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tv   Six Women of Salem  CSPAN  October 26, 2013 8:00am-8:41am EDT

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in the house. hopefully providing some vision and clarity as to where we want to take the country moving forward. >> host: rep cathy mcmorris rogers, thank you very much for your time. >> doctor and astrophysicists neil digressed tyson on america's call for scientists and engineers. >> as nasa's future goes so does that of america. if nasa is healthy, then you don't need a program to convince people that science and engineering is good to do because they will see it written large on the peer. there will be calls for injured years to help us go ice fishing on europa where there is an ocean of water that has been liquid for billions of years. we will dig through the soil of mars and look for life. that will get the best biologists. with that the nasa portfolio today? has biology, chemistry, physics,
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geology, planetary geologist, aerospace engineers, mechanical engineers, and electrical engineers. all the stem fields with science, technology, engineering and math represented in the nasa portfolio, held the nasa pumps that, is the fly wheel that society taps for innovation. >> over the last 15 years booktv has aired 40,000 programs about nonfiction books and authors. booktv every weekend on c-span2. >> this weekend booktv is live from austin for the texas book festival, coverage starts today at 11:00 eastern and includes two panels looking back at the november '63 assassination of jfk. sunday's coverage starts at noon and includes alan wiseman on our future on planet earth and looking at the texas wind power industry. the texas book festival live this weekend in booktv on
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c-span2. don't forget you have a few days to post your comments on a book club selection walking with the wind, congressman john lewis on the early years of the civil rights movement at >> marilynne roach write history of the salem witch trials from 1692 to may of 1693 in salem, mass.. the author profiles six of the 200 people who were accused of witchcraft which resulted in the execution of 20 people. this hour-long program is next on booktv. [applause] >> i am sure. thank you. thank you very much. great supporters all along.
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my new book "6 women of salem" focuses on six individuals whose collective experiences are a cross-section of what happened to people generally during the witch trials 1692. of the six, five were accused, a la accusers, two were hanged, one escape. of the six one was the richest woman in salem and another owned nothing, not even herself. the six roughly in order of age, rebecca nurse, bridget bishop, mary english, ann putnam senior, tituba, mary warren. they came from different backgrounds, approached events from different vantage points and experienced different things. they went through different opinions of what was going on. rebecca nurse the oldest was married to a hard-working farmer. unlike the usual elderly suspect, a widow with no or few children to help her, not only had an extended and supportive
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family working tirelessly on her behalf but also dozens of neighbors who petitioned the courts to insist on her good reputation. far from being an outsider she was a full member of the salem church. even so she would be put to death. bridget bishop with a prickly character who does not seem to have many if any supporters. none of the surviving paper work indicates that her husband, her third, did anything for her. she had been suspected and even arrested for alleged witchcraft before at which time she survived that charge. in 1692 she was not as lucky. she would be the first to be tried, to be found guilty and the first to hank. mary english would be remembered as a grand lady. too grand than some fought even though her mother anchored the tavern. she has a single woman don't property. now has been philip bonet and controlled that property. he was a successful merchant in his own right, literally in
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salem's top 1%. someone figured that out. he was also french-speaking from the isle of jersey and even though jersey was one of great britain's channel islands, still is, and episcopalian, people were wary of the french among them wondering if they might have catholic, french and canadian forces who threatened to invade new england. ann putnam sr. mother of ann putnam jr. of the most active of the afflicted girls or her husband's livelihood, she was haunted by the ghost of her dead babies perished in infancy. most recently the december before this started to happen and by the deceased children of
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her and did sisters. in 1692 she was about to have her eighth child. tituba, first of the accused was, being a slave, in a most precarious situation than the others. she protested the accusation and denied the charge that became his self-inflicted consciously or unconsciously, perhaps as the defense against an impossible situation. acceptance of an imminent spirit world was a given in most world, federalist cultures and her own. tituba was referred to as an indian, presumably came from the caribbean, an outsider. mary warren lacked all prospects, facing the bleak future. what little we know about her, trial papers containing her own references to illness and death that ruined her family. her father and younger sister were apparently still alive they do not seem to have spoken on
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her behalf. when mary was first accused, the most vehement excuse to, at every choice she made lead to a new disaster. just what were they accuse of? which is in common belief and in the eyes of the law were ordinary people lured into a life of spiritual crime, fighting with the forces of darkness to work magical harm, even at the expense of their own souls. that is what people defined as witchcraft then and what too many people thought was happening when their fortunes mounted and became too much. there was plenty to be nervous about, smallpox, privateers, frontier invasions, people being kidnapped and taken into canada or the barbary coast, the economy, the invisible world, evil spirits, the double's minions out to make as much trouble as possible. too late it became obvious to most people vote not to all of
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them that the condemned had not been in league with the devil. there was a great deal of folk magic going on. although it against doctrine to meddle with magic some people who consider themselves good protestant christians did, strong. southern things were too, into english culture, things everybody did perpetuated regeneration on the idea that my mother and grandmother did. of course it was all right to do. folk magic included charms to ward away someone else's evil magic. that is what mary sibley had in mind when she advised tituba to make the which kate, intended to reveal the culprit presumed to be harming the minister's daughter and niece. and i imagine, antidotes to evil that in this case only inflamed the rising panic. it was tituba's only recorded association with magic. and accepted the idea that magic
