Massachusetts Bay Colony - 1692
By: Madi Long ; 5th period APUSH
First accusation of witchcraft in Massachusetts Bay Colony
Trials of the accused
After people were jailed they had to prove they weren't witches, because it was you were guilty until proven innocent. There were many ways they used to either get you to confess or prove you weren't a witch. First they were asked to pass a test, such as reciting the Lord's Prayer because witches weren't supposed to be able to speak scripture aloud, but the young girls who attended the trial would scream and roll on the floor in the middle of the test. Also the swimming test, the puritans believed witches would float so they would throw you into a body of water, many accidental drownings happened with this test. Second, was the touch test, this is where the suspected witch of casting a spell on somebody was put into a room with their victim and if their victim reacted to their touch by coming out of their trance they were a witch. A third way of telling if somebody was a witch was physical evidence. If you had birthmarks, warts, moles, or any other blemishes they were believed to be marks of the devil entering your body. Another fourth way was witness testimony, if someone said that they saw the accused person flying around in the sky, or casting spells, etc. they had to be a witch. Last was the confession. They were subjected to many forms of torture so they would confess. These forms were strappado where their hands were tied behind their back and then hung and weights were put on their feet, ordeal by fire, ordeal by water, thumbscrews, pricking, and the rack. Puritans would not always confess because it was a sin to lie and if you lied and said the devil was inside you and you knew he wasn't you wouldn't be accepted into heaven. None of the confessors were executed, instead they were helped to let Jesus back into their soul and having a repentance, which also helped convict others. If you were found guilty of being a witch you were executed by being hanged or pressed.
Later on scientists studied the events of the Salem witch trials and they believe the hysteria and abnormal behaviors were because of fungus ergot, which lives on rye, wheat, and other grains, that when ingested could cause muscle spasms, vomiting, delusions, and hallucinations.