Salem Witch Trials

by Malene, Jonas and Frederikke

The Puritans

The Puritans were a religious group of immigrants, who left England to go to America in the 1630's. They left England to avoid religious persecution by the Protestants and Catholics of England, who threatened their lives. They wanted to purify the churches of England, but the Protestants and Catholics did not sympathize with their demands.

The Puritans were extremely Calvinistic Protenstants. God is lord of all, and everything circles around Him. Man is sinful, selfish and corrupt. The only way to salvation is to bind yourself to the will of God. They constantly searched their souls for signs that they were going to Heaven, and believed that they were chosen by God. The Puritans believed that their fate was predetermined by God already before they were born.


In Salem, Massachusetts a group of young girls and a female slave from Barbados named Tituba were gathered in the woods. Tituba told them stories about witchcraft and spirits, which led to lighting of a fire and dancing. Reverend Parris, father of one of the young girls, caught them. The girls tried to flee, but the reverend discovered that his daughter and his house maid were a part of the gathering.

The next day two of the young girls, Betty Parris and Ruth, acted strangely. They were screaming in pain, twitching and would not listen to the words of God. The local doktor, mr. Griggs, could nok explain it with a natural cause. They contacted Reverend John Hale, who were a specialist in unatural ways. He concluded that the two girls and Tituba had been involved with the devil. And when they confessed to it, they accused local villagers, of witchcraft.

The women were brought to trial, but they all denied having harmed the children and spoken with the devil. If the accused confessed, Rev. John Hale would help them find the light of God, but if they plead non guilty, the young girls would scream and say that they (the accused) were possesing them.

At first it was only elderly and weak women who were accused, but later it stretched to younger women, men, ministers and children. 150 men and women were accused and about 19 were hanged.

Scapegoats and Witchhunting

Diseases and death proved a deathly compination and settled the stage for witchhunt in Salem. This gave an extra push towards believing in witchcraft and witches.

The young girls, specifically 17-year old Abigail Williams, drew benefit from this. They all gained power and respect from the villagers, because they tried to cleanse the town of witches.