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Transcript of Martha Corey
The "Witch" of Salem
Phoenix I- 4th Period
12 November 2013
The Salem Witch Trials took place between February 1692 and May 1693 in Massachusetts, and consisted of young women who accused community members of witchcraft. In the strict Puritan community, this was punishable by death, and by the end of the witch trials, twenty-five or more men and women had been executed on the grounds of practicing witchcraft.
The women accused of witchcraft when the trials first began were all misfits and social outcasts, of which Martha Corey was the opposite.
Martha Corey was a seemingly normal, churchgoing seventy year old woman who was married to a respectable community figure named Giles Corey. On March 21, 1692, a warrant was put out for her arrest because Ann Putnam, Jr claimed to have seen her specter.
Arrest of Martha Corey
On March 20th, one of the "afflicted girls," Abigail Williams, made a scene at church and claimed that Martha Corey was practicing witchcraft inside the church. She said that Martha's spirit had risen out of her to sit on a beam and that she had a familiar, a yellow bird, sitting on her shoulder. According to Abigail, this yellow bird flew out of Martha's hands and rested on the reverend's hat. On the 21st, Martha was taken into custody.
Trial of Martha Corey
Martha Corey's trial took place the day after her
arrest, on the twenty-second of March, and she was interviewed by John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin with all of her accusers present. They claimed that she had tried to physically injure them and make them sign the Devil's book.
Martha disagreed with the girls and tried to
plead her innocence, saying that she was a "Gospel
woman." When she basically called her accusers
insane, they all immediately started seizing and
yelling. Martha bit her lip and marks appeared on the girl's bodies.
To the church officials that were to be deciding
her fate, this was sufficient evidence to prove
Martha Corey guilty of witchcraft. She was put
in prison to await her execution in September
1692, and when she was in prison, all of the
girl's afflictions stopped.
WHY WAS MARTHA COREY ACCUSED OF WITCHCRAFT?
Why was she accused?
Martha Corey was the first acceptable member of society to be accused of witchcraft. Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborn were the first three accused and all were social outcasts. Martha Corey was a game changer.
Her Illegitimate Child
Martha was known to have a mixed race illegitimate child named Benoni. He was an adult and lived with Martha and Giles Corey. This allowed people to pin accusations on her because she had made questionable mistakes in her past. Her child was like her dirty secret.
Her Disbelief in Witchcraft
Martha did not believe in the existence of witches, which increased other's suspicions of her when strange things happened to the afflicted girls. She believed that she would be exonerated if she said she was innocent, because she didn't believe in witchcraft.
Her Disagreements with the Putnam Family
Martha and her husband Giles were a part of the Porter faction of the community that opposed the Putnam faction. Ann Putnam Jr was the first to accuse Martha Corey, and her father just so happened to be a major political and religious leader in the community.
How Martha's Arrest/Execution Changed the Salem Witch Trials
With Martha Corey's arrest and trial, the social
boundaries on accused witches were lifted. This opened the doors for people of all types to be charged with witchcraft. People were executed based only on the testimonies of the afflicted girls, and they accused people of all kinds with no questions asked.
The willingness of the Puritan community to persecute anyone was displayed after Martha Corey's arrest. This showed the growing paranoia of the people in and around Salem, Massachusetts because of the Salem Witch Trials. Martha Corey was the spark that lit the flame for witchcraft accusations of people of all social classes.
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