1692Ebenezer Babson started a panic about an imagined French and Indian raid.People and Communities, Legends & Lore

The French and Indian conflict, and the growing witchcraft hysteria, contributed to a sense of unease during this time. In the summer of 1692 Ebenezer Babson reported strange noises and visions around his house, and, feeling threatened, he and his family took refuge in the nearby garrison. Babson and others reported several more incidents including armed encounters after which the intruders mysteriously disappeared. The town grew alarmed and asked for outside help. Sixty men arrived from Ipswich to help protect the town, but no one was ever apprehended and the visions eventually stopped. Reverend John Emerson described the events in a letter to Puritan minister Cotton Mather, concluding that “All rational persons will be satisfied that Gloucester was not harmed for a fortnight altogether by real French and Indians, but that the devil and his angels were the cause of all that befel the town.” (Magnalia, 538-539) In 1857, John Greenleaf Whittier wrote the poem “The Garrison of Cape Ann” based on this incident.

Mather, Cotton. Magnalia Christi Americana: Hartford: Published by Silas Andrus. Roberts & Burr, Printers, 1820, http://archive.org/details/magnaliachris02math. Hurd, D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) ed. History of Essex County, Massachusetts, with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men. Philadelphia, J. W. Lewis & Co., 1888, http://archive.org/details/historyofessexco02hurd
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