The History Of The Salem Witch Trials
Imagine being labeled a “witch” without there being any evidence whatsoever. There is no one who can be trusted because there are supposed “witches” everywhere. Even family members could be a “witch.” There are people being hung just because some person points a finger at them and calls them a “witch” without one bit of evidence. That is exactly what happened during the Salem Witch Trials. It was a scary and horrible time for many of the residents of Salem, Massachusetts. Many innocent people were killed during this horrifying period. All of Salem’s problems came when the people were doing what they wanted instead of what the Bible says.
To begin with, all of Salem, Massachusetts problems began because of the disobedience of two girls. It started in the winter of 1691. There were two young cousins, one named Betty Parris, and one named Abigail Williams, who were secretly meeting together to listen to scary stories about magic and witchcraft. Betty’s family had a Caribbean servant named Tituba who would tell these scary stories to the girls at night. Tituba supposedly even used magic to help tell her stories. Betty and Abigail started inviting friends to come and listen to the secret stories at night. These girls were disobeying their parents, their church, and their community by listening to these forbidden stories. In the spring of 1692, all of the girls that were listening to the secret stories started acting and behaving strangely. A local doctor named William Griggs diagnosed the girls and claimed that they were “bewitched.” The town of Salem went into a panic, and then, accusations started flying.
To make matters worse, the girls started making accusations against innocent people without any evidence except for “spectral evidence.” The girls accused three women to begin with. One was Tituba, the servant who was telling the stories, one was a homeless woman named Sarah Good, and one was a woman named Sarah Osborne. The three women were pretty much town outcasts, so they were pretty easy to accuse. Both Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne denied having anything to do with the whole thing, but Tituba did say she practiced witchcraft. She also said that there were other witches in Salem besides her. The town went into an uproar. The girls started accusing other people, and soon there was about 150 accused witches held in jails in Salem and some surrounding towns. Supposedly some of the girls parents were encouraging the girls to accuse certain people that they didn’t like so that they could get revenge. Many of the people accused were wealthy and so they had their estates taken away. Many were also accused because they held different religious beliefs. In May, the Governor set up a special court to try the accused witches.
It got really bad once the started trying the accused witches to determine if that person was innocent. If the accused witch was found guilty, then that “witch” was hung. Bridget Bishop was the first to be hung. On June 10, eight days after her initial arrest, Bridget Bishop was hung at a place called Gallows Hill. That was only the beginning of what would eventually happen. In total, 19 people were hung, and one man was killed by being pressed to death, and 5 people died while being held in prison. That is with no evidence whatsoever being brought against them except for “spectral evidence.” Everyone who was killed were not even given a proper burial.
The people were beginning to get tired of all of the havoc going on that was ruining their town. By September of 1692, the public was beginning to turn against the trials. Many good people had already been killed and everyone wanted it all to be over. On October 29, the Governor decided to disband the special court. Everyone still held in jail was later released. One respected citizen named Increase Mather said that, “It would be better that ten suspected witches may escape than one innocent person be condemned.” Out of all the girls involved in the witch trials, only one of them named Ann Putnam later apologized. The town of Salem was actually in neglect, because everyone was so focused on the trials that no one spent much time doing anything else. Later on, many of the families involved received a financial compensation for their losses, but it didn’t even come close to making up for the loss of their loved ones. There have also been lots of potential explanations for what happened to those girls other than the witchcraft, but there is not a lot of ground of belief for them.
In conclusion, looking back on the Salem Witch Trials, there are lots of lessons that can be learned from all that went on during that time. Sometimes it is stories like these that can teach the best lessons. As sad and horrible as that incident was, it really shows what happens when people stray from God’s word, and instead pursue fleshly desires. It also shows that when tough times are going on, the best thing to do is to lean on the LORD and trust in him. Psalm 91:14-16 says, “The LORD says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.’”
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