The events that transpired in Salem, Massachusetts occurred between the years of 1688 and 1693 constituted the most significant witchcraft outbreak in the history of the New England colonies. The entire event was quickly labeled as “colossal mistake” by the government after they had passed.(Ray, 2010) With this in mind the question remains; how did it get started and how did it get out of hand so quickly?
Salem Witch Trials
Twenty-five people dead, an entire village on the brink of insanity, and a gathering of young girls possessed by demons defined the year 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. What began as a childish game metamorphosed itself into mass hysteria. A combination of irresponsibility and village politics led to the demise of innocence.
It has been said that children will be children, as if to imply that the natural order of life begins with the immaturity and foolishness that goes along with childhood.
The Witch Trials of 1692
During the winter of 1692, in the small village of Salem, Massachusetts, something terrible happened. Salem Massachusetts became the center of a horrible tragedy, which changed the life of many people. It was a time of fear, because of bad crops, Indian raids, and diseases. The people of Salem Village had to blame something, or someone.
During the time of the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692, more than twenty people died an innocent death. All of those innocent people were accused of one thing, witchcraft. During 1692, in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts many terrible events happened. A group of Puritans lived in Salem during this time. They had come from England, where they were prosecuted because of their religious beliefs. They chose to come live in America and choose their own way to live. They were very strict people, who did not like to act different from others. They were also very simple people who devoted most of their lives to God. Men hunted for food and were ministers. Women worked at home doing chores like sewing, cooking, cleaning, and making clothes. The Puritans were also very superstitious. They believed that the devil would cause people to do bad things on earth by using the people who worshiped him. Witches sent out their specters and harmed others. Puritans believed by putting heavy chains on a witch, that it would hold down their specter. Puritans also believed that by hanging a witch, all the people the witch cast a spell on would be healed. Hysteria took over the town and caused them to believe that their neighbors were practicing witchcraft. If there was a wind storm and a fence was knocked down, people believed that their neighbors used witchcraft to do it. Everyone from ordinary people to the governor’s wife was accused of witchcraft. Even a pregnant woman and the most perfect puritan woman were accused. No one in the small town was safe. As one can see, the chaotic Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 were caused by superstition, the strict puritan lifestyle, religious beliefs, and hysteria.
The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692
The Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, which resulted in 19 executions, and 150 accusations of
witchcraft, are one of the historical events almost everyone has heard of. They began when three
young girls, Betty Parris, Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam began to have hysterical fits, after being
discovered engaging in forbidden fortune-telling (not dancing naked in the woods) to learn what sorts
of men they would marry. Betty's father, the Reverend Samuel Parris, called in more senior
authorities to determine if the girls' affliction was caused by witchcraft. Although Betty was sent away
fairly soon, and did not participate in the trials, the other girls were joined by other young and mature
women in staging public demonstrations of their affliction when in the presence of accused "witches."
During the seventeenth century Salem, Massachusetts is a seaport town populated mostly by Puritan colonists who came over from England in the seventeenth century. Beliefs of witchcraft came over with the settlers who, if caught practicing, was punishable by death. The Salem Witch Trials were a series of court cases in 1692 revolving around witchcraft where over hundred people were accused, nineteen were hanged, and one was pressed to death.
Some people say that the Salem Witch Trials were less a religious persecution than economic in purpose, using religion as a guise to gain property. I believe that the Salem witch trials were less a religious persecution than economical. I believe this for several reasons; one being that the accused witches were using their witchcraft on other people in the town and it was affecting them. Many people were accused of performing witchcraft and were persecuted for doing so. But I believe that people in towns accused others of "witchcraft" whenever something went wrong, because "witchcraft" was such a common thing back than. When the witches that were accused of this so called witchcraft, usually the rest of their family, if they had one, would have to sell their house and this gave the people in the town more land and gave other people outside of the town to move into the town. Since there were two distinct parts to Salem, it is believed that the rich people of Salem accused the poorer people so they could take over their land.
Salem Witch Trials
The infamous Salem Witch Trials that occurred in Salem Village (present day Danvers, Massachusetts) will forever go down in the history books as one of nation’s greatest example of mass hysteria. The 17th century was a time period of drastic stress and hardship for the Massachusetts Bay colony, being so far from their English heritage. They face forming a new government that was based purely on their religion of Puritanism.
The Salem Witch Trials took place in the summer and into the fall of the year 1692, and during this dark time of American history, over 200 people had been accused of witchcraft and put in jail. Twenty of these accused were executed; nineteen of them were found guilty and were put to death by hanging. One refused to plead guilty, so the villagers tortured him by pressing him with large stones until he died. The Salem Witch Trials was an infamous, scary time period in American history that exhibited the amount of fear people had of the devil and the supernatural; the people of this time period accused, arrested, and executed many innocent people because of this fear, and there are several theories as to why the trials happened (Brooks).
After 19 executions, it is believed the people of Salem began to feel the trials had gotten out of control. Reverend Parris, Cotton Mather, and some jurors conceded to errors in judgment (Linder, 2009). Spectral evidence was no longer permissible, which meant that no one else could be accused of witchcraft based on hear say or opinion. Even with the admission of poor judgment and errors, none of the accuser or elders ever stepped up and accepted responsibility for the hysteria or apologized. The Salem witch hunts which were generated by fear, social, political, religious, and economic issues probably set the stage for a the American judicial system and eventually the separation of church and state.