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was a neutral power, and effective nature for the work of good spirits. charm and spells intended to ward off evil. and to defend the future in uncertain times, some were known for these skills. exasperated ministers had to remind members of their congregation more than once that good spirits, the angels would not need to fear tituba. of the times and still seem to work even for the good it was the work of troublesome evil spirits, doubles luge humans lack the ability to do these things, angels would not do them. who was left but to seek for doubles, they argued. devils have a way of lowering potential victims with a little magic at first, seemingly harmless tricks that ensnared the foolish person tighter and tighter until they found themselves involved in truly serious wrong, their own witnesses caught them, the generals, most people assumed it wouldn't happen to them. they would know enough to defend
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the truth of the situation. the magistrates and judges certainly thought they knew what they were doing and could interpret what was happening. ordinarily neighborhood suspicions festered but did not reach courts. some had the suspicions about rebecca nurse's mother that extended in 1692 to rebecca's generation. ordinarily people making an official accusation had to put up money or goods to show the seriousness of the charge and this was overlooked many times in 92. ordinarily ministers recommended caution and an examination of one's own sold. ordinarily magistrates dismissed the evidence and accused found themselves open to defamation suits from the accused. mary english successfully sued, a but little was ordinary.
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not all early records had survived but between 1638, and 1691, more than 120 individuals, 88 women including bridget bishop and 30 men were accused of witchcraft in new england as a whole. the evidence, and long suspected neighbor followed by crop failure, livestock, illness or death, elvis or death of family members including children. there were more new cases, a number of suspects turned to be -- in 1692, the accusers, the family's believed bridget bishop be which their children. some of the accused like bridget bishop were caught more than once. about 121 free 1692 trials involving 85 women and 36 men and of these 121 cases 38 were
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slander suit brought by the suspects, 27 women and 11 men against their accusers and most of them won. the 83 actual which trials resulted in 11 to 17 executions. one or two of men, three guilty verdicts reversed but little about the 16 men was ordinary. most especially the supposed victims convulsing in public in the courtroom itself. the matter appeared to most people to be a public emergency at first rather than the usual neighborly disputes, appeared to many to be a plot by the devil and his forces to take over new england even if the french king louis aspired to do was sending military forces to accomplish this in real life. unlike other such outbursts the 1692 panic spread to 22 other communities and people from maine to new york were the
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wealthiest and escaped and from the cold of winter to a long hot summer in to fall with more suspects surfacing after every arrest. from 1691 through 1693 at least 191 people including five were suspected of witchcraft in massachusetts and 27 named in passing and 164 in legal papers. in addition, 70 people including three of the six were considered to be afflicted by whiches, seven of the afflicted actually died, a real death proving suspicions. in contrast over 250 people signed petitions in favor and even more made statements and didn't always do any good. 62 defendants from 30 guilty of the charge of witchcraft and
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hang 19 including rebecca understand bridget bishop. the majority of trials occurred in the first two months of 1693 when the panic had already subsided, special evidence was no longer accepted by the courts. most of the trials were held in salem, the essex county seat. capital crimes had before this been tried in boston where the governor's council acted as a higher court. in 1692 the restructuring of the government and the escalating number of accused in three county's, ordered a special temporary court which convened in salem partly because it was less trouble to send the judges and click to salem then to bring so many suspects to boston. by year's an end legislature established superior court convicting the same judges. this court convened in 1693 at 7
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and only three were found guilty in none of them with hank and face at in middle6 county and sussex county and nobody was found guilty in those places. the most unusual part of the panic was the fact that the authorities eventually admitted their terrible mistakes. only the third time in history of western which files that this had happened. the tragedy is too often remembered as the the rest of the cliche or symbolic of the misery of all the other witchcraft cases, more damaging episodes are forgotten. stereotype of human folly, as an example of other people in other areas, not like as shining examples of human progress that we have the that is just statistics. the point of six women of salem is to personalize the tragedy, to show by focusing on a few specific individuals how the events actually affected the
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people involved. real living individuals, people with lives before 1692, before the time when everything seemed to go wrong and in some cases show what their lives were like after the crisis passed if they survive did. despite the intervening centuries and vastly different lives i tried to get inside their minds and see through their eyes. what did it feel like to be there to include that part of history? was was it like to be convinced invisible evil was attacking you, attacking your family, to be convinced that some neighbor, of person you never liked who constantly rub you the wrong way, was possibly deliberately aiming, torturing and killing your own children by stealth for killing your own mother with magic. what was that white? what was it like to be accused of something you knew was not true? what was it like to be accused of a crime and wonder if you had done something wrong? had somehow been lured by your own failings deeper into a
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greater wrong doing? it was so easy to do the devil's work. was it like to find your mother or wife or sister accused of horrible crimes, hank, realize other people believed the accusations? what was it like to hope for rescue and have hope snatched away to lose the chance by not recognizing until a was gone and attempting to see through the eyes and minds of the different characters brings up the question, how what i cuomo how would any of us react in a comparable situation? how indeed? so that is the talk. i would like to read a section from the book if i may. it is factual and i back up everything i can with end notes. and make sure you agree with what i concluded.
