What caused the Salem Witch Trial Hysteria of 1692?
During the summer of 1692, nineteen people were hung and one pressed to death, because they were accused of practicing or aiding the process of witchcraft. The Salem Witch Trials were started by a preconceived notion that witchcraft was real based on religious texts and ministers, or that being in a wrong place at the wrong time was the doing of witch. In addition, all of the accused were tried with in the sights of four young girls who I believe were faking it to gain attention or political gain for their parents. Puritans, called fundamentalists, followed the Bible to the T and anything outside of the Bible was considered unheard of. This is where I believe the witch accusations started. They disliked anyone who didn’t act the way the fundamentalists considered normal or they didn’t go to church were accused of being a witch. In addition, church attendance was down dramatically and so the fear of witches and demons, since witches and demons couldn’t stand to listen to the word of God, anyone who went to church could deny being one themselves. The first speculations of witchcraft being real can be found in Exodus 22:18,”Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”(doc. 1) and in Cotton Mather’s, a leading minister at the time, quote, “These evil spirits are all around… Go tell mankind, that there are devils and witches… New England has had examples of their existence… and that not only wigwams of Indians…but the houses of Christians…have undergone the annoyance of evil spirits.”(doc. 3). During the actual witch trials, you needed actual proof that the person you were accusing was actually a witch. One of the easier ways to tell if a person was a witch was looking for non-natural moles or devil’s marks, on the accused, like in the painting from the Peabody Essex Museum that actually shows a women being examined in front of a crowd (doc. 4). Before you...
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