September 22, 1692 was the height of the Salem witch trials, the night when eight people were murdered for “the crime of witchcraft”, along with another twelve victims around the same time. It was the height of religious depravity and depths of religious ignorance, the belief that false accusations made for political, social or financial gain shouldn’t be questioned.
On September 22, 1692, eight people were hanged for their alleged crimes as witches. They were among 20 who were killed as a result of the hysteria that took place in the New England village of Salem where fear of demonic possession struck panic among the Puritans and led to more than 200 accusations against anyone suspected of witchcraft.
The witch hunts resulted in the arrests of 150 people
In Massachusetts in the late 1600s, a few young girls (including Elizabeth Parris, age 9, Abigail Williams, age 11) claimed to be possessed by the devil and blamed local “witches” for their demons. This sent panic throughout the Village of Salem and led to accusations of more than 200 local citizens over the next several months, including Dorothy “Dorcas” Good who was by far the youngest accused at age 4 (she spent eight months in the prison’s dungeon before being released) along with her mother, Sarah Good (who was later executed).
Sometimes described as “witch hunts” (as also seen in Europe from the 1300s-1700s), this hysteria resulted in the arrests of nearly 150 people, multiple court hearings, and the guilty convictions of dozens. Those found guilty were often chained to the walls in the prison’s basement, known as the “witch jail:” a perpetually dark, cold, and wet dungeon infested with water rats. While in prison, the accused, many of them women, were repeatedly humiliated by being forced to strip naked and undergo physical examinations of their nude bodies.
About 20 years after the convictions, in 1711, the colony passed a bill pardoning those accused and granted monetary restitution to the surviving victims and their families. However, hundreds of lives were damaged by the Salem witch hunts. A total of 24 innocent people died for their alleged participation in dark magic. Two dogs were even executed due to suspicions of their involvement in witchcraft.
See also: History.com, “Salem Witch Trials”
Witch hunts were the original “satanic panic”. But they were as much an attack on women as an exhibition of ignorance. Women who had status, education, or wealth could become targets of accusations, or just as easily those who rejected unwanted advances.
That sounds a lot like today and certain individuals.
Proctor’s Lodge in Salem, Massachusetts is a memorial to those murdered 328 years ago, the names of nineteen innocents engraved into a monument. This link provides an online tour of the site.
July 19, 2017
The 19 men and women who were hanged at Proctor’s Ledge during the Salem witch trials 325 years ago have been memorialized at the site of their deaths in Salem, Mass.
The city of Salem, Mass., has opened a memorial to commemorate the people who were convicted and killed during its notorious series of “witch trials” in 1692.
The memorial stands at the site where 19 innocent women and men were hanged. According to the city, the memorial opened on the 325th anniversary of the first of three mass executions at the site, when five women were killed: Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Wildes.
I consider today to be the beginning of Hallowe’en. It’s forty days (inclusive) from September 22nd to October 31st. Normally I view this as the first day of fun, but not this year as the extreme right keeps trying to drag the world backwards into the dark ages.