The History Of The Salem Witch Trials

1302 words - 6 pages

The Salem witch trials occurred between 1962 and 1963 in Salem Massachusetts. The number of people executed ranges from somewhere between eighteen and twenty . There are a lot of factors and events that helped influence and create the trials. Some of the main factors were religion, politics, and the hyped up fears of people. Salem was the last place in America to hunt witches.
Church was a major aspect for residents of New England. Most people in Massachusetts were puritans, people who left England seeking religious tolerance. Puritans were very strict and almost everything was dictated by the church. Puritans believed that all sins should be punished. This included anything from sleeping in church to stealing food. They also believed that everything was divine intervention from god, so if a neighbor got sick or had unhealthy crops no helping hand was extended. According to Puritans Satan picked the weakest people to do his biddings. People who followed Satan were considered witches, witchcraft was considered one of the worse crimes. People convicted of witchcraft were put to death.
Politics also played a major role of the trials. Before the trials began there was a major rivalry going on between the two “sides” of Salem. The farming people in Salem Village, mainly people in the Putnam family, wanted to separate from Salem Town because they felt that they were being to “individualistic”. Around this time is when William and Mary, English rulers, started a war with France in the colonies. This war sent many refugees to Salem Village creating a strain on their resources. Last but not least of the drama many villagers argued over reverend Samuel Parris, the first ordained minister in Salem Village. The villagers thought that Samuel Parris was greedy. Back then ministers got a contract that usually included “a modest salary, use of house, and free firewood”. The villagers showed their detestment with this newly appointed minister by refusing to worship at the meeting house and refusing to pay their taxes, which paid the ministers salary and bought his salary.
Samuel Parris had a nine year old daughter, Betty/Elizabeth Parris, and a twelve year old niece, Abigail Williams, whom he watched over as her parents were deceased. Not a lot of entertainment was provided for the two girls, Salem Town was eight miles away and Boston was another twenty miles away. “He [Samuel Parris] also opposed the girls playing hide-and-seek, tag and other childhood games because he believed playing was a sign of idleness, and idleness allowed the Devil to work his mischief.” To entertain themselves the girls and a few of their friends went to Tituba, a slave from Barbados, to listen to her stories about fortune telling. Soon the girls started having “fits”. They threw things, screamed, contorted themselves into peculiar positions, and uttered nonsense. Not being able to find a physical sickness a local doctor blamed witchcraft. This marked the “true”...

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