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