The Salem Witch Trials Essay

Submitted By ryanrap
Words: 1298
Pages: 6

The Salem Witch Trials

The Salem Witch Trials were a series of court hearings and prosecutions of people accused of performing witchcraft and other supernatural abilities in colonial Massachusetts. These occurred between February 1692 and May 1693. Although they are referred to as the Salem witch trials, the preliminary hearings were done in various towns: Salem Village, Ipswich, Andover, and Salem Town. These trials had a lasting effect on a multitude of things in the formation of the United States of America and its colonies. The trials brought about warnings of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations, and profiling based off of social class. Thanks to these trials, America was able to take caution in them to help them eventually form the great country it is today.

In order to completely understand the effect of the trials it is necessary to have a little information from the trials. Salem was originally founded in 1626 by a group of European fisherman. Over the years it had gotten a little larger of a town, but never too big. Overall in the incident, around 24 people died because of their accusations of being a witch; whether from being executed, tortured in order to get information, or being killed while in prison.

Isolationism really added in influencing the mass hysteria of the people of Salem. They were all so far away from everyone else they essentially had no ways of communicating with anyone at all and they rarely got any news of anything. They were never being updated with cultural norms and were all very traditional. So when they noticed something out of the ordinary, they would all assume that it was something not normal and evil. Supposedly, the witch mania began when two little girls started playing around with fortune telling that their slave had told them about. The girls started having strange fits, and according to a doctor, this was happening because they had been bewitched. Instead of going towards a reasonable response, they automatically go towards any answer that just seems okay. They are not used to cultural norms and what now may be accepted and what may not be, and since they were out in the middle of nowhere, nobody could stop them. Eventually it goes to tell that the slave was arrested (along with two other women who were assumed to be witches because one had drinking parties and the other had been married three times) and were put on trial for the “horrible crime of Witchcraft”. This isolationism lead to eventually make the United States realize that you cannot leave a town alone because then they would have no idea what is going on. You need communication with everyone to help maintain a healthy and strong community.
Religious extremism most likely had the biggest effects on the trial being that they were the basis of most accusations. Massachusetts’s government was dominated by conservative Puritan secular leaders. Specifically in Salem Village, the church governed their life. Being that they were primarily Puritans, they had a strong tie associating Satan with sickness, misfortune, and anyone going against their religious beliefs. If they then associated you with Satan, they would associate you with witchcraft. They believed that witches had made a pact with Satan and that they should be punished for dealing with the devil. These religious extremities lead to the executions and prison sentences of a multitude of women, men, and children. They let their religious belief overcome them and wouldn’t even resort to common sense to deal with a fairly reasonable problem. The people also wanted to be able to feel comfortable that they had an answer to these problems, instead of leaving it unsolved completely and be worrying about it and being scared of these people. They wanted to prove themselves superior to others. In modern United States court of law, it is highly illegal to base an accusation against someone based off of supernatural and