I will admit I had no idea that today was the very day that the infamous Salem Witch Trials began and that is the sad part. This part of history is not known among many people and mostly they will brush off events such as this as “events from a barbaric past.” Witch trials still happen albeit the people who are accused are called very different names other then “witch.” The Red Scare, both in Canada and the U.S, were like the Salem Witch Trials only the accused were called “communist, socialist, anarchist, feminist” instead of “witch.”
As I read through the timeline of the Salem Witch Trials I could feel a heavy stone in my stomach. One by one, these women were put on trial with a simple accusation. No evidence needed, not even a child was safe from these accusations. Whether these women were witches is not the main point and I would be uncomfortable with slapping a label on people who cannot say who they were. Calling this a “witch trial” also washes away the fact that the majority of the accused were women, this should be indicator of at least the deep seated hatred for women that the accusers allowed to stew inside. Unfortunately, if these women were to be freed they would have to accuse another woman of witchcraft. This happens in our current time as well, women throwing each other under the bus to save themselves from male violence. That moment of freedom may have been great but an innocent life was the price to be paid. It deeply saddens me that this mentality has never left no matter how much those in power will claim otherwise. These women were the victims of patriarchal paranoia and ignorance and they should be remembered as such.
Timeline for the Salem Witch Trials:
♠ Naumkeag is settled by a group of settlers led by Roger Conant, after they abandoned their original settlement in Gloucester. Conant serves as the settlement’s governor.
♣ John Endicott and a group of settlers from the New England Company arrive with a patent from England that gives them legal rights to Naumkeag. Conant peacefully surrenders control of Naumkeag to Endicott.
♣ Naumkeag is renamed Salem in honor of the peaceful agreement between Endicott and Conant. The settlement soon develops into two sections: an agricultural area where the lower class live, known as Salem Village, and a more urban area where the upper class live, known as Salem town.
♠ The British government makes witchcraft a capital offense.
♠ Massachusetts Bay Colony Charter is revoked.
♠ Samuel Parris is named new the minister of Salem.
♠ Residents of Salem town disapprove of Parris, who denounces them as greedy and unpuritan-like, and try to force him out of Salem. Salem villagers support him. The hostility creates tension in the colony.
♠ The British government issues a new charter for the colony. The new charter places many restrictions on the colony, also causing tension amongst the colonists.
♠ Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams begin to have fits and exhibit strange behavior. Soon Ann Putnam Jr. and other Salem village girls begin displaying similar behavior.
♠ Doctors are unable to determine the cause of the strange behavior and suggests the girls are under the influence of Satan.
♠ Tituba bakes a witch cake made from rye and the girl’s urine to discover the name of the witch that has cursed them.
♠ The girls accuse three women, Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne, of witchcraft. Arrest warrants are issued for the women.
March 12 1692:
♠ Martha Corey is accused of witchcraft by Ann Putnam Jr.
March 19 1692:
♠ Rebecca Nurse is accused of witchcraft by Edward and John Putnam after a number of land disputes with the Putnam family in Salem Village.
March 21 1692:
♠ Martha Corey is examined by Judge Hathorne and Judge Corwin.
March 23 1692:
♠ Four-year-old Dorcas Good, daughter of Sarah Good, is accused of witchcraft by Ann Putnam and Mary Walcott and arrested.
March 24 1692:
♠ Rebecca Nurse is examined by Judge Hathorne and Judge Corwin.
March 26 1692:
♠ Elizabeth Proctor is accused of witchcraft by Mercy Lewis.
April 3 1692:
♠ Rebecca Nurse’s sister, Sarah Cloyce, is accused of witchcraft after defending her sister.
April 4 1692:
♠ Elizabeth Proctor is accused of witchcraft by Mercy Lewis, Abigail Williams, John Indian, Mary Walcott and Ann Putnam.
April 11 1692:
♠ Elizabeth Proctor is examined by Judge Thomas Danforth at the Salem Village meetinghouse.
♣ John Proctor is indicted on charges of witchcraft during Elizabeth’s examination after he is accused by Abigail Williams and Mary Walcott.
April 19 1692:
♠ Bridget Bishop, Abigail Hobbs, Mary Warren and Giles Corey are examined.
♠ Abigail Hobbs confesses.
April 22 1692:
♠ Edward and Sarah Bishop, Mary Easty, Nehemiah Abbott, William and Deliverance Hobbs, Mary Black, Mary English and Sarah Wildes are arrested on charges of witchcraft and examined by Judge Hathorne and Judge Corwin.
♠ Nehemiah Abbott is cleared of all charges.
May 2 1692:
♠ Dorcas Hoar, Lydia Dustin, Sarah Morey and Susannah Martin are arrested on charges of witchcraft and examined by Judge Hathorne and Judge Corwin.
May 4 1692:
♠ George Burroughs is accused of witchcraft by several girls and arrested in Wells, Maine.
May 9 1692:
♠ George Burroughs is examined by Judge Hathorne, Judge Corwin, Judge Sewall, and Judge William Stoughton. Sarah Churchill, one of the afflicted girls, is also examined.
May 10 1692:
♠ George Jacobs Sr. and his granddaughter Margaret Jacobs are arrested on charges of witchcraft and examined by Judge Hathorne and Judge Corwin.
♠ Margaret Jacobs confesses and testifies that both her grandfather and father are witches.
Sarah Osborne dies in prison.
