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The Salem Witch Trials
Transcript of The Salem Witch Trials
The Salem Witch Trials began on January 20, 1692 when Abigail Williams (11) and Elizabeth Parris (9) began behaving like the Goodwin children acted about four years earlier. Ann Putnam Jr. and other Salem girls also started acting similarly.
Some historians believe that the cause of the young girls actions was due to a form of food poisoning in rye plants called "Ergot."
The symptoms of Ergot poisoning include:
- muscle spasms
Several centuries ago, many people who practiced Christianity believed that the devil could grant certain people (who were known as witches) the power to conjure spells that were able to harm others in return for their loyalty to the devil.
In mid-February, a wave of hysteria spread throughout colonial Massachusetts, and a special court assembled in Salem to hear the cases; they first convicted "witch," Bridget Bishop, she was hanged that June. Eighteen others followed Bishop to Salem’s Gallows Hill. Meanwhile, approximately 150 more men, women and children were being accused of witchcraft over the next following months.
These girls claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft.
By September 1692, the hysteria had begun to diminish and public opinion turned against the trials.
The Massachusetts General Court later abrogated guilty verdicts against accused witches and granted indemnities to their families in 1702. Bitterness lingered in the community, and the painful legacy of the Salem witch trials would endure for centuries.
If someone was accused of witchcraft, they had two options:
1. confess to being a witch and be hanged.
2. deny the accusations and have a court hearing, which normally never found anyone innocent of witchcraft, and then be hanged for being found guilty.
Giles Corey was the only person to be pressed to death.
There was little to no evidence to support any accusations being made. The only evidence that was taken were claims by the accusers saying that they saw whoever was arraigned on witchcraft in their dreams and/or visions fraternizing with the devil.
There are modern day "witch hunts" that are still occurring to this day.
"Irrational fear is threatening to tear apart the fabric of religious toleration and freedom in this country. Such a threat is too costly and too devastating to ignore."
Just as irrational fear of witchcraft in 1692 led to the execution of Salem villagers, the irrational fear of terrorism in 2010 is leading to the persecution of American Muslims.
After the tragedy of 9/11, many Americans have started to have misconceptions about Muslims and their part in our society. These Americans believe that every Muslim in the United States is here for one reason only- terrorism. They have blamed an entire country and its religion for the conspiracies of Al Qaeda, an Islamic terrorist organization.