Mass Hysteria

Salem Witch Trials









The infamous Salem witch trials began during the spring of 1692, after a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft. Nineteen followed Bishop to Salem’s Gallows Hill, while some 150 more men, women and children were accused over the next several months. By September 1692, the hysteria had begun to abate and public opinion turned against the trials.

The Red Scare

As the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States intensified in the late 1940s and early 1950s, hysteria over the perceived threat posed by Communists in the U.S. became known as the Red Scare. U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, investigated allegations of subversive elements in the government and the Hollywood film industry. The climate of fear and repression linked to the Red Scare finally began to ease by the late 1950s.

Similarities vs. Differences

During the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and the Red Scare of the 1950s, communities under a lot of stress hosted formal hearings during which members of these communities accused others of violating social standards. While these periods in history share many similarities, they were also distinctly different times that produced distinctly different consequences. However, when both periods ended, many accusers were filled with misgivings regarding decisions they made during the community meltdowns.
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