A WITCH HUNT
The list you're about to read is true.
- •Susannah Martin had been a widow for 5 years when the stories started.
- •She was raising 8 kids on her own, and maintaining a busy household.
- •That's when some young girls in nearby Salem Village leveled their accusation: Susannah Martin is a witch.
- •She was brought to trial in 1692. Prior to the proceeding, she was stripped and examined for any marks on her body that could be considered a mark of the devil.Frequently, birthmarks, moles, or even freckles were identified as these. Susannah had to endure this examination twice.
- •But Susannah was clear of "deformities."
- •Despite the lack of physical proof, she was taken to court.
- •As she entered the room, three of her young accusers started to convulse and shake.
- •Susannah laughed.
- •Former Puritan Minister Cotton Mather was leading the prosecution. When he detailed the charges against her, Susannah responded by quoting the Bible freely—something a witch was said incapable of doing.
- •Minister Mather countered her defense by stating that the Devil's servants were capable of putting on a show of perfect innocence and Godliness.
- •Susannah was found guilty of witchcraft and hung.By the time the Salem Witch trials were over, 20 people—mostly women—had been executed.
- •The Salem Witch trials were an important turning point in American history.
- •The episode is one of the nation's most notorious cases of mass hysteria, and is often cited as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations, and lapses in due process.Have we learned a lesson from our past, or are we doomed to repeat it?
- •Susannah Martin's legacy isn't just her part in the Salem trials.
- •Nineteenth century poet John Whittier composed "The Witch's Daughter" about her."Let Goody Martin rest in peace, I never knew her harm a fly/And witch or not—God knows, not I. . ."
- •One of Susannah's daughters, Jane Martin, was the great-great-great-great grandmother of US President Chester Arthur.
- •And many more generations beyond that, there's me: her ancestor.