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U.S. History/Salem Witch Trials


i am sorry the last e-mail i gave you will not work so i am sending my questions again.
1)was only young girls affected by witchcraft?
2) What made the people of Salem come to relive the hangings were wrong to do?
3)Are there any sources or people you would recommend for me to read or contact?
4) what are some of the most common test they would use to see if someone was a witch?
5)would you sat the book "The Crucible" is a good representation of what life was like back then?
6)some people believe that Ergot of rye is to blame, what do you think?
7)where there any people who tried to lave to town to escape the witches?

Here is my original answer again:

1) What were some of the test that people used to judge if someone was witch or not?

For the most part, the investigations were handled much like they would any other crime.  Witnesses were called to give testimony.  The accused were given an opportunity either to confess or state their defense.  Many of those who confessed named other witches who were then in turn brought in for questioning.

One test that was used in some cases was the "touch test."  In those cases, the accused were to touch one of the girls having fits.  If the girls stopped their fits when touched, that was taken as evidence that the person had used witchcraft to afflict the girl.  In some cases  books discussing  palmistry and horoscopes, or pots of ointments were found in the possession or home of the accused. Some had their bodies searched for the existence of so-called "witch's teats" on the body of the accused. A witch's teat was said to be a mole or blemish somewhere on the body that was insensitive to touch; discovery of such an  area was considered evidence of witchcraft.

2)Did only young girl acuse people of bewitching them?

Young girls were the original accusers.  But as the investigations grew, many of the accusations came from adults, men and women.

3)What amde the people of salem come to realize they were crossing the line with all the hangings?

The hangings ended, not because the people changed their minds about things.  The Superior Court which took over the trials refused to accept "spectral evidence" and there was no longer evidence to convict the accused.  There is some evidence that many people also began to have second thoughts as more and more people were accused.  The number of accused meant that many were friends or family of those accused and began to doubt whether the accusations could be true.

4)Are there any sources you would recomend for my project

There are a number of good web sites that provide good resources.  Here are a few:

5)if you know of the book "The Crusible" do you think it would be a good repreantation of what happend in 1692?

The Crucible was originally written as a play.  It is not meant to be a historic representation of actual events.  It uses some of the people and events, but is mostly a work of fiction.

6)some people believe that Ergot of Rye is to blame for everyones sickness, do you believe this is true?

Ergot of rye is a theory of the cause of some of the women thought to be afflicted by witchcraft.  Its ingestion can cause convulsions and hallucinations.  The conditions existed for it to be present in colonial Massachusetts.  It certainly is a reasonable theory for some of the symptoms.

7)do you know of any people that tryed to leave town because of the "witches"?

I am not aware of anyone who fled either because of the threat of witches or the trials.  There was not much of anywhere to go for most people.  Most were farmers who were closely tied to their land for their survival.  Leaving the protection of the colony would pose the threat of being killed by hostile Indians.

I hope this helps!
- Mike

U.S. History

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question on early American History. My specialties are the American Revolution through the Civil War/Reconstruction. I also have greater expertise in matters relating to military, political or legal history.


I have lectured at George Washington University regarding the Civil War, as well as several elementary school Civil War demonstrations. I was also a member of a Civil War reenactment group for about 10 years.


J.D. University of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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