What caused the Salems Witch Trials?

Essay by imaGe April 2006

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People have been debating on a justifiable answer to the start of the Salem Witch Trials. Whether it was the accusations that got the colonist excited or deeper explanations such as economic problems. Here is one point that illustrates the uprising of the Salem Witch Trials.

The main reason why the society started to accuse woman, was because they viewed them as independent women of the town. They saw them as a threat to the economy because they had more power than other men around the town. The wealthy women were considered independent because they had inherited large sums of property or they had violated the Puritan rule, which stated they must attend church regularly. As was said by Karlsen, author of The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England, "Too, a widow who inherited the traditional "widow's third" from her husband was competing with her sons and stepsons for scarce resources".

The people in the town did not want the colony's wealth in the hands of the women. Instead they thought the role for women was to be charge of the housework and to take care of the children. They were supposed to live strictly to the Puritan rule and to attend church regularly. One example that shows how a wealthy woman is accused is in the case of Abigail Faulkner. When her husband past away she took charge of the family estate and was immediately suspected of witchcraft. She was soon brought to trial and to be questioned just for inheriting property. Other widows who were wealthy and accused were also put up for trial.

Another reason that might have ignited the hatred around Salem was the economic status of the colonist. The accusers were mostly resided in the poorer...