The Salem witch trials were a series of prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts. The trials resulted in the executions of 20 people, most of them women.
The Salem witch trials began in February 1692, when a group of girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil. The girls said that they had been afflicted by certain local women whom they accused of being witches.
The accusations quickly spread throughout the village and soon dozens of people were accused of witchcraft. The Salem witch trials became a major focus of attention in the American colonies and raised questions about religious tolerance and civil rights.
In May 1692, the Governor of Massachusetts issued a decree ordering the arrest of anyone suspected of witchcraft. More than 150 people were arrested and brought to trial.
The Salem witch trials ended in September 1692, when the Governor of Massachusetts declared that there was no evidence to support the accusations of witchcraft. The Salem witch trials have long been a source of fascination and controversy. They remain an important part of American history.
In the town of Salem, the witchcraft concerns erupted at the home of Reverend Samuel Parris (Wilson, 18). Her nine-year-old daughter Betty Parris and her eleven-year-old cousin Abigail Williams were both within his house (19). They played with white magic together as well as many other adolescent girls in the village. On Samuel Parris’s passage from Barbados to Salem, he acquired an Indian slave named Tituba, her spouse John Indian, and a handful of additional slaves.
Salem was a theocracy, which is a type of government in which religious leaders govern in the name of God (20). Salem’s government and religion were not separate; they were one (20). The Puritans who lived there believed that their way of life was ordained by God, and anyone who did not follow their teachings was considered to be evil (20).
The Salem witch trials began in February of 1692, when Betty Parris and Abigail Williams started having fits (21). They would scream, throw things, contort their bodies, and utter strange sounds (21). The village doctor, William Griggs, could not find a physical cause for their condition, so he concluded that they must be under the influence of witchcraft (21). At that time, the belief that witches could afflicted people with illnesses was widely accepted (21).
The girls named three women as their tormentors: Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne (22). Tituba was an easy target because she was a slave and came from a different culture (22). Sarah Good was poor and did not attend church regularly, so she was also considered to be suspicious (22).
Sarah Osborne had been bedridden for several months and was not able to defend herself (22). Salem Village constable John Hathorne arrested Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne on the night of March 1, 1692 (23). They were brought before Salem Village magistrate John Hathorne the next day and questioned about their supposed involvement in witchcraft (23).
During the Salem witch trials, more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft, and 19 were ultimately executed (24). The last execution took place on September 22, 1692, when eight people were hanged at Gallows Hill (24). The Salem witch trials finally came to an end in May 1693, when the governor of Massachusetts issued a pardon for all those who had been accused but not yet tried (25).
Today, the Salem witch trials are remembered as one of the most tragic events in American history. Many innocent people lost their lives because of the fear and paranoia that gripped Salem Village in 1692.
The Reverend Samuel Parris now invited several physicians to look at the youngsters (Wilson, 23). Dr. William Griggs identified them as having epilepsy and then witchcraft (23). His maidservant began to exhibit symptoms soon after his diagnosis (23). Cotton Mather’s book Memorable Providence’s Relation to Witchcraft and Possession likely led him to his conclusion. It said how Cotton Mather had eradicated witchcraft through prayer and fasting in the book (Wilson, 23).
It is important to note that Salem was not the only place in New England where accusations of witchcraft were made (Wilson, 23). In 1692, there were also accusations in Andover and Boston (23).
The Salem witch trials have been a topic of much debate. There are many different explanations for what may have caused the Salem witch trials. Some say that it was mass hysteria, while others believe that there was actual witchcraft taking place. No matter what the cause was, the Salem witch trials are an important part of American history.
Samuel Parris now began to adopt the same technique, compelling the entire congregation to do likewise. They did it, not only that, but also had church Deacons and other church officials assist them in prayer. The youngsters continued to scream and cause a fuss no matter what they did, then ask what they had just done.
Salem now had reached a boiling point, and people were starting to accuse each other of being witches. The first three women to be accused were Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba. All three of these women were known to be social outcasts in the Salem Village. To make matters even worse for them, they all confessed to being witches.
The Salem witch trials came to an end in 1693 when the governor voids the convictions of those who had not already been executed. Although the Salem witch trials only lasted for about a year, they have left a lasting impression on American history and society.
According to English folklore, when Tituba made the cake, she added a special ingredient that was said to attract the devil’s agents. Sibley thought the cake would help them figure out who the witch was. John Indian collected the children’s urine and mixed it with rye to bake into a cake in ashes for Tituba. They then fed the mixture to their household dog.
Salem Village, was a theocracy; therefore, church and state were one. The Salem Village minister was their leader and made all of their decisions. The first person to be accused of witchcraft was Sarah Good. She was homeless and often begged for food or money. She was also known to have fits of anger and would sometimes mutter to herself. Because of these things, she was an easy target for the Salem witch trials.
Another person who was accused was Sarah Osborne. She was an elderly woman who rarely left her home. She was also known to be a bit eccentric. For example, she once claimed that she had seen a lady’s headless ghost riding on a horse through Salem.