The Salem witch trials were brought about partly as a result of providences also known as remarkable providences which were visible signs of God’s will that affected daily life. Puritans believed that God rewards or protects His people and punishes His enemies. Increase Maher made a list of providences including many pages on the significance of thunder and lightning. His son, Cotton Maher, wrote about the scientific causes of lightning, but said that God instigated the actions that lead to thunder and lightning. The Puritans were especially fascinated by the providences dealing with the punishment of God’s enemies. Punishments include the annihilation of the Narragansett Native Americans who did not follow the Ten Commandments and scoffed at the Gospel. Puritans saw God’s hand when the Narragansett tribe was devastated by the white settlers. Many other people were struck by lightning and killed which Puritans saw as fitting, because the dead were adulterers or fought with the town’s ministers. There were many more providences such as ghosts, tempests, ghost ships, and the belief that corpses will bleed from the touch of it murderer. The belief of providences heavily influenced the witch hunts by scaring those who thought that demons were possessing people. The Salem witch trials began in January 1692 when Betty Parris and Abigail Williams began to show signs of unusual behavior. The girls have episodes where they would convulse and talk incomprehensibly. Soon after, many other girls began experiencing similar behavior which eventually culminated in them indicting several members of their town as witches. There has yet to be a single, fully-accepted theory as to why the girls experienced such behavior. One theory is that the girls consumed ergot-infected rye which could be possible due to the growing conditions and farming methods of the time period. Another theory is that the girls were involved in the factionalism that resulted because of Revered...
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