Salem Witch Trials of 1692
Events that began in late 1691 may have been escalated due to religious discord, economic failure or fear of attack by local Indians that allied with French and Canadian communities. Is there a scientific reasoning behind this or was the puritan lifestyle and fear of the French and Indian wars raging less than 70 miles away elevating the communities fear of the devil infiltrating their small community. I will show how politics, social acceptance and the constant fear of attacks may have escalated the pursuit and conviction of these “so called” witches.
Looking at this puritan society, we may learn how small fractures in the community may be construed as an attack from a higher power. Puritans believed success brought on good standings with God. If you positively contributed to the community then you were obviously in good standings with God. If you were a drain on the community and had nothing positive to offer then you were not so lucky. Like most small communities, word gets around. Social gatherings were essential and were one way for people to talk about politics, current events, and problems affecting their small puritan village. These social gatherings and forums for gossip may have directed hatred toward the people they considered a drain on the community.
Like stated, social gatherings were very important to gaining information but they were also a venue for letting loose. Young women, who usually had no voice, talked about politics and most often relationships. Young women did not have to worry about public ridicule or being looked down on by village elders during these gatherings. One event in particular, “one girl devised a primitive crystal ball-the white of an egg suspended in a glass-and received a chilling answer: in the glass there floated a specter in the likeness of a coffin” (Boyer. P2). This message scared the young women and not knowing their future started to dabble more into conjuring spells and other forms of witchcraft. These girls were not witches by definition. They were scared and wanted answers. This played heavily on them and some started acting out.
Parents became concerned with the young girls behavior and called on medical evaluations which concluded nothing medically wrong. Reverend Samuel Parris, a father to one of the children, grew very concerned and wanted a second opinion. He called on William Griggs, a local physician. When William Griggs arrived, the young girl started screaming, yelling, and throwing stuff around the room. She was out of control. William Griggs had no medical answer to her behavior and said she had been touched by the “Evil Hand” (Boyer. P2). Like most small communities, word spread and people started getting concerned. This was not one isolated event. Out of control behavior started affecting other children and people started thinking there was a pandemic swallowing this small community. People wanted answers and they wanted...