Introduction: Witch Hunt in Salem (01:26)
In 1692, Puritans in New England believe a devil is among them and anyone might be a witch. Questions about this period in history remain unanswered.
Salem Village, New England (04:02)
In the late 17th century, Puritans establish a devout Christian community. They believe all people are sinful, evil forces seek to cause harm, and the foreign and unknown are dangerous.
Christian Piety (03:52)
Puritans believe biblical doctrine should guide their lives; salvation only comes to the pure. Joy and pleasure are temptation from Satan. Children create a form of folk magic called the Venus glass.
Afflicted Girls (04:54)
In early 1692, the girls in the home of Rev. Samuel Parris begin acting strange. Dr. William Griggs cannot find a physical cause for their behavior. Experts refute claims of ergotism.
White Magic (03:48)
Tituba makes a magic cake for the afflicted girls. Parris pushes the girls to identify their assailant and Betty names the slave with whom they have a close relationship; Tituba often tells the children stories in the kitchen.
Accusations of Witchcraft (04:38)
The Puritans imprison Tituba, but the assaults continue. Tituba claims the devil came to her and she saw nine names in his book. Villagers speculate on witch identities; outsiders are suspect.
Witch Hunt (05:32)
Villagers believe Satan's disciples can disguise themselves as righteous. The numbers of those accused increases, including Rebecca Nurse. Experts discuss the projection of sin.
Spectral Evidence (04:49)
Villagers believe a witch has a specter that can cause harm. Accusers claim spectral visits. Witch trials become a form of entertainment and the afflicted girls are credible witnesses.
Witchcraft Trials (04:59)
Villagers believe one is a witch based on the claims of the afflicted girls; the court accepts flimsy testimony. A committee examines the accused for a witch's mark.
Conviction and Punishment (04:24)
New England does not have a religious court. All those tried plead not guilty and receive a death sentence. Nurse and four other women are hanged. Confession delays trials.
Puritan Community Destruction (05:42)
By the winter of 1692, 25 villagers are dead and over one third of the population is in jail. Critics express concern over the witchcraft trials; Thomas Brattle opposes the hysteria. The Massachusetts governor dissolves the Salem court.
Salem, Massachusetts (03:50)
Today, Salem is a prosperous town. Experts reflect on lessons from the 1692 witch trials and human nature; scapegoating and prejudice continue.
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