Why and How Did the Salem Witch Trials Happen Research Paper

Download this Research Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Research Paper:

Salem Witch Trials

Why and How Did the Salem Witch Trials Happen?

The Salem Witch Trials occurred in the colonial Massachusetts between the years of sixteen ninety-two and sixteen ninety-three. It was during this time that more than two hundred individuals were accused of practicing witchcraft, (that is the devil's magic) and at least twenty people were executed. However, the colony eventually admitted that the trials were held mistakenly and families of those persons who were convicted. Since that time, the story of these trials became synonymous with injustices and a lot of paranoia. It has also continued to be beguiling the common imagination for the issue that happens more than three hundred years ago

. This study provides some of the events that led to the trials of the witches in Salem and how the entire process was executed.

In a number of centuries, ago many practicing Christians, and people from other religions had a strong belief that the devil had powers to give some individuals the power and ability to harm others in return for their loyalty. Back in the years of thirteen hundred to sixteen hundred, witchcraft had people across Europe significantly. More than ten thousand supposed witchcrafts especially women were killed, although the Salem trials came when the European craze was going down with the many local situations explaining their onset

Additionally, later in the late years of sixteen hundred, the rulers (Mary and William) started a war with the people of France in the American colonies. This war was then referred to as King William's war to the colonies, and it was so intense that it ravaged several states such as Nova Scotia, Quebec, and New York. Most of the people who were affected by this war especially the refugees freed to neighboring nations such as Essex, in the village of Salem which was located in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Most of The Salem's resources were used and strained by the displaced persons: this issue highly aggravated the already existing rivalry among families, which had ties to the wealth of the port of Salem while the others depended on the agricultural practices such as rearing cattle and growing food

There were also controversies between a reverend and some villagers. This reverend was the first of Salem's village to be ordained as a minister and many people did not like him because of his greedy nature and rigid way. Most of the Puritan villagers believed that all the arguing and quarreling among the villagers was the work of the devil. Early 1962, the reverend's daughter aged nine and his niece aged eleven started having fits. They had extremely strange and weird behavior: they could scream, throw away things, cornered themselves in strange positions, and said extremely weird sounds. However, what is peculiar is that the local doctor then blamed supernatural witchcraft. Another girl with a relatively the same age as the reverend's children experienced the same episodes. After a lot of pressure from the magistrate, the three girls blamed three women as a cause of their problem. The three women were Sarah Osborne who was an impoverished woman, Tituba who was a Paris' Caribbean slave, and Sarah Good who was a homeless beggar

After the three women stood before a tribunal for several days' interrogation, Osborne was declared innocent and so did Good. However, the other woman Tibuna confessed and said that the devil had come to her and commanded her to serve him. She said that when that happened, she would see extremely many weird images of red cats, black men, black dogs, and yellow birds. The black man always wanted her to sign his book, and after some time, she succumbed to the commands and signed the book. She also added and said that other women had been bewitched, and they sought to destroy the Puritan society. All the three women including the two who had been declared guilty were all jailed.

People now strongly believed that there was real witchcraft, and, therefore, for the next few months extremely many accusations followed. A woman by the name of Corey Martha who was a loyal member of a local church in Salem was also charged with being a witch. Young children too were not spared as Sarah Good's four-year-old daughter was also accused of being a witch. These cases became more and more intense as the local leaders together with villagers from Salem, and other Massachusetts villagers came to the hearings

When these hearings became extremely intense, the governor then ordered for the setting of a special Court of Oyer, which was a court for the hearing, and Terminer as the court for the deciding. These courts were set in Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex nations. The first person to be tried in these courts was an elderly woman who was known for her wayward gossiping habits and promiscuity. However, when she was asked she denied the charges and said that she was innocent. The defense was not convincing enough since she was found guilty and was later sentenced and hanged

After the woman was murdered, it did not take long before the minister implored the court not to allow people to provide spectral evidence testimonies about visions and dreams. However, the court did not consider this request, and later that year, five more people, were sentenced and hanged in three consecutive months. The son to the minister too denounced the use of these spectral evidences. In his argument, he said that it was better for at least ten witches to go free than for one innocent person to be killed or condemned.

However, the governor responded to the minister's plea and his own wife being accused of witchcraft. This stopped further arrests from being made; many people who had been arrested on the bases of being witches were released while the two Courts Oyer and Terminer were dissolved. The governor then replaced the two courts with a superior court of Judicature, and this court disallowed the use of spectral evidence and only three out of about sixty-five defendants were condemned. In May 1963, the governor pardoned all persons who had been imprisoned on witchcraft charges

This neither brought the lives of those who had been killed back and nor forgave those who had been wrongfully convicted. The damage had already been done since more than twenty people had been hanged, while others who included some elderly men of about seventy years were stoned to death, others died while in prison, and more than two hundred people accused of practicing witchcraft

After the long trials and executions of people who had been found guilty, many people especially the judges who were involved in these trials confessed of being guilty. Perhaps, this was the reason why the entire court declared or set a certain day aside when people around the village were expected too fast and have a serious soul searching amongst them on the unfortunate tragedy that happened in Salem. In addition, all the trials that had earlier been made on witchcraft were all declared as unlawful in 1701

. It was in 1711 when the colony passed a bill that restored the rights and the good names of all persons who had been previously accused: more than six hundred dollars given to their heirs in cases where they were dead. However, it was until more than two hundred years after the incident when Massachusetts apologized for the events that occurred in 1692

Many people across the globe have continued to be fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials, and most especially the scientists and other artists. Some artists such as Arthur Miller brought the tale back when he wrote his play in the year 1953 known as "The Crucible." He used the trials as an allegory for the McCarthyism Paranoia in the 1950s. In 1692, many hypotheses have been brought out to explain the strange and weird behavior that occurred in Salem. However, in some concrete studies that were conducted by some psychologists, the abnormal habits of the accused individuals were blamed on the Fungus ergot, which can be found in rye, wheat and other cereal foods

According to the toxicologists back then, ingesting food that has been contaminated by ergot can lead to muscle spasms, delusions, vomiting and hallucinations. Additionally, different types of fungus thrive in climates that are extremely warm and damp. They do not thrive in areas that have swampy meadows in Salem village. This is the place where rym was the staple grain during periods of spring and summer. August 1992 marked the three hundredth anniversary of the Salem Witch Trials. Back then, Nobel Lureate Elie Wiesel dedicated all persons who went through the Salem Witch Trials in Salem. In addition, there is also a museum in Peabody Essex, which has been hosting some of the original court documents for the longest time now. This is the town's most visited sites of attraction; they attest to the public enthrallment with the year's…[continue]

Cite This Research Paper:

"Why And How Did The Salem Witch Trials Happen" (2012, October 26) Retrieved November 28, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/why-and-how-did-the-salem-witch-trials-happen-76139

"Why And How Did The Salem Witch Trials Happen" 26 October 2012. Web.28 November. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/why-and-how-did-the-salem-witch-trials-happen-76139>

"Why And How Did The Salem Witch Trials Happen", 26 October 2012, Accessed.28 November. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/why-and-how-did-the-salem-witch-trials-happen-76139

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Salem Witch Trials a Personal

    The children described, each one of them separately, seeing Sarah and the other women flying as specters through the night. The children, despite the threats they must have received from the women, they were brave and told the truth about what had happened. Other townspeople came forward with evidence I hadn't even heard of -- milk and cheese going rotten after a visit from one of the witches; animals

  • Salem Witch Trials The Writer

    Law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/SALEM.HTM)." Tibuta immediately became suspect as being a witch and making the young girls become witches. Arrest warrants for her and two other village women were soon issued as the illness spread among more young girls. And the Salem Witch Trial hysteria was underway. CAUSES The of the trials was based in hysteria. People did not understand what was wrong with the young girls who initially became ill and they became fearful as

  • Salem Witch Trials Were an Atrocity in

    Salem Witch Trials were an atrocity in a period of American history. Several young girls, who had heard tales of the supernatural from a West Indian slave, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused three women of witchcraft. Put in that position, the three women, in turn, named others in false confessions (Merriam-Webster 1416). This caused hysteria much like Joseph McCarthy caused in 1950 in his hunt for

  • Salem Witchcraft Trials Theories of Causes

    Salem Witch Trials -- Theories and Causes In the year 1692, a tragedy occurred that is remembered to be one of the most immense disasters of American History. In a small region of Salem village, which is now the now Danvers, MA area, in the home of the provincial minister Samuel Parris, a little girl started acting in s strange predicament. It would not be long before this behavior would be

  • Salem Witches Witchcraft Has Been

    In some cases, it seems to be okay to get rid of something or someone as long as those doing the removal believe that the individual was indeed involved in witchcraft. Throughout the past few hundred years, witchcraft has been prevalent in many cultures. What we do know today is that witches do exist in some manner. They may not be flying through the air on a broomstick or creating

  • Salem Witchcraft Trials in One

    Later most people admitted that they had overreacted to the situation and even Cotton Mather confessed that "errors" had been made in handling this crisis. The chief judge William Stoughton came under attack for his overzealous response to the accusations which led to many innocent deaths and false convictions. He however refused to shoulder any blame for the situation. Samuel Parris also did not accept his role in triggering

  • Examine Explanations of the Witch Craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth...

    Witchcraft in the 16th & 17 Centuries: Response to Literature At first glance, a logical 21st Century explanation for the "witch craze" (also known as a witch-hunt) during the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe was based largely upon human ignorance. That is to say, the belief that a sub-culture of the general population performed witchcraft (and other magic-related phenomena), and ate the flesh of children, helped the unenlightened explain the


Read Full Research Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved