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In January 1692, a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts became consumed by disturbing “fits” accompanied by seizures, violent contortions and bloodcurdling screams. A doctor diagnosed the children as being victims of black magic, and over the next several months, allegations of witchcraft spread like a virus through the small Puritan settlement. Twenty people were eventually executed as witches, but contrary to popular belief, none of the condemned was burned at the stake. In accordance with English law, 19 of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials were instead taken to the infamous Gallows Hill to die by hanging. The elderly Giles Corey, meanwhile, was pressed to death with heavy stones after he refused to enter an innocent or guilty plea. Still more accused sorcerers died in jail while awaiting trial.
The myth of burnings...
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