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The Salem Witch Trials

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  1. The Salem Witch Trials


  3. Puritan Life • Religion played an important part in Puritan life • They felt that they were chosen by God for a special purpose and that they must live every moment in a God-fearing manner • Every person was expected to attend church, no excuses

  4. Puritan Life • Bible reading was required (considered Gods true law), if they did not read it was considered worshiping the devil • Some religious sermons could last up to four hours • Education was taken seriously in order for children to read the Bible

  5. Puritan Life • They believed they were doing God’s work, and harsh punishment was used if people strayed from the plan • God had chosen where an individual would go after life • Males dominated political, social and religious roles

  6. Salem Life in1692 • Under British rule • Waiting for new Governor, no charter to enforce laws • New England towns under attack from Natives and French Canadians • Most families supporting themselves (making clothes, planting crops, raising meat) • Climate and terrain made it difficult to grow food • Smallpox is still a major problem

  7. Salem Life in 1692 • Strict laws • People expected to work hard, repress emotions • All things that happen are God’s will, would not help each other • Devil choose the “weak” to carry out his tasks • Witch craft punishable by death

  8. Salem Life in 1692 • Children expected to follow same strict laws as adults • Any show of emotion or disobedience was subject to extreme punishment • Boys could hunt, fish, and explore the outdoors • Girls could only clean, cook and sew with their mothers • All children had to read the Bible

  9. Trials • Not much evidence need to be found guilty • Pimples, moles, bug bites are seen as marks of the devil • One way to prove innocence was to be chained and thrown into water, if the accused floated they were a witch and if they sank and drowned they were innocent

  10. The Witch Trails • Occurred between 1692-1693 • More than 200 people are accused of practicing witchcraft, 20 were executed • In January of 1692 Reverend Parris' daughter Elizabeth, 9, and niece Abigail Williams,11, started having "fits. Ann Putnam, 11, also displays the same symptoms • They screamed, threw things, uttered peculiar sounds and contorted themselves into strange positions, and a local doctor blamed the supernatural • When the “fits” happened during a sermon it was deemed as the devils work

  11. The Witch Trials • February 29, under pressure from magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne, the girls blamed three women for afflicting them: Tituba, the Parris' Caribbean slave; Sarah Good, a homeless beggar; and Sarah Osborne, an old woman who had married her servant • All three of these people were considered social outcasts

  12. The Witch Trials • Both Osborne and Good pleaded their innocence, but Tituba claims that the devil came to her and she signed his book • Tituba also claimed that there were other witches looking to destroy the puritans, this created paranoia in the town

  13. The Witch Trials • On May 27, 1692, Governor William Phipps ordered the establishment of a Special Court of Oyer (to hear) and Terminer (to decide) for Suffolk, Essex and Middlesex counties • June 10, Bridget Bishop is the first “witch” executed at Gallows Hill

  14. The Witch Trials • 5 people sentenced and hanged in July, 5 hanged in August, 8 hanged in September • Governor Phipps finally steps in and dissolves the court, he also releases and pardons the people in jail • When the trials finish 19 were hanged on Gallows Hill, a 71-year-old man was pressed to death with heavy stones, several people died in jail and nearly 200 people had been accused of practicing witchcraft

  15. People Behind the Trials • Cotton Mather - zealous minister, writings and sermons on witch craft helped to fan the hysteria in Salem. Mather believed the devil was at work in Salem and witches should receive the harshest punishment

  16. People Behind the Trials • Ann Putnam – 12 year old leader of the “circle girls”. Accused many innocent people of being witches, including 4 year old Dorcas Good and Martha Corey

  17. People Behind the Trials • Tituba– Slave from the Caribbean who would tell stories of magic to the children and tell their futures. Admitted to being a witch and seeing the devil himself.

  18. People Behind the Trials • Sarah Good – one of the first accused witches. Before being executed she claimed she was no more of a witch then a man was a wizard. She correctly foretold Rev. Noyes death.

  19. People Behind the Trials • John Proctor – first person to be names a wizard. Fought against the trials and believed that all of the people charged were innocent. Both he and his wife were found guilty but only he was hanged.

  20. People Behind the Trials • Mary Easty– Mother and wife that fit the Puritan mold. Many people doubted her involvement with witchcraft, but she was still condemned and hanged.

  21. “Witch Hunts” Today • Holocaust • McCarthy trials • Japanese internment camps • 9/11