A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials

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The Salem Witch Trials of 1692

The Salem Witch Trials were a period in Massachusetts from 1692 to 1693 when over 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft and being associated with the devil, and 20 of them were executed. This was only a part of the so called “witchcraft craze” that occurred in Europe which began in the 1300s and ended around the time of the Salem Witch Trials, a 300 year period in which tens of thousands of people were accused of witchcraft and executed. Most of these victims were women.

Those who were pointed at and accused of witchcraft were unfortunate women, such as slaves, homeless women, or otherwise out-of-sorts individuals. There were also a great deal of accusations towards shy and timid women who would not answer interrogation, and women who were known for gossip and promiscuity. However, there was at least one victim who had been the village’s ex-minister, throwing the village into further disarray, for if they could not trust the minister, who could they?

In 1702, the trials to determine whether or not an accused was a witch were deemed unlawful, but it wasn’t until 1957 that Massachusetts apologized to the families who had been affected by the accusations and deaths that occurred in 1692. Despite having only condemned 19 people to hanging, this is still a very sensitive subject as well as the source of a great deal of historical interest. Thankfully, each passing generation learns anew, and knowing of this period in the world’s history will help us avoid repeating the same mistakes.

 

(sources: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/SAL_ACCT.HTM and http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/brief-salem.html)

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