In Salem, Massachusetts, a cluster of accusations of witchcraft led to prosecution. Cotton Mather presided over the trials of those accused of being witches, and eventually eighteen men and women were found guilty and hanged.
Increase Mather (1639–1723) was an influential Puritan minister and leader of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Mather was a traditionalist who clashed with more liberal members of the church. With his son, Cotton, Mather is also remembered for his part in the Salem witch trials. The Mathers served as advisors to the trial judges, pressuring them not to rely on “spectral evidence,” and in 1693 Increase published his Case of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men, justifying the Mathers’ role in the trials.
Jill Lepore, Professor of Early American History at Harvard University, draws on scholarship from her book, The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity, to trace how the meanings attached to this brutally destructive war have changed as the attitudes about historical actors and the political pressures on those actors have changed.