The Accusation of Witches in Puritan, New England

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The American weakness in times of trouble is the instinctive act of finding a scapegoat. Stemming from the Calvinistic religious beliefs of the Puritans who immigrated to America, anything that strays from the predestined lives of these puritanical people is the result of sin. The ideas of "original sin" and "predestination" are at the heart of Calvinism. Thus, the Calvinist Puritans have their lives planned out for them by God before birth and anything that disrupts that plan must be eradicated. It was on the basis of this stringent religious way of life that the witch-hunts on 1692 came about. The accusation of people, beginning in Salem, Massachusetts and quickly spreading throughout the Puritan community began because the Puritans…show more content…
It was because of this idea that more women than men were brought to trial, found guilty, and killed. Women, once accused of witchcraft, were almost certain to burn at the stakes because once accused publicly, a woman entered into a "modern" day lose-lose situation. If she sits idly at her trial and makes no attempt to refute the evidence presented against her, she is presumed guilty because she cannot prove herself innocent. However, if she defends herself, she is considered to be possessed by the devil for acting out of her sex. This was the case in the infamous trial of Anne Hutchinson. It is clear from the transcript that Winthrop was accusing Hutchinson of minor wrongdoings and had already set his mind on destroying her. Gov.: You have maintained a meeting and an assembly in your house that hath been condemned by the general assembly as a thing not tolerable nor comely in the sight of God nor fitting for your sex, and not withstanding that was cried down you have continued the same. (156) Further down in his opening speech to the court, the governor states, "if you be in erroneous way we may reduce you that so you may become a profitable member here among us, otherwise if you be obstinate...the court may take such course that you may trouble us no further" (156). The governor plainly states yet another cause for the rise of the Puritan witch hunts in New England, sexism. It was not fitting for women to hold meetings independent of men. In the actual

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