Salem Essay

This essay has a total of 1756 words and 7 pages.


salem witch trials
By: megan crawford

Megan Crawford Pd. 9 Honors English May 16, 2000 The Salem Witch Trials From June through
September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were
taken to Gallows Hill for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death
under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of
others faced accusations of witchcraft. Dozens wasted away in jail for months without
trials. Then, almost as soon as it had started, the craze that had swept Puritan
Massachusetts ended. In 1688, John Putnam, one of the most influential elders of Salem
Village, invited Samuel Parris to preach in the Village church. A year later Parris
accepted the job as Village minister. He moved to Salem Village with his wife Elizabeth,
his six-year old daughter Betty, niece Abagail Williams, and slave Tituba, a West African
native that Parris had acquired in Barbados. Sometime during February of 1692, young Betty
Parris became strangely ill. She ran about, dove under furniture, screamed in pain, and
complained of fever. The cause was unknown, but talk of witchcraft soon erupted. Talk
increased when several of Betty’s friends, including eleven-year-old Ann Putnam,
seventeen-year-old Mercy Lewis, and Mary Walcott, began to show signs of similar behavior.
William Griggs, a doctor called to examine the girls, suggested that the girls’ problems
might have a supernatural origin when he failed to find a cure. The widespread belief that
witches target children made the doctor’s diagnosis seem more likely. A neighbor, Mary
Sibley, proposed a form of countermagic. She told Tituba to bake a rye cake with the urine
of the afflicted victim and feed the cake to a dog. Dogs were used by witches as agents to
carry out their devilish commands. Suspicion had already begun to focus on Tituba, who had
been known to tell the girls’ tales of voodoo and witchcraft. Her participation in the
urine cake episode made her an even more obvious target. Meanwhile, the number of girls
afflicted continued to grow, rising to seven with the additions of Ann Putnam, Elizabeth
Hubbard, Susannah Sheldon, and Mary Warren. The girls screamed in pain, fell into frozen
postures, and complained of biting and pinching sensations. In a village where everyone
believed in that the devil was real and close at hand, the suspected affliction of the
girls became an obsession. Sometime after February 25, when Tituba baked the witchcake,
arrest warrants were issued against Tituba and two other women. Betty Parris and Abagail
Williams had named their afflictors, the witch hunt had begun. Soon Ann Putnam and Mercy
Lewis were also reporting seeing “witches flying through the winter mist.” The prominent
Putnam family supported the girls’ accusations. The first three to be accused of
witchcraft were Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborn. Tituba was an obvious choice. Good
was a beggar and a social misfit who lived wherever someone would house her, and Osburn
was old, quarrelsome, and had not been to church for over a year. The Putnams brought
their complaint against the three women to the county magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John
Hathrone. They scheduled the examinations for March 1, 1692 in Ingersoll’s tavern. When
hundreds showed up, the examinations were moved to the meetinghouse. At the trials, the
girls described attacks by the women, and fell into their own perfected pattern of
contortions when in the presence of one of the suspects. Other villagers came forward to
offer stories of cheese and butter mysteriously gone bad or animals born with deformities
after visits with one of the suspects. The matter might have might have ended were it not
for Tituba. After first denying any guilt, Tituba claimed that a tall man approached her
from Boston, who sometimes appeared as a dog, who asked her to sign in his book and do his
work. Tituba declared she was a witch, and moreover she and four others, including Good
and Osburn, had flown through the air on their poles. She had tried to run to Reverend
Parris for help, she said, but she was blocked by the devil. Her confession served to
quiet most skeptics. Soon, according to their own reports, the spectral forms of other
women began attacking afflicted girls. Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Cloyce, and Mary
Easty were accused of witchcraft. Dorcas Good, four-year-old daughter of Sarah Good,
became the first child accused of witchcraft when three of the girls complained that they
were bitten by Dorcas’s specter. The girls’ accusations and their ever more polished
performances, including the new act of being struck dumb, played to large and believing
audiences. Stuck in jail with the testimony of the afflicted girls widely accepted,
suspects began to see confessions as a way to avoid the gallows. Deliverance Hobbs became
the second witch to confess, admitting to pinching three of the girls at the devils’
command. Jails approached capacity and the colony “teetered on the brink of chaos” when
Governor Phips returned from England. Fast action, he decided, was required. Phips created
a new court to hear the witchcraft cases. Five judges were appointed to the court. Chief
Justice, and most influential member of the court, was a witch hunter named William
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