HOW IT ALL STARTED
It began during 1692, after a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft.
In January 1692, 9-year-old Elizabeth Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams began having fits, including violent contortions and uncontrollable outbursts of screaming. After a local doctor, William Griggs, diagnosed bewitchment, other young girls in the community began to exhibit similar symptoms.
The girls blamed 3 women for bewitching them: Tituba, the Parris’ Caribbean slave; Sarah Good, a homeless beggar; and Sarah Osborne, an elderly impoverished woman. While Good & Osborne pleaded innocence, Tituba confessed to be guilty.
She said "The Devil came to me and bid me serve him." She described elaborate images of black dogs, red cats, yellow birds and a "black man" who wanted her to sign his book. She admitted that she signed the book and said there were several other witches looking to destroy the Puritans. All three women were put in jail.
The first woman who has hanged was Bridget Bishop. She was known for her gossipy habits and promiscuity. When asked if she committed witchcraft she responded “I am innocent as the child unborn.”
Overall 19 people were hanged. 7 died in jail and a 71-year-old man was pressed to death with heavy stones after he refused to enter a plea at his arraignment.
Trails continued to dwindle in the 1693. Many people realized it was ridiculous and began to speak out against it. A respected minister Cotton Mather warned against the dubious value of evidence against witches.
In January 1697, the Massachusetts General Court declared a day of fasting for the tragedy of the Salem witch trials. Massachusetts Colony passed legislation restoring the good names of the condemned and providing financial restitution to their heirs in 1711.
SOURCE & SOURCE
Check out this post on the current issue of CHILD SORCERERS IN THE CONGO. It’s the modern day witch hunt.