The Witch Trials of 1692

This essay has a total of 1144 words and 6 pages.

The Witch Trials of 1692

During the winter of 1692, in the small village of Salem, Massachusetts, something
terrible happened. Salem Massachusetts became the center of a horrible tragedy, which
changed the life of many people. It was a time of fear, because of bad crops, Indian
raids, and diseases. The people of Salem Village had to blame something, or someone. The
people of Salem Village accused people, and called them witches. They were accused of all
those terrible things and more.

Salem Village was a small, farming community with a population of 550. It was smaller than
Salem Town, and about eight miles away. Salem Town was a large port, and was a prosperous
fishing community The two towns had the same minister, and used the same church as the
people in Salem Village.

At that time there was two groups in the village. Those who wanted to be separate from
Salem Town, and those who did not. Samuel Parris was the minister of the group that did
want to be separate. He helped divide the groups even more by his sermons. He called the
group that did not want to separate, evil and bad, and the group that did, good and

The Reverend Parris and his wife had two children living with them. They were Betty, their
daughter, and Abigail, their niece. Abigail and Betty were the reason that the trials
started. Before becoming a minister, Samuel Parris had failed at being a merchant. All he
had to show for all the long hard years of being a merchant, were the family slaves,
Tituba, and her husband, John Indian. Abigail and Betty Parris were having their fortunes
told by Tituba, behind their parents backs. Betty started having fits, possibly because
she could not bear to keep secrets from her parents. Abigail also started having fits, and
instead of getting into trouble, they became popular and respected. Soon, other girls
joined in. Most of the afflicted girls lived in the houses of the Parris's and the
Putnams, which were the Reverend's family and friends. During the fits, the girls
screamed, rolled their eyes back into their heads, shook, and twisted their bodies into
impossible positions, and accused people of biting and pinching them. They accused people
that were against Samuel Parris, or had an argument with the Parris's, or the families of
the other afflicted girls. By the end, they had accused most of the people that were in
conflict with the new church, or their families.

Dr. Griggs, Salem Village's doctor, was the first to say that the afflicted girls were
bewitched. That was when the girls started to scream out names, which were considered
accusations. Later on, Mary Warren, an afflicted girl, tried to tell everyone the truth,
but the other afflicted girls accused her, and she was sent to prison. A few days later,
the other girls let her out.

One way of convicting someone was called spectral evidence. An example of this is if
someone had an argument with their neighbor, and a few days later a cow died. They could
use that evidence to accuse their neighbor. Another example is, if a person did not like
someone, they could say that they saw a little yellow bird over the accused, and accused
person would be arrested. There was no way to fight against spectral evidence. If someone
was accused, they were as good as convicted. After the trials, though, an individual
needed solid evidence to convict somebody or the accused had to confess. This was what
made the Salem witch trials so different from any other trials. Never before had spectral
evidence been used to identify witches.

The people who were accused the most, were independent women, women without a husband,
herbalists, and healers. Historians think that they were accused because the men wanted to
keep them in their control, because some women were becoming too independent. They are not
sure, but the evidence that they have points to that conclusion.

The first accused were the lower members of the society, Sarah Osborne, Sarah Good, and
Tituba. Tituba confessed, and was sent to jail. Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne were hung.
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