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The Salem Witch Trials
Transcript of The Salem Witch Trials
Salem was split into 2 sides: East (Salem Town) and West (Salem Village)
Salem Village consited of farmers.
Salem Town consisted of commerce and trading
12/14 accused witches were from the East, 30/32 testifiers were from the West
As Salem Village Split from Salem Town, residents of the east Salem village stayed closer to Salem Town.
Salem Village stayed tied to its agricultural roots
Salem Town went more commercial, as it was located by the ocean
Tensions grew due to concepts weird to people in Salem Town:investments, credit, etc.
This shows clear tension betweem Salem Village and Town.
Map of Salem
Conviction or innocence became a question of people's opinions, as these were what could influence the course of a trial due to the extremely faulty legal system
Any belief or opinion that had been formed from these societal and religious structures, even if the claim couldn't be supported, was used as evidence--"Your word against mine"
The Salem Witch Trials
Thesis: The accusations levied during the Salem Witch Trials were a logical outcome of Puritan values concerning both spiritual beliefs and social behavior, but the trials and executions themselves were only permitted because of a temporary lapse in standardized legal procedures in New England in the early 1690s.
Living in Salem
Problems with the Law
Peine fort et dure, Tituba (beaten before her confession)
Some things that were banished still used, such as peine
Spectral Evidence (even though it went against Puritan values!!!)
Could accuse anybody
More likely to be safe if your confession accused other people too
Men were favored over women (this European value was allowed to affect the courtroom procedures)
As we saw in King Philip's war, new ideas were starting to get around
Ribbons in hair, scandalous trips, gasp!
Perhaps it was a clash between the young and the old
However, we also see that "a significant number of the women accused in the witch trials were either older or were in a subordinate position (social or filial). " -- European values were still prominent and affecting the course of the trials
Males were still favored
Either way, there are issues of contrasting age and familial status playing a role in rivalries and advantages that a person could have
Fraud vs. Freud
It can be argued that whether you sought pleasure by joking around, or you were in mental pain, the oppressive values that governed New England were the underlying cause.
Pleasure: Boredom with the everyday routine, pretending that there was witchcraft, convulsing
Pain: Inner needs and ideas being oppressed , being released and then blamed on witchcraft
Because of the ways the towns were structured, people were close together... people don't always get along
Sarah Good and Sarah Osbourne
Family-based, one gets the sense that this community was more tightly knit than Virginia
Theocracy: People were expected to follow religious values, and in the case of Puritanism, extreme values
Political issues, which especially were present in the Salem Town vs. Salem Village issue
Examples of Trials
Anne Foster gave an account claiming that she and "Goody Carrier...did both ride on a stick or pole"
There are records of a "Martha Carryer" of Andover being executed
George Jacobs' (senator of Salem Village) granddaughter was a witness in her trial and admitted to lying in order to save her own life. Despite this confession, Jacobs was still killed.
A really detailed example is the trial of Goody Cory
Even moving or shifting weight would make somebody in the audience yell out
Unless you had a "redeeming" trait, you were pretty much stuck, done for
What this allowed
And so, between the current legal system and the current conflicts brought on by Puritan values, societal struure and the conflicts that modern changes brought on, the Salem Witch Trials were born.