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Puritan Salem Witch Trials Great Awakening. Growth in Salem Town. Spreads inland quickly so a new community forms – Salem Village. “Villagers” want own Church, Minister & New Meeting House.

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growth in salem town
Growth in Salem Town
  • Spreads inland quickly so a new community forms – Salem Village.
  • “Villagers” want own Church, Minister & New Meeting House.
  • Early support by “Town” declines over political influence – access to property, family inheritances and wealth.
village leadership tough
“Village” Leadership Tough
  • “Village” Minister Parris challenges “Town” powers - the prominent Putnam family, living along border of “Town” and “Village”.
  • Battle is over influence in community affairs.
      • “Village” seeks more independence from “Town”
      • “Town” officials vote against “Village” on many


      • Becomes rich vs. poor struggle
targeted accusations
Targeted Accusations
  • Minister Parris and his allies accused vulnerable Putnam family members and friends to intimidate them and force them to back off their political goals in Salem Village.
  • Under British law and Puritan society those who were accused of consorting with the devil were considered felons, having committed a crime against their government. The punishment was hanging.
gory statistics
Gory Statistics

From June through September of 1692:

- 19 men and women, convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging.

- Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges.

- At least four accused witches had died in prison.

- One to two hundred other persons were arrested and imprisoned on witchcraft charges.

- Two dogs were executed as suspected accomplices of witches. 


Of the 50 who actually confessed, none were hanged.

  • Eventually ended by the Governor when his wife was accused
theories about how
Theories About How
  • Girls affected by symptoms of “possession” were encouraged to fake them by Parris & his supporters.
  • Girls from broken families were seeking attention, but went to far…
  • Victims of “ergot poisoning”. Ergot is a fungus on bread that produces the chemical LSD. From Science Vol. 192 (2 April 1976)
great awakening
Great Awakening
  • Awakenings resulted often after times of stress in communities.
  • Periods of renewed “piety” and devotion.
  • 1739-1769 – George Whitfield “acted” out sermons – brought back many who had strayed.
great awakening19
Great Awakening
  • Jonathan Edwards – Church attendance is not enough to gain salvation – must FEEL sin!
  • “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

a fiery sermon that scared people.

  • Resulted in interest in higher education – Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth