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Salem Witch Essay

2481 words - 10 pages

Salem Revisited
In 1692, the town of Salem Massachusetts turned on each other. They accused their own neighbors of witchcraft. Between June and September of 1692, nineteen people were unjustly executed by hanging, one crushed to death by stones, and many more incarcerated after trials had found them guilty of acts of sorcery. The trials have been researched and looked at many different ways for years. Scholars and students alike continue to be intrigued by the trials and continue to seek answers for how a small town could do this to itself. Every scholarly discipline contributes to what could be the possible answer from ergot poisoning to the psycho-social factor among Africans and American ...view middle of the document...

The Pope used this to reinforce fears about witchcraft and cause this craze to rise. Before the church saw witchcraft as mere illusions but then books began to be published on the matter and for the first time witchcraft was defined a new evil form of heresy. Norman Cohn argues that common people would never have created mass witch-hunts and it wasn’t until the inquisitorial type began to prosecute witches. He also states that witch-hunting was an exclusively western incident; Eastern Europe, with Orthodox Christian beliefs, were unaffected by it. This witch-hunt era can be viewed as an example of when an administration acts to punish actions that were before accepted because of a change of beliefs. Witchcraft accusations have died off in Europe after it
was made illegal since the British Witchcraft Ordinance on 1928, but continues still in other parts of the world like Africa. Countries with strong spiritual beliefs like Ghana and Kenya still live with these witch killings with over 400 alleged witches have been executed in South Africa’s poor Northern Province.
Salem was founded in 1626 by Roger Conant and a group of immigrants from Cape Ann. The settlement was first named Naumkeag, but was changed to Salem which came from the Arabic word “salaam” which translates to peace. They were then joined by another group led by John Edecott, from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Puritans had come to Massachusetts to gain religious freedom but had no intention in establishing a haven for other religions. The puritans held strong spiritual beliefs and had God motivating all of their actions and community laws and customs. These intense regard for spiritual duties and sacraments made clergy and important part of the community. During this time the clergy was still elite but saw a loss of power and church membership in Salem. They saw an opportunity to restore their place when unexplainable things began to happen to the young women of Salem. A West Indian Negro named Tituba, a house slave to the Parris family, would meet with young women of the town regularly and tell them tales of the supernatural. In spring of 1691 two of the young woman, both with relations to Parris, began to behave strangely and went to the local doctor. The doctor was unable to explain what was happening to them so he believed they were under the power of an “evil hand.” Parris’s ten year old daughter, Betty, and eleven year old niece, Abigail, both had similar behavior and bodily convulsions which Parris interpreted of that of a “demonic assault.” After weeks of public and private prayer led by Parris did not cure the young women, it was believed that witchcraft was the cause. Shortly after, many other young women begin to exhibit these same behaviors. The towns’ people urged them to state who had casted these spells on them so Abigail, Ann Putman, and Elizabeth Hubbard accused Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba. Others of the town soon began to believe they were being...

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