The Pros And Cons Of The Salem Witch Trials

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Accusations of witchcraft ran rampant in the 17th century colonial settlements in the United States. The individuals accused, mostly women, were put on trial and punished, if found guilty. The most well-known of such cases on public record are the Salem Witch Trials. Between February, 1692 and May, 1693, hearings and prosecutions were set up to deal with those accused of dabbling in the dark arts in the cities of Andover, Salem, and Ipswich, all in Massachusetts Bay. These trials came to commonly be referred to as the Salem Witch Trials because some of the most notorious cases were heard in the Oyer and Terminer courts in Salem. At the time, practicing witchcraft was considered a serious crime, and was often punished with serious consequences.…show more content…
In many ways, the trials that delivered verdicts that often lead to an alleged witch’s death were often based on the word some respected member of the community or another. On close inspection, it becomes clear that most of the individuals accused and punished for practicing witchcraft led lives that were considered out of the ordinary, and were usually marginalized by society, as a result. After many innocent lives had been lost, Increase Mather, a Harvard College academic and a respected member of society, urged the Massachusetts’s legal representative to change the standards governing evidence on witchcraft to be equal to other crimes. The Massachusetts General Court later deemed the trials as being unconstitutional and unlawful since they did not adhere to the due process. Magistrates such as Samuel Sewall, who were responsible for executions in the trials, apologized publicly for their actions to undermine the people’s rights. The court also ruled on offering financial compensation to the heirs of the executed suspects in 1711. The Salem Witch Trials are now widely accepted as unjustified killings resulting from inaccurate accusations made due to mass hysteria, religious extremism and social

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