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In The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret B. Moore discusses Felt's and Bentley's different views on the presence of Indians in the Salem area and the theory that links the witchcraft hysteria of 1692 to the fear of Indians. (courtesy of the University of Missouri Press)

According to Margaret Moore, Joseph Felt disagreed with William Bentley's assertion that when Salem was established the Indian tribes of the Salem area had been almost eliminated entirely by intertribal warfare or disease brought by the Europeans. Felt, however, believed that the Indians were still in the Salem area and were friendly, though from the mid 1630s on the Indians were a constant danger for the colonists (11). Moore points out that some historians believe that "one reason for the witchcraft summer of 1692 was fear of the Indians, who were constantly coming closer to the area around Salem" (11). Hawthorne read both Joseph Felt's Annals and The Diary of William Bentley and so likely would have been familiar with the views of both.