I’ve always thought the Salem Witch Trials were fascinating. It’s strange how beliefs have changed over the years and how tolerant society has become in the few centuries following these trials. Here are 5 facts on Salem Witch Trials that I found interesting.
Many ministers who were considered to be part of the respected crowd in town began to worry that too many innocent people were being accused. One reverend is noted to have said that it would be better to have 10 suspected witches let loose than to condemn 1 innocent person.
There was a small pox outbreak and fear of Indian attacks by residents of Salem. Many of the Puritans had a lot of anxiety and thought God was punishing them for something. This fueled the idea the witchcraft might be to blame. Besides thinking they were receiving a divine punishment, there were also economical and political struggles going on, as well as many family feuds and religious issues.
Out of the 140 people accused of practicing witchcraft, one was crushed to death, 19 were hanged, and around 13 died while being kept in prison for the trials. Many of the accused weren’t even from the town of Salem. They came from places such as; Topsfield, Boston, Andover, Salisbury, Woburn, Charlestown, Haverhill, Ipswich, Reading, Gloucester, Manchester, Lynn, Rumney Marsh, Malden, Rowley, Chelmsford, Beverly, Billerica, and even one person from Wells, Maine.
March 1, 1692 was the date of the first examination and the very first trial for witchcraft took place on May of the same year. The trial took place under the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which was dissolved by Governor Phips on October 29th. By November 25, 1692, the Superior Court of Judicature had replaced the Court. The very last trial was held in January 1693, with the rest of the accused victims being pardoned in May 1693.
People who were thought to be practicing witchcraft were hung, since it was a felony in Colonial America. People considered to be witches were burned at the stake in Europe, not America. There was only one person that wasn’t hung or burned, and that was Giles Corey. He was crushed to death for refusing to say whether he was not guilty or guilty.
Even if you don’t believe in witchcraft, I think you might still find these facts intriguing. Have you heard any other facts about the trials that you think others might like to read about? Why do you think the trials lasted as long as they did?
Top Photo Credit: drurydrama (Len Radin)
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