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The Salem Witch Trails Essay Sample

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The Salem Witch Trails Essay Sample

The Salem Witch Trails started in Massachusetts from 1692 and lasted until 1693. There was about 200 people who were accused of practicing witchcraft, or Devil’s Magic, and about twenty of them were executed. Soon after the trials, the colonist admitted the trials were a mistake and the families of those who were executed were paid or compensated for their loss.During this time, many Christians believed that certain people were known to have the ability to harm people because the devil gave them powers. This belief became very popular during the 1300s to 1600s. There were thousands of people who were blamed to be involved in witch craft, most of them were women.

In January 1692, there were three women that were brought before the magistrates, or judges, and interrogated starting in March, 1692. One was the Reverend Parris Daughter Elizabeth and the niece Abigail Williams, who started to scream, throwing things, saying peculiar sounds, and contorted themselves into strange positions. The doctor said it was supernatural and ordered them to be put in jail.

Later there was a steam of accusations that followed. The first three people to be accused of witchcraft were Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborn. One of them were charged against Martha Corey, who was a concerned and loyal member of a church in Salem and the community. Magistrates questioned a lot of people including Sarah Good’s 4 year old daughter, Dorothy, and her answers were brought into a confession as what the magistrates believed to be witch craft. The people were then questioned by Governor Thomas Danforth.During this time they documented the words that were said during trial to use against them. These are available to read at this time. Later on May 27, 1692, Governor William Phipps established a special court of people to hear and decide for the counties of Suffolk, Essex, and Middlesex. Then the very first case was of Bridget Bishop, who was an older woman known for gossipy habits and promiscuity.

She was asked if she committed witchcraft and she said “I am as innocent as the child unborn” then they found her guilty on the June 10, 1692. She was hang a short time later on Gallows Hill. She was the first person to ever be hung there. Soon after there were a total of 13 women and 5 men from all stages of life followed her to be hung. Hundreds of people were accused of witchcraft, some even spent time in jail before they could go to trial. The people who were hung who followed Bridget Bishop was George Burroughs, Martha Carrier, Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, George Jacobs, Senior, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, Alice Parker, Mary Parker, John Proctor, Ann Pudeator, Wilmott Redd, Margaret Scott, Samuel Wardwell, Sarah Wildes, and last was John Willard.

Some were killed in other ways, like Giles Corey, an elderly nurse, was pressed. Governor Phipps, later after his own wife was being questioned for witchcraft, prohibited any and all arrests to witchcraft, which then came out on releasing many and terminated the court of oyer and terminer on October 29, 1692, which then replaced it with a superior court of judicature, which disallowed spectral evidence and only 3 of 56 defendants condemned. He then pardoned all who were in jail because of witchcraft charges in May of 1693. Even though he had done everything he could to help the people, including freeing them, the damage was already done and the town’s people would always associate them with witch craft.

After all the trials and executions, people involved like Judge Samuel Sewall, confessed his feelings of error and guilt to the public. In 1702, after everything that has happened the court made a law that trials of witchcraft was unlawful. (Blumberg) And in 1711, the colony passed a bill restoring the rights and good names of those accused and granted £600 restitution to their heirs. (Blumberg)

Information about the remains of the victims of the Salem witch trials was buried or not. Traditionally the families came to Gallows Hill to claim their loved ones and buried their bodies privately. 3A memorial honoring the victims of the Salem witch trials was built in Salem in 1992.3

Restitution was made to the victims’ families and Remembrance was instituted, where the town fasted to remember the people that were executed. Tituba is believed to have been sold and taken out of the Salem Village area. The location of the Tituba is unknown to this day. The 300th anniversary of the trials served as an opportunity to bring a sense of reconciliation and an appreciation of the lessons of that time.

Witchcraft is understood by being a religion that includes reverences for nature, and belief in rights of others and includes own spirituality. People that practice witch craft now focus on doing good things and helping others. They also refuse to be connected to the devil. Their beliefs go back to ancient times, long time before the advent of Christianity. In current culture witches have been confused with the belief they have black pointy hats, green faces with broom sticks. This is often how witches are portrayed in movies and plays.

Currently, in Salem where is a memorial for the people that were executed. They have a stone wall with the names of everyone that were involved. During a ceremony to remember the people, family member placed rosemary by their names.


1. Blumberg, J. (((n.d.))). Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/brief-salem.html?c=y 2. Salem witch trials/document archive. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/home.html 3. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://salemwitchmuseum.com/education/index.php 4. Linder, D. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/SALEM.HTM 5. Burke, A. (2012, SEPT 12). Salem witch trials memorial rededicated. Retrieved from http://www.salemnews.com/local/x550069789/Remembering-the-injustice

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