The Salem Witch Trials: The People
The Salem Witch Trials
The first accusations of witchcraft in Salem Village began at the end of February in 1692. The accusations began when Betty Parris, nine year-old daughter of Rev. Samuel Parris, and her twelve year-old cousin Abigail Williams began to display erratic behavior and exhibit extreme physical contortions. Their actions closely resembled those of the Goodwin children in Boston who had fallen into fits and accused a servant woman named Glover of bewitching them. Glover was later convicted and hanged as a witch. The Goodwin case and the children?s erratic behavior and symptoms were described in the popular book, Memorable Providences, written by Rev. Cotton Mather, a prominent Boston minister, and publisher in 1689.
After Rev. Parris and other local ministers were unable to cure the girls? afflictions through prayer, Dr. William Griggs was consulted. His diagnosis was the girls suffered from the ?Evil Hand.? Shortly after the diagnosis, Ann Putnam, Jr., Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard and Mary Walcott, friends of Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, began to exhibit similar behavior. The girls then began accuse their ?afflicters?. The first to be accused were easy targets for social prejudice: Tituba,
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