March 1, 1692
Salem Witch Trials
In Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, many people
believed in and feared witchcraft. Consequently, when
two young girls fell into trances and had seizures
that doctors could not explain, many people in the
town said witchcraft was to blame. On March 1,
1692, authorities charged three women, Sarah Goode,
Sarah Osborne, and a slave woman named Tituba, with
Nearly 150 men and women filled prisons from Salem
and surrounding towns. These prisoners were
alleged, or charged without proof, of practicing
witchcraft. Many of them died in prison, some
were hanged, and one was crushed to death.
During this time, many people believed in witches and
were quick to believe when someone was accused of
A recent epidemic of small pox, threats of Indian
attacks, and small town rivalries lead to this panic.
This kind of group panic is sometimes called "mass
hysteria." Governor William Phips of Massachusetts put
an end to the witch trials on October 29, 1692.