Puritans And Salem Witch Trials

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The year of 1962 marked a very important time in the history of the United States. It was a time where religion, culture, and societal as well as gender roles ruled people’s lives and heavily influenced their ways of living. More specifically this year marked the start of what would soon be known as the Salem Witch Trials. More than 200 people would be accused of witchcraft in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts between February of 1662 and May of 1663.

A series of trials were run for the accused, but in the end 20 were declared guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. Throughout the trials, members of the English Protestants known as Puritans played an important role in the process and outcomes of many of the accused. The Puritans followed strict moral codes in order to please God in which they believed would punish them for any wrongdoings. They influenced the witch trials in a few ways such as their hostility towards people who were “different”. Puritans didn’t like to accept people who didn’t follow their strict moral codes, thus witches were frowned upon and thought to be committing sins. Although the Puritans were very strict on the way they lived and their perception of how others should, they were also very fair.

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During the court trials, they would grant pardons for people who would admit guilt or tell the truth as they respected people’s honesty. The Salem Witch Trials would be heavily influenced by Puritan beliefs and would mark an important time in our history. The Salem Witch Trials got its name from the prosecution of witches in Salem, Massachusetts. It began in late 1691, although the killing of witches had been somewhat sporadic in Europe and the colonies. The initial event that sparked the belief in witches occured when a group of young girls began experienced fits and nightmares.

As there was no medical explanation that was known of and could account for the strange behaviors of these girls, people turned to the belief that it was a result of witchcraft. After this, the fear of witches began to grow and people were so paranoid that civilians were accusing others of being witches. People accused their neighbors, friends, and in some cases even people in their own family, partially out of the fear that if they didn’t accuse anyone then they themselves may be deemed a witch. The majority of the accused were women, although after time some children were also being questioned for witchcraft.

In the end, approximately 150 people were sentenced and brought to court for witchcraft, but for the court that number of people became too much to handle and those who admitted guilt were set free. 19 were sentenced to hanging as they would not “speak truthfully” and admit to being witches.

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