Salem, Massachusetts 1692

Salem Witch Trials

The Cause of the Trials

In the 1600' s the supernatural was a common idea in life. People such as the Puritans believed in the idea of the "Black Man" and that the devil was always trying to get after them and reach their souls. They believed Satan ( Black Man) was always there. Witchcraft began to help with agriculture to grow and flourish, but eventually turned from " white magic" to "dark magic". The " dark magic" is said to be the work of the devil. Starting in January a group of young girls began to act abnormal. They began having seizures, yelling at random moments, and getting caught in trances. The idea that witchcraft was involved started to cause the colonists to become superstitious and suspicious of the devil's work at play. As time went on a small pox epidemic and the threat of attack by warring tribes increased superstition and fear of this witch craft. The first accusation in the colony came in January of 1692 when the daughter of a Reverend in Salem Village became ill, a doctor was called in when she was not getting better. He announced that this was the work of witchcraft and this started the famous witch hunt.


The Convicted

The Salem Witch Trials caused twenty two deaths. Five men were executed, and the rest were women. Two dogs were killed as well. Many people were convicted and were either sentenced to be hung or burned at the stake. The number ranged from one to four or five being hung at one time. Others who were convicted, ended up dying in prison. Although, some men/women accused of witchcraft got lucky and the trials ended before they were convicted. The group that convicted and set punishment for those convicted was made up of magistrates and jurors. They court that heard the case was called the Court of Oyer. The Terminer decided whether the person accused was guilty and what their punishment would be. This court was later ended by governor William Phipps.

The Aftermath

In October of 1692 Governor Phipps put a stop to the Court of Oyer and replaced it with the Superior Court of Judicature. This court did not just go off the spectral evidence by accusers. They did not believe in convicting someone solely based on the word of a person, that the devil was tormenting them through witchcraft. The new court let the people waiting conviction free, as well as pardoned those waiting for execution. This was the end of the Salem Witch Trials. After the trials, apologies were given to those accused and the families of those convicted that were put to death. The Salem Witch Trials showed that in colonial time, life was centered around religion. This could easily been influenced by Satan and paranoia. The paranoia in Salem in 1692 caused the deaths of many men and women due to spectacle accusations.
The REAL HISTORY Behind the Salem Witch Trials.