Honors American History
23 October 2014
McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials
McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials are two points in American History when citizens were accused by other people out of a fear of something they did not have an explanation for. Widespread, irrational fear during both these times played on the American psyche and caused mass panic. These were horrible times in history and resulted in many different thoughts that played on people’s brains and caused issues throughout the country.
The Salem Witch Trials took place in Massachusetts in 1692. This time in our country was ruled by Puritan ideas. Everything you did, you did for God so that you could go to Heaven and not be damned to hell. During this time, three young girls who were playing “touched a spark to a powder keg,” which caused a huge strife in the Puritan community . This explosion exceeded any previous witchcraft “outbreaks” in the American colonies and it led to more and more people being accused of witchcraft. Salem was a community in turmoil during this time. They experienced bad weather which reduced harvests. The epidemic of small pox had swept through the town and infected many people. This all led to the townspeople to fear that witchcraft was to blame.
There were two districts: Salem Town and Salem Village. Salem Town is second largest city in Massachusetts. It was rapidly becoming a major trade center and a place where everyone in the town could socialize. Salem Village was largely made up of small households and farmers. Salem Village was trying to separate so that they would be free of control from the Town and its merchants and businessmen. Salem Village was able to separate in 1672....
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...blic began to believe them without them needing to prove anything.
Clearly, McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials are two points in American history when citizens were accused by other people out of a fear of something they did not have an explanation for. The national fear during both these times played on the American psyche and caused mass panic. In an effort to make up for their insecurities (The Puritans protected themselves from being damned to hell and during the “Red Scare” to protect themselves from becoming overruled by Communists) they accused other people of their biggest fears. In both of these instances the hysteria calmed down because there were not facts to support the accusations. This resulted in having the American mind think differently and caused people to do irrational things, such as accusing innocent people of being witches or Communists.
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