Puritanism, and The Salem Witch Trials

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Puritanism, and The Salem Witch Trials Puritanism refers to the movement of reform, which occurred within the Church of England. It began at the time of the Elizabethan settlement of 1559 and ended at the end of the Rump Parliament with the ascension of Charles II to the British throne in 1660. The American Puritans clearly understood that God's word applies to all of life. Their exemplary lives and faith, contrary to popular myths, are a highpoint of Christian thinking. Puritan legal history specifies some of their loyalties and compromises. Today, scholars continue their dispute over the degree to which the Puritan colonists influenced American law, morality, and culture. In the area of law, this image is supplemented by lurid accounts of witch trials and corporal public punishments. The best example of this was during the seventeenth century. The Salem witch trials began in 1692, and lasted less than a year. The first arrests were made on March 1, 1692 and the final hanging day was September 22, 1692. The first noted arrest, was of Tituba, a Carib Indian from Barbados. She was Reverend Samuel Parris' slave. Her role in the witch trials includes the arrest and confession of witchcraft on March 1, 1692. In January of 1692, the daughter and niece of Reverend Samuel Parris became very ill. When she failed to improve, the village doctor, William Griggs, was called in. After much deliberation, Griggs concluded that the problem was witchcraft. This put into motion the forces that would ultimately result in the death of nineteen men and women. In addition to those nineteen people, one man named Giles Corey was crushed to death. Seventeen others died in prison and the lives of many were irrevocably changed. To better understand the events of the Salem witch trials, it is necessary to understand the time period in which the accusations of witchcraft occurred. There were the ordinary stresses of 17th-century life in Massachusetts Bay Colony. A strong belief in the devil, factions among Salem Village fanatics, and rivalry with nearby Salem Town all played a part in the stress. There was also a recent small pox epidemic and the threat of an attack by warring tribes created a fertile ground for fear and suspicion. Soon prisons were filled with more than 150 men and women from towns surrounding Salem.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that puritanism refers to the movement of reform within the church of england, which began at the time of the elizabethan settlement of 1559.
  • Explains that scholars continue to dispute the degree to which puritan colonists influenced american law, morality, and culture. this image is supplemented by lurid accounts of witch trials and corporal punishments.
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