In 1692, 20 people was executed for being witches or warlocks during the Salem Witch Trials. There were rumors from neighboring towns of witchcraft as there was in Salem. The main contributing factors for those 20 people being killed was the religion, superstitions, rivals, boredom, economics, rumors, and how women was seen in that time period. These people were Puritans, a form of Christianity. Part of their superstitions was the ability for someone to be in possession by the devil or in cahoots with the devil or practicing witchcraft. The women in this time had a status almost as low as slaves. Rivals between Salem Village and the Town of Salem were big as the village tried to break off and the town would not let them. When the little girls' were bored they make up games, this may have been just one big sick game. The rumors would spread around from the other towns and fuel the accusations as proof that there was witchcraft.
In addition, their religion played a big part in the chaos that reigned in Salem. A Puritan is someone who believed that that the Church of England was not complete and wanted a simple way to worship. Additionally, they had strict laws and they believed anyone who didn’t follow the laws must be working with the devil. The first people to be accused were outcasts and didn’t follow the laws perfectly, making them the perfect people to accuse of witchcraft. Even if the accused, like Sarah Cloyce, proved they believed in God the accusers would just act out
The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were a series of prosecutions of people who were accused of acts of witchcraft or of being a witch in Salem, Massachusetts through the time period of February 1692 through May 1693. This was a dark time in history as more than 200 prosecutions took place and at least 20 people were killed during this time of fear and hysteria. The accusations began as three girls Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne were accused of witchcraft from other young girls in the community. During this time period, fear of the Devil was common as people in Salem were very devoted to their religion and religious practices. As one of the accused girls, Tituba, confessed to working for the Devil and admitting to being a witch, this caused panic and hysteria as a massive witch hunt took place to find more of these witches. This confession was the main reason behind months and months of fear and mass panic as it triggered more accusations.
It all began in 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts, a Puritan town. Ironically, this supposed religious town, put 20 people to death for witchcraft. The invisible crime had made itself prevalent in the town through two girls, Betty Parris, age nine, and her 11 year old cousin Abigail Williams. These two girls, in order to escape punishment for witchcraft, accused two local white women and the slave Tituba (What Caused the Salem Witch Trial Hysteria of 1692?, Background Essay). It was this first accusation, that set forth the next turn of events. From here, the number of accusers grew. Suddenly, everyone’s neighbors became witches and the jails began to overflow. A special court was built to hold trials, however, the judicial system was biased along with the rest of the town. They allowed their set religious beliefs interfere with logical reasoning and evidence. Hence, the bias. The court proved all for not though, when it ordered a mass hanging on September 22, ending the witchcraft epidemic in Salem. To this day, historians still don’t fully understand what caused the hysteria in Salem. Thus, it could only be theorized the causes of such an event. Taking a gander at probability, the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were likely rooted in scapegoating, greed, and bias.
From the time of the 1690’s the entirety of Salem, Massachusetts were Puritans. “The Puritan lifestyle was restrained and rigid: People were expected to work hard and repress their emotions or opinions. Individual differences were frowned upon.” (Salem Witch Trials, The World Behind the Hysteria). These people believed that doing anything sinful would result in punishment from God. Just as much as they believed in God, they also believed in the Devil. Keeping up with the Puritan code, it led to the first women being accused of witchcraft. They were viewed as pariahs, and seen differently. Had the Puritan government let the afflicted defend themselves, not be so dependent on religion, not investigating the facts or scrutinize the trials the killing of many could have been prevented. The hangings from the trials would ultimately be the last in America.
I am writing this report today to explain the major reasons behind the horrific witchcraft trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in the years 1692 and 1693. For years this event has been ignored. However, after analyzing the evidence in this case, I have some startling news to share. First, I will share with you the various theories that make the most sense. Then I will explain what I believe caused the Salem community to respond in such a cruel and violent way.
In 1692, in the small village of Salem, Massachusetts, 20 people were hanged for offenses they did not commit. But what was the charge against the 20? The answer would be witchcraft. The charges deeply affected the small community. Neighbor turned on neighbor. Every act that a person made would be carefully scrutinized, dissected, and repeated to others. This would lead to the question. What caused the Salem Witch Trial Hysteria of 1692? The 3 main factors that would cause widespread panic in the town of Salem were gender, marital status, and age, actors and attention seekers, and neighbor conflicts within the village of Salem.
Many lives were lost in Salem Village during the summer of 1692. Twenty people, primarily married women, were executed for alleged witchcraft. Many individuals, primarily historians, continue to ponder the causes of the Salem Witch Trial hysteria of 1692. Clearly, there were a few possible causes of the hysteria; however, envious, young women; lying girls; and sexism stand out as the main causes.
Puritans settled in the Massachusetts town of Salem in 1630, with their leader John Winthrop. Winthrop claimed that Salem would be “As a City Upon a Hill,” meaning that the Puritans coming to the New World would set a religious and civilized example among other colonies. However, this wasn’t the case. The Salem Witch Trials were a series of accusations and persecutions due to what was thought to be witchcraft among Salem townspeople. King Philip’s War played a role in the trials. It caused regional mass hysteria which lead to the accusing of witches in Salem. Samuel Parris was the local preacher of Salem and in 1691 he started preaching about the devil and focused more on hell instead of more positive things which also played a role in the crafting of the witch trials. Rich versus poor feuds, the desire to feel around and inspect women, and easily being able to have someone punished by accusing them of being a witch, fueled and motivated the Witch Trials of Salem in 1692.
The religion of the townspeople supported the witchcraft accusations that were spreading. Back then, the people of Salem read the Bible extremely literally. In the book, it says, ‘“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Doc 1) This is how the executions began and how more and more people became convinced that witchcraft existed. After these three women were jailed, this set off a large stream of accusations that continued for the next few months. In the Bible it says that mostly women were bewitched, and since the people took the Bible very seriously, a large portion of the accused were female. Around 24-30 males were accused while 88-110 females were. (Doc 5) Also, since the Bible said that witches must die, 20 people were executed. Some were hanged, some died in jail. (Doc 2) The support of their religion caused paranoia to break out, introducing the last cause of hysteria.
In 1692-1693, the Salem Witch Trial Hysteria occurred, resulting in 20 deaths out of the 200 accused of practicing the Devil’s magic, a practice that women were commonly accused of. Salem, Massachusetts, was a colony that consisted of Puritans, both Separatists and non Separatists alike. From the start, the Puritans believed that the Bible was true in all aspects: every word, every idea, every thought--was true. The Puritans also had minimal understanding of science, which led them to believe that phenomenon was an act of the Devil. Thus, when three young girls admitted to seeing demons and started behaving strangely, the Puritans grew progressively hysterical because they became more convinced that witches existed within Salem as they had little scientific knowledge. In a nutshell, the cause of the Salem Witch Trial Hysteria were Puritan fundamentalism, misogyny, and hysteria.
Since there never was a spurned lover stirring things up in Salem Village, and there is no evidence from the time that Tituba practiced Caribbean black magic, yet these trials and executions actually still took place, how can you explain why they occurred?
In Salem Massachusetts, 1692, twenty people were put to death as penalty of witchcraft. Why did this witch hysteria seize Salem? The Salem witch hysteria was promoted by the Puritan’s strict religious basis, inequality between social classes, and the boredom of young girls. The importance of religion in Puritan culture amplified the effects of the witch hysteria. In the Exodus 22:18, it says, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Doc. 1).
In 1692 the Puritans, colonists that believed in the bible, settled in America. They believed in witchcraft, and believed that people who study it should be executed. This led to many people being accused and executed. What made the Salem witch trials of 1692 such a threat and fear to the people of Massachusetts? The Salem witch trial hysteria of 1692 was caused by the fear of being possessed by the devil, by the fear of being accused and what your consequences would be, and lastly the belief of people being witches which was a crime worthy of death.
The Salem Witch Trials took place in Salem, Massachusetts during 1692 when citizens turned on each other and accused their neighbors of witchcraft, the Devil’s magic. The trials, which lasted from June to September, resulted in nineteen men and women being hanged, one man being pressed to death, and many other people dying in jail. Almost as soon as it began, the hysteria that had swept through Puritan Massachusetts ended. There are many opinions as to why the witchcraft trials caused such hysteria in Salem but many conclude that it was triggered by a spoiled food supply, Puritan religious beliefs, the constricted roles of females in Salem society, and the political and social tensions in the colony.
Over 150 people have been charged with witchcraft. Nineteen people have been hanged. Others have died in prison. Girls are having fits, people are turning on their neighbors, and everything that goes wrong is attributed to the devil. This is only a small insight into the story of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.