The Salem Witch Trials in U.S History

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The Salem Witch Trials

The Salem Witch Trials took place within 1692-1693, in Salem, Massachusetts. During the 17th century, witches were accused of having had sold their soul to Satan in exchange to perform magical deeds, this is where people believed witches got their abilities from. These years were some of the most catastrophic and infamous events taken place in American History. Innocent individuals were accused of committing witchcraft, including some of the villages most prominent figures. in which the punishment resulted by getting executed, and in one case, a gentleman names Giles Corey was pressed with a pile of stones after he refused to enter a plea in his arrangement which resulted in death. During this time period, mostly women were blamed and were put on trial, if found guilty. This was lead by a group of young afflicted girls in the town on Salem who cried out names of Salem's most notable figures. These young girls had gotten incredibly sick, uncontrollable convulsions, violent contortion, Outbursts of screaming, and really high fever.

Therefore, they had the local doctor, William Griggs come and see what was wrong, and what he diagnosed these young girls with was bewitchment, meaning that someone has put some sort of black magic in the individual. Which was a real diagnosis back in the day. Additionally, there were fears about religious extremities as many people distinguished witchcraft as being counterproductive. Majority of the Puritans believed in witchcraft as a way to harm others, and they further believed that the witchcraft was an entering partnership with the devil in exchange for diabolical capabilities. As a result, this accumulated into conflicts with the church members. At the time, practicing witchcraft was considered a severe crime and was often punished with serious consequences. These trials came to commonly be referred to as the Salem Witch Trials because some of the most famous cases were heard in the Terminer courts in Salem.

Furthermore, after many deaths, the Boston minister spoke out against the trials. He stated, It were better if 10 suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned. and this was a huge statement. Afterward, the witch hunt hysteria subsided, most individuals went back to their regular life, including the girls whose accusations had sparked this tragedy. Only one of the girls, Ann Putnam, ever publicly acknowledged her role in the hysteria. In 1706, she stood before the church and the pastor read her statement which read, It was a great delusion of Satan that deceived me at that sad time...I desire to lie in the dust and earnestly beg for forgiveness. but even for those pardoned, life was never the same. Majority would live the remainder of their lives in poverty and sickness, these individuals reputation was forever tarnished.

In Addition to that, In my research, I learned more about the kind of punishment people were put through. For example, if an individual was found guilty they were put in a prison basement with a small wooden structure, and chained to a wall, the reason for this kind of punishment was because officials believed this would prevent their spirits from escaping the jail and tormenting victims. This place was identified as The Witch Jail and was described a cold, dark, and a very lonely place to be in. In addition, it is said that women were often told to get naked and undergo physical examinations of their unclothed bodies, and this was a consistent humition woman were put through with no remorse because they were seen as disliked social outcasts. Often, young children were also accused and died young, even dogs; during this time period, 2 dogs were executed because of their questionable engagement in witchcraft. Despite after such a terrible death, the corpses were thrown into shallow graves, except for some victims such as Rebecca Nurse, John Proctor, and George Jacobs, they were eventually retrieved by their loved ones and placed in Christian burials. During January 15, 1692, the Puritans acknowledged their shameful behavior and took action in their wrongdoings and held a day of prayer; also known as The Day Of Humiliation this was done to plead with God for mercy and for his forgiveness.

Although, it took approximately 250 years to properly apologize for the catastrophic events of 1692. On the 325th event, the city of Salem dedicated a memorial place to memorialize the victims of the Salem witch executions, inscribed with the names of 19 victims. This memorial is located across from the original street where these events took place, it also brings justice for wrongfully accusing the victims in 1692. Furthermore, Salem was also long known for a darkand and currupted time in the past where people turned on each other. Although, it's now known as a community where people turn toward each other, Driscoll wrote. Having this site identified marks an important opportunity for Salem, as a city, to come together once again. Additionally, The original home of John Proctor, who was an accused witch and was executed in the community during the witch trials, the home is currently on the market, so people are really interested in obtaining this speific house from the witch trials.

Furthermore, The Salem witch trials continue to remain relevant in U.S History because of McCarthyism this was created by an American political guy. He blamed Americans of being spies. He stated, We have spies among us, watching us every day to release our private information to the Russian country. He created chaos and paranoia among the nation. Americans everyday blamed each other for weird occurrences daily. Creating what we still remember as McCarthyism. McCarthyism is based on the Salem Witch Trials. Basically stated the hysteria that was caused at that time. Now because of McCarthyism this same hysteria and paranoia came to haunt us once again.

Lastly, by comparing the Salem witch trials into a modern issue, it is important to note that the idea of witchcraft wasn't thought about like it is today, there were a lot of different injustices. Although, one similarity and a recent issue is Religion, the killing of innocent individuals, and freedom. Throughout the years, hysteria has caused a lot of disruption and has brought chaos bringing out the fear in people. To begin with, independence in todays era is more allowable in the United States, individuals are free to do whatever they please, unlike the Salem witch trials, people would always get questioned about their every move and having them in an environment where they had no option.

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The Salem Witch Trials In U.S History. (2019, May 28). Retrieved March 3, 2024 , from

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