Monday, August 11, 2008

More on Hannah Duston

In yesterday's post, I gave a brief overview of the the new bobbleheads from the New Hampshire Historical Society--Hannah Duston, vengeful mother, and Passaconaway, Penacook Indian chief. I was grateful for the fact that the NHHS chose to model their bobblehead of Hannah after a statue which holds only the hatchet she used to kill her Indian captors (including six or seven children), and not the scalps she took from them. The distillers of Jim Beam whiskey were not so genteel when they turned Hannah into a bottle in 1973. Note that her left hand holds a few scalps, as does the monument to Hannah in Penacook, NH.

For a detailed review of numerous accounts of Hannah Duston's capture and escape, beginning with Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), see Kathryn Whitford's "Hannah Dustin: The Judgement of History." Essex Institute Historical Collections. Vol. CVIII, No. 4 (October 1972), 304-325, reproduced at the Hawthorne in Salem web site. Hawthorne was among the authors who wrote about Hannah and her family. Whitford's article captures the moral, legal, and religious ambiguities of Hannah's actions.

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