The Salem witch trials, a shameful episode in early New England history, provided a salient theme for several nineteenth-century American writers, including John Greenleaf Whittier and John William De Forest. Novelist and reformer John Neal (1793-1876) was an advocate of, among other causes, female suffrage and capital punishment reform. His novel, Rachel Dyer (1828) deals with the hysteria and scapegoating that surrounded the trials. Mixing drama with history, Neal exposes, through his protagonists, the still explosive issues of injustice and religious bigotry.
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