11 important facts about the salem witch trials
Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials by Marc AronsonSalem, Massachusetts, 1692. In a plain meetinghouse a woman stands before her judges. The accusers, girls and young women, are fervent and overexcited. The accused is a poor, unpopular woman who had her first child before she was married. As the trial proceeds the girls begin to wail, tear their clothing, and scream that the woman is hurting them. Some of them expose wounds to the horrified onlookers, holding out the pins that have stabbed them -- pins that appeared as if by magic. Are they acting or are they really tormented by an unseen evil? Whatever the cause, the nightmare has begun: The witch trials will eventually claim twenty-five lives, shatter the community, and forever shape the American social conscience.
A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials
The Salem Witch Trials of were a dark time in American history. More than people were accused of practicing witchcraft and 20 were killed during the hysteria. Ever since those dark days ended, the trials have become synonymous with mass hysteria and scapegoating. The following are some facts about the Salem Witch Trials:. The Salem Witch Trials were a series of witchcraft cases brought before local magistrates in a settlement called Salem which was a part of the Massachusetts Bay colony in the 17th century.
One town’s strange journey from paranoia to pardon
In the late s the Salem Village community in the Massachusetts Bay Colony now Danvers, Massachusetts was fairly small and undergoing a period of turmoil with little political guidance. After some young girls of the village two of them relatives of Parris started demonstrating strange behaviours and fits, they were urged to identify the person who had bewitched them. Their initial accusations gave way to trials, hysteria, and a frenzy that resulted in further accusations, often between the differing factions. By the end of the Salem witch trials, 19 people had been hanged and 5 others had died in custody. Additionally, a man was pressed beneath heavy stones until he died. After weeks of informal hearings, Sir William Phips, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony , interceded to add some formality to the proceedings.
Between and , the Salem witch trials marked a time of paranoia and fear in colonial Massachusetts. It is believed that some even used this as an opportunity to falsely accuse their enemies. Many of the accused were sent to prison for several months, which they surely preferred over being put to death. Bridget Bishop was the first to be hanged and eighteen others followed after her. The twentieth person killed was stoned since he refused to submit to a trial. Eventually, the Massachusetts General Court admitted their wrongdoings and made immediate apologies to the families of the victims.
In , the people of Salem were in a quest to purge their community of anything that was considered remotely unholy. Lasting from the June to September of that year, numerous accusations of witchcraft and wizardry were leveled at people in a three county area around Salem. The end result of these trials was that 19 people were sentenced to death because of the accusations leveled against them. A 20th person was killed by stones because he refused to submit to a trial. It is often called one of the darkest moments of colonial America.