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What is your comment on this Myth?

What is your comment on this Myth?


Myth: Accused 'Witches' during the Salem Witch Trials were burned at the stake.

This was news to me, as I thought this was the truth, but it is entirely false. At least in the early American colonies.

Contrary to popular belief, witches were not burned at the stake in America. There were similar trial of witchcraft in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, where the common form of punishment was to be burned. There were more than 200 accused of witchcraft, mainly Quakers, slaves, and criminals, but out of all the accusations, only a mere 20 were executed. (1) These executions occurred by nineteen of the accused being strung up in the gallows. The last poor fellow, Giles Corey, was pressed "pressed to death with heavy stones." (2) This Salem Witch trials were short lived, only lasting a short year, but had raised much fear and panic in the people living in that time for fear of being accused of witchcraft.

I think the greatest factor in immortalizing this in American history was simply it tells a better story. Being simply hung for witchcraft, as horrible as it sounds, is far less appealing than being burned. The relation to the European with trials could have some truth to the reasoning of how this myth had come to fruition, but the Puritans did leave Europe because they were oppressed in their views, so while the witchcraft idea most certainly could have originated in Salem from these, the Puritans were far less savage than their European counterparts.

Endnotes:

1: "The Salem Witch Trials Victims: Who Were They?" History of Massachusetts. March 12, 2018. Accessed April 02, 2018. http://historyofmassachusetts.org/salem-witch-trials-victims/.

2: Andrews, Evan. "Were Witches Burned at the Stake during the Salem Witch Trials?" History.com. August 13, 2014. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://www.history.com/news/ask-history/were witches-burned-at-the-stake-during-the-salem-witch-trials.

 

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