Do You Believe in Magic?

Thursday, October 8 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm |

Join us via Zoom to learn about the tales of witchcraft and dark magic that haunted some veteran’s memories of the Revolutionary War. Our presenter is Robert Selig, an independent scholar of the Revolutionary War.

Dogs that would not bark, horses that walked on fences – or not at all, women who turned into cats at night, spells that protected you and your house against fire: the believe in the existence of witches, witchcraft, and Black Magic was widespread in late eighteenth-century America. Sometimes these powers were employed as “white magic” for benevolent purposes, but more often they helped carry out evil intentions, were employed in “black magic”, or at least were interpreted as such. Sometimes these powers were even employed in the cause of American Independence, sometimes against it.

As the veterans of the war passed away in the 1830s and 40s, and with them the whole Revolutionary War generation, the generation of their children and grandchildren rushed to preserve the memories of that war. The best-known source of oral history are the pension applications veterans filled out in the years after 1818 and in much greater numbers after the federal pension law of 1832, but concurrently interviewers from Bennington, Vermont, to Chester, South Carolina, and many places in-between visited civilians in their homes to ask the elderly about what they remembered or had heard from their parents or grandparents about life in Revolutionary America. It is in these oral history accounts and traditions that many, or most, of the tales of witches and witchcraft are found.

The cost of admission is $6 per household. To register, click here.


About the Speaker:

Robert A. Selig is an independent historical consultant and author who serves as project historian to the National Park Service for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail.

Image credit: Library of Congress

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