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Salem Witch Trials vs. Communist Hunts of the 1950's
kelly nicholson 14 September 2010
Transcript of Salem Witch Trials vs. Communist Hunts of the 1950's
The Communist Hunts of the 1950's
•Wisconsin Senator 1908-1957
•Gained national attention in 1950 when he claimed that the State Department had been infiltrated by communists.
Salem Village 1690's The Witch Hunt Arthur Miller "The Crucible" Senator Joseph McCarthy •He claimed “I have in my hand a list of 205 cases of individuals who appear to be either card-carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party.”
•He held highly publicized hearings before the House Committee on Un-American Activities for the next four years.
•He accused some of the most prominent entertainers of the era (e.g. Orson Welles, Lucille Ball, Dashielle Hammett), demanding the “naming of names.”
•Careers and lives were ruined by the accusations, which were based on unidentified sources, and weak evidence.
•April 1954- McCarthy accused the Secretary of the Army of concealing foreign espionage activities. The Secretary recriminated by saying that members of McCarthy’s subcommittee staff had threatened army officials in order to obtain preferential treatment for an associate of the subcommittee who had been recently drafted.
•Senator and his committee were cleared of charges, but McCarthy slowly lost power.
•New Jerusalem (Salem) founded in 1626, shortly after the founding of Plymouth.
•Puritans sought religious freedom
•Considered themselves God’s chosen people.
•By 1680 the town was settled but the theocracy had not adjusted to the growing, evolving society.
•Naming of the settlement (New Jerusalem) was more than merely choosing a name
•Believed that the third restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple would signal the second coming of the Messiah.
•The name indicated the hope of the Puritans that they would be the generation and the people to usher in the final Kingdom of God.
Arthur Miller •Was considered the greatest American playwright "Death of a Salesman"
"the Crucible" •Themes of morality vs. pressures from society and family •"The Crucible" was a comparison between the Salem witch trials and the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s. •1956-Miller himself was summoned before the very trials he criticized in his play.
•He refused to implicate his friends and was tried for and convicted of contempt of Congress. In 1958, his conviction was overturned.
Dramatic license •Miller admitted the play was not meant to be a history, and researched the information for the witch trials from documents in Salem.
•He was careful not to misrepresent characters or their actions.
•He did make some changes for the sake of the story.
oAbigail Williams and John Proctor
Miller inferred they had a relationship from actions noted in court documents.
He created conversations to support the idea.
Abigail was actually eleven years old
Parris was still married at the time and had two other children
Several other judges and afflicted witnesses
Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor met their fate and different times