A Citizen of Salem, MA during the Witch Trials
Many people in Salem, MA thought that the devil had arrived in their area, as what they witnessed had never happened before. The events led to a series of trials before the magistrate court in 1692 when witnesses claimed that more than one hundred people were involved in the witchcraft (Roark, et al., 2014). The Salem Witchcraft Trials took approximately three months, where accusations were leveled mostly against old women, resulting in death sentences and imprisonment. The Salem Witch Trial was just an example of a mass witch-hunt that has ever happened in the American history, where both scholars and professional audiences were fascinated by the events, which were more of economic aspect than religious beliefs.
New England became a British colony when the English monarchy seized it from the Dutch. The English monarchy pushed for the establishment of a Quaker colony, thus attracting more settlers from Europe, as well as religious faiths (Roark, et al., 2014). However, New England communities, who were Puritans, did not like Quakers and they treated them with cruel severity. Before 1692, rumors had that some villages neighboring Salem were practicing witchcraft. Most narratives vividly tell the events that occurred in 1692 as relentless and powerful upheaval, which brought social, political, as well as economic commotion to New England (Latner, 2008).
No one knew the whole truth behind the events in Salem, but in a society where men hold power, it was quite difficult to understand why a few adolescent girls, who seemed to be drunk with unanticipated attention, permitted their imaginations to run berserk. According to Roark, et al. (2014), the bewitched girls claimed that they were virtually pinched, choked, and bitten by the accused witch, who coerced them to write down their names in the devil’s book. One of the accused women, Sarah Osborne, was just an elderly lady who, according to Puritans, carried the sin of not attending to church for a whole year while Tituba pleaded guilty of performing occult rituals but was not involved in the case the young girls (Roark, et al., 2014).
The witchcraft outbreak was just a small-scale affair to most of the affected communities, where only one or two members became victims of the event. Nevertheless, all sixteen village members were accused of witchcraft and were arraigned in the courts during the first three months that the trial took place (Latner, 2008). The trials saw several Salem residents testifying before the magistrates, as they endeavored to prove that the accused were indeed witch. Eventually, nineteen offenders were hanged while more than 150 accused witches were shoved into jails before the trials came to a halt (Roark, et al., 2014). The ending was somewhat strange, as no one accepted to be the mastermind of the witchcraft.
The trials had a lasting effect on American history, as it has taught Americans on dangers of religious extremism, isolationalism, as well as false allegations. After many years, the names of those who were accused falsely were revealed, and this implied that some people in Salem were accusing others whenever they experience something wrong the community. It was a game of the rich against the poor, where the rich took the advantage of the poor to grab their land. Most communities became targets for accusation, despite experiencing a few incidences of witchcraft in their regions. However, the trials in Salem assisted in ending the outburst of witchcraft in Salem and its surrounding regions.
Latner, R. (2008). The Long and Short of Salem Witchcraft: Chronology and Collective Violence in 1692. Journal of Social History, 42(1), 137-156,254-255. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/198959862?accountid=1611
Roark, J. L., Johnson, M. P., Cohen, P. C., Stage, S., & Hartmann, S. M. (2014). The American Promise: A Concise History. Bedford/st. Martins.