Perhaps the most notorious case of mass hysteria in colonial America, the Salem witch trials saw around 200 people accused of witchcraft, with 19 found guilty and executed. Another man was crushed to death for refusing to plead, while five others died in jail.
The incident began in February 1692 when a group of young girls claimed to have been possessed by the devil and accused other women of being witches. Hysteria spread through colonial Massachusetts and a special court was convened to hear trials of those accused.
By September public opinion turned against the trials and they eventually closed early in 1693. The cases became notorious and were interpreted by later generations as a warning sign against the dangers of religious fanaticism, isolation and lapses in due process. In 1711 the convictions of twenty-two people were reversed by the courts and their families were given monetary compensation.
Artist: Joseph E. Baker
Location drawn: Salem, Massachusetts, English America
Source: Wikimedia Commons
- 1692-02-29 First people are accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts - Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba, a West Indian slave
- 1692-03-01 Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne, & Tituba arrested for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts
- 1692-04-22 Edward Bishop is jailed for proposing flogging as a cure for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts
- 1692-06-10 The first victim of the Salem witch trials, Bridget Bishop, is hanged for witchcraft in the colony of Massachusetts
- 1692-07-19 5 more people are hanged for witchcraft (19 in all) in Salem, Massachusetts
- 1692-08-19 Five more people hanged for witchcraft (19 in all) in Salem, Massachusetts
- 1692-09-22 Last people hanged for witchcraft (8) in the US, 19 hanged overall, with six other deaths during Salem witch trials
- 1692-10-29 Court of Oyer and Terminer, convened for Salem witch trials, dissolved
- 1992-05-09 Salem Village Witchcraft Victims' Memorial dedicated in Danvers (formally Salem Village) to mark 300 year anniversary of trials