Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Mark M. Smith


The life of Joshua Gordon and his intellectual product, Witchcraft Book (1784) gives access to the backcountry of South Carolina. Witchcraft Book is exemplary of syncretism in the Atlantic world, influenced by multiple European traditions, understandings of science in the early modern world, indigenous knowledge, and life in North America. After serving in the American Revolution, Gordon transitioned from a small farmer to a slaveholder. He was a part of political and economic processes that unified the backcountry with low country elites in defense of slavery. As a prominent figure in his community and church, he solidified his legacy for local historians and genealogists to study through national narratives for a public audience. His experience was normative and privileged, but when paired with an analysis of his manual, they prompt a more central discussion about the upcountry of South Carolina. When contextualized, Witchcraft Book provides possibilities for historical interpretation, especially his use of indigenous knowledge.