Salem Witch Trials

What We Can Learn from the Salem Witch Trials

The Salem Witch Trials Ended and Caused Individuals Guilt

The Salem Witch Trials began in February of 1692. It was two young girls in Salem Village who made the first accusations. Since women were looked down on, it took less for them to be considered out of line. The reasons for accusations were many: some accused because of personal jealousies, and some to avoid being accused themselves. In one year, 200 people were imprisoned and 24 died. The Salem Witch Trials did not end at the release of the witches in 1963, the aftermath of the trials play a big part in life even today. After it was over, the accusers began to realize what they had caused, the lives they ruined- and here, the guilt began. But the guilt they felt is what inspired them to make changes happen. And the memories of the Salem Witch Trials help us be wiser when making decisions for our country.

A Science Breakthrough

When people learned that there had not been any witches at all, they sought out to discover reasonable explanations for what made people sick and act like, what they thought to be, witches. Often the people in Salem Village suffered from disease that caused them muscle spasms, vomiting and hallucinations. From this they blamed many people of witchery. In a study, toxicologists said that the fungus, Ergot, (found in rye, wheat, and cereals) can cause delusions and symptoms like these. Diseases such as this and smallpox crippled the population. With the cold winter of 1691 to 1692 there were many bad factors in Salem. But by the end of the 17th century modern, science was taking a foothold as people searched for answers. A book was even published, explaining witchcraft in scientific terms. Now, we should know to not turn and run with the first assumption that is made about a situation because it can lead you far from the truth.

Rationality Became More and More Important to us

During the Salem witch Trials, religion and superstition was far more prominent than actual reasoning. But over time they helped us to make the transition between supernatural and rational thought. The Salem Witch trials are an example of hysteria people can experience when faced with fear. Ironically, it was the religious puritan girls, devoted to the Lord's work, who started the trials. The devil and witchcraft scared people more than you can imagine. They thought that it was the devil talking inside a women, when she was thought to be a witch. Salem instituted the death penalty to all "witches" practicing witchcraft. It is easy to see how far we've come in our country- one is said to be innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. It also shows what a major impact your words can have.

Working to Prevent Future Repeats

In 1957 the last witches' names were cleared, and, while remembering their mistakes, a memorial was made in 1992 to honor the deaths of the ones who died. This was an important milestone for the people of Salem. It was their way of confirming that the times of persecution were over. They were an important time in history, but even more important is what we can learn from them. It's necessary that we take all that can be learned from the trials to prevent it from happening again, as well as avoiding other situations that could be harmful to our people. It applies to any situation, and shows the time it can take for a community to heal after tragedy.

Development of the American Justice System

Puritans did not believe that all men and women were equal before God. When women were tried, they had no defense. The Bill of Rights says "and to have the assistance of counsel for defense." This specifies that, now, everybody must have a right to defend themselves; however, this right was denied to people during trials. In the Constitution we can see rights that were affected by the Salem Witch Trials. The fifth amendment gives us rights such as grand jury, double jeopardy, self-incrimation, and due process. While the sixth amendment gives us rights like jury trial, the right to confront and to counsel. The fifth amendment also says that nobody has to provide a self-incrimating testimony against himself. The Salem Witch Trials influenced America for centuries after the event. And we continue learning today.

The Salem Witch Trials Have Already Passed But They Will Always Be Our History

At the time, they may have thought they were doing good, getting rid of the witchcraft, when really they were causing problems. And sometimes the only way to stop issues that are going on now, is to wait, because experience always makes a person smarter for future decisions. After the trials, many people were inspired to pursue the "freedom" and "equality" Americans advertise. Again, thinking about this reminded them how wrong they had been. When change began, we formed the America we live in today. And I know it will continue to change as long as we have room to improve.

Alex Cano