Where’s the Witches?

Welcome to Salem,Massachusetts.

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The year is 1692 and Salem Village has a problem. The children in Salem are being inflicted by witches. These “witches” were brought to trial and found guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to hanging. The evidence that convicted them was spectral. Nineteen people were hung, one man was pressed to death and two dogs were hung.Hundreds of lives were affected.

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In order to understand why the people of Salem hung people, they believed to be witches, you have to understand the Puritan beliefs.

The Pilgrims came to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 to break away from the Anglican Church of England. The Puritans came for the same reason in 1630 and established the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Puritans were extremely strict in their worship practices and did not tolerate any other beliefs. They believed they were a chosen people by God to be a “City on the Hill” for others to look up to. Their village laws were biblical and no one was allowed to deviate from the pastoral regulations.

The Reverend Parris’ daughter Betty and niece Abigail began acting very strange so he asked Dr. Griggs to examine the girls but he could not find anything wrong with them. Abigail and Betty continued their strange behavior and other children began to copy them. Another child said the devil was after her. The adults now believed that the Devil had come to their little village. The children began to say that some of the people in the village were witches and had cast spells on them and forced them to sign the Devil’s book.

Living in a time with little medical knowledge, anything they could not explain was blamed on the devil or God passing judgement upon the people for sinful acts.

Historians have theories about what really happened in 1692. One theory is that the children had contracted a disease called Encephalitis causing them to have hallucinations. Maybe the children were looking for attention in a society where children were not allowed to speak unless spoken to. Another theory is that jealousy led to false accusations. There is almost a too perfect dividing line from the accusers from Salem Village to the accused in Salem Town.

We may never know what caused the Salem Witch Trials to occur in the winter of 1692. Regardless, the streets of Salem tell a story. A story of innocent lives lost, of jealousy and of religious intolerance. Land lost and names forever tainted is the legacy left behind in this small town by the sea.

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