Salem Witch Trials

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Erin Sullivan
Dating back to 1692 when the Salem Witch Trials were occurring, it was a time of despair, concern,and many accusations. The events that took place in Salem in 1692 are a part of a greater pattern throughout our history to persecute innocent people, especially women, as witches.

Salem was broken into two parts, Salem Town and Salem Village which set it aside by economy, class and character. Salem Village was known as the have nots, mostly consisting of poor farmers who made a living cultivating crops where as Salem Town was the haves, a wealthy town in which was the center of trade. Salem Village tried to gain its own independence from Salem Town for quite some time but finally succeeded gaining its own church and minister in 1674. The merchants who lived in Salem Village near Ipswich Road prospered but the farmers felt that wealth of Salem Town threatened Puritan values. When Reverend Samuel Parris became the new minister of Salem Village is when tension arose. Parris was a stern Puritan who denounced the worldly ways and economic prosperity of Salem Town as the influence of the Devil. The jealousness and fighting which then occurred during these two towns was the major role of the witch trials.

The majority of the women who were accused of witchcraft lived near Ipswich Road and the people accusing them lived near the farms in Salem Village. The first three witches to get accused of witchcraft were Tituba, Sarah Osborne and Sarah Good. “Trouble in the small Puritan community began in February 1692, when nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams, the daughter and niece, respectively, of the Reverend Samuel Parris, began experiencing fits and other mysterious maladies. A doctor concluded that the children were suffering from the effects of witchcraft, and the young girls corroborated the doctor's diagnosis. Under compulsion from the doctor and their parents, the girls named those allegedly responsible for their suffering.” “On March 1, Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba, an Indian slave from Barbados, became the first Salem residents to be charged with the capital crime of witchcraft. Later that day, Tituba confessed to the crime and subsequently aided the authorities in identifying more Salem witches. With encouragement from adults in the community, the girls, who were soon joined by other "afflicted" Salem residents, accused a widening circle of local residents of witchcraft, mostly middle-aged women but also several men and even one four-year-old child.” [1]

After the girls had an evening of fortune-telling games and voodoo and stories told by Reverend Parris slave, Tituba is when the girls began acting strange, convincing not only themselves but then entire Puritan town that they had been victims of witchcraft. When Tituba admitted that she saw the devil and that there is a group of witches in Salem Village.

“Sarah Osborne was an elderly lady who had not gone to church in over a year, and poor church attendance was a Puritan sin. Sarah Good was a homeless woman who begged door to door. If people failed to give her alms, she would utter unknown words and leave. Residents would often attribute her visits to death of livestock. They believed the mumbled words she spoke under her breath were curses against them for not showing her charity. Once the three women were investigated, they were put in prison and accused of witchcraft.There was a small pox outbreak recently after the three women were put in jail. This created an anxiety among the early Puritans that God was punishing them and because of this fear they wanted to make sure that every last witch be discovered and punished in order to end their anger and fear.” [2]

Both Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne insisted that they were innocent and would not plead guilty when in court but the court did not believe them and found them two as well as Tituba guilty of practicing witchcraft.

“In June 1692, the special Court of...
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