Witch Hunts: The Salem Witch Trials

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The Salem Witch Trials were one of the most dreadful times in the history of Massachusetts; many people got put to death for absurd reasons. The trials began because a few teenage girls essentially bored with their puritan lives; they wanted to do something different. Therefore; they forced many people to believe that there was an evil power among them, encased in friends, neighbors, and even family members. This preposterous theory that the girls brought to the small, quaint, puritan town of Salem, turned out to be extremely devastating to the town and the people who inhabited it. In January of 1692, Reverend Parris' daughter Elizabeth, age 9, and niece Abigail Williams, age 11, started having "fits." They screamed, threw things, uttered peculiar…show more content…
Known as King William's War to colonists, it ravaged regions of upstate New York, Nova Scotia and Quebec, sending refugees into the county of Essex and, specifically, Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Sometime after February 25, when Tituba baked the witch cake, and February 29, when arrest warrants were issued against Tituba and two other women, Betty Parris and Abigail Williams named their afflictors and the witch hunt began. The consistency of the two girls' accusations suggests strongly that the girls worked out their stories together. Soon Ann Putnam and Mercy Lewis were also reporting seeing "witches flying through the winter mist." The prominent Putnam family supported the girls' accusations, putting considerable impetus behind the prosecutions. In January 1697, the Massachusetts General Court declared a day of fasting for the tragedy of the Salem witch trials; the court later deemed the trials unlawful, and the leading justice Samuel Sewall publicly apologized for his role in the process. The damage to the community lingered, however, even after Massachusetts Colony passed legislation restoring the good names of the condemned and providing financial restitution to their heirs in 1711. Indeed, the vivid and painful legacy of the Salem witch trials endured well into the 20th century, when Arthur Miller dramatized the events of 1692 in his play “The Crucible” (1953), using them as an allegory for the anti­Communist “witch hunts” led by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the
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