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McCarthyism vs Salem Witch Trials

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Natalie Carpentier

on 7 November 2013

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Transcript of McCarthyism vs Salem Witch Trials

Salem Witch Trials
Comparing and Contrasting McCarthyism and The Salem Witch Trials
McCarthyism Definition
The Webster Dictionary describes McCarthyism as:
"a mid-20th century political attitude characterized chiefly by opposition to elements held to be subversive and by the use of tactics involving personal attacks on individuals by means of widely publicized indiscriminate allegations especially on the basis of unsubstantiated charges"

Basically it means to ruin a person's reputation publicly with no evidence.
History of McCarthyism
It originally intended to criticize the anti-communist views of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy
MLA Citation
It took on a more broad but similar meaning over time and was eventually used to describe an unsubstantiated accusation of someone
Eventful Term
McCarthy searched for ways to make his second term of being Senator more interesting and resorted to corruption.
On February 9, 1950, he took advantage of the nation’s fear of communism and claimed he had a list of 205 people in the State Department who were members of the American Communist Party.
Not everyone on the list was a communist. Some people were just Alcoholics and "sexual deviants"
His downfall began in October, 1953
Dwight D. Eisenhower realized what McCarthy was doing and decided that it needed to stop.
Information was sent in to known critics of McCarthyism about McCarthy abusing congressional privileges.
Reporters started publishing unflattering articles about his methods.
Eventually he was stripped of his power and died in 1957.
McCarthyism arose in the 1950s
People were afraid of Communism influencing America's companies and the Soviet Union spying on them.
Outside threats that were surrounding the people of Salem had created a fear and suspicion within the town.
How it Started
In 1692, Reverend Parris' daughter, Elizabeth, and niece, Abigail Williams, began having "fits."
A local doctor blamed the supernatural.
More and more girls started having similar episodes.
Later on, under pressure from judges, the girls blamed other women - that they did not like - for afflicting them.
Many people claimed that the devil was out to get the Puritans
The Puritan villagers believed all the quarreling was the work of the Devil.

Over 200 people accused of witchcraft
Eventually the people in Salem realized their mistakes
People had a strong belief of the devil and were very religious
Trials began in the 1690s
Accusations continued for months until innocent people began to get hanged

The court basically ignored this request and continued to hang people
Eventually one minister suggested the logical idea that the court should stop taking spectral evidence
Connection between McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials
Arthur Miller wrote a play in 1953 called "The Crucible" and brought the situation to the public's eye once more.

Only later on, witchcraft was taken down by a new Governor and apologies were given to affected families.
He used the trials as an allegory for the McCarthyism paranoia in the 1950s
McCarthyism in contrast to the Salem Witch Trials
Occurred throughout America during the 1950s
McCarthy was a government official who accused the Democratic party and the US army
Joseph McCarthy wanted to be respected as the leader, with the Republican party as followers
He used suspicions to promote his campaign and the fear of communism to keep it alive
The media was afraid to stand up to McCarthy because media members feared they would be considered communists
McCarthyism in contrast to the Salem Witch Trials
The Salem Witch Trials in contrast to McCarthyism
The Salem Witch Trials in contrast to McCarthyism

McCarthy suspected many people of being communists
He had the suspected communists blacklisted
He mostly accused famous people and urged people that the individuals who should be feared were the communists
People also feared the Soviet Union during this time period
Many people were accused of trying to overthrow the United States government
Occurred in Salem, Massachusetts, 1692
Caused by the idea that witches existed
Witches were thought to be "taking over the town and destroying souls"
Townspeople feared standing up against witchcraft and refused to go into the forest because that's where they believed it happened
Accusations were created for revenge and many people were accused because their neighbors wanted their land
Abigail started accusations because she wanted John as her husband
She decided to seek revenge against Elizabeth
Abigail Williams was a common girl who accused many people of being witches
Abigail wanted to be respected as the leader with her friends as followers
Those who were suspected of being witches were jailed and hanged if they did not admit to being a witch
Over 100 people were accused of being witches - mostly women
Fear that the devil would take over kept the trials alive
Laws were eventually made that recognized witchcraft as a crime

Comparing McCarthyism and the Salem Witch Trials
Both events occurred in the United States.
Due to the pressure in each situation, seemingly random names were offered, causing the innocent to be accused.
There was no real proof of witchcraft or communism, just suspicion by enemies.
In each of the situations, the accused victims were able to be tried in a courtroom setting
It seems that one person had caused major destruction in both of the events
Comparing The Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism
Those who were believed to be witches were feared.
Those who were believed to be communists were also feared.
In each situation there seemed to be a leader who recruited his/her followers.
The public believed both Abigail and McCarthy which caused them both to have personal gain.
There were people who were against the higher authority .
These citizens had eventually caused the downfall of the trials and McCarthyism
Comparing the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism
"The Crucible" was written in 1953, while McCarthyism was occurring.
Arthur Miller was blacklisted because of Communism suspicions
Both Abigail and McCarthy spread fear, hatred, and evil throughout their environments.
Abigail and McCarthy also were highly respected in the beginning, but their reputations had become ruined by the end of the events that had taken place.

Blumberg, Jess. "A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials." Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian.com, 24 Oct.
2007. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/brief-salem.html>.

HUNT." Cold War Museum. Cold War Museum. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <http://www.coldwar.org/articles/50s/senatorjosephmccarthy.asp>.

"McCarthyism." McCarthyism. Princeton.edu. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/

"McCarthyism." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster Incorperated. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <http://

"The Salem Witch Trials of 1692." Salem Witch Museum. The Salem Witch Museum Education Department,
2012. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <http://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/education/>.
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