Crane 2011 Witches

Title Information


Author: Elaine Forman Crane

Title: Witches, Wife Beaters, & Whores

Subtitle: Common Law & Common Folk in Early America

Place: Ithaca, NY

Publisher: Cornell University Press

Year: 2011

Pages: 288pp.

ISBN-13: 9780801477416 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 18th Century | U.S. History | Cases: Offenders / Cuff; Cases: Victims / Comfort Dennis Taylor; Offenders: Slaves; Types: Attempted Rape, Interracial Rape



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Additional Information


Author: Elaine Forman Crane, History Department, Fordham University

Contents:

  Acknowledgments (p. vii)
  Introduction (p. 1)
  1. In Dutch with the Neighbors: Slander "in a well regulated Burghery" (p. 17)
  2. Bermuda Triangle: Witchcraft, Quakers, and Sexual Eclecticism (p. 46)
  3. "Leave of[f] or Else I Would Cry Out Murder": The Community Response to Family Violence in Early New England (p. 84)
  4. Cold Comfort: Race and Rape in Rhode Island (p. 119)
  5. He Would "Shoot him upon the Spott": The Eviction of Samuel Banister (p. 150)
  6. A Ghost Story (p. 178)
  Epilogue (p. 211)
  Notes (p. 217)
  Index (p. 263)

Description:

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

Reviews:

Games, Alison. Common-place 12(4-5) (September 2012). – Full Text: Common-place [Free Access]

Jeschke, Kristen. Law & History Review 31(2) (May 2013): 478-480. – Full Text: Cambridge Journals Online [Restricted Access]

Little, Ann M. »Goodnight Ladies.« Journal of Women's History 26(2) (Summer 2014): 170-179. – Full Text: Project MUSE [Restricted Access]

Marshall, Bridget M. Early American Literature 48(1) (2013): 248-252. – Full Text: Project MUSE [Restricted Access]

Pagan, John R. The American Historical Review 117(5) (December 2012): 1583-1584. – Full Text: Oxford Journals [Restricted Access]

Pearson, Ellen H. The Journal of American History 99(3) (December 2012): 887-888. – Full Text: Oxford Journals [Restricted Access]

Reis, Elizabeth. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 43(4) (Spring 2013): 635-636. – Full Text: MIT Press Journals [Restricted Access], Project MUSE [Restricted Access]

Shelton, Megan. Omnino: Undergraduate Research Journal 3(1) (2012-13): 210-212. – Full Text: ISSUU [Free Access]

Stone, Andrea. »Altercation, Alliteration, and Adumbration: How Witches, Wife Beaters, and Whores Could Say More.« Reviews in American History 41(3) (September 2013): 413-417. – Full Text: Project MUSE [Restricted Access]


Added: June 22, 2013 | Last updated: June 14, 2014