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Salem Witch Trials, 1692-93
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The infamous Salem witch trials of 1692-93. The background of this tragedy is that the Salem Village congregation had always been rather quarrelsome, and that for years there were many disputes between neighbors. Mostly they had to do with property and grazing rights, but there was also a lot of discontent and personal animosity. Over the course of twenty years, three ministers had left the parish. Malice, rapacity, and revenge often impelled persons to accuse others who were innocent. Some, terrified, and with the hope of saving their lives or avoiding the horrors of imprisonment, would falsely accuse their friends and kinsfolk. Neither age, sex, nor condition was spared. More than 200 people were accused unjustly of practicing witchcraft. Eventually, the colonial government acknowledged that the trials were a mistake, and compensated the families of those convicted. But that vindication came too late for the 19 defendants who were executed. A 20th, Giles Corey, was pressed to death when he refused to plead. As many as 13 others died in prison.
March 7th, 2013
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