Witch-Hunts in America

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Salem Witch trials

The Puritans believed their religion made them responsible to cleanse their community of evil and witch craft; this responsibility was carried out by falsely accusing and executing individuals, whose rights were violated during this process.

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Salem was in political and religious turmoil. Two families, the Putnams and the Porters were trying to be leaders of the village, few people were accepting leadership roles in the town, and the topic of independence for Salem was undergoing consideration. The people of Salem were members of the Puritan religion. This religion consisted of the belief that the Devil was real and was present in their daily lives. These conditions and beliefs provided the type environment where fear and hysteria could develop and thrive. This was a defining factor for the Salem Witch Trials.

Samuel Parris and his family arrived in 1688 after being invited by an influential person of the name Thomas Putnam. Betty Parris, the daughter of Samuel, unexpectedly became ill in the winter of 1692. The only reasonable explanation the community could create was witchcraft. This idea began to grow and spread when Anne Putnam, Mercy Lewis, and Mary Warren coincidentally began to show the same symptoms as Betty. When the doctor’s treatments failed, he resorted to blaming supernatural elements. This fit the common belief that witches targeted children and thus, witchcraft became the feasible reasoning for the children’s’ illness.

Throughout the process of the trials, the amount of citizens imprisoned outnumbered the amount of those still present in the community. Livestock and orphans were unattended; the economy of Salem was in a downward spiral. The trials claimed the lives of seventeen men and woman and two dogs.

The members of Salem were also Puritans that followed a strict religion that overflowed into their government. Their religion required them to cleanse their town of evil when it was discovered. This was another responsibility the citizens believed they had. Not all people involved had pure intentions. Those tried for witchcraft were deprived of their unalienable rights. Though these rights were not established yet, humans possessed an understanding of everyone’s right to life and property. Both rights were taken away from those accused. The supposed responsibilities of the citizens of Salem consequentially desecrated the rights of their fellow society members.

The economy of Salem suffered greatly, but the embarrassment of the town for unnecessary murders exceeded all other results. Salem had few citizens left after they executed and imprisoned the vast majority of their town. Land and livestock were left without owners. Shop owners that were accused found it difficult to re-assimilate into the society and their businesses, in turn, suffered. Salem felt heavy remorse for their actions and public confessions of guilt and shame were published and spread throughout the nation. Salem was left to compensate for their mistakes but the dead could not be brought back to life. Though the Salem Witch Trials came to a close, witch-hunts in America did not. Salem was just one case of a superfluous tragedy.

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Witch-Hunts In America. (2019, May 23). Retrieved October 1, 2022 , from

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