During the next wave of trials George Burroughs, John Proctor, George Jacob, Sr., John Willard, and Martha Carrier were all sentenced to hang. Elizabeth Proctor was also found guilty but was allowed to stay in jail until her baby was born. John Proctor was found guilty for little more than defending his wife during her trial. He had burst into the courtroom in a final attempt to testify on her behalf. Abigail Williams had been quick to declare that he was as guilty as his wife, thus providing the magistrates enough evidence to condemn him.
Old and lame George Jacobs was found guilty on the basis of his granddaughter's testimony that he was a wizard. Although she later retracted (took back) her statement, it came too late and the court sentenced Burroughs to hang. According to Frances Hill in A Delusion of Satan, he replied to the guilty vedict by saying: "You tax me for a wizard; you may as well tax me for a buzzard. I have done no harm." He defended his innocence all the way to Gallows Hill, where he spoke of Christ's salvation through God. A similar defense came from George Burroughs, who had been accused of being a "Black Minister" by Abigail. As Burroughs stood on the gallows he began with the Lord's Prayer. Since this is the principal Christian prayer, Puritans believed that a witch could not recite it. Many of the onlookers were moved to tears as Burroughs gave a final speech in which he appealed to the spiritual conscience of the people in the crowd. Carrier made similarly emotional appeals. She had been found guilty on the basis of her own two children's evidence against her—evidence that authorities apparently extracted by tying the children's necks to their heels until they made a confession. When Carrier was declared guilty she accused the court and jury of lying and conspiring with the devil. Her children later retracted their so-called confessions when they felt it would be safe to speak, but by this
Torture Produces "Confessions"
time Carrier had already been cut down from the Hanging Tree.
Martha Carrier was found guilty of practicing witchcraft on the basis of her own two children's evidence against her—evidence that authorities apparently extracted by tying the children's necks to their heels until they made a confession. The Carrier case marked the return of the use of torture to extract confessions. Though not so elaborate as the devices used in Europe (see Chapter 1), torture in the Salem trials often consisted of methods such as those used on the Carrier children. Many people were tied up in contorted and painful positions or forced to stand up for days at a time during an endless series of questions. A more subtle and enduring form of torture was the condition of the jails, into which hundreds of suspects were crammed together without light, food, water, or any form of hygiene. Since many were taken from families that depended upon them for survival, children of the accused often went hungry or died as their parents awaited trial.
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