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The town of Salem is infamous for its history of witch trials and torture.
The Puritan-dense town indulged in their primitive and often superstitious beliefs regarding religion and social customs. Thus, an ordeal arose with blinded religious and superstitious uproars, diminishing the reputation of Salem in bad books.
Salem began its witch hunt in the late 17th century when two girls of a minister's residence exhibited certain unnatural characteristics. One thing led to another, and Salem witnessed generations of trauma and torture concerning the trials. Read on to find out about the history, aftermath, and some interesting stories about the Salem witches.
The town of Salem witnessed the massacre of many witches at Gallows Hill- all initiated by the testimony of a local doctor and the weird behaviors of a few young girls. But what was to come after these righteous trials became a permanent mark in the name of Salem.
Salem witnessed the first fit of witchcraft madness in 1692. Abigail Williams and Betty Parris displayed signs of convulsion, screaming, shaking, and other violent symptoms that their parents could not explain.
A local doctor, William Griggs, found no other suitable diagnoses and declared the two afflicted girls 'bewitched." Since the girls belonged to a respectful family in Salem, a procession of witch hunts began.
A special court of oyer and terminer was set up to hear the cases of the young girls and deliver justice. This new court was presided by Chief Justice William Stoughton and other magistrates.
Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osburn were accused of being the first three witches of Sale. Though Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn vehemently denied any accusations despite the torture and bully, Tituba confessed to ominous events, black dogs, and that the devil had visited her.
As a punishment, Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn were tried and hanged, while Tituba secured herself a position of acting as an identifier of other witches in Salem.
Witchcraft was believed and supposed to be a women-centric affair. Three-quarters of the accused were women. However, men of high ranks in Salem were also targeted for witchcraft. Puritan minister George Burroughs, farmer and tavern keeper John Proctor, and John Willard were some of the men of rank who were put on trial and hanged for practicing witchcraft.
There were five types of evidence that were of main concern in the special court. First, the accused was made to chant the Lord's name and prayers. Secondly, any birthmarks or blemishes were thoroughly assessed to be portals for Satan's entrance. Third, if anyone pointed out that the accused have caused them misfortune. The fourth was spectral evidence, and lastly, confession.
Judges relied heavily on spectral evidence. If anyone saw a ghost or spirit in the accused, the Puritans would consider them witches and hang them. It was later removed from the parameters of determining a witch.
In 1693, the Governor of the American colony ordered an end to the witch trials because his wife was accused of being a witch.
There are many stories about the witch trials of Salem. These stories have their roots in superstitions and preconceived Puritan beliefs.
The followers of Tituba were believed to perform a black magic dance in the woods and would fall to the floor without any explanation.
The young girls believed that they were serving God and their Puritan community by pointing fingers at probable witches.
People believe that the U.S. constitution recognizes witchcraft as a legitimate religion owing to the Salem witch trials.
The Witch House in Salem belonged to Judge Jonathan Corwin during the trials. It was rumored that Corwin brought the accused witches to this house to interrogate before the trials.
Superstitious stories reveal that the great fire of 1914 was caused by the spirit of Giles Corey, who was tortured and stoned to death during the Salem trials.
Reverend Increase Mather condemned the trials. He famously said that it is better for 10 witches to escape than for an innocent person to be put on a humiliating trial. Perhaps this urged Governor Phips to pardon his wife and the others who were accused of being witches.
Children were also associated with witchcraft. Alongside the 20 adults who were killed, five underaged died in prison. One of them was an infant.
Opposing popular beliefs, the Salem witch trials lasted officially for three months. Though there was a ban on trials, many people contained the prejudice that witches existed and many women were killed under mysterious circumstances.
The Salem trials became a black mark in the history of American colonies. The capability of the government's judgment was questioned, Puritan beliefs were reformed, and there was a sense of apology in the later years.
The Puritans shrugged off their crime as a 'trickery of the devil.' They escaped any conscientious or moral dilemma and conveniently blamed the devil.
The Salem court was questioned by the families of the accused regarding its error in judgment. It had to compensate the families of the accused, but that came years later. Massachusetts officially apologized in the year 1957 for the crimes of witch trials.
Reverend Parris was made to resign from the council and leave the town of Salem in 1697.
Reverend Joseph Green took to the responsibility of healing the town. He addressed the victim families, excommunicated Giles Corey and Rebecca Nurse, and preached sermons for forgiveness and recovery.
The Salem trials threatened Massachusetts government. The prejudiced Puritans were starting to lose their authoritative control, and the Governor and ministers were thought to be distrustful in running the legislature of Massachusetts.
The puritan practices of child-rearing changed. The enlightenment showed a new way of living to young children, and women.
Pop culture seeped into the Salem trials. The place is not only a popular destination for Halloween but has also hosted film shootings based on the theme of witchcraft and witch trials. Disney's Hocus Pocus, The Crucible, Bewitched, and The Lords of Salem featured the town of Salem.
The past still haunts the town but Salem has made attempts at recovery. The town has acknowledged its history and tributes to the dead in various ways. A popular destination for Halloween, Salem is an incredible location filled with nuances and history.
What are five interesting facts about the Salem witch trials?
Here are five intriguing facts about the Salem trials:
Two dogs were accused of bewitching young girls.
The bewitched girls grew famous as the entire town wanted to know who afflicted them.
A non-resident Church Minister of Salem, George Burroughs, was hanged because a local Puritan family had feuds with him.
The youngest witch, Dorothy Good, was accused at the age of 4. She was confined in jail for eight months while her mother suffered severe punishments and was hanged.
Racism was an important factor in determining the first witches.
What was Salem known for?
Salem was known for its infamous witch trials.
What are three facts about the Salem witch trials?
Here are three notable facts about the Salem witch trials:
About 42-50 people died being accused of witchcraft over the course of 300 years.
The punishment for witchcraft was death. No other mode of punishment was entertained by the Salem puritans.
Witchcraft was considered a crime against the church and the state.
How did the Salem witch trials begin?
The trials began when a group of girls started showing out-of-the-ordinary behaviors and blamed some women for witchcraft.
How many people were executed in the Salem witch trials?
19 people were hanged, while one man was stoned to death. There are reports of five more deaths happening in custody.
Were witches burned in Salem?
Contrary to popular belief, witches were never burnt at the stake in Salem.
What was the main cause of the Salem witch trials?
The witch trials were an accumulation of political authorities, family rivalries, and hysterical young girls. These resulted in the exercise of political authority.
What was the outcome of the Salem witch trials?
The trials became a black mark in the history of colonial America. 200 were accused and 20 people were executed. Moreover, it set a trend of pointing fingers at 'witches' and more executions in later years.
Who was responsible for the Salem witch trials?
The puritans were mainly responsible for the Salem witch trials.
Who was executed in the Salem witch trials?
There were many executions as a result of the Salem witch hunts. Names like Sarah Good, George Burroughs, Sarah Wildes, Bridget Bishop are some of the prominent 'witches' noted in American history.
How did the Salem witch trials affect society?
The trials of Salem, Massachusetts, ushered in mass anxiety and hysteria. People were terrified and paranoid and wanted to wipe out witches in large numbers. It also gave the Puritans an upper hand to dictate the society under religious protection.
How often did the puritans think about witchcraft?
The puritans are often described as religious fanatics who garnered the belief that man's existence was a continual fight against evil. They believed that the devil was the obstacle to the path of God and had to be avoided at all costs. Thus, it is natural for the Puritans to abhor witchcraft and witches, who by definition are in an alliance with the devil to distract the Puritans.
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