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Salem Witch Trials

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Jillian Thomas

on 7 November 2012

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Transcript of Salem Witch Trials

Puritans & their history The Salem Witch Trials The Salem Witch Trials Accusations begin How it started: The Trials and Evidence: From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft; dozens languished in jail for months without trials until the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts subsided. Sometime during February of the exceptionally cold winter of 1692, young Betty Parris and several other girls became strangely ill. She dashed about, dove under furniture, contorted in pain, and complained of fever. The exact cause of her illness is still unknown. (Many historians believe there was a sickness being spread through rye, although that cannot be proven.)

It was easy to believe in 1692 in Salem, with an Indian war raging less than seventy miles away (and many refugees from the war in the area) that the devil was close at hand. Sudden and violent death occupied minds. Believing the sickness to be the work of the Devil, Betty Parris and Abigail Williams named their afflictors and the witchhunt began. The consistency of the two girls' accusations suggests strongly that the girls worked out their stories together.

Soon Ann Putnam and Mercy Lewis were also reporting seeing "witches flying through the winter mist." The prominent Putnam family supported the girls' accusations, putting considerable impetus behind the prosecutions. Spectral Evidence: testimony that the accused witch's spirit (i.e. spectre) appeared to the witness in a dream or vision (for example, a black cat or wolf). The dream or vision was admitted as evidence of an individual's guilt.

Cotton Mather wrote a letter imploring the court not to allow spectral evidence—testimony about dreams and visions. The court largely ignored this request. Deaths 19 accused witches were hanged on Gallows Hill during Summer 1692.

Approx. 13 individuals died in prison.

Giles Corey was crushed to death because he would not admit to witchcraft. Question: Could the Salem Witch Trials ever happen again?

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