In Salem Village in February 1692, Betty Parris, age nine, and her cousin Abigail Williams, age 11, began to have fits described as "beyond the power of epileptic fits or natural disease to effect". The girls screamed, threw things about the room, uttered strange sounds, crawled under furniture, and contorted themselves into peculiar positions.
Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba were accused and arrested for causing these afflictions – they were left to defend themselves. Brought before the local magistrates on the complaint of witchcraft, they were interrogated for several days, starting on March 1, 1692, then sent to jail.
Good was eventually executed (her four-year-old daughter was also imprisoned for being a witch), Osborne died in jail, whereas Tituba (an enslaved woman for Samuel Parris and his family) was eventually released.
The hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts continued until May 1693. In the end, more than 200 people were accused, 19 of whom were found guilty and executed by hanging (14 women and five men). One other man, Giles Corey, was crushed to death for refusing to plead, and at least five people died in jail. It was the deadliest witch hunt in the history of the United States.
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