Salem Witch Trials

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Introduction


May-October 1692

In the town of Salem, in Massachusetts Bay Colony, several girls who were listening to the voodoo tales of a West Indian slave, Tituba, said they were possessed by devils. They then proceeded in saying the names of three innocent women.

Under the Puritan rule of the colony at the time, the existence of witches was accepted as clear fact on scriptoral grounds. In accordance with Exodus 22:18, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," witchcraft was criminalised and considered a capital offense.

These women were brought to trial and, under pressure, stated the names of others who were working together to posses the girls. These three women, along with sixteen others, were accused of witchcraft and were hanged. Nearly 150 were imprisoned. Those who had reservations about the proceedings often found themselves to be accused. It is interesting to note that to avoid hanging, all the accused had to do was admit their guilt. Such was the moral makeup of puritans that they would not do this even if it meant their lives. One of the accused would not even dignify the proceedings by entering a plea. He was tied on the ground and heavy weights were put upon his chest and would be kept there until he complied. Two days later he died under the weight, but still had not entered a plea.

Ironically, due to the notariety of the trial that has survived to this day, tourist influence has now made Salem known for a high density of occult-themed shops.