psa for non-Americans and non-New England Americans
you know the Salem witch trials? that thing where nobody got burned and nobody was an actual witch but it was still a big deal because 19 innocent people were executed?
well the place we call Salem now was not where that happened. that place used to be called Salem Town. the trials happened in what was then called Salem Village (also sometimes “the farms”). it was an agrarian community with stronger Puritan values that sometimes clashed with the more worldly trading center Salem Town
after the trials Salem Village was so ashamed that it changed its name to Danvers and went on to experience a bunch more dark and tragic stuff. Salem Town said “sweet, tourism!” and jumped on the witch bandwagon and is now a center of pretty nice magic shops, pretty tacky tourist attractions, and pretty pretty historical dance events
Danvers has a laser tag place and they used to have a Denny’s but it closed
day in 1692, three women were brought before local magistrates in Salem
Village, Massachusetts, thus beginning the infamous Salem Witch Trials. The
women were Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba and all three had been accused
of witchcraft after local girls began experiencing strange fits. Given the lack
of medical knowledge at the time and the preponderance of beliefs in the
supernatural, witchcraft was the only logical explanation for their condition.
The accused women matched the description of the stereotypical witch: Good was
a beggar, Osborne rarely went to church and Tituba was a slave of different
ethnicity. The women were interrogated by magistrates John Hathorne and
Jonathan Corwin and Tituba eventually confessed to witchcraft, claiming Good
and Osborne were her co-conspirators. The three were then sent to jail; Osborne
died in jail, Good was hanged and Tituba (as a useful confessor) was kept alive
and eventually released after the trials ended. The initial interrogation was
followed by many more accusations of witchcraft throughout the village and the
surrounding area, fueled perhaps by local rivalries, poisoned grain or just
mass fear. The manhunt resulted in 19 ‘witches’ being hanged, one pressed to
death and hundreds more imprisoned in horrendous conditions. The event is a
famous example of mass hysteria and has become a cautionary tale for religious
extremism and false accusations.