Salem Witch Trials

1692-1693

Events

First Signs of Witchcraft

Salem was a small town in Massachusetts that was divided into two parts, Salem Town and Salem Village. This area was home to a puritan community who came from England to the New World looking for religious freedom. This society had a very strict set of rules that everyone must go by. Children had the same role as adults and any games they got to play were pretty boring and didn't allow much imagination. So, one night three girls go into the woods, even though it's believed that the Devil is in there, and they sang and danced around a fire, however, when the reverend found them they were accused of being bewitched. Among the three girls was the reverends niece and also his daughter. Even though he tried to keep it from the community for as long as he could he had to save his reputation in the community and expose some people, thus the Salem Witch Hunt had begun.

The Accused

After news got around that the children were bewitched everyone was trying to find out who laid the curse onto the girls and who was controlling them. The first three people who were accused of witchcraft was Tituba (a slave from Caribbean), Sarah Good (homeless beggar), and Sarah Osborne (elderly, impoverished women). Sarah Good pleaded innocent, however Tituba and Sarah Osborne confessed to save themselves. Martha Corey who was a loyal member of the puritan church was the next accused. This put the entire community into hysteria because it made them think that anyone could now be a witch. They even questioned 4 year old Martha Good and because of her shy and short answers she was also accused of being a witch. The witch hunt was getting out of control and dozens were pulled in for questioning.

The End of the Witch Trials

On October 29, 1692, Governor Phipps prohibited any future arrests of accused witches due to Mather's plea and his wife also being questioned for witchcraft. Phipps disallowed any use of spectral evidence against any accused which saved 53 out of 56 people who were currently held against their will. In May of 1693 everyone was pardoned and the Witch Trials finally came to an end. However, the community was already in ruins and broken beyond repair. By the end nineteen people were hanged, one pressed to death, and some also died in jail, over two-hundred were accused of witchcraft. Puritans believed in predestination and that God picked 'elect' that would enter into Heaven. So when the accused were questioned if they lied and confessed they weren't an elect, however if they didn't confess they were hanged. The point of these trials was to purify their community and to break any ties with the Devil and bring the witches back to God. In reality, it was a game of morals to either act like an 'elect' or actually be an 'elect'.