History is full of stories we think we know. They are old and dark, but time has robbed us of perspective and clarity. They've become obscured and misunderstood. Which is why this series exists: to dig deep and shed light on some of history’s darkest moments. To help us better understand where we’ve come from. To make it Unobscured. Each season pairs narrative storytelling from Aaron Mahnke, creator of the hit podcast Lore, with prominent historian interviews.
How does a community recover from a tragedy that claims over two dozen lives? How do they even begin to pick up the pieces and make things right again? And when it's all said and done, what can the rest of the world learn from the 300-year old mistakes of colonial New England village? The answers aren't as easy as they might appear.
With the Court of Oyer and Terminer officially disbanded, the fog of uncertainly rolled into Salem. What would happen to those still in jail? When would a new trial session begin? And most importantly, who would grab the wheel of power and steer Salem to victory over darkness?
Between the examinations and the hangings, it was easy to see the witch trials as a battle fought inside the courtroom. But outside, word was spreading about the injustice of it all, and so the fight was taken to a brand new arena—one that would do far more to change minds than any hanging or spectral testimony.
The witchcraft panic had been gathering victims for months by the time George Burroughs was hanged, and many of them were still in jail. With nothing but torture and certain death awaiting them at the end of their imprisonment, many of the accused in Salem began to plot a more hopeful conclusion to their story.
As the trials continued to roll forward in Salem, crushing more and more lives beneath its wheels, the panic began to spread outside its borders. In the community of Andover, those old fears found a new home—and the results would defy all expectations.
It's easy for a community to turn on the outsiders among them. The Salem witch trials had become a textbook example of this over the first few months. But in July of 1692, all of that changed. As the Court of Oyer and Terminer rolled full speed ahead, it seems anyone could be a witch.
Until now, the daily flood of examinations had been a temporary fix while everyone waited for the new government to set up an official trial. For many, that trial would represent hope and conclusion. For some, however, it would extract a heavy, deadly price.
Some people saw the growing witch panic in Salem as a threat to their lives, and they tried to run and hide. Others saw an opportunity for profit and advancement. Through it all, though, the fire would continue to burn, and unlikely individuals would be caught up in the blaze.
While the events of the Salem witch trials began within the borders of the Salem village community, many of the forces that drove it forward were external. As we're about to see, Salem was full of more than stories about witchcraft—and those external threats were about to come home.
As the first suspects are rounded up and questioned by the biased and partisan officials, their confessions unleash more trouble than relief. And as the number of witches multiplies, so too does the number of accusers. In an increasingly uncertain time, the Village leans on its faith.
Even though Salem had been without an official charter from England for almost a decade, there was no question that witchcraft was still a crime. The only question left was how to handle them, and the answer would involve pitting a group of outsiders against a few powerful insiders.
The stage is set, the characters are introduced, and the spell is cast. Welcome to Salem Village, home to a diverse and complicated gathering of families and personalities. It is a pile of dry kindling, and the match is about to be struck.
History is full of stories we think we know. They are old and dark, but time has robbed us of perspective and clarity. They've become obscured and misunderstood. Which is why this series exists: to dig deep and shed light on some of history’s darkest moments. To help us better understand where we’ve come from. To make it Unobscured. Each season pairs narrative storytelling from Aaron Mahnke, the creator the hit podcast Lore, with prominent historian interviews.Season One: The Salem Witch Trials