A reader writes in, “I notice that there are a lot of references made to the English Witchcraft Laws, but what about law in America? Didn’t the Salem witches in Massachusetts get burned at the stake because of laws against witchcraft?”
The Salem witch trials were indeed held in Massachusetts. However, in 1692, when these trials took place, Massachusetts was not “American” at all. It was a British colony, and therefore fell under British rule and law. In other words, the Salem Colony was not American in 1692, because “America” didn’t exist. In fact, it didn’t exist until about eighty years later. Also, no one has ever been burned at the stake for witchcraft in America. In Salem, a number of people were hanged, and one was pressed to death. It is unlikely that any of those people were actually practicing any sort of witchcraft (
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