The true story of the Salem Witch Trials

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Salem Witch Trials

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The Salem Witch Trials started from a long history of negative Witchcraft beliefs. 

History of the Salem Witch Trials

As a result of negative Witchcraft beliefs, the Salem Witch Trials began in Salem, Massachusetts. This is the true story of the Salem Witch Trials. As Witchcraft became prevalent in England during the 13th century, it was viewed as anti-religion and the cause of daily problems. A Witch was believed to be endowed with gifts and powers by a covenant and pact with Satan. As a result, the Devil had these Witches as human minions to accomplish his agenda. In the faith of England, being hexed or under the influence of an evil hand could refer to animals, human sickness, and/or issues.

According to legend, one could get afflicted by Witchcraft similar to catching a cold today. It was believed that an evil hand was the cause of anything unfortunate in someone's life. Puritan religious beliefs were brought to the New World (United States of America) by early settlers who were deeply dedicated to their faith. There were Puritan gatherings every Wednesday and Sunday at the religious center. Daily prayer and Bible reading were important parts of the household's daily routine.


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The Salem Witch Trials 

1692 was a time when Salem, Massachusetts, was a hardworking, thriving colonial farm and fishing town. The United States was engulfed in fear and corruption during a dark time in history. Puritan church leader Samuel Parris' home was the starting point for the Salem Witch frenzy. Betty, his daughter, and Abigail, his niece, both developed unknown illnesses. As a result, the girls started having fits that included violent contortions and uncontrollable screams. The children would go into convulsions and run toward the fireplace as if to jump in and burn themselves. Also, their bodies had bite marks that were allegedly unexplained. Different doctors and physicians were called in by the church and the church prayed over the girls. It was believed by the doctors the girls had been cursed by an evil hand and had been the work of the Devil. These afflictions were also viewed as supernatural by the physicians rather than natural. Leaders and community members demanded answers as Salem erupted into hysteria.

There were two magistrates appointed to find the source of the affliction: Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne. It began with Samuel Parris' daughter and niece at his home. A slave named Tituba was the first to be accused. Her practice of Witchcraft and voodoo came from the Caribbean. A trial was held where she confessed. The woman said she was told to serve a dark man who had come to her. It turned out that the man in the dark was the Devil, who told her to afflict the children. In order to verify someone's status as a witch, the court relied exclusively on speculative evidence.

According to USLegal.com, the definition of spectral evidence is: “Spectral evidence refers to a witness testimony that the accused person’s spirit or spectral shape appeared to him/her witness in a dream at the time the accused person’s physical body was at another location. It was accepted in the courts during the Salem Witch Trials. The evidence was accepted on the basis that the devil and his minions were powerful enough to send their spirits, or specters, to pure, religious people in order to lead them astray. In spectral evidence, the admission of victims’ conjectures is governed only by the limits of their fears and imaginations, whether or not objectively proven facts are forthcoming to justify them. [State v. Dustin, 122 N.H. 544, 551 (N.H. 1982)].” 

In order to avoid the death penalty, Tituba was jailed for a year and sold as a slave. Initially, arrests were made against the weak and desolate members of society. Eventually, arrests were directed at wealthy and influential members. Witchcraft accusations became more frequent in the community as more girls fell ill and alleged Witchcraft. The first person to be tried was Bridget Bishop, in addition to owning an apple orchard, she was a successful landowner. As a result of conflicting statements she made during her trial, she was hung by a tree. Salem was a city where everyone was at risk of being accused of Witchcraft.

Ultimately, 190 people faced informal charges, five died in prison (one of them a child), and 19 were hanged. Fear and greed were found to be the root causes of the Salem Witch Trials. In addition to putting people on trial, officials seized their livestock and personal property.


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