Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials by Marc AronsonSalem, Massachusetts, 1692. In a plain meetinghouse a woman stands before her judges. The accusers, girls and young women, are fervent and overexcited. The accused is a poor, unpopular woman who had her first child before she was married. As the trial proceeds the girls begin to wail, tear their clothing, and scream that the woman is hurting them. Some of them expose wounds to the horrified onlookers, holding out the pins that have stabbed them -- pins that appeared as if by magic. Are they acting or are they really tormented by an unseen evil? Whatever the cause, the nightmare has begun: The witch trials will eventually claim twenty-five lives, shatter the community, and forever shape the American social conscience.
The Salem Witch Trials Explained
11 Important Facts About The Salem Witch Trials
They do not wear pointy headgears, concoct potions in a huge cauldron, have a cackling laugh or warts all over their faces. These are only a few of the many absurd things that popular mediums disseminated about witches and witchcraft. In fact, some would even like to believe that witch-burnings were propaganda-driven. That is, however, a discussion for some other time. Here are a few facts about witchcraft to clear a few misconceptions. It sounds obvious because a lot of us know mostly about witchcraft from Wizard of Oz , Harry Potter , and the likes.
In , the people of Salem were in a quest to purge their community of anything that was considered remotely unholy. Lasting from the June to September of that year, numerous accusations of witchcraft and wizardry were leveled at people in a three county area around Salem. The end result of these trials was that 19 people were sentenced to death because of the accusations leveled against them. A 20th person was killed by stones because he refused to submit to a trial. It is often called one of the darkest moments of colonial America.
Substantive, peer-reviewed, and regularly updated, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History combines the speed and flexibility of digital with the rigorous standards of academic publishing. Religious fanaticism, power-hungry individuals, local disputes, misogyny, anxiety, political turmoil, psychological distress, and mass hysteria all contributed to the atmosphere surrounding the infamous Salem witch trials.
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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History
In the late s the Salem Village community in the Massachusetts Bay Colony now Danvers, Massachusetts was fairly small and undergoing a period of turmoil with little political guidance. After some young girls of the village two of them relatives of Parris started demonstrating strange behaviours and fits, they were urged to identify the person who had bewitched them. Their initial accusations gave way to trials, hysteria, and a frenzy that resulted in further accusations, often between the differing factions. By the end of the Salem witch trials, 19 people had been hanged and 5 others had died in custody. Additionally, a man was pressed beneath heavy stones until he died. After weeks of informal hearings, Sir William Phips, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony , interceded to add some formality to the proceedings. Over the following year many trials were held and many people imprisoned.