History Of The Salem Witch Trials Essay

In February of 1692, the Salem Witch Trials began. During this time the community of Salem, Massachusetts were Christians who were in constant fear of the Devil. They feared that the Devil was continuously trying to destroy their Christian community. They were isolated in this New World and often frightened because of the thought of the Devil taking over their lives. They were also under a lot of stress, trying to make it in the New World, which only put more pressure on them.

Then the trigger happened to start the trials when Tituba, who was accused of witchcraft, confessed that she was doing work for the Devil, along with some of her friends. Hysteria soon swept over Salem and a witch hunt began. Girls began to have symptoms of which craft which included, “suffering “fits,” hiding under furniture, contorting in pain and experiencing fever. ” When the real reason is, they could have had a mental illness, some sort of disease, or possibly child abuse.

A long list of girls was accused of witch craft by the afflicted girls and some believe that the Reverend was telling the girls to accuse certain people that they did not like. Then, in May, they set up a special “Court of Oyer and Terminer” to hear the cases that dealt with witch craft. The court had eight judges on it. Bridget Bishop was the first “witch” to be convicted on June 10, 1692 and sentenced to death.

“More than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft—the Devil’s magic—and 20 were executed. Rebecca Nurse execution was a turning point in the Salem Witch Trials, she was a wellrespected member in the community and many signed a petition for her release, once she was executed the community began to get suspicious about the witch trials. Many other respected people began to be executed and finally, “On October 29, Phips dismissed the Court of Oyer and Terminer. ” The remaining prisoners were tried, but were found not guilty and most of them were released, ending the Salem Witch Trials. A similar occurrence happened in the 1950s, referred to as the red scare.

Joseph McCarthy was the Senator of Wisconsin and as his term was ending, he knew his first term did not appeal to the people and he began to look for ways to secure his seat as the Senator for another term. During this time the people were already terrified of communism due to “the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb. Later that year, Communist forces declared victory in the Chinese Civil War and established the People’s Republic of China.

In 1950, North Korea’s Sovietbacked army invaded its pro-Western neighbors to the South; in response, the United States entered the conflict on the side of South Korea. McCarthy then claimed he knew of 205 people in the State Department who were communists. The people became terrified and demanded that the list of those must be intensely interviewed to determine if they were in fact communists. The people on the list were not communists, but for two years he investigated them and it became known as McCarthyism. He also accused many public citizens such as newspaper writers who went against his views. Then in October of 1953, McCarthy began to go downhill. He accused the military to be communists.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower decided that was enough and it was time for him to step in. “Through the televised investigations into the United States Army and the reporters’ attack, the nation grew to realize that McCarthy was “evil and unmatched in malice. “‘ In December of 1954 he lost his position and the media became uninterested in the communist’s allegation McCarthy had put forward. He later died in 1957 due to heavy drinking. The Salem Witch trials and McCarthyism were similar in many ways.

The citizens in both situations were already struck with fear due to previous events and in both situations a trigger caused mass panic. In the Salem witch trials, it was the confession of Tituba and when McCarthy declared he knew of Communists in the State Department. Neither of these events were factual. This caused the people of these towns to become filled with fear and anxiety which caused mass panic and the situation grew out of control. It was only until people of power and respected people began to become convicted that the citizens realized how ridiculous the accusations in both these situations were.

Once the citizens came to realization that the person making those accusations were basing it off unreliable facts, their power began to fall. The Salem Witch trials ended in the same matter the rule of McCarthyism ended. The people stopped panicking and looked at the facts of the situation instead of relying on unqualified people and started relying on facts. It is crazy what people will do when they are in fear of accusations made by people of power and how fast the hysteria can spread.