George Burroughs

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2002

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I chose to do my report on A member of a important and interesting part of our countries great and rich history this event I am referring to happened in Salem, Pa and through much of the New England states and providences. I believe it is very important to get rid of many stereotypes that were put up by fabrications or sensationalists to make these accounts seem more dramatic than they were.

Salem, which is a town (at this time of approximately 600 settlers) was beginning to blossoming with commerce but was also marred by separation of it's members. It was a town split up by the East and West side. The residents who wanted to separate from Salem Town were mostly farming families located on the western part of Salem Village. Those who wanted to remain a part of Salem Town were typically located on the eastern side of Salem Village closest to the town.

The residents who wished to remain a part of Salem Town were tied to its thriving, rich harbors.

George Burroughs was one of the settlers of this community. In fact, he was the second minister of the city. But when he brought issues forward about his salary he left the church and then moved to Wells, Maine. George had a very unusual life in many ways. He was married 3 times and was widowed all three times. His second wife died about a year after they arrived in Salem. He also had five children along the way. George was also accused many times of mistreating his wives and was greatly known for his physical strength.

In a time were Salem's jails were full of accused witch's and wizards George and five other individuals were first brought before the court in Salem on April 30, 1662. Although the reasons he was in Salem were unknown, he and John and Elizabeth Proctor, George Jacobs, Sr., John Willard and Martha Carrier were all brought before the court and charged with witchcraft. When he was jailed I found it interesting that his third wife upon his arrest took and sold anything of any value in the home and left with her daughter and left his children to fend for themselves.

During his trial there were many things that did not help in in his plea of innocence. For instance he did not baptize one of his sons and continually lied throughout the his trial. Some of the town settlers also testified that in their dreams his then two late wives came to them and said that he had killed them which also did not help George Burroughs plea for innocence. He was also identified by some of the girls of the town as the "Black Minister" and the leader of the Salem convent. In the end they were all found guilty and were to be hung.

However, Elizabeth Proctor escaped the death sentence because she was pregnant. The other accused were hung on Gallows Hill August 19, 1662.

Another interesting point to note regarding the hanging of George Burroughs he recited the Lords prayer perfectly before the hanging which was to much amazement by the people who witnessed it. Because they believed at that time that a wizard or witch couldn't complete the Lords prayer.

Although much is left to interpitation to this interesting account in American history. Many of the facts of this story have been over sensationalized and twisted over time and in some cases there is not much information available. I feel as though I have been educated and many of the things even I believed happen were not the case. So in ending this paper I hope this will educate and inform upon the life during the Salem trials of the late Rev. George Burroughs.

Literature Cited Page 1.) Salem witchcraft; with an account of Salem village, and a history of opinions on witchcraft and kindred subjects, volume I and volume II . by Charles Wentworth Upham, 1802-1875 2.) 3.) 4.) Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases by George Lincoln Burr