How were the Salem victims executed? 
One of the most widespread misunderstandings about the Salem episode is the belief that the condemned victims were burned-at-the-stake. While this form of execution was commonly practiced in continental Europe in cases of witchcraft and heresy, it was much less common in England. This is especially true after the reign of Mary "Bloody Mary" Tudor who attempted to bring Roman Catholicism back to her nation by a ruthless persecution of Protestants in the mid-1500's.

In 17th century New England, however, there is no existing record of anyone being burned-at-the-stake. Those individuals found guilty and executed for witchcraft were hanged.

One would like to think that this method of execution was used in an effort to provide a more humane form of death than being burned alive. In actuality, the customary method of hanging in the 1600's was the so-called "short-drop", and it was excruciating.

In this method the victim would be forced to ascend a ladder under a projecting branch of a tree. A rope and noose would be tied to the branch overhead then the noose placed around the neck of the condemned standing upon a rung of the ladder. The ladder would then be turned or pulled out from below, leaving the victim suspended from the branch by the rope.

In this method of public execution, the condemned died of gradual strangulation over a period of several minutes. It was often used to execute persons guilty of murder, grand larceny, piracy and other serious anti-social behavior.

In this way each of the nineteen victims of the Salem episode died a slow and agonizing death. Unfortunately, they lived over a hundred years before the development of the more rapid and humane "long-drop"---an execution method incorporating a gallows with trap door designed to quickly drop the victim several feet, snapping the neck of the condemned person.
Daniel Pettit 
Tuesday, October 7, 2008, 01:49 PM
Was it all real or just a explanition for the events that took place? Did people really believe they were seeing the devil and witches?
Andy Bragg 
Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 08:02 PM
Was this witchcraft buisness real? Did they really figure magic out or did they just say "Oh shes a witch, because she said some words?"

Please email me with as much info on the Salem Witch Trials as you can please.

Thank You.
Deses 
Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 02:56 PM
"A Yearbook of Colonial Times" by Frederick Schroeder Sill, published in 1899, is a rather peculiar chronology of colonial history. Relevant information about every event is supplemented with a quotation from an unrelated literary source, in order to to illustrate the editor's point of view. The witchcraft episode is referred to in the following manner:

1692 The Court of Salem, Mass., began its
fateful trials for witchcraft.
That 's the worst tidings that I hear of yet.
SHAKESPEARE.


The question arises: was this event (Salem witchcraft trials) truly the worst thing that happened in American history, at least prior to 1899?

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