The New England Colonies of seventeenth century America were quite different from the other colonies in North America at this time. The climate was colder and the rules of religion much stricter, thus having an impact on the colonists living in this colony. The physical and cultural environments of these colonies were without question a factor that played a major part in the Salem Witch Trials.
John M. Murrin’s essay Coming to Terms with the Salem Witch Trials helps detail the events of these trials and explains why they might have occurred. The witch trials happened during a “particularly turbulent time in the history of colonial Massachusetts and the early modern atlantic world” (Murrin, 339). Salem came to be in 1629 and less than seventy years later found itself in a mess of witch craft.
“The trials were not representative of the overall Puritan experiment, as commonly thought, but rather marked a significant deviation from the group’s standard legal practices” (339). Traditionally when someone in the community fell ill or a pet or farm animal became sick or died suddenly it was due to the practice of witchcraft. Typically an older women would be accused of maleficium or evil deeds by only men.
Looking at Salem we can see that the process for accusing someone of witchcraft changes significantly. Women started to accuse other women and they also accused a few men. Murrin details that this caused a challenge in the local judical system: “…a number of judicial irregularities, including an unusual heavy dependence by the courts on spectral evidence ( when an accused witch’s spirit or specter, supposedly tormented the victim) and the use of open confessions by the accused to escape punishment” (339). New England had a organ...
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...in late 1688. Very likely, as Norton argues, they were quite prepared to blame the devil and his witches for their own failures” (348-349). There were many problems after these Indian attacks occurred. The magistrates of this town decided to use witchcraft to place blame on others instead of taking responsibility into their own hands.
In closing,the Puritan culture in New England and in Massachusetts was much stricter than in the other colonies in the country. The way the Puritans lived called for a plain and religious way of life. Members of the church who slipped from this way of life were ostracized from the community and often named as witches. When things turned bad in Salem, witchcraft immediately came into play. The Salem Witch trials were a difficult time in history. That showed a time severe intolerance and caused the lives of many people to end in tragedy.
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