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Facts in The Devil and Tom Walker

Irving draws on historical people and facts to make his fantastical story more credible. He uses famous legends like Captain Kidd’s treasure and references the famous Crowninshield family in order to mix historical accuracy with legend.

Facts Examples in The Devil and Tom Walker:

Text of the Story

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"the Salem witches..."   (Text of the Story)

The Salem witch trials occurred in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. Twenty people were executed after being convicted of witchcraft. These people, predominantly women, were accused of consorting with the Black Man of the Woods (the devil) and using their black magic for evil purposes. Many American authors like Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne used or referenced the witch trials in their stories.

"earthquakes were prevalent in New England..."   (Text of the Story)

On November 10th, 1727, a large earthquake with many aftershocks struck New England, a region where earthquakes are not common occurrences. Modern estimates suggest that its magnitude was between a 5.0 and a 6.0 on the Richter scale.

"Crowninshield..."   (Text of the Story)

The Crowninshields were a famous and wealthy American family who formed part of the upper class of Boston society. Many members of the family were prominent in political and military leadership, ocean trade, and literature.

"termagant..."   (Text of the Story)

"Termagant" (with a capital T) refers to a character from in medieval plays that represented an angry, overbearing god that Muslims supposedly worshipped. Eventually the word came to mean a harsh, overbearing, or violent-tempered person, and it takes the adjective form with a lowercase t.

"pudding-stone..."   (Text of the Story)

A puddingstone is a type of composite stone, with thicker pebble-sized stones embedded in a fine, sand or mud-grained stone of a different color, like raisins in pudding. The puddingstone around Boston is called Roxbury, and it is around 500 million years old.

"Kidd the pirate..."   (Text of the Story)

Captain William Kidd was a Scottish sailor charged and executed for piracy in 1701. He became famous for his sensational trial, and for the treasure that he supposedly buried somewhere on the east coast of North America.

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