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The Crucible. The Salem Witch Trials, The Red Scare, & McCarthyism. Puritan Philosophies Concerning “EVIL”. DEVIL : not abstract figure, but active member of humankind DEVIL : does not work alone—helpers are “witches”

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the crucible

The Crucible

The Salem Witch Trials, The Red Scare, & McCarthyism

puritan philosophies concerning evil
Puritan Philosophies Concerning “EVIL”
  • DEVIL: not abstract figure, but active member of humankind
  • DEVIL: does not work alone—helpers are “witches”
  • DEVIL: strongest foothold in New World because of untamed forests & unknown people (Native Americans)
  • DEVIL: and agents—assume shape of innocent people & torment others
  • EVERY HUMAN: constantly tempted by the DEVIL
the book
The Book

Title page of A Modest Enquiry Into the Nature of Witchcraft by John Hale (Boston, 1702)

salem witch trials late 17 th century
Salem Witch Trials: late 17th century
  • Series of hearings before local magistrates followed by county court trials
  • Salem Village, Salem Town, Ipswich, Andover, Charlestown, & Boston
  • February 1692-May 1693
  • Resulted in the accusation and execution of many colonials
the trials
The Trials

1876 illustration of the courtroom; the central figure is usually identified as being Mary Walcott.

("Witchcraft at Salem Village" illustrated by F.O.C. Darley, William L. Shepard, or Granville Perkins, as appears on age 453 of "Pioneers in the Settlement of America: From Florida 1510 to California in 1849" Vol. 1, by William A. Crafts, Samuel Walker & C)

salem witch trials late 17 th century1
Salem Witch Trials: late 17th century
  • Over 150 people (children included) arrested and imprisoned; 29 convictions
  • Arrested and forced to admit their own guilt and inform on others
  • 5 died in prison; 19 hanged (14 women & 5 men); 1 pressed to death
  • This piece of history has been used to emohasize the dangers of religious extremism, false accusations, lapses in due process, and governmental intrusion on individual liberties.
death by press
Death by Press

Giles Cory was pressed to death during the Salem witch trials in the 1690s.

Print From John Clark Ridpath (1840-1900): "Cyclopedia of Universal History", 1923

the red scare 1917 1920
The Red Scare: 1917-1920
  • Stems from the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 Russia
  • Feared worker revolution and political radicalism
  • Organized labor seen as threat to business world—anarchists, socialists, communists
  • Legitimate labor strikes seen as “Crimes against society,” “Conspiracies against the government,” and “Plots to establish Communism.”
  • J. Edgar Hoover carried out the “Palmer Raids”—a massive round-up of foreign born radicals who were interrogated & imprisoned without benefit of representation and “prohibitively” high bail.
come unto me ye opprest

A “European anarchist” attempting to destroy the Statue of Liberty (1919)

Literary Digest. Originally from the Memphis Commercial Appeal (Alley)

the smith act 1939
The Smith Act: 1939
  • The US Congress legislated the Alien Registration Act making it a crime to:
    • knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the duty, necessity, desirability or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association — and…
    • required Federal registration of all foreign nationals.
the red scare 1947 1957
The Red Scare: 1947-1957
  • Feared foreign and national communist infiltration of the Federal Government
  • Consequent to a Soviet Eastern Europe, the Berlin Blockade (1948–49), the Chinese Civil War, and the Korean War.
  • Anti-Communist Agenda: Hoover, again, rounded up foreign born and national Communists & labor leaders
  • The poverty and misery of the Great Depression (1929–41) suffered by most of the US populace caused communism to become an attractive economic ideology— especially among the educated and labor leaders.
j edgar hoover 1895 1972
J. Edgar Hoover 1895-1972

1st Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

In officeMarch 22, 1935 – May 2, 1972 President Franklin D. RooseveltHarry S. TrumanDwight D. EisenhowerJohn F. KennedyLyndon B. JohnsonRichard Nixon

mccarthyism late 40 s late 50 s
McCarthyism: Late 40’s –late 50’s
  • U. S. Senator Joseph McCarthy headed hearings conducted by the House Un-American Activities Commission
  • Thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers who were targeted with aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies.
  • The primary targets were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists.
political satire
Political Satire

Herbert Block, who signed his work "Herblock," coined the term "McCarthyism" in this cartoon in the March 29, 1950 Washington Post.

Herblock March 29, 1950 cartoon that originally defined McCarthyism. Fair use--one page of 370 page book. original owned by Library of Congress. Source: Herbert Block, Herblock: A cartoonist's Life (1993) p. 134

the mccarthy era legacy
The McCarthy Era Legacy
  • Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person's real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated.
  • Many people suffered loss of employment, destruction of their careers, and even imprisonment.
  • Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts later overturned, laws that would be declared unconstitutional,dismissals for reasons later declared illegalor actionable,or extra-legal procedures that would come into general disrepute.
  • The term describes the politically motivated practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence.
u s senator joseph mccarthy 1908 1957
U. S. Senator Joseph McCarthy 1908-1957

McCarthy's tactics and his inability to substantiate his claims led him to be censured by the United States Senate. The term "McCarthyism," coined in 1950 in reference to McCarthy's practices, was soon applied to similar anti-communist pursuits.

the crucible arthur miller 1953
The Crucible: Arthur Miller 1953
  • Historical allegory for the McCarthy Era
  • Miller states himself, “it is only the backdrop of the play—NOT the theme.”
  • 1956—Miller called to testify before Congress; he refused; also the year he married Marilyn Monroe
  • 1957—Convicted of Contempt of Congress & jailed
  • 1958—appealed his conviction; conviction overturned
  • 1949: Pulitzer Prize—Death of a Salesman
    • Portrays the tragedy of the common man who loses his integrity due to social & economic pressures
  • The Crucible explores & exemplifies this same theme in the context of the Salem Witch Trials
arthur miller 1915 2005
Arthur Miller 1915-2005

Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, a period during which he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and was married to Marilyn Monroe.