The Salem Witch Trials & McCarthyism:
The Motivation of Power
In the past, certain individuals have been able to gain complete control over society and have a negative impact on it. The late 1600’s and mid 1900’s were times of chaos and political hysteria in America which were caused by rumors started by very powerful people, resulting in the deaths and imprisonment of several innocent citizens. Starting in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, a series of witch hunts and trials for those accused of witchcraft took place which became known as “The Salem Witch Trials”. Among the accusers was Abigail Williams. During the McCarthy Era in 1950, towards the beginning of the Cold War, a huge fear of communist activity in the United States was installed in the American citizens (“Joseph McCarthy: Biography”). Similar to Abigail Williams, Joseph McCarthy, an American politician, made numerous claims that communists had intruded the American government. Webster’s Dictionary describes the word McCarthyism as a general term for the hysterical investigation of a government's opponents or the publicizing of accusations against these opponents without sufficient evidence to support the charges. Motivated by power, Abigail Williams of the Salem Witch Trials and Joseph McCarthy of the McCarthy Era each corrupted society by making false accusations against innocent people.
Abigail Williams was an eleven year old girl who belonged to Salem, Massachusetts, a strict Puritan town where the church was the central authority. She lived with her uncle Samuel Parris, the town’s minister, and his daughter Betty. Abigail was the first accuser, along with her cousin Betty, during the Salem Witch Trials and gave formal testimony at seven cases and made over forty legal complaints (Ray 1). Of the accused were John and Elizabeth Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, Martha Cory, George Burroughs, Bridget Bishop, Mary Easty, John Willard, and Mary Witheridge (Caporael 3). When the trials finally ended around...
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