Imagine, just for a minute, living in a time and place where you are not free to practice your own religious or spiritual beliefs and you are forced to live in fear because of persecution by the church and everyone around you. Persecution back in 1692 in Salem Massachusetts was a horrible thing. Those persecuted were hanged, burned, and even pressed against rocks if found guilty of witchcraft. Nineteen men and women were carted to Gallows Hill near Salem Village to be hung for practicing witchcraft, from June through September of 1692. One eighty-year-old man was pressed to death, under heavy stones, for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Many awaited trial in jail for months and hundreds more faced accusations of witchcraft, and while waiting in jail there were many that died of hunger and mistreatment by the people of Salem. It was a time of fear and a time of hate in this little town. The Salem Witchcraft Trials stands as one of the darkest times in American history of religious tolerance.
The church was the basis of 17th century life in New England and most people in Massachusetts were Puritans. But in the strict Puritan system, it was against the law not to attend church. The Puritan lifestyle was reserved and strict: People were expected to work hard and hold back their emotions and opinions. Since Puritans were expected to live by a firm moral code, they believed that all sins should be punished. They also believed God would punish sinful behavior. Puritans also believed the Devil was as real as God. Everyone was faced with the struggle between the powers of good and evil, but Satan would select the weakest individuals, women, children, and the insane, to carry out his work. Those who followed Satan were considered witches. In keeping with the Puritan code of agreement, the first women to be accused of witchcraft in Salem were seen as different and as social outcasts. Some say that because witchcraft was so wrong in the Puritan code, people wanted to persecute them immediately. Most of the people in Salem were Puritans and followed their rules very strictly, when they heard of someone being a witch or involved in witchcraft, it offended them to the greatest extent. People wanted these witches to be brought to jail immediately because in their eyes they were committing a huge crime. The views on witchcraft in the town of Salem were a little harsh, because there were no realistic or fair trials for the blamed to be witches. The Salem Witchcraft Trails were caused and continued by various events and people. Diseases, natural catastrophes, misfortune, and deaths seemed to be around every corner for the people that lived in Salem. When someone’s livestock died they blamed someone and called them a witch. Instead of writing these events off as bad luck people in Salem blamed these horrible things on the Devil. The people of the town believed that the Devil recruits witches and wizards to do his work for him. As soon as something bad happened, the God-fearing people of Salem were quick to blame it on a witch or wizard. Anything a little out of the ordinary like children claiming to see things that someone else could not, was blamed on a witch. The people seemed to be always out to find a witch in hopes of stopping their misfortunes. They believed that once the witch was executed all the bad luck they were experiencing would disappear. Little did they know, they were executing innocent people and blaming them for things they never even did! Since their bad luck never disappeared their witch hunt would not soon be satisfied.
The trials of the so-called witches during this time were extremely unfair! The accusations were all made by other people fearing of being accused themselves. The people didn’t dunk anyone in the water or throw anyone off a cliff or anything like that. What they did do was basically accept the testimony of girls in the area who