Causes And Effects Of Salem Witch Trials

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The tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials caused 20 innocent people to be put to death, for the lack of understanding medical examinations and their religious beliefs. The trials lasted from 1692 all the way until 1693, causing even as young as 4 years old to be arrested. They had no knowledge of mental illnesses or other diseases or sicknesses. Some people do not understand how and why they just people’s lives to death for no reason, well from this centry, most people from Salem were Puritans. Puritans were Christian that believed in witchcraft and this may have been the main reason for the hangings. In this essay I will explain the Salem Witch Trials by examining the background, accusations, and aftermath.

The Salem Witch Trials all started with two young girls, Betty Paris and Abigail Williams. Robin Johnson says, “In 1692, in the village of Salem, Massachusetts, Betty Paris and Abigail Williams began to act very strangely. The two young girls moaned and shrieked. They crawled under tables and tried to climb walls. The girls made strange sounds and saw things that were not there. Their bodies twisted and twitched in unusual ways.” These two girls had some type of mental or medical sickness, and so the doctor just flat out decided to call them “witches.” Later, they figured out that the girls may have gotten Fungus Ergot, which comes from wheat, rye, and many other things. Robin also states, “Betty and Abigail seemed like they were very sick, but they were not. The local doctor could find nothing wrong with them. He saw only one way to explain their odd behavior—the girls were bewitched!” As stated in this quote, their doctor said they were perfectly fine, but he could just as well have been untrained for something. And just for this assumption many would soon be executed for no reason at all, except for the reason that the doctor believed. The Puritans believed in witchcraft, so they thought the “witches” were being controlled by Satan, and he was trying to take over their souls.

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It all started with Betty Parris and her cousin Abigail Williams, they were just 9 and 11. Betty’s dad was even a preacher, so he may have believed they were possessed, after them joking about some form of magic. ’’Several older girls, including Ann Putnam, Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard, and Mary Walcott also started having fits. The villagers began to try to identify the witches who were causing the problem.’’ Soon the town became suspicious, and started making girls start to go to court, but some of the girls were not even old enough. They even started to torcher them and hurt them until they told them