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Salem Witch Trials

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Some people say that the Salem Witch Trials were less a religious persecution than economic in purpose, using religion as a guise to gain property. I believe that the Salem witch trials were less a religious persecution than economical. I believe this for several reasons; one being that the accused witches were using their witchcraft on other people in the town and it was affecting them. Many people were accused of performing witchcraft and were persecuted for doing so. But I believe that people in towns accused others of "witchcraft" whenever something went wrong, because "witchcraft" was such a common thing back than. When the witches that were accused of this so called witchcraft, usually the rest of their family, if they had one, would have to sell their house and this gave the people in the town more land and gave other people outside of the town to move into the town. Since there were two distinct parts to Salem, it is believed that the rich people of Salem accused the poorer people so they could take over their land.

Salem did have two distinct parts: Salem Town and Salem Village. Salem was actually part of Salem Town but was set apart by its economy, class, and character. Residents of Salem Village were mostly poor farmers who made their living cultivating crops. But Salem Town was a wealthy town where the center of trade took place. Most of those living in Salem Town were wealthy merchants. For many years, Salem Village tried to gain independence from Salem Town. Salem Village did not have its own church and minister until 1674. But there was also a division within Salem Village. Those who lived near Ipswich Road, close to the trade of Salem Town, became merchants. They prospered and supported the economic changes taking place. But many of the farmers who lived far from this richness believed the worldliness and wealth of Salem Town threatened their Puritan values. Tensions became worse when Salem Village selected Reverend Samuel Parris as their new minister. Parris was a stern Puritan who denounced the worldly ways and economic prosperity of Salem Town as the influence of the Devil. It is likely that the jealousies and fighting between these two towns played a major role in the witch trials. Most of the villager's accused of witchcraft lived near Ipswich Road, and the accusers lived in the distant farms of Salem Village. It is not surprising that Reverend Parris was a forceful supporter of the witch trials, and his passionate moral speeches helped reduce the panics of many people. When the accusations started, the first three witches to get accused of witchcraft were Tituba, Sarah Osborne, and Sarah Good. All three women were prime candidates for the accusations of witchcraft. Sarah Osborne was an elderly lady who had not gone to church in over a year, and poor church attendance was a Puritan sin. Sarah Good was a homeless woman who begged door to door. If people failed to give her alms, she would utter unknown words and leave. Residents would often attribute her visits to death of livestock. They believed the mumbled words she spoke under her breath were curses against them for not showing her charity. Once the three women were investigated, they were put in prison and accused of witchcraft. After they were charged, there were many more accusations and investigations. There was a small pox outbreak recently after the three women were put in jail. This created an anxiety among the early Puritans that God was punishing them and because of this fear they wanted to make sure that every last witch be discovered and punished in order to end their anger and fear. By the end of May 1692, around 200 people were jailed under the charges of witchcraft. The hangings of six convicted witches did little in lessening the spread of witchcraft in Massachusetts during the summer months of 1692. More people began displaying signs of affliction. As a result, accusations and arrests for witchcraft continued to grow in number, resulting in 118 people accused.

It comes to show by personal stories and facts that witches were persecuted for their actions amongst other people. The parents of young girls claimed that the witches afflicted their child or children and that the witches crafted spells on their children. People were convinced that the smallpox epidemic had something to do with witchcraft as well. Because so many people were accused, that means that every witch affected somebody in some way, which proves my point that the witches had a huge impact on the economy. The persecutors didn't persecute them for religious reasons, they persecuted them because they were performing witchcraft and that was illegal, but it was taking a toll on the economy. People were having fears of witches, some were having hallucinations, and they blamed this all on the witches. The persecutors of Salem wanted these "witches" to be put in jail because they felt that they had a bad affect on society and they didn't want their village to have fears or hallucinations. Many things went on after the trials of witches and many people blamed it on the witches and God's way of punishing them. I believe that the persecutors weren't really persecuting the witches for not believing in the same God, since most of them were Puritans. It doesn't make sense for the town to persecute the witches mainly for their religion, they did it because they felt that the witches actually were performing witchcraft on people in the community. So the persecutors had every belief that these women and some men were "witches." But after the first persecution, everything bad that happened in the town of Salem, people could have brought it to the jury and told them that this person performed witchcraft. Since so many people were accused of witchcraft, it is almost unreal to believe. If someone's child had a hallucination or was acting funny, they immediately wanted to blame someone for it, and they thought of a person they didn't like or was not an average person, and they accused them of witchcraft. So many people were being



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