Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials by Marc AronsonSalem, Massachusetts, 1692. In a plain meetinghouse a woman stands before her judges. The accusers, girls and young women, are fervent and overexcited. The accused is a poor, unpopular woman who had her first child before she was married. As the trial proceeds the girls begin to wail, tear their clothing, and scream that the woman is hurting them. Some of them expose wounds to the horrified onlookers, holding out the pins that have stabbed them -- pins that appeared as if by magic. Are they acting or are they really tormented by an unseen evil? Whatever the cause, the nightmare has begun: The witch trials will eventually claim twenty-five lives, shatter the community, and forever shape the American social conscience.
25 DISTURBING Facts About The Salem Witch Trials
They do not wear pointy headgears, concoct potions in a huge cauldron, have a cackling laugh or warts all over their faces. These are only a few of the many absurd things that popular mediums disseminated about witches and witchcraft. In fact, some would even like to believe that witch-burnings were propaganda-driven.
History of the Salem Witch Trials
Between and , the Salem witch trials marked a time of paranoia and fear in colonial Massachusetts. It is believed that some even used this as an opportunity to falsely accuse their enemies. Many of the accused were sent to prison for several months, which they surely preferred over being put to death. Bridget Bishop was the first to be hanged and eighteen others followed after her. The twentieth person killed was stoned since he refused to submit to a trial.
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In the late s the Salem Village community in the Massachusetts Bay Colony now Danvers, Massachusetts was fairly small and undergoing a period of turmoil with little political guidance. After some young girls of the village two of them relatives of Parris started demonstrating strange behaviours and fits, they were urged to identify the person who had bewitched them. Their initial accusations gave way to trials, hysteria, and a frenzy that resulted in further accusations, often between the differing factions. By the end of the Salem witch trials, 19 people had been hanged and 5 others had died in custody. Additionally, a man was pressed beneath heavy stones until he died. After weeks of informal hearings, Sir William Phips, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony , interceded to add some formality to the proceedings.