May 14 1692:
♠ Increase Mather returns from England with the new charter and new governor, Sir William Phips.
May 18 1692:
♠ Mary Easty is released from prison but arrested a second time after her accusers protested her release.
Roger Toothaker is accused of witchcraft by Elizabeth Hubbard, Ann Putnam Jr. and Mary Walcott and arrested.
May 24 1692:
♠ Mary Toothaker is accused of witchcraft by Mary Warren and Mary Ireson.
May 27 1692:
♠ Governor Phips sets up a special Court of Oyer and Terminer to hear the witchcraft cases.
♠ Several judges are appointed to the Court of Oyer and Terminer: Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, Samuel Sewall, Waitstill Winthrop, John Richards, John Hathorne, and Jonathan Corwin.
June 2 1692:May 31 1692:
♠ John Alden Jr., Martha Carrier, Elizabeth Howe, Wilmott Redd and Phillip English are examined by Judge Hathorne, Judge Corwin, and Judge Gedney.
♠ Bridget Bishop pronounced guilty of witchcraft and condemned to death.
♠ After Bridget Bishop’s trial, Nathaniel Saltonstall resigns from the court and is replaced by Judge Corwin.
June 10 1692:
♠ Bridget Bishop is hanged at Gallows hill in Salem. Her hanging is the first official execution of the Salem witch trials.
June 16 1692:
♠ Roger Toothaker dies in prison.
June 29-30 1692:
♠ Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe and Sarah Wildes are tried for witchcraft and condemned.
July 19 1692:
♠ Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, and Sarah Wildes are hanged at Gallows hill in Salem.
July 22 1692:
♠ Martha Emerson, daughter of Roger Toothaker, is accused of witchcraft by Mary Warren and Mary Lacey Jr.
July 23 1692:
♠ John Proctor writes a letter to the Boston clergy describing the torture used against the accused and asks for the Salem Witch Trials to be moved to Boston.
♠ Martha Emerson is arrested and examined by Judge Gedney.
July 30 1692:
♠ Mary Toothaker is examined by Judge Gedney, Judge Hathorne, Judge Corwin and Judge Higginson.
August 2-6 1692:
♠ George Burroughs, George Jacobs Sr., Martha Carrier, John and Elizabeth Proctor, and John Willard are tried for witchcraft and condemned.
August 19 1692:
♠ John Proctor, George Jacobs Sr., George Burroughs, Martha Carrier, and John Willard are hanged on Gallows Hill.
August 20, 1692:
♠ Margaret Jacobs recants her testimony against her grandfather George Jacobs Sr. and George Burroughs.
September 9 1692:
♠ Mary Easty, Martha Corey, Ann Pudeator, Alice Parker, Mary Bradbury and Dorcas Hoar are tried and condemned.
September 13 1692:
♠ Joan Penney of Gloucester is accused of witchcraft by Zebulon Hill.
September 17 1692:
♠ Wilmott Redd, Mary Parker, Margaret Scott, Samuel Wardwell, Rebecca Eames, Abigail Faulkner, Mary Lacy, Abigail Hobbs and Ann Foster are tried and condemned.
September 19 1692:
♠ Giles Corey is pressed to death after refusing to enter a plea.
September 21 1692:
♠ Dorcas Hoar confesses. Her execution is delayed.
♠ Joan Penney is arrested on charges of witchcraft.
September 22 1692:
♠ Martha Corey, Alice Parker, Margaret Scott, Ann Pudeator, Mary Easty, Samuel Wardwell, Wilmott Redd and Mary Parker are hanged at Gallows hill. These are the last hangings to take place during the Salem Witch Trials.
November 3 1692:October 29 1692:
♠ Governor Phips dissolves the Court of Oyer and Terminer.
November 14, 1692:
♠ Sarah Noyes Hale, wife of Reverend John Hale, is named as a witch but is never formally charged or arrested.
November 25 1692:
♠ The General Court of the colony creates the Superior Court to try the remaining witchcraft cases.
♠ 49 of the 52 remaining accused witches in jail are released because their arrests were based on spectral evidence.
♠ Governor Phips pardons the remaining accused in jail.
January 14 1697:
♠ The General Court orders a day of fasting for the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. The day of fasting takes place the following day. Judge Samuel Sewall publicly apologizes for his role in the Salem Witch Trials.
♠ Minister Samuel Parris is replaced by Joseph Green.
♠ The General Court declares the 1692 trials illegal.
♠ Ann Putnam Jr. publicly apologizes for her role in the Salem Witch Trials.
♠ The colony passes a bill restoring the rights and good names of the accused and grants £600 in restitution to the victim’s heirs. Some of the victim’s families do not wish to be named in the bill and do not seek restitution.
♠ Salem Village is renamed Danvers. Salem town keeps the name Salem.
♠ Massachusetts formally apologizes for the events of 1692 and clears the name of “One Ann Pudeator and certain other persons.”
♣ Town officials announce the winning design for a new Salem Witch Trials memorial. Playwright Arthur Miller gives a speech at the announcement ceremony and reads from the last act of “The Crucible.”
♠ On the 300th anniversary of the Salem Witch Trials, The Salem Witch Trials Memorial, designed by James Cutler, is dedicated by Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel.
♠ The Massachusetts legislature amends the 1957 apology and officially exonerates five victims not named in the 1711 bill or the 1957 apology: Bridget Bishop, Susannah Martin, Alice Parker, Wilmot Redd and Margaret Scott.