Through schooling and the media the events of 1692 are etched into the consciousness of modern America. The date, like 1776 and 1865, brings to a close a chapter in the annals of the country’s development. The end of the Salem trials, and the immediate soul searching in its aftermath, mark the beginning of the American enlightenment. Over the ensuing centuries Salem served as a metaphor for bigotry, intolerance, religious fanaticism, persecution, popular credulity, personal ambition, and the dangers of mob rule. As the decades passed, it was also used as a milepost to measure the distance America had progressed from a benighted colonial past. During the nineteenth century, ‘Remember Salem!’ became a term of antiquarian abuse, a playground game of name calling—‘Our colonial founders were more level-headed and enlightened than yours!’ State historians rummaged through the archives and were satisfied to find themselves well down the witch-trial league table. The near absence of witch trials in Connecticut turned its early historians into enthusiastic finger-waggers gesturing in the direction of their northern neighbours. The cry of ‘Salem!’ was frequently heard in the rivalry between North and South, a rhetorical weapon used by the latter to attack New Englanders and their perceived sense of superiority over the southern states and their defence of the barbarity of slavery. ‘When a Virginian is in his most unwholesome frame of mind against the “Yankees,” he is apt to refer, in ter