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The Salem Witch Trials Report On The Salem Witch Trials Describes Events, People, Theories, Insight Into The Puritan Religion, And Results Of The Trials. A Bibliography Is Included.

2560 words - 10 pages

The Salem Witch TrialsSimilar to England and the rest of Europe, craze broke out in the North American colonies over the witch-hunts. The roots of witchcraft in the colonies came from the villages and towns of England. It was part of the settler's culture to suspect people of witchcraft. Prior to the Salem witch-hunts, which occurred in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, there were other accusations of witchcraft in the New England colonies.Most people accused of witchcraft were women. "Four-fifths is a conservative estimate" (1) of the amount of women that were accused and executed of witchcraft compared to men. Before 1656 most suspects of witchcraft were poor women. "The colonists shared with their counterparts in England many assumptions about what kinds of people witches were, what kind of practices they engaged in, and where and how they attained their supernatural power. They also knew to detect witches and how to rid their communities of the threat witches posed. Indeed belief in the existence and danger of witches was so widespread, at all levels of society, that disbelief itself was suspect." (1) Witches were thought to work for the Devil, this belief was especially popular among the Puritans. Puritans were a religious group who believed in witches and the ability to hurt others. They saw anything opposing their beliefs as sent to destroy the Puritan church. Puritans did not believe that men and women were spiritual equals. Witchcraft and women seemed to be linked. If you were the husband or daughter of a witch, you were also most likely to be a suspect of witchcraft. Witches were thought to have familiars or imps who carried out the evil doings of the witch. These familiars were often animals, such as birds, or pets. The colonists suspected sudden sickness, death to people and livestock, as well as fires or any form of destruction, as acts of witchcraft. Witches, or women, were often used as scapegoats when something went wrong and others could not explain it. "An accusation of witchcraft became an easy means to destroy an enemy." (2)In the colonies, no one was formally persecuted of witchcraft, under the law, until 1647. From 1647 to 1663, seventy-nine people were accused of witchcraft. Out of these people thirteen were accused during the first outbreak in Hatford. Thirty-three of them were tried as witches. Out of these fifteen were found guilty and hanged. Of this fifteen, an incredible thirteen were women. The two men who were executed were married to witches. Sixty-one of the seventy-nine accused were female. (3) Thus proving that women were the targets of witchcraft. In 1657 Ann Hibbens of Boston was convicted of witchcraft under the law. She was a widow who had acquired land from her husband large estate. Her sentence was, "she was to goe from the barr to the place from whence she came, and from the place of execution, and there to hang till she was dead". (3) Therefore any women that was different financially or religiously was...

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