Devil. The Essex County authorities, however, disagreed. When they looked at George Burroughs, they saw a man who treated his wives badly, who escaped death many times, and who benefitted from the death of their friends and loved ones. Bur roughs did not fit what a husband and minister was supposed to be. Therefore, he was an "other." In the mind of New Englanders, one was either a colonist or an Indian; was either with God or with the Devil. There was vilification of an id entity that did n ot fit with what was considered to be normal That identity, the person with the identity that does not fit with what normal is, is the person who is in danger during a wit c h hunt. George Burroughs was not what he was supposed to be, therefore he was ev il, and therefore he was a wizard and needed to be purged from the community. Ethel Rosenberg was supposed to be an American, but was portrayed to be un American. If she was not American, then she was a Soviet, and therefore she was evil. Ethel Rosenberg was not a happy, politically inactive, homemaker. In fact, she was in two Communist groups, was the wife of the head of her chapter, and most likely, the wife of a spy. A woman in the late forties and early fifties was supposed to aspire to making a home and being a mother; to Ethel Rosenberg, it was something she had to do because
69 she was not healthy enough to work outside the home. Her brother, David Greenglass, served his county and confessed to breaking the law. The Rosenbergs were shifty, failed entrepren eurs who, when on the stand, pled the Fifth Amendment. In both cases, there are instances of people in the same circumstances that confessed to a crime, and their lives were spared. Dorcas Hoar was an accused witch who, on the way to the gallows, confessed and was not killed. The Greenglass' admitted to their wrong doings, and received a heavily reduced sentence. Witch hunts only succeed in vilifying otherness and crucifying those who do not fill the role of what they are supposed to be. They are a by product of an atmosphere of paranoia and fear that something terrible is going to happen, and to explain horrible events that have alr eady happened. New England had been ravaged by war, its villagers were unsatisfied wit h their religious institutions an d young girls were claiming to be affected by witches, and other girls were being accused of being a witch. George Burroughs was the quintessential answer to all of the problems. He had been a minister, and therefore the perfect person for the Devil to us e to reach unsuspecting men and women who could be recruited. It was Burroughs' fault that the girls succumbed to the Devil because the religious instruction was sub par, purposely, so that they would be vulnerable recruits. George Burroughs was a man of s mall stature who kept surviving attacks, or somehow knew to leave just before a settlement was attacked, when entire families were killed. George Burroughs was different, he was an "other," he did not make sense in New England. New Englanders were desperat e to know what they could do to make God stop punishing them. When George Burroughs was accused, it all made perfect sense. God was punishing them for allowing George Burroughs to live and
70 continue with his evil ways. He was found guilty of witchcraft and executed in order to appease God. Ethel Rosenberg was th e target of two different fears: fear that the enemy was living in the house down the street and fear that the U.S.S.R. had the power of atomic weapons, the Korean War was killing off the youth of the middle class, and that nuclear war was imminent. The information that the Soviets received from the spy conglomerate that the Rosenbergs were involved with was not high valued information. David Greenglass was working on the Manhattan Project, but was not afforded the clea rance to know what it was about, but Ethel Rosenberg was un American. She was not able to control her children, her own family turned against her, and came of as cold and un feeling, a trait that was attributed to Russians. The Essex Cou nty Crisis and the Red Scares are not the only two witch hunts to happen in America. The aftermath of the September 11 th attacks and the passing of the USA Patriot provide a recent and obvious example Part of the USA Patriot Act is surveillance of individ ual s that are suspect ed of terrori st related activities but are not linked to terrorist groups. Therefore, it is legal to conduct surveillance on someone simply for the fact that they are acting suspicious. When they start surveillance on this person, the government already has the pre conceived notion that he or she is a terrorist. This is an element of a witch hunt: going into a search with a firm idea of what they are looking for and not stopping until they (the authority) find what they are looking for.
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