Causes Of The Salem Witch Trials

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In 1692, in Salem Massachusetts, a group of girls (Elizabeth Parris, Abigail Williams, and Ann Putnam), claimed to be possessed by Satan and accused other local women of witchcraft. They were under pressure by magistrates Jonathan Cornwin and John Hathorn to blame Tituba, the Parris’ Caribbean slave; Sarah Good, a homeless beggar; and Sarah Osbourne, an old poor woman; for afflicting them. It caused mass hysteria and confusion in the town, since they were all church-going people and strongly believed in the Devil. Many people were wrongly hanged and their reputations were ruined by lies. If one did not confess to witchcraft when they were accused, they would be hanged. This caused false confessions and unjust deaths which fueled the hysteria. One thing I think is interesting is that the three people the girls accused of afflicting them were all at a disadvantage; being either a slave, homeless, or old and poor. Those that were accused and survived the trials were compensated, but there was no compensation for the families of those who were hanged. Everyone who had been accused were not officially claimed innocent until October 31st 2001. Witches today face a lot of stigma because of things like the Salem Witch Trials, though those who follow the Wiccan religion do not worship the Devil or even acknowledge his existence, but rather use their religion to celebrate closeness to the earth. “If it was the last moment I was to live, God knows I am innocent…” -Elizabeth How (May

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