Friday, September 4, 2015

Salem witch trials compared with European witch persecutions

Massachusetts has been a target for caustic comment for centuries because of the hysterical and brutal outburst of the witchcraft trials and executions in 1692. But it is forgotten how short it was—but five months—with only about a score of hangings, as compared with the thousands burned, hanged or drowned in Spain, France, Germany, England and Scotland in much longer periods. And nowhere, except in connection with Salem, did any of the actors in the tragedy have the moral courage to admit that they were wrong.
Frank Grinnell, secretary of the Massachusetts Historical Society, at the 1942 dedication of a State House mural depicting the repentance of Judge Samuel Sewall. Quoted in Eve LaPlante, Salem Witch Judge: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall (New York: HarperCollins e-books: 2007), p. 1

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