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Silent as a Grave

An accused Salem witch pays for the right to say nothing in court

Originally appeared in The Daily.

The right to remain silent is a beautiful thing. In 1692, at the height of the Salem Witch Trials, a gray-bearded farmer was asked whether he was a wizard and he refused to say. He was brutally executed. But if the Constitution has secular martyrs, that old farmer, Giles Corey, is surely the patron saint of its Fifth Amendment, and one of history’s greatest champions of keeping one’s trap shut.