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and ice around the chapters with fictionalized, i try to know what it was like for different characters. the different viewpoints. i would like to read the part about june 10th. bridget bishop has passed the days after her trial in a fog of the fear and the official arrived tomorrow they told her, tomorrow she would hang. the order arrived from boston and everything was ready, she wished to settle her sold this was the time to do it, she does not sleep that night, before or during the long hours that passed more swiftly than she realizes. realizing the formant guilty maitre dizzy, so the court room became unreel. none of this had anything to do with her yet she understood the words and knew what they meant and what they would mean soon
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enough. all those neighbors and their stupid fiers, so-called witnesses coming out of the woodwork remembering old slights, magnifying their own unfounded suppositions. bridget knows she is helpless to prove it. some of the other person's tried to console her. others afraid to be near her as but what -- bad luck would ruboff. the door opens and a come for her. bridget straightens up, takes a last look at the wretched room and the other prisoners, all eyes on her once again and walked towards the door. in the prison yard and a fresh air and the breeze they unlock and remove her shackles. the unaccustomed lightness feels wonderful even if it means a step closer to the gallows. the men grab elbows and lift her up into a cottage. tiexiera, too young for the job, is mounted. lesser officers carry their black staff of office, try to look for a land official but none of them have done this
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before and some of them look nervous. i am going to die, thinks bridget, in a veil of nervousness. hands tied, she braces herself against the side of the card so the crowd can see her and be sure she has been gone rid of. the gate swings open and people already swarming the street for a look at her. a glimpse at the witch, and they see her staring. the war stops for and the cart creeps into motion as the little procession moves from the prison yard into the street. man with a staff walked had to clear the way. doesn't anyone work? have anything better to do that loiter around to watch? the walking guards, the sheriff on horseback and onlookers. bridget scan the crowd for a friendly face, a sympathetic face but cannot find any. her associates have been arrested also. where is that has been of hers? she does not want her child to see her like this the long for one last look at her daughter,
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her granddaughter. what sort of future does the child face in the eyes of the neighbors? the march turns into the main street and proceeds slowly through the town, south west down the peninsula, past the meetinghouse still under repair but no crash at this time. has the homes of her judge's hot line, men in boston with the legislature. facing backward she sees the town recede away from her. a familiar couple stands next to their house, and join the following crowd. they look satisfied, pleased at what they considered justice done. mall, that was the name. another family with the dead child they blame on her. what about her own dead children? did they think they were the only family to suffer such a loss? she thinks of her granddaughter and hopes the child will not see what is happening, what is about
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to happen. tears and jostle and a murmur of the crowd, the afflicted girls are nearby. naturally they will not miss the chance to see their handiwork. begins to head downhill. how far are they taking me, she wonders. all the staring eyes, during mouth, she wishes it will end but knows her life will end first. the region of low tide grows stronger as they head for the causeway over the north river. a stream flowing down a steep hill before them cuts a thin channel fresh water into the retreating salt tied and becomes lost in the river and harbor and beyond. the causeway crosses swampy ground and the current rumbles over the plank bridge and the road rises again. they are taking her this way before to the village but this time shouting orders, the precision turns up into the common pastor on to a low ledge
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above the in lead, the hangman weights under a tree. the men get her down from the cart and on to the rungs of a ladder leaning against the free. she struggles not to trip on her petticoats. she looks over the sea of faces, the shifting mass of the curious, the excited, beyond them below the level of the ledge they stand on the sun glitters on the fallen tied. the restless scavenging crowds cowering, reflects from the goals, diving, highlights the roof of the town beyond and blazed down from the midday midsummer sun. someone steady on a ladder and the other man ties accord around her legs compressing her skirts close, modesty, she thinks, no show here for the lecherous but no peeking either. the sheriff is speaking, reading what he is about to order legal. the crowd quiets.
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whereas bridget bishop, wife of edward bishop of salem, in a special court, his associate judges of the court, was indicted and rain upon five several indictments for using, practicing and exercising certain acts of witchcraft in and upon the bodies of abigail whitney, ann putnam, mary walcott in the salem village where by their bodies were hurt, afflicted, consumed, wasted, what better nonsense, bridget thinks. those girls are here now is look anything but wasted and consumed. in the name of their majesties, william and mary, a king and queen over england, the sheriff continues, the order to proceed on this day, between the hours of 8:00 and 12:00 to save the conduct bridget bishop from her majesty's jail to the place of execution to be hanged by the neck until she is dead.
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then somebody else was talking, one of the minister's who had walked with the crowd praying for her soul. ministers to her look like crows, the lot of them. a few of the other onlookers seemed disgusted by the official for air. she recognized the troublemaking quaker who blames her for his brand's death. he smirks and rolls his eyes that the minister's prayer, to gloat, she wonders, strangles shouts and shrieks punctuate the prayer from one side with so-called afflicted huddled together. treaty young women, the putnam girl and a woman who was old enough to know better come as bridget turns to see what is on the ground rolling in the dust, jacobs, the girl yells, it is all jacobs clubbing her with one of his walking sticks. the devil, the other afflicted, explain, is present and support old jacob's specter. jacob's body, never quit their nonsense, she wonders. the prayer ends.
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and then something rough drags over her head. to hang man is on the letter beside her. he pull the rope firmly through the knot and secures it tightly behind her. she feels a cold sweat that is more than the sea breeze and here is the blood in her years as she clamped down rising panic. she will not give her persecutors the satisfaction. she will not plead or cry or act the full. she looks out over the crowd toward the sea. shea here's the gulls cry as people hush in anticipation, sees a flash of wings as the distant birds whale and the bag comes down over her face. thoughts of the world beyond stifling her breath in the heat, slight gleams of daylight glare through the roof wings conlan i-man's voice barks and order and before she can figure out what she said her feet jerk up from under her and a terrible pressure slams into her throat and the base of her skull and then there's no support, nothing
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to hold on to or stand on. she strained against the cords that holds her hands useless, tries to kick her feet to find purchase but there is nothing. for head feels as if it will explode and a little light and darkness rushes toward her. she is vaguely aware she is soiling herself but pain and desperation overmatch embarrassment or shame. no, she thinks, no. her consciousness is one great shot of no conlan then -- and then -- thank you. [applause] if you could point out who is talking. i can release the. >> any questions?
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questions? >> i have a question. happened to the bodies? >> traditionally felons were supposed to be left hanging as an example for a while and buried near the gallows somewhere. a number of people's families traditionally took the bodies home to give them a decent burial at home. we don't know exactly. they might be somewhere, wherever that was. if a frost and the roots and the grass haven't worn them away or they may have been taken up by the families or the nurse presumably was taken to the burial ground on her property and george jacobs to his. but one thing there were a lot of complaints from families
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afterwards for reparations. and there were no complaints about how the bodies were disposed of. i don't know. >> how the legislature, i think it was in 1706, kind of began an effort to pardon them? >> after things cool down a bit and people would talk about it some of the people who had been found guilty but not hand because the panic ended, there would have been more hangings. october was the quiet month that year. they drew back and put everything on hold until they could get word from england what to do about it but the nails were still full so they proceeded in that case. nobody else. but people who did survive this
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had this guilty verdict, handing over their heads. .. >> [inaudible] did -- was there any powment administered to them? today, but amazing to me, these people had to know they were not telling the truth.
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i would think it would have haunted their conscious in nothing else. >> well, i think through most of it they convinced themselves of what they were saying, but second thoughts, massachusetts as a whole in 1597 had a service and pray to -- as a public apology for whatever's gone wrong and apologize to god for doing it so wrong. witchcraft was one of the things they were all for, and mainly remembered is they didn't want to talk about it. she had been one of the judges, and there's personal apologies from him, and a number of jurors of that summer wrote a statement
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that seems to be associated with that year saying that they were sorry about it, but with the information they had at the time it seemed like it, but now they sure don't think so. i know harris apologized to the family of nurse, but they were not listening to anything at that point. too little too late. there was not legal preparation, but i think there must have been a lot of bad neighborhood feelings that went down for several generations. >> in your recounting of this, you didn't say anything about her faith or feelings about god, and was that a deliberate decision on your part, and maybe you could just speak to what you know about the faith of the victims? >> well, i'm not sure what virginia thought, although she attended services. nurse was a fully communion
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member of the church and she seemed to have kept her faith. she knew she was innocent. she was not going -- well, all of them, partly because they knew it was not true, but also because lying was something you were not supposed to do, and you shouldn't lie with -- you shouldn't die with a -- face lying, pretending something that was not true, and they done well knew they were not witches so even though she was not a full member of the church which took really just experiences and so on, but they refused to lie so that right there, i think, shows some manner of fortitude in their faith. >> the trials somehow caught fire, you know, around the world, people think the witches were burned, but they were
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hanged, and one individual was pressed to death. how could it take fire so fast and ended abruptly. what caused the end so quickly? >> it was somebody -- it was a perfect storm of things going wrong at the same time. i think it was all the different pressures from outside like the war with fraps, canada invading, smallpox, the economy's awful, the government's in disarray -- [laughter] they lost the charter, didn't have a legal government, they got a charter from england, a little too dependent from england until then, and had to rewrite the laws, which allowed for the pressing, but i think it
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was neighborhood animosity and simmering suspensions with whatever the economic and the war and the other outside stresses came together, and i can't say what specifically caused it, but just everything seemed to prove there were fears, and it snowballed, and once one of the witch suspect started to confess, particularly said there were other witches out there, and the people began to wonder, now, who do i know is probably that one? they both were scared into confessing and confused out of their minds. somebody said they remembered hearing the clerk talk about william and mary at the beginning, and they didn't know what happened after that, but they knew somewhere in there they confessed, and they had no memory of it, but they knew it was wrong. they were scared about it. once they confessed, said, oh,
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yeah, there's witches out there, people wanted to know who the rest of them were, but the trials were so out of hand, and september was a particularly bad month. feelings turned, and the family of the accused for the most part, not all, sometimes people suspected their own loves, but the other side started to be heard, and they put everything on hold in october, and only resumed in the fall and winter because the jails were so full. they had to do something. at that time, they did not accept evidence. if somebody said they said so and so's spirit torturing me and another person said, oh, yeah, that's who i see too, that is not evidence because the devil can make you think that sort of thing. they should have thought of that all along, of course. anymore? >> talk about your reason for
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choosing these six women specifically whether it was for the variety of aspect of trials they invited you to explore or whether you found certain individuals compelling with other research? >> well, their experiences do cover conveniently, but there's a certain amount of back story to them, gene logical information and court records, and so that you know what they were doing before the trial except from the case of mary warren except for what she says during the trial, and she says a lot in the trial, and then she disappears, but you get a back story so they have lives before and presumably after those. the amount of information i could find to try to make them seem real as well as the variety.
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>> after the hysteria subsided? >> she's in jail for a year and a die -- day according to the records, the salem jail, in boston for a while too. harris who owned her didn't want her back, a, embarrassing she belonged to him, and moral essence to confess even though that was just a favor. he didn't want her back. the jail bills mounted up, so whoever can pay the bills gets to keep her. somebody bought her. we don't know who. it was presumably someone in eastern massachusetts because an early chronicle mentioned she had made statements about being i want mat at one time, and she says this after the trial. she's around, but we don't know where she went, unfortunately.
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>> i know that there's forces here, but there's a belief out there that a lot of the accusations were due to financial gain being kind of in the background. i was wondering your thoughts on that. >> well, the idea that if you accuse somebody and if found guilty, you get to keep the land is not true. i don't think there was any immediate financial gain. they may have had calls over things before that, but what you hear about to pay for court fees and jail bills and to supposedly , the possessions of a convicted felon is supposed to be kept in reserve and not scattered among desen didn'ts so that the government can take
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their share of what's owed them, but you didn't get the neighbor's farm. if you accused someone of witchcraft, you're not going to get their farm, so don't do it. [laughter] yes? >> you mentioned the evidence was not in the traditional way or traditionally good evidence and yet the court used it. how did they get away with it? >> well, this is before, but the fact -- the unusual thing about salem's case was that there were these convulsing witnesses who were presumably tortured by invisible entities or the witch's invisible spirit departing from her or his amenities from the witch's body, and your soul steps out and smacks someone around and steps back in again is the idea, and the fact that te


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