The Witch and We, the People
The story by Morgan is about an occurrence that happened during United States constitution draft making process. This happened in May of 1787 during summer when the constitution was culminating attainment of enlightenment in America. It was the time that United States was looking forward to forming its governance system and procedures. Morgan shows the ugly side of democracy in the events that happened at the same time of constitution making. He shows the need for United States to have its constitution. This is the law that will make justice to flourish to all people. He also gives a history that brought the need for United States to have its own constitution and he emphasizes on the need of enlightenment to the citizens.
Prominent men had flocked to Philadelphia for a constitutional convection. The convection was formed by different men, from different places and had different interests. This shows the determination of Americans to be a democratic nation. Men leading in the constitution process were engulfed in the factors making the law abiding citizens uneasy. They were so much concerned with number of people in several states who failed to respect law and order. These are men who had chosen defiance of the rule of law as their way of life. Criminal acts had increased rapidly making people to flea from some parts of Philadelphia.
Witchcraft had been pronounced illegal and witches were dealt by the people. People at the time were using back dated methods of identifying a witch. Detection methods included trials with water which was their favorite method where they believed that if a witch was innocent, the witch will sink. Also they thought if the witch was guilty she will float when thrown into deep water. In May that year an old woman by name Korbmarcher was cut in the forehead. This was because the society presumably thoughts that she was involved in acts of sorcery. She was blamed for the illnesses among cattle and society in the region.
The lady had applied for protection of life to the authorities when she feared for her life. The episode clearly proves the kind of bondage people in America were living in that time. The woman suffered from pain due to inappropriate fear of witches and witchcraft by the authorities. In the case, the author depicts the abominable and absurd notions of sorcery and witch craft by people and authorities were a hindrance to civilization. It is recorded that some enlightened people who included the news correspondents were opposed to such inhumane acts and they hoped it will come to an end.
Korbmarcher was again blamed for other acts of superstition, and the people tortured the lady more. The writer records this event in satirical manner that as America’s great men were together working out a compromise, which later saved the Union and played a role in establishing the form of American government. With Korbmarcher in the hands of her tormentors, she was carried round the streets with people pelting her with stones. This incidence demonstrates the barbaric nature of societal justice towards witches. No step of action was taken to her offenders to bring them to justice.
Morgan argues that excess democracy may be harmful and at times dangerous. The episode shows the torture one can go through when left at the mercy of the mob. There are chances that Korbmarher was innocent and therefore she may have suffered innocently. He says that people are constantly liable to being misled. In the case of Korbmarcher only one person was on her side during the occurrence. The gentleman faced ridicule and insults from people. He shows that sometimes democracy does not work and may even be a tool of torture to the innocent.
The writer shows the need for an enlightened society. It is recorded that the people of Philadelphia acted out of ignorance. The method they chose to detect witches was not an act of intellectual advancement. They also chose an intimidating method of dealing with the vice. Morgan points out that the act was done by ignorant and inhumane people. This explains the need for a better way of dealing with the same through a method that will show enlightenment.
The fact that the action of condemning the woman happened in Philadelphia which was termed as the capital of intellectuals at the time made the action a mockery. It was also at the time when intellectuals had met in the same state for a convection that was to bring enlightenment they cherished. They unfortunately found themselves again in dark world of superstition .The writer shows that the action was even more satirical as there was also presence of religious leaders and officers from Washington’s army.
Such prejudice may therefore have ruined the success of the convection. He says that what the convection produced at the time is being used even today. People of United States rely on it in their governing system and security. It therefore shows the struggle the men went through to stand against such an episode. The episode therefore shows that though the process was successful there were some bad elements that could have hindered its success. This can prove the saying “nothing good comes out of a good thing.”
In general Morgan shows a history that is important to Americans. He indicates what happened in the eve of obtaining their constitution and where they have come from. He also points out the need that was there for justice and enlightenment in the society. The episode indicates also the ugly side of democracy.