Halloween is my favorite holiday; always has been. And I’m pretty interested in Colonial American history, so you can imagine how excited I was to go to Salem, Massachusetts. That was six or seven years ago, but I’m still intrigued by everything that transpired there.
I was recently reminded of the Giles Corey character from Arthur Miller‘s play The Crucible, which dramatizes the Salem Witchcraft Trials (but really sends-up McCarthyism). As I so often do, I went on a wild Wikipedia chase starting with Giles Corey and ending up 45 minutes later in some dark corner of the Internet that I didn’t know existed. But the story of ol’ Giles is pretty interesting on its own.
- Giles Corey, a successful farmer and member of the church, was accused of “fascination” by three Salem residents
- He didn’t plead either way, so by law at the time he couldn’t be tried
- He was laid prone with a board atop his body to hold heavy stones as they were placed one at a time until he confessed (a judicial coercion technique called “pressing”)
- He never confessed, and died asking for more stones