Who doesn’t like a little Witch Hunt?

The Salem Witch Trials are an extremely interesting event in American history. It starts with two young girls, Elizabeth and Abigail Williams, Reverend Parris’s daughter and niece respectively, who, starting, on January 1692, started having fits where they would throw things, speak in a weird language and contorting themselves into strange positions. A local doctor blamed it on the supernatural. Ann Putman also started having similar episodes. On February 29, under pressure from two magistrates, Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne, the three girls blame three women for their woes, Tituba the slave, Sarah Good the beggar and Sarah Osborne the elderly woman. Tituba was the only one who actually confessed to having dealings with the devil. After this, a hysteria fell on the town and accusations went flying. By the end, 200 people were accused, 19 were hanged on the gallows, a 71 year old man was pressed with stones, several others died in jail and two dogs were killed. What is interesting about the trials are the ways that witchcraft was tested. Some of the more interesting ones were crushing the person under stones, which one accused man underwent and died of because he would not testify. Another witch test was recitation of the lord’s words, which proved you innocent only if you read it perfectly without any stutters, etc… which seems pretty impossible a task to ask people to do. Of course, if it was only two girls who started this, there probably would have been no trials to speak of, but, at the time the trials happened people were already looking for scapegoats to blame for their troubles.After King William’s war, refugees went to the county Essex, specifically Salem, Massachusetts, where there was already some discourse between the poor and wealthy. The new refugees put an even bigger strain on this rivalry and the new minister, Reverend Samuel Parris, whose rigid and greedy ways made him unliked in the villages, and the villagers, of course, blamed all their troubles on the Devil. Its also at least a little funny that this was all stopped because Governor Phipps finally acted, after 20 people and two dogs died, because his wife was being accused…And because he finally listened to Cotton Mather who cautioned the use of spectral evidence, which is when the accusers would say that they saw the accused harming them in visions or dreams. Which brings the question to mind, what if he hadn’t stepped, would these trials have kept going? and for how long? After the trials ended, the judges and jurors apologized and reparations were, of course, paid to the families of those affected.







4 thoughts on “Who doesn’t like a little Witch Hunt?

  1. I think your post gives a lot of detail on the trials, and it’s really thought provoking as to what the outcomes of the Salem Witch Trials would have been if Mather hasn’t intercepted them and eventually ended them.

  2. You have a lot of good information and detail. It is a bit bad that these witch trials were in part because people wanted to blame their troubles on something. You also make a good point in asking whether of not the trials would end if Mather hadn’t stepped in.

  3. I like your post; it gives a lot of information. I also think that it is very interesting how people went super crazy after a few girls started acting possessed. It’s almost like these peopel were bored and they wanted some action.

  4. If Governor Phipps hadn’t stepped in, I think the witch trials would have continued for a longer time until either people would realize that no witchcraft is occurring, or until someone else that was powerful was affected by them in a non-direct way, so they would try to put a stop to it.
    I feel as if to us, when looking at the total affected, the number of people doesn’t seem that great, but it left a lot of imprints like setting examples for other events or in literature, which brings its importance to be much greater, beyond its numbers.
    You do a good job of summarizing the witch trials with important details that were to the point. 🙂

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