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Salem Witch Trials - Research Paper Example

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SALEM WITCH TRIALS Name Class July 26, 2012-07-26 Introduction In January 1692, several girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, began experiencing strange “physical fits,” and their physician, William Griggs, concluded that they had been “bewitched.1” The bizarre fits started with the child and niece of Reverend Samuel Parris, the elected minister of Salem Village…
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Download file to see previous pages During the seventeenth century, in accordance to British laws, colonists, who had been discovered to work with the devil or practice witchcraft, were considered as committing a felony.3 The first arrest for the alleged witches happened on February 29, 1692. The trials ended on October 29, 1692, after nineteen people were hanged and around 156 people were imprisoned.4 This paper describes the developments leading to the Salem Witch Trials. It provides a brief history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the events during the trials, as well as key personalities. It will also discuss what historians and researchers think are the reasons for the Salem Witch trials. They range from the feminist and economic analyses. They believed that the Salem Witch Trials is a product of public hysteria, the economic manipulation of the ministers, bitter and unresolved local conflicts, Puritan theocracy, and the influence of cultural stereotypes regarding witches. Brief History of Salem Village In 1609, Henry Hudson led the exploration of Massachusetts Bay. In 1620, pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and created Plymouth. Six years afterwards, the Naumkeag Indians lived at numerous sites in Massachusetts. In addition, Roger Conant made Salem a trading post. In 1620, settlers wanted to “purify” the Calvinist Church and established strong Puritan beliefs and practices. The Massachusetts Bay Company formed the Massachusetts Bay Colony.5 A royal charter provided them the right to manage the Massachusetts Bay Colony. John Endecott soon started the first plantation in Salem.6 One year after, John Winthrop was appointed as the new governor and travelled to Massachusetts. In 1638, a small group of Puritans settled at what was then called as Salem Village. Throughout the pre-1692 period, before the witchcraft trials commenced, conflict developed in Massachusetts. Roach stressed: [t]he Salem witchcraft trials erupted during an eight-year war [King William’s War] while Massachusetts steered an unauthorized government with a nearly empty treasury through the hazards of French imperialism, Algonquin resentment, and English suspicion.7 The charter government increased the colonists’ unconstructive attitude toward civil authority.8 The villagers did not appreciate the double layer of authority imposed on them. In 1672, Salem Village was provided the authority to start a parish, hire a minister, and collect taxes for community projects. They created the Salem Village Parish and selected Samuel Parris to be their minister. In January 1692, the child and niece of Reverend Samuel Parris showed a bizarre form of sickness. His nine-year old daughter, Betty, and his niece, eleven-year-old Abigail Williams hid under chairs, contorted their bodies, lashed out their tongues, and spoke in outlandish languages.9 Without a physical explanation, Griggs stressed that the girls were bewitched. In February of the same year, Magistrates Jonathan Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin “examined” the witnesses.10 In May, Governor William Phipps created the Special Court of Oyer and Terminer to “hear and determine” the witch cases.11 Several months after that, nineteen of the accused were hanged, while hundreds were detained. The Events and Personalities of the Salem Witch Trials After what happened to the girls of the Parris’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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