The Salem Witch Trials: Childs Play Or Conspiracy? Essay

The Salem Witch Trials: Childs Play or Conspiracy? The Salem Witch Trials began in February of 1692 and continued to 1693 taking place in colonial Salem, Massachusetts. The birth of a colony in the New World had produced much chaos for its residents due to a lack of survival skills, ongoing attacks from the Native Americans, illness, and the basic elements concerning ones nutritional values and sanitary procedures.

The Natives were constantly attacking the colony because of the colonists’ intrusive actions towards the invasion of land and the spread of disease within their tribe. Ultimately, it was the lack of communication and the degradation the Europeans gave to the Natives that caused fiction on their relationship. Back in England, King Charles II revoked the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s royal charter, a document legalizing the colonization of the area, due to a violation of several rules regarding religious beliefs and the discrimination against Anglicans.

Then in 1689 the new English rulers, William and Mary, started a war with France in the American colonies; thus sending refugees into the county of Essex and Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and causing a strain on the already limited sources in Salem. However, there were other factors that also paved way for the trials such as a small pox epidemic and the growing rivalries between families within the colony. In Salem, Massachusetts, there was a strong puritanical reign amongst the colony. The puritan religion had very strict behavioral characteristics.

It is said that Salem had a fear that the Devil had been trying to infiltrate the Christian community and had been giving certain people power to harm others in return for their loyalty. Puritans feared their religion was under attack and worried they were losing control of their colony. The political instability and threat to their religion created a feeling of uneasiness and discontent in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. There was a consensus that the Devil had been the reason for all the hardships the colonists had faced.

The concern about witches in Salem began when a group of young girls, Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, and Ann Putnam Jr. began to throw their “fits”; hiding under furniture making odd noises, contorting in pain and unnatural bodily movements. Without a doubt the girls had to be examined. When doctors couldn’t find a physical explanation to what had been occurring, they were diagnosed as being bewitched. They later named three women as those who had been hurting them; Tituba, the Parris’ slave, Sarah Good, a poor beggar, and Sarah Osborne, who had a legal altercation with the Putnam family. Tituba is said to have been born in an Arawak village in South America, captured as a small child and taken to Barbados as a slave.

She was then purchased by Parris as a teenager who brought her to Boston. She was one of the first women to be accused of practicing witchcraft in Salem in late February of 1692, said to have bewitched Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, and Ann Putnam Ir through the fortune telling technique of dropping an egg white into a glass of water and interpreting the image formed. With the aid of a neighbor, Mary Sibley, Tituba and her husband, John Indian, made a witch cake composed of rye meal and the girls’ urine. This cake was then fed to a dog in hopes of unveiling that that bewitched them.

However, it backfired and the girls later named Tituba along with two others, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne. During her examination among the magistrates, Tituba confessed on March 1, 1690. Her confession would convince those of Salem that the Devil had invaded their community. She confessed to the signing of the Devil’s book with blood and reading the other two accused in as well as others, flying in the air on a pole, and pinching and choking some of the girls. She told of seeing cats’ wolves, a yellow bird, and dogs and having conversations with evil pigs, dogs, and rats ho all ordered her to do their bidding.

However, the turning point of her confession was where she told of a white-haired man in a dark serge coat from Boston, with whom she saw both Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne with, who ordered her to hurt the children or he would kill her. She described the Devil to appear to her in forms of a hog, a great, black dog, a red cat, a black cat, a yellow bird, and a hairy creature that walked on two legs. She later retracted her confession based on a beating received from Parris forcing her to confess. However, her case never went to trial; based on the lack of evidence.

She was spared from the gallows but stayed in prison because Parris refused to pay her fees. She was later purchased her for the amount of her prison fees from Parris to an unknown buyer along with John Indian. After her release, there was no mention of either of the two. Sarah Good was one of the first three women accused of witchcraft. Sarah Good’s first husband, Daniel Poole, died in 1682 and was later remarried to William Good. She received her inheritance from her stepfather given to her by her father who died at his own hands in 1672.

She sold it to pay of her debts, leaving them poor and begging on others charity for housing, work, and food. She was accused of witchcraft in 1692 and examined on March 1, 1692. She was implicated by Tituba along with Sarah Osborne. Her daughter, Dorcas Good ages four or five, was also arrested on March 24 implicating her mother as a witch. Once examined and put in prison, Sarah gave birth to a child who passed shortly after. She was tried June of 1692; however though no evidence was presented she was still convicted by the jury and condemned to hanging.

She was hung near Gallows Hill in Salem on July 19, 1692. As she stood minutes before her death she spoke against Reverend Nicolas Noyes who called her a witch and urged her to confess. She said “I am no more a witch then you are a wizard, and if you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink. ” Reverend Noyes later died in 1717 because of an internal hemorrhage and choked on his own blood. Sarah “Goody” Osborne was born in Watertown, Massachusetts in about 1643. She married Robert Prince, moved to Salem, and had two children. Prince later died and left land to his son when they come of age.

Sarah, however, had tried to take her children’s land for her and her new husband. She was later accused of witchcraft in February of 1692. She never confessed or accused others to witchcraft. She claimed her innocence and asserted her theological claim that the devil could take the shape of another person without their c compliance. Her case never to trial; she became ill before she went to prison and died shackled in prison on May 10, 1692 at age 49. By not accusing others of witchcraft along with her refusal to compromise her integrity, she closed an opportunity to save her life which eventually cost Sarah Osborne her life.

The Salem Witch Trials cost many their lives and others their reputations. As time passed on, an apology was amended clearing the names of those who fell victims to the trials. There are many theories detailing what could’ve been the cause to the girls’ reactions; their parents encouraging them to accuse those against their independent religious practice, boredom, an infectious fungus in the wheat crop, child abuse, epilepsy, and mental illness. All possible causations of their behavior, but the events that occurred during that time can only imagined due to the lack of evidence and knowledge.