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Ann Putnam

Twelve-year-old Ann Putnam was in many ways the leader of the “circle girls,” the young girls whose accusations sparked the Salem witch trials.
 
During the winter of 1692, the circle girls gathered secretly at Reverend Parris’s house for evenings of storytelling and magic with the Parris slave, Tituba. One of the fortune-telling games was to drop an egg white into a glass of water and see what shape it took. One evening, Ann saw the shape of a coffin. Soon afterwards Ann, Betty Parris, and Abigail Williams started behaving strangely—babbling, convulsing, or staring blankly.
 
Once diagnosed as victims of witchcraft, the girls were asked to identify their tormentors. Ann pointed fingers at Sarah Good and Sarah Osburne. She was also quick to testify against Tituba, claiming an apparition of the West Indian woman had “tortured me most grievously by pricking and pinching me most dreadfully.”
 
Ann’s next accusation surprised the village. She claimed to have been tormented by the spirit of Martha Corey, a solid member of the church. Despite the lack of hard evidence, Martha was sent to prison and was eventually hanged. But Ann’s bold accusation had sparked the fear that any one of the villagers could be a witch.
 
Ann accused many more in the coming months—including four-year-old Dorcas Good. Ann’s parents, Thomas and Ann, also accused dozens of townspeople of witchcraft—most of whom were enemies of the influential Putnam family. Two of Ann’s most shocking accusations—against the pious Rebecca Nurse and the former Salem pastor George Burroughs—may have been provoked by old family disputes.
 
By the time the witch hunt was over, Ann had accused 62 people. In the coming years, she would have a difficult life. Both her parents died, leaving her to raise her nine brothers and sisters on her own. But she did something none of the other circle girls would do—publicly acknowledge her role in the trials. In 1706 she stood before the church as the pastor read her apology.


In Ann Putnam’s 1706 apology, what reason did she give for her actions? Read Ann Putnam’s apology.
 
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