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Wed Jul 19, 2017, 06:37 PM

Salem Memorializes Those Killed During Witch Trials



July 19, 20176:01 PM ET


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 in a series of mass executions. 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.

Andrea Shea of member station WBUR attended the ceremony at Proctor's Ledge, and said Salem residents and descendants of those killed gathered to pay their respects.

"We should not be here today. We should not be here dedicating this memorial and setting aside this small patch of rocky earth," the Rev. Jeffrey Barz-Snell of the First Church in Salem told the assembled crowd, Shea reported. "We should not be here commemorating the heartbreaking and tragic loss of life, people who were falsely and unjustly accused of being in the snare of the devil."

More:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/19/538163000/salem-memorializes-those-killed-during-witch-trials

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Reply Salem Memorializes Those Killed During Witch Trials (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jul 2017 OP
airmid Jul 2017 #1
annabanana Jul 2017 #2
Aristus Jul 2017 #3
Binkie The Clown Jul 2017 #4
BigmanPigman Jul 2017 #5
Igel Jul 2017 #6
BigmanPigman Jul 2017 #7
airmid Jul 2017 #8
Doug the Dem Jul 2017 #9

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jul 19, 2017, 06:39 PM

1. I trace my line through John Proctor.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jul 19, 2017, 06:39 PM

2. Well.. 325 years late is better than never. . .n/t

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jul 19, 2017, 06:45 PM

3. About damned time.

And can we issue a condemnation of the people who hanged that nice old lady who lives down the street because her chicken laid a funny-looking egg and that meant she was a witch?...

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jul 19, 2017, 06:58 PM

4. I'm waiting for the Christians to complain that they are glorifying witches. n/t

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jul 19, 2017, 08:16 PM

5. When I taught 5th grade I learned that this happened due to sexism.

The standardized text of CA State Curriculum said that many male doctors didn't appreciate the female nurses taking away a lot of their business/$.

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Response to BigmanPigman (Reply #5)

Thu Jul 20, 2017, 01:45 AM

6. Perhaps.

But there's this tendency to try to find current reasons for historical events. The population was certainly under 3000 for the greater Salem area at the time.

There weren't "many male doctors." Those present probably would have resented quackery, as they'd have viewed it. (We'd view them all as quacks these days.)

In the 1990s there was a school at which many of the students said that the teachers and administrators abused them sexually. The details were astounding, the memories of the children clear. One kid made an accusation, and the claims spread. Investigators provided possible details that the kids picked up. Memories were constructed. The adults were tried and convicted and sentenced to prison. Nobody wanted to seriously call the kids liars, and they were kids. Much later somebody dug a bit deeper--the kids were all telling falsehoods. Some admitted it. Some didn't, but their details were impossible.

If age-discrimination by minors was a thing that we were concerned about, that's the label we'd give it. Instead, it was a small child afraid of getting in trouble who said something amiss, and it snowballed from there.

Ergotism is another possible explanation, but isn't "relevant." Mass hysteria from stress is possible. Or perhaps somebody took a sermon on witchcraft to heart in a religious community, and somebody re-remembered things because of a personal offence. Nobody wanted to call them liars, and the community's collective memory gelled around that explanation.

In my social deviance class (so was it called) we read a paper from the '60s about a poor guy who was recruited as a research subject. A research aide was hired as the (female) secretary in the company office. Then one day somebody "let slip" that the guy was a homosexual. Within a few weeks everybody had always known that from the clear signs--his behavior, the way he acted around women, the way he acted around men. The secretary observed all. When they had whatever data they wanted, they announced it was all a ruse. The guy wasn't gay, he had been happily married with kids and that wasn't a put-on, he wasn't in the closet. Thing is, having re-formed all their memories and explanations, the guy eventually had to quit and move with his family to another city. This wasn't anti-gay discrimination: This was how people interact to reshape their own memories and explanations to form a narrative.

Perhaps anti-gay discrimination was the reason for the ostracism the guy suffered. But the way the events for the previous year were made to fit a new, scurrilous narrative was stunning. Apply that to Salem.

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Response to Igel (Reply #6)

Thu Jul 20, 2017, 01:53 AM

7. Very interesting and completely comprehensible.

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Response to BigmanPigman (Reply #5)

Thu Jul 20, 2017, 10:57 AM

8. I think one of the best books I ever read on Salem was called

Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft. It is clear from the info laid out in the book that the accusations were often used to settle old scores and as part of a land grab as, in most cases, all the accused witches possessions were seized. Highly recommended read for those interested in this episode of our history. My ancestor, John Proctor , was a rich man who had everything seized from his children after they hung him...even the last pot to cook in.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Jul 20, 2017, 05:52 PM

9. Weren't Men Hanged Too?

 

Maybe I'm just going by what I saw in The Crucible.

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