Essay about Origins, Consequences And Legacy Of The Salem Witch Trials

Essay about Origins, Consequences And Legacy Of The Salem Witch Trials

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From June 1692 to August 1692 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony more than 30 individuals (mostly young girls) cried out under spells and in pain and accused about 200 neighbors, relatives and friends of being “afflicted.” These 200 individuals (primarily rich, independent women) were suspected and charged with witchcraft, then punishable by death (Campbell, “The Salem Witch Trials”). Fifty-two were tried. Thirty were condemned. Twenty were executed, most by hanging; one man was crushed to death with stones. Five died in prison. When the witch trials ended slightly more than 250 ordinary people had been drawn into this “ruinous and murderous vortex” (Roach ix, back book cover; “The 1692 Salem Witch Trials;” Brooks,“History of the Salem Witch Trials”). This startling historical event is significant in its own right, but also because it parallels events in our own times that also caused widespread panic and hysteria.
This brief essay describes the origins, consequences and legacy of the Salem Witch Trials.
The Salem Witch Trials traumatized the Massachusetts Bay Colony, irrevocably changed lives and revealed the dangers and consequences of mass hysteria and panic.
Origins and Dimensions of the Salem Witch Trials
Puritan immigrants in the 17th century struggled to establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They endured hardships such as small pox epidemics, Indian tribal threats, business losses, pirates roaming the coastline, “starvation, war, [and] political struggles.” Changes in English rulers created political instability and threats to religious practices that “created a feeling of uneasiness and discontent” in the colony (Brooks, “History of the Salem Witch Trials”).
Fear and suspicion eventually developed in the late 17th centu...


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... surrounding the trials help historians and sociologists “understand the issues of that time and apply our understanding to our own society.” The early 1950s House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and McCarthy hearings identified alleged communists in government and the entertainment field. These accusations and their consequences mirror the temperament, incidents, accusations and consequences displayed in the 1692-1693 events (“The 1692 Salem Witch Trials”). In both instances, innocent people were accused of offenses they did not commit. The evidence against both groups of the accused was sparse and often unsubstantiated. The ridicule and rejection that resulted echoed down the years. If the Salem Witch Trials had not occurred it is likely the lives of the accused would have been saved and the torment and satanic cult that developed would have been avoided.

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