The Salem Witch Trials Of The 17th Century

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One of colonial America’s darkest times was during the Salem witch trials of the 17th century. More than 200 colonists were accused of practicing witchcraft or conspiring with the Devil and 20 were executed under the conviction. Eventually, the colony admitted that the trials were not accurate and they tried to make allowance to the families of the accused and executed. Over the years the explanation of the trials is identified as and synonymous with “sexism, religious rigidity, and even the fungus of a local plant” (34). 300 years later, the Salem witch trials continues to intrigue and beguile today’s scholars. The infamous Salem witch trials began in the spring of 1692, when several young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts complained of being plagued by spirits and they accused several women in the colony of witchcraft. A paranoia quickly broke out, people were being accused left and right, and a special court was assembled to hear the cases. The first “witch” to be executed was Bridget Bishop she was convicted then hanged in June. Belief in supernatural powers - specifically power given by the Devil - that allowed you to harm another person in exchange for loyalty was a widespread superstition that emerged in Europe as early as the 14th century. The harsh reality of living in colonial Salem, the post-war effects of the war between Britain and France in 1689, illness and high infant mortality, smallpox epidemics, fear of neighboring

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