Essay on Causes of the Salem Witch Trials: Political, Religious and Social

Words: 5020
Pages: 21

Between the months of June to September of 1692, the infamous witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts resulted in the hanging of 19 men and women; the deaths of five others, including two children, while imprisoned in jail; the pressing to death of an 80-year old man, and the stoning of two dogs for collaborating with the Devil. Hundreds of others faced accusations and dozens more were jailed for months during the progress of the trials. For over three hundred years these events have not only captured the general publics' imagination, but that of the academic community. Beginning with Charles Upham, in 1867, historians have attempted to explain the mass hysteria that swept through Salem in 1692. These accounts vary both in their …show more content…
Then, in 1676, Charles II began reviewing the charter of the Massachusetts colony with the intent of revoking it altogether. Even nature conspired against the Puritans. Terrible fires broke out in Boston and the plague was the worst in years.
In the midst of such events, the New England Puritans called a special synod in 1679. There, two questions were asked: "What are the evils which have called the judgment of God upon us?" and "What is to be done to reform these evils?" The synod agreed that the evils responsible for the recent catastrophes were such things as pride in heart and body, a spiritual falling away, excessive profanity, breakdown of family life, and failure to observe the Sabbath. They insisted that God would be pleased only when the people repented of these sins and turned to him. To aid in this, the synod suggested that congregations exercise closer discipline and that the magistrates also enforce public discipline.
But the synod did not bring about the reawakening of religious fervor, nor did it halt the problems that beset the colony of New England. In 1684, Massachusetts lost its charter and was given a royal governor who was a member of the Anglican Church. Thus, by 1692 the faith of the Puritans in their divine mission was faltering. More and more sermons contained a dreadful prophesy; ministers warned settlers to expect God to turn upon them in wrath