Abigail Rowe Rebecca Dike Not much is known about these cases since many of the records have been lost. What we do know is that the accusations began in September ofwhen Gloucester resident Ebenezer Babson asked some of the afflicted Salem village girls to visit his mother, Eleanor, who was complaining of spectral visions of Indians and French soldiers.
Tuesday, August 11, What caused the witch scare in Salem? Part two of my two-part post on the famous witch scare in Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Here we try to figure out what led rational, if religious, people to fear that multiple witches were at work in their community.
When people were accused of witch craft, they were usually outsiders who made no secret of their disdain for the group. They were not pillars of respectable society, church members, and magistrates, and children were never allowed to make public accusations of witch craft, or to appear in court.
Yet these things happened at Salem. Deep beliefs about adults having complete power over children were overturned, the universal sign of respect that was church membership was overthrown, and the accusation was not against one person but against an ever-growing number of citizens.
Scholars over the 20th century have put forward many theories as to why this happened. All we can really do is throw our two cents in. Mine is that it was a combination of factors; that, as usual, there was no single cause. The rye crop may have been infected with ergot poisoning, giving two girls weird physical symptoms.
One of those girls happened to be the daughter of the Reverend Parris, the divisive minister of Salem Village. Worried that his daughter should be manifesting signs of demonic possession--he, a minister, and one trying to keep the people of Salem Town within the sphere of the Salem Village church--Parris was panicked enough to accept a verdict of witchcraft rather than physical illness, which was the original verdict of the midwife.
At this point, a few other women are infected by the rye, so accusations break out afresh. This causes wilder accusations because it is now consequence-free to denounce someone as a witch. People who might have been grudgingly tolerated before were now denounced. The arrival of outside officials to investigate only seems to lend credence to the idea that real witchcraft is at work.
Once people are actually executed by hanging, not burningreal fear sets in.
No one wants to protest the procedings lest they be denounced themselves. Plus, the average person believes that their usually rational system of government would not wrongly sentence someone to death, so the accused must be real witches.
A self-perpetuating system is set up that is only stopped when the governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony calls a halt to the trials, implying that criminal proceedings will be held against those who make any further accusations. It was this reassertion of rational government that put an end to the trials.
When the Salem government abandoned this responsibility, for its own reasons, and did not make it clear that the second wave of accusations were not permissable, order was destroyed and society became lawless. When the MBC government stepped in to reinforce precedent, the scare ended as quickly as it began.
In a politically dangerous time, a time of guerrilla war and internal division, a frontier town became unmoored from the legal and religious traditions it was part of, and chaos ensued. It is part of the fascination of Salem that it was the only witch scare in North American history.
If there had been three or four witch hunts in the s, I think none of them would be as famous and hypnotic to later generations as Salem.
If Titanic and two of its sister ships had all gone down init would be a case for shipbuilding engineers to ponder rather than the subject of dozens of movies and hundreds of books. If two women rather than just Amelia Earhart had disappeared on a flight it would be noted briefly in the history of aviation rather than the subject of intense scrutiny and speculation.
But the fact that Salem stands alone makes it less illustrative of Puritan society, not more. The Puritans believed in devils and witch craft, but they lived by rule of law, and they did not suffer witch scares and witch hunts to become part of the fabric of life.
Study Salem all you like, but do so in the context of witch mania in Reformation-era Christendom, or how a breakdown in law and order leads to chaos, or any other context than New England Puritanism per se.October Villagers vow to drive Parris out of Salem and stop contributing to his salary.
Outbreak of accusations January Eleven-year-old Abigail Williams and nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris begin behaving much as the Goodwin children acted three years earlier.
Soon Ann Putnam Jr. and other Salem girls begin acting similarly. The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February and May More than people were accused, nineteen of which were found guilty and executed by hanging (fourteen women and five men).
Aug 11, · Part two of my two-part post on the famous witch scare in Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Here we try to figure out what led rational, if religious, people to fear that multiple witches were at work in their community.
The Salem Witch Trials were a difficult and dark chapter in the history of the United States of America. These historical trials began in May and spanned around 15 months, taking place in villages in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Introductory Class Discussion: Teachers may want to introduce the film with the following commentary and question. This should lead students to an open-minded approach to the movie both in terms of the historical events that occurred in Salem in and the machinations of . How Satan Came to Salem.
The real story of the witch trials described the witch scare as a kind of reactionary political spasm in response to .