In the British colony, Massachusetts, witchcraft hysteria broke out between February 1692 and May 1693, resulting in the execution of twenty people and the jailing of 342 people. The Salem Witch Trials began after young girls in Salem claimed to be possessed by the Devil and started holding local women of Salem accountable of witchcraft. The effects the Salem Witch Trials had on the colony were separation of the church and the state and mass hysteria. In the 17th century, witchcraft was a serious crime, and convicted witches could be put to death.
The following will discuss what the Salem Witch trials were, what happened during the time frame, and how it shaped Salem Village after it ended. The Salem Witch Trials were a chain of hearings and prosecutions of people held accountable for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. When a group of young girls began to display bizarre behaviors such as seizures, screaming, and trans-like states without physical symptoms of illness, the villagers of Salem believed it was the work of the Devil.
The girls blamed the way they were acting on witchcraft, and also named three women who cast spells on them: Tituba, a slave who told the girls witchcraft stories, Sarah Good, A beggar, and Sarah Osborne, an old lady who only went to church occasionally. Not just women were accused of witchcraft, men were also accused. For example, on April 11th, 1692 John Proctor was the first man arrested and held accountable for witchcraft. Although it was known as the Salem Witch Trials, several counties, such as Andover, were involved.
The Puritan lifestyle was very strict, and the slightest change in behavior, missing church for instance, a rose suspicion. People were so caught up with the idea of witches and witchcraft, when they had little knowledge of misfortunes, like sickness or death, they blamed supernatural forces. The disasters were believed to be upon them through supernatural forces, like witchcraft. The powerful beliefs of witchcraft and witches were brought by the English to America; it was part of their belief system and culture, which was passed from generation to generation and responsible for the Salem Witch Trials.
In the small Salem Village, the villagers were quick to blame witchcraft when Reverend Parris’ and several other girls were affected by seizures and lapses into unconsciousness, especially when they learned the girls had been messing with fortunetelling with Tituba. Only Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne were accused at first, but shortly after the witch hunt grew until some of Salem’s most prominent citizens stood accused. Historians believe that the causes of the witch trials had to deal with social and economical animosity behind the accusations, but mostly mass hysteria was the main culprit.
The accusations were not considered unusual because witchcraft beliefs were very strong in this time period. Witches were regular people whose pride, envy, or greed apparently led them to make a pact with the Devil. The people held accountable for witchcraft were claimed to use supernatural powers to torment their neighbors by causing illness, destroying property, or possessing the victim’s body and mind. The fear of witchcraft in the village of Salem overrode doubts about the young girls’ credibility and led local judges to put aside normal procedural safeguards. Judges ignored the law’s ban on “spectral evidence”.
Spectral evidence is a spirit resembling the accused had been seen harming a victim. The number of witchcraft accusations rose to 342 witches sitting in jail. More than half of the girls accusing people of witchcraft were between the ages of eleven to twenty most were servants in other family households. The fear of witchcraft broke ties between families and friends. For example, a minister’s own granddaughter had him condemned. During this time 50 people were able to save themselves by giving false confessions, the twenty others whom refused to confess were executed.
Governor William Phips forbid any more imprisonments of witchcraft in October 1692. Shortly after he suspended all the trials in 1693, he pardoned all the convicted people of witchcraft. This ended the Salem Witch Trials in May 1693. How did the Salem Witch Trials affect Salem and America? In January 1697, Massachusetts’ General Court announced a day of fasting specifically for the tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials. The Court deemed the trails unlawful and illegitimate. The ending of the Salem Witch Trials created a good closure in the community. In 1957, the last witches’ names were cleared.
The people e had realized their mistakes of accusations and made a memorial honoring the deaths of the people accused of witchcraft in 1992. The impact of hysteria is still amongst us today and has not gone away. The Salem Witch Trials have become the focus in many books such as crucible by Arthur Miller. The Salem Witch Trials split apart families, and made life difficult for the accused. Daily chores, like harvesting, were neglected during the Salem Witch Trials. The colonist of Salem, Massachusetts felt ashamed and remorseful about the witch trials.
Colonist began to suffer many misfortunes, and thought God was punishing them for their mistake. Out of all the accusers in the Salem Witch Trials only one girl apologized. Ann Putnam Jr. apologized in 1706 for her part in the Salem Witch Trials. The Salem Witch Trials is a very memorable event in Salem, Massachusetts in the 17th century and also had a very strong impact on American History. Throughout the Salem Witch Trials, hundreds were accuse and most were hung. Friends and families were turned against each other. In this essay | discussed, what the Salem trials were, what happened during the Salem Trials, and how it affected Salem.