Monday, January 1, 2007
The Salem witch trials started in 1692 when Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams began to exhibit strange behavior. There was no physical explanation for the girls behavior and they assumed it was the devil's work. Blame then fell on Tituba, Mr. Parris' slave, and 2 other women. These 3 people were the first accused of many in the little town of Salem between March 1692 and May 1693. Overall 20 people died in the trials, 14 women and 6 men, and at least 175 more people were imprisoned. There was also an unrecorded amount of people who died in prison because of severe torturing. The most common method to kill the accused was by hanging (19 out of the 20 people) but a less common way was by crushing them with heavy stones (1 out of the 20 people).
There were many different ways to torture the accused people untill they confessed to being an witch. Some were physical and some were mental. They usually tried to torture a person mentally first because it was easier, cleaner, and cheaper than most of the physical ways. Some examples of mental torture is starvation, extreme conditions like cold, and isolation. Sometimes just showing a person the torture devices was enough to get a confession out of somebody. When a person wouldn't give a confession then they started the physical torture. Here are a few examples of the more common torture devices. The rack: a person was tied down on a slab of wood and stretched untill he confessed. Usually dislocated the victims shoulders. Thumbscrew: a screw was slowly pressed into your finger or toe untill it broke the nail and pressed into the exposed nerves underneath. Was an easy way to inflict maximum pain with little effort. Strappado: A person was tied up with their arms behind there back and lifted up to a high point. They were then dropped and stopped a few feet from hitting the ground usually dislocating shoulders. After a witch confessed they were usually sentenced to death. The most common ways to kill someone was to hang them or burn them at the stake. Another way was by crushing them with heavy weights.
The Salem witch trials will always be a blemish on our countries history, but there were also other witch trials going on. Even though only 20 people died in Salem there were others that died during this time in other parts of the colonies affecting countless numbers of people. The worst thing about this is that people didn't learn from their mistakes. During the Cold War the same type of false accusations happened and no one stopped it. Just like in the Salem witch trials people were imprisoned with little evidence and had their lives ruined. The only good thing that could have came out of the Salem Witch Trials is that it turned Salem into a great tourist attraction and we got the play "The Crucible" out of it as well.