So in my previous post about Marilyn and Arthur I explained I am teaching The Crucible in my English 11 class. I am so fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials, that I thought I might share some information about them with you. I hope I don’t bore you, but that you are as interested in this terrible time in history as I am. Hope you are having an amazing Saturday!
Some FAQ’s about the trials:
1. What caused the girls’ behavior?
This is a complex question. There are many theories to explain the “fits” of the young girls who accused so many of practicing witchcraft. Among the theories are adolescent hysteria and ergot poisoning, however there is no definite answer.
2. Were only women accused of practicing witchcraft? Actually, men were accused as well. Five men were convicted and hanged, and one man Giles Corey, was pressed to death for refusing to cooperate with the court.
3. Where are the victims buried? This question remains unanswered. Because of the nature of their alleged crime, victims were not allowed to be buried in consecrated ground. Tradition has it that families came to Gallows Hill to claim their relatives and buried their bodies privately. A memorial honoring the victims of the trials was built in Salem in 1992.
4. What was the aftermath of the trials? Jurors and magistrates apologized; restitution was made to the victims’ families and a day of fasting and remembrance was instituted.
Timeline of the events:
January 20, 1692– Nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris and eleven-year-old Abigail Williams began to exibit strange behavior, such as blasphemous screaming, convulsive seizures, trance-like states and mysterious spells. Within a short time, several other Salem girls began to demonstrate similar behavior.
Late February– Pressured to identify the source of their affliction, the girls named three women, Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne. After this, several other townspeople began to come forward saying they were “bewitched.”
June 10– Bridget Bishop is the first to be hanged, and is the first official execution of the Salem Witch Trials. Her comments according to court transcript were: “I am no witch, I am innocent. I know nothing of it.”
July 19– Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good, and Sarah Wildes were executed.
August 19– George Jacobs, Sr., Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John Proctor, and John Willard were hanged on Gallows Hill.
October 8– After 20 people had been executed in the Salem witch hunt, the trials were ordered stopped and the magistrates went into hiding.
I’ve left some out, but you get the gist. What a terrible time in American history that we must learn from. Mass hysteria causes many problems. Here are some shots of the trial, and one from the film. Enjoy!