March 1: The Salem Witch Trials

SalemWitchTrials2It was on this day in 1692 that the infamous Salem Witch Trials began.

At the time of the Salem trials, there was a significant belief in witchcraft in New England. It wasn’t uncommon for the deeply religious New England colonists to blame their misfortune on witchcraft, demons and even the devil himself. In fact, before 1692, 12 people had been put to death in the colony for practicing witchcraft.

The hysteria in Salem began when 11-year old Abigail Williams and her 9-year old cousin Betty Parris began having extreme convulsions, most likely brought on by food poising due to spoiled, improperly cooked or just plain inedible ingredients in a stew the girls had mixed. After the illness had passed, the two girls claimed that they had experienced a sensation akin to being regularly pricked with pins, and they believed that they had been possessed by witches. Soon, the finger was pointed at three women; all of them relative outsiders to the town, all of whom were first tried on March 1, 1692:

  • Sarah Good, a homeless beggar with possible mental illness. She was known to mutter to herself on the streets of Salem, leading some to believe she was a witch. At her trial she was accused of rejecting the Puritan ideals of discipline and specifically “scorn[ing children] instead of leading them towards the path of salvation”.
  • Sarah Osborne, a citizen of Salem who had caused a bit of scandal in town. She rarely attended church and after the death of her husband she had married an indentured servant. Many townsfolk also disapproved of her attempts to control the inheritance of her son from her first marriage.
  • Tituba, a slave owned by Betty Parris’ father. It was said that Tituba had told the girls tales of demons and sorcery

The trial was quick as nobody came to the women’s defense and all three women were found guilty. Tituba was the only one to confess, while Good and Osborne both maintained their innocence.  Salem promptly went crazier, with accusations flowing left and right, many of these accusations being based on old feuds. In total, at least 19 men and women were executed for witchcraft. Interestingly, as Tituba had pleaded guilty, she was only sentenced to jail and was released after a year when an unknown person paid for her release. History does not report what happened to Tituba after her release. Osborne and Good however were both hung by the Puritans. Just before her execution, Good was asked to confess to the sin of witchcraft by the trial’s ministers. While the other woman who were to be hung stood silent, Good loudly proclaimed her innocence and yelled these immortal words just before Salem’s judges murdered her: “I’m no more a witch than you are a wizard, take my life and God will give you blood to drink.”

Since it’s believed that the Salem madness began when Abigail Williams and Betty Parris drank a poorly cooked “witch brew”, it’s only right that we drink a Witches’ Brew on the anniversary of the start of the witch trials. It’s a bubbly tropical drink which makes for a pretty solid way to spit in the face of the superstitious Puritan bastards.

Witches’ Brew

  • 1 ounce Malibu Coconut Rum
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce cranberry juice
  • 2 ounce lemon lime soda

Stir the juices and soda together in an ice filled highball glass and then pour the shot down the side of the glass just before drinking.

Tomorrow: 100 Points

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