In 17th century New England witches were hanged from time to time. Most accused were women who were out spoken or lived independently. It was thought that the witch’s power challenged God’s will and the man’s standing as head of the family.
In 1692 in the town of Salem a series of trials and executions took place due to anxieties running high. Beginning in late 1691 it was believed by elders that witchcraft had caused several girls to suffer from fits and nightmares. The girls then ended up naming three witches. At that time the only way not to be prosecuted was to confess and name others. This caused accusations to spiral out of control. By the middle of 1692 hundreds of towns people had accused their neighbors.
During this time some of the accusations seemed to be made as a means of retaliation and settling scores. Action was taken against almost 150 people many of whom were women. Several of the accused confessed just to save their own lives. There were fourteen women and five men that were hanged because they refused to confess and maintained their innocents to the bitter