August 29 (August 19, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Five people convicted of witchcraft at the third session of the Court of Oyer and Terminer are brought to Gallows Hill in Salem to be hanged.  They include Martha Carrier of Andover, convicted on August 3 and since accused by several more confessors of being a key figure in the witchcraft conspiracy; John Willard and John Proctor, both of Salem Village, also convicted on August 3; George Jacobs of Salem Village, convicted on August 4; and George Burroughs, convicted on August 5.  Burroughs, the Maine clergyman who has been at the center of the stories told by confessors for quite some time, is by far the most prominent person to be convicted so far, and throngs of spectators gather to watch his execution (as they similarly gathered to watch his trial).  John Proctor’s wife Elizabeth, also convicted of witchcraft by the court, had her sentence deferred because she is pregnant.

All the condemned handle themselves with dignity as they are led up to the gallows.  Willard and Proctor give short but powerful speeches before being hanged proclaiming their innocence and forgiving their accusers while asking God for forgiveness for all their true sins.  Burroughs, an experienced preacher, gives an even more powerful speech proclaiming his own innocence, ending it by perfectly reciting the Lord’s Prayer.  (Inability to recite this prayer correctly is commonly believed to be proof of witchcraft, and was one of the key pieces of evidence used to convict Willard.)  Burroughs’s speech is so effective that many spectators are profoundly moved, even to tears, and the authorities fear that the enormous crowd may turn in the minister’s favor and stop his execution.  The execution does proceed, however, and as soon as it is done the still restless crowd begins to murmur, prompting the prominent pro-court Boston minister Cotton Mather, observing from horseback, to try to regain the loyalty of the gathered spectators by pointing out that Burroughs was not an ordained minister and that the Devil can appear in the form of “an Angel of Light.”  This exhortation is effective, and the crowd calms down enough for the executions to continue.

New Mexico: At 2:00 am Governor Vargas sends Roque Madrid ahead of the main body of troops with the expedition’s livestock, ordering him to stop at the watering hole of El Muerto, which a reconnaissance the day before indicated only has barely enough water for the pack animals, then to leave in the afternoon and head for a spot along the Rio Grande called Fray Cristóbal.  Since it will take him more than a day to get there, he should camp along the way without water if he doesn’t find any left over from the recent rain.

When the rest of the camp wakes up later in the morning, Vargas notes that the weather seems good, with cloud cover and a north wind, and he gives orders to leave around 11:00 am.  The expedition reaches El Muerto and there meets Madrid, who is just about to leave with the animals.  Around 5:00 pm the whole group leaves and heads for Fray Cristóbal, getting as far as a place called La Cruz de Anaya, where they camp for the night.  Vargas orders Madrid to leave early in the morning with the animals so as to get to Fray Cristóbal with them before they are exhausted.

Published in: on August 29, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on August 29 (August 19, o.s.)  
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