They also had to pay for the chains they were held in; many of them died in these very chains. There were many injustices during the witch trials, and most people did not understand what a big deal it was. The Salem Witch Trials was an event that changed the course of American history. Many people were accused of being witches during the trials. A few of those people were children.
The Puritan life in the village of Salem was harsh because they were dealing with the after-effects of the British war which occurred in France, a smallpox outbreak took place, and they feared attacks from a neighboring Native American Tribe. All these events led up to people having suspicions about their neighbors and the fears of anyone who was an outsider. On January 1692 the events of the Salem Witch Trials began in Salem, Massachusetts when Elizabeth (Betty) Parris age nine and Abigail Williams age eleven began to act bizarre by making odd noises, behaving in eccentric ways, and were complaining of headaches. “When a local doctor named William Griggs came to see what was wrong with the girls he diagnosed that they were bewitched. “Puritans believed that to become bewitched a WITCH must draw an individual under a spell” (ushistory.org).
The Salem witch trials transpired in the late 1600’s and caused uncertainty and controversy throughout the society. The town of Salem is where most of the trials occurred, and practicing witchcraft, and our American government forced over a dozen citizens to pay with their lives. The witch trials happened because of conflicts dealing with religion, fear, and feuds. The trials began during the spring of 1692, after a group of adolescent girls claimed to be possessed by the devil and they accused several local women of witchcraft. A wave of hysteria spread throughout Massachusetts, and a special court place was set up to hear the cases.
Print. April 2011. Pavlac, Brian Alexander. Witch Hunts in the Western World: Persecution and Punishment from the Inquisition through the Salem Trials. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2009.
The Puritans of this time were very harsh, unyielding, and quick to judge. They condemned innocent women on the basis of intangible evidence, confessions, and such things as "witchmarks" (Hill). As Dorcas Hoar said, "I will speak the truth as long as I live" (Salem Home Page). Nine year old Betty Parris and eleven year old Abigail Williams, the daughter and niece of Reverend Parris, were the first to start to display signs of strange behavior. Some of this behavior included profane screaming, convulsive seizures, trance-like stages, and unexplainable animal-like noises.
Witchcraft was defined as entering into a compact with the devil in exchange for certain powers to do evil. It was considered a sin against God’s superiority; a strict rule against Puritan beliefs (Conforti). Although the Salem witch trials was an important and remarkable event that occurred to the Puritan people, there were not really witches in Salem, only hysteria and suspicion. In 1692, sequences of women had begun to have fits. Young girls who were trying out fortune-telling had begun to start acting as though they were being tormented.
Linder, Douglas. "An Account of the Salem Witchcraft Investigations, Trials, and Aftermath." 01 Nov. 2013 . Martin, Michael, and Brian Bascle. The Salem Witch Trials.
Salem Witch Trials In 1692 events that took place in Salem, Massachusetts led to the best known witch trial in America. Today these witch trials are known as the Salem Witch Trials. More than two-hundred people were accused of practicing witchcraft. A witch to them was someone who could do harm through magical means, they could curdle milk, hobble animals, and even cause young children to sicken and die (Aronson, Witch Hunt 31). People believed the Salem Witch Trials happened because English rulers started a war with France.