The word "witch" comes from the Old English word 'wicca', which is derived from the German root, 'wic', meaning to bend or turn. By using magic, a witch is believed to change or bend events.
The Salem Witchcraft Trials became the largest witch hunt in American history.. The hunt occured in 1692, Salem, Massachusetts. Many people were accused of being a witch, resulting in being hanged or punished. Nineteen men and women, were convicted and hanged. Another man was pressed to death with two large stones because he refused to admit he was guilty. About 150 other people were jailed on witchcraft charges.
These trials were the last witch executions in America. Since it was an English colony, many people brought the belief of witchcraft from England. (Massachusetts Bay Colony). The Salem Trials were the result of a witch hunt that began the small community of Salem Village. (Now Danvers, MA).
Early in 1692 three village girls began to behave strangely. They crawled under tables, said weird things, and screamed that they were being tortured. Suspicions of witchcraft led to the arrest of the three women. Soon many people were being arrested for weird things, sometimes untrue.
Most historians believe an argument with Minister Samuel Parris led to the witchhunt. Anyone who opposed Parris nd his supporters were accused and arrested as witches. This scary hunt lasted about a year. The colony's leading ministers helped to stop this hunt. In 1963, the people still in jail were freed. In 1711, the colony's legislature made payments to the families of the witch hunt victims..
Samuel Sewall, (1652-1730), was one of the judges for these trials in the Colony. Later he regretted the court's action. In 1697, he made a public apology for his part in the trials.
Reginald Scot, an English author, quoted,
"My question is not whether there be witches or nay; but whether they can do marvellous works as are imputed to them....Alas, I am sorry and ashamed to see how many die, that being said to be bewitched, only seek for magical cures, whom wholesome diet and good medicines would have recovered." The Discoverie of Witchcraft 1584.