Salem Witch Trials of 1692 What really happened?

Essay by tbeattyUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2003

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What do we know about the "Salem Witch Trials"? All we know is what has been written. Between 1682 and 1693, several towns' people were tried and hanged for being accused of witchcraft.

I want to take you through the events that caused such hysteria among the small village in Salem, Massachusetts. To understand the events of the Salem witch trials, it is necessary to examine the times in which accusations of witchcraft occured. There were the ordinary stresses of 17th century life in Massachusetts Bay Colony. A strong belief in the devil, factions among Salem village fanatics and rivalry with nearby Salem Town. A recent small pox epidemic and the threat of attack by warring tribes created a fertile ground for fear and suspicion. Soon prisons were filled with more than 150 men and women from towns surrounding Salem. Their names had been "cried out" by tormented young girls as the cause of their pain.

All would await trial for a crime punishable by death in 17th century New England, the practice of witchcraft.

Elizabeth Parris 9, and her cousin, Abigal Williams 11, and a slave woman, Tituba, cared for the two girls. She would tell them stories of voodoo to entertain them. Elizabeth and Abigal were so facinated with the stories that they began to play with the idea of telling each other's fortune. They soon had several of their friends involved.

All of a sudden, the young girls, Elizabeth and Abigal became very ill. They started convulsing, screaming in pain, and making animal like noises. Her father, Reverend Parris, contacted a Dr. William Griggs, who then examined Elizabeth and Abigal and couldn't find anything medically wrong with them. He, the doctor, claimed they were possessed or bewitched. By this time, friends of the girls...