Dutch colonial promissory note to a former slaveholder, Suriname, 1863. Rijksmuseum.


Volume XV, Number 1 | spring 2023


When an “aggressive, independent woman” rejected his sermons in the fifteenth century, Heinrich Kramer prosecuted her as a witch. After she was acquitted, he and James Sprenger wrote the Malleus Maleficarum, a treatise on witchcraft that courts throughout Europe used to identify and prosecute witches. A century later a German eye­witness observed that “throughout the towns and villages of all the diocese scurried special accusers, inquisitors, notaries, jurors, judges, constables, dragging to trial and torture human beings of both sexes and burning them in great numbers…The children of those convicted and punished were sent into exile; their goods were confiscated.”

It’s easy to be independent when you’ve got money. But to be independent when you haven’t got a thing—that’s the Lord’s test.

—Mahalia Jackson, 1966