Tensions rise in Salem
By Jay Wiltbank
Throughout time there have been many small towns with strange tales seeming too unusual to be true. One such town was Salem Massachusetts. In 1692 Salem was plagued with a condition known as hysteria which ended with thirty innocent citizens dead. The whole town was convinced there were witches living amongst them. Samuel Parris and the unique make up of Salem is what caused the hysteria to occur.
The most influential townsman in Salem at this time was the town priest Samuel Parris. Samuel was a man obsessed with sinfulness. He could look at anything and find sin. "His great terror was of Satan arming his foes to destroy both him and his church."2 Samuel was convinced that Satan was trying to destroy him.
Parris was able to pass on his beliefs to the citizens of Salem by scaring them into submission.
In his sermons he would preach of Satan's wrath and the effect it would have on the villagers if they didn't act as he saw fit. "Even visits of mere pleasure would have been regarded by adults as dubious activities, bordering on the sinful." 4 Any form of activity outside of work and religion were considered sinful.
Samuel was the kind of man who was afraid of new things. He was intimidated by outsiders even though he himself was considered an outsider only 3 years earlier when he moved to Salem with his wife, three children, and his slave couple Tituba and John Indian. This was very uncommon because "The Puritans believed that Native Americans were servants of the devil or devils themselves" . This is one reason why Tituba was a prime suspect during the witch trials.
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