Tad Baker is professor of history at Salem State University and previously served as vice provost and dean of its graduate school. He is the award-winning author or co-author of six books on the history and archaeology of early New England, including A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience, and The Devil of Great Island: Witchcraft and Conflict in Early New England. The talk is drawn from his more than three decades of excavating archaeological sites in northern New England, and features many of his finds (see display above). Click here for an 86-minute video posted on November 15, 2022.
The New England colonies founded in the 1600s are often called “Puritan New England,” but northern New England was none of these things – neither Puritan nor English nor new. In fact, the first English settlers to Maine and New Hampshire were Anglicans, loyal to the Church of England – people who ventured here for profit, not religiuse freedom. It had also been the home of the Wabanaki for thousands of years.
Aside from Indigenous peoples, there were African slaves, Scottish prisoners of war, and other Europeans. Ironically, it would become a religious refuge for some – those Quakers, Baptists, Antinomians, and others who were unwelcome in Puritan Massachusetts.
Far from being the stereotype in school textbooks, this part of New England was a mix of race, religion, ethnicity and language – a potpourri that lays to rest the idea of a purely Puritan region.