Salem Witch Trials---Bill of Rights

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Rachel Ditmore

Would the Salem Witch Trials have occurred if the Bill of Rights had existed at that time?

English II AP

9/28/2012

"I PLEAD THE FIFTH!!" this along with the courtesies included in the Bill of Rights gave the citizens of a newly founded country liberties that were not granted to them before. A prime example of these injustices is the Salem Witch Trials as described by Arthur Miller in The Crucible. For example, the first amendment guarantees freedom to practice religion however one may choose, the fourth prevents unjust search and confiscation of property, and the eighth assures protection from excessive punishment.

In The Crucible, there is a preferred method of practicing religion and anyone who goes against it is looked down upon and rejected. John Proctor is harassed for the fact that he plows on Sunday instead of attending church services and that he did not have his youngest child baptized by Parris. This leads to an argument about whether John Procter has sided with the devil.2 Whereas, if “freedom of religion” had been granted back in those times, this scenario would not have taken place- instead, Procters’ own view of religion would not have been ridiculed and people would not have assumed him to be with the devil.

During the Salem Witch Trials, innocent citizens were not only unjustly accused of witchcraft, but their only salvation was to claim themselves guilty. This goes directly against the Fifth Amendment which says that one cannot be forced to testify against oneself.1 Also in the Fifth Amendment citizens were not to be tried without being properly accused, which was hardly the case in the Salem Witch Trials when people were considered guilty from accusation from petty grudges others may have held.

Another amendment that contrasts directly with The Crucible is the Eighth Amendment which states that “nor cruel and unusual punishments [be] inflicted.” 1 During the Salem Witch Trials, the accused were horribly...
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