Salem witch trials analysis

Document Type:Thesis

Subject Area:History

Document 1

Consequently, the settlement of Salem was under massive duress almost overnight. Interestingly, the cause of the duress was as a result of unfounded accusations moving back and forth amongst the dwellers of the serene Puritan settlement. However, within a period of less than a year, a group twenty people had been executed and several hundred arrested. Similarly, just as suddenly as the trials of the accused started, they came to a sudden halt in May 1693 when a group of five men, fourteen women and two dogs were executed for their alleged supernatural crimes. Later on, Salem Village came to its senses and the life of its dwellers carried on as usual. As such, there are notable connections between the outbreak in Witchcraft in Salem and the war which ravaged the Massachusetts’s northern frontier.

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Also, given the fact that people were becoming highly heightened of their surroundings, due to the war hysteria in Salem Village and across Essex County. Furthermore, the women involved were previously war refugees were personally affected while staying in Maine. The community was affected in a way because those who were displaced into Salem put a strain on the resources of the Village. As such, because of the pressure on the resources, conflict escalated the already present rivalries between the families which had a connection to the Salem port of wealth, and the other residents who still depended on agriculture. Again, personal disputes, differences and rivalries in the community were some of the real causes of witchcraft in Salem. Especially that between the women accused who had unsettled accounts with the people that accused them which was a threat to Puritan values and ideals.

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At the same time, rivalries had started to sprout in Salem as well as land disputes. This was coupled with the reasoning of many colonists that since Massachusetts Colony charter had been revoked, and later on replaced with a new one which accorded the Crown more control did not sit well with the Colonists. As such, the accusations for the people either directly or indirectly by the members of Putnam family accused the women of not following Puritan customs and beliefs. Apart from personal discomfort that affected the villagers, massive crop failures was also recorded. Many towns such as Massachusetts that once produced agricultural surplus did not manage to do so anymore. For instance Massachusetts, was an exporter of foodstuffs, however, by the 1690s it reverted to importation of corn, wheat and other crops.

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Therefore, due to the extreme weather, many scholars and researchers noted the high correlation between outbreaks of witchcraft in Salem and the little ice age period. Similarly, Ergot Poisoning was highly linked to the cause of Salem Witch Trials. Nevertheless, accusations of witchcraft was always present with those accused being condemned to death. However, in reality, prior to the events of Salem in 1692, limited number of trials of witchcraft had taken place. Also, for the trials that occurred, very few culminated into convictions, which was less capital punishment for the ones accused. Moreover, other historians believe that the young girls who were accusing other people of witchcraft were seen as attention seekers or behaved so to escape punishment. As such, Tituba who was one of Parris family slaves, is alleged to have taught the young girls magic tricks.

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