City of Salem responds to new research on location of 1692 executions

A group of researchers has persuaded the city that the executions took place at a location now called Proctor’s Ledge. More information here.

~ by Servetus on January 13, 2016.

7 Responses to “City of Salem responds to new research on location of 1692 executions”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Servetus! Fascinating! It’s a pity this wasn’t made public before Richard visited the area.

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  2. Yes- it’s a fascinating article. Knowing nothing about the events of the witchcraft trials beyond what is portrayed in TC I was surprised historians haven’t known the exact place of the executions. I suppose growing up in the UK where we know exactly where events happened ( although the scaffold moved about Tower Green) I just hadn’t considered how ‘new’ the American colony was then and how that would have affected the built environment.

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    • It was an incident that, even at the time, didn’t cover the colonists in glory. Only a decade and a half later the colonial government had made reparations to the families of the victims and a little after that they were posthumously reinstated in their congregations. “Salem” stood in the minds of Americans as early as two decades after the event as a manifestation of a something they didn’t want to repeat and didn’t want to be remembered for. A century afterwards authors of early US history books pointed to it as a reason for church/state separation and why religious freedom was essential. So I can imagine it was something the Salemers were happy to demolish / forget.

      But there are things in English history, too, that are not known or approximate — a number of moments like that can be found in the Richard III story.

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  3. Last year I spent several days in Salem MA and I visited the Salem Witch Museum which gives you a complete story on the trials and all who were involved. I felt such an overwhelming sense of sadness even in the museum and when I visited other places related to the trials, it became too
    heavy and I had to leave. Tragedy leaves it mark and Salem is one of the place in the U.S. that has that ability to affect you. I think the modern equipment just verified what most people already had concluded.

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    • This is a longer story, with several historians proposing different places over the years (I linked to some of them during the Crucible summer when I was writing a lot about witch trials). I’m always skeptical when someone thinks they’ve settled a question, insofar as these solutions are always based on whatever anyone thinks is “real” at any given point. At the moment we are all sold on technology so we like the technological explanation, but it could change again.

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  4. I too have visited Salem and I agree with Irish Witch that it’s a very evocative place, especially the memorial park. There have been many explanations for why the hysteria got going, but I’m inclined to think that the accusers got drunk on their own power.

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