Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Witch Hunt

(Petition for bail from accused witches, ca. 1692
(John Davis Batchelder, Collection
cf. The Library of Congress)
"....more than 150 men and women in and around Salem were jailed on sorcery charges. Nineteen people eventually hanged on Gallows Hill and an additional victim was pressed to death.

....Cousins Abigail Williams and Betty Parris began entering trance-like states and suffering from convulsive seizures in January. By late February, prayer, fasting, and medical treatment had failed to relieve the girls' symptoms and quiet the blasphemous shouting that accompanied their fits. Pressured to explain, they accused three local women of sorcery.

A recent epidemic of small pox, heightened threats of Indian attack, and small town rivalries, primed the people of the Salem area for the mass hysteria that characterized the witch trials."

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