The Salem Witch trials were when hundreds of citizens of Salem, Massachusetts were put on trial for devil-worship or witchcraft and more than 20 were executed in 1692. This is an example of mass religion paranoia. The whole ordeal began in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris. People soon began to notice strange behavior from Parris’s slave, Tituba, and his daughters. Many claimed to have seen Parris’s daughters doing back magic dances in the woods, and fall to the floor screaming hysterically. Not so long after, this strange behavior began to spread across Salem.
Most of the accusations were made against innocent people for reasons of economic conditions, teenage boredom, and personal jealousies. Of course there was also the fact that people weren’t aware of the certain mental illnesses caused by their environment. For example the one of the first people to be accused of witchcraft was a young girl named Betty Paris who one day became very ill with convulsive erogtism. Ergot is a fungus that invades growing kernels of rye, so it is very likely that she got sick from simply eating bread. Since people were scientifically unable to explain her sudden seizures and hallucinations she was accused of witchcraft.
This form of accusing holds zero form of justice. The accusers weren’t even able to explain what happened themselves, so instead of worrying about t...
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...ged. Her case probably wasn’t the only one that ended like this.
In 1702, the general court finally ruled the trials unlawful. Soon after the main accuser Anne Putman was made to apologize to the people of Salem, as well as Samuel Sewall, a judge during the trials, publicly confessed of guilt and apologized. Reverend Samuel Sewall also confessed of his misjudgment, but he mostly blamed others. Massachusetts even formally apologized for the event in Salem. Even though it took ten years the trials were finally over and the citizens of Salem were able to live with the right to having a fairer trial. Unfortunately, after this whole ordeal the Salem community became separated.
The general court was set on a path to separating the beliefs of the church and the government. Luckily, years later a law would be passed in the Constitution that separates church and state.
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