Ann Putnam

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The young Ann Putnam was the daughter of Thomas Putnam and Ann Putnam, Sr. She is listed in every account as one of the "afflicted girls" and her name appears over 400 times in the court documents. She was twelve years old when the Salem Witch Trials began in 1692. By the time they were over, she had accused nineteen people, and had seen eleven of them hanged.

Ann suffered her first fits on February 25, 1692, along with Betty Hubbard. During her torment, she cried out against Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne. Because Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, and Ann Putnam, Jr. were too young to testify, their accusations had to be endorsed by adults in the village, including her father and other leaders in Salem Village church. Ann's court performances have become notorious. She and the other girls would fall to the ground and writhe as if in agony, claiming that the specters of the accused were tormenting them. She would scream that she was being pinched or bitten, choked or that her life was being threatened if she did not sign the Devil's book. One of many such instances is recorded in the case of Martha Carrier: when asked, "who hurts you?" Ann replies, "Goody Carrier, she bites me, pinches me, & tells me she would cut my throat, if I did not signe her book." As often happened in the course of the Salem episode, there was little other evidence to convict. Consciously or unconsciously, Ann stuck pins into herself on more than one occasion, claiming that the it was done by the specters of the accused.

Common history has painted Ann and her young peers as selfish, vicious fakers who fueled the witchcraft trials out of boredom or spite. This portrait, however, is somewhat flawed as it appears that, in Ann's case at least, the parents of the afflicted must have had a strong influence with the child, as did the other adult accusers. Initially, Ann was fed names by her parents and minister. Her father was an influential church leader and became an aggressive accuser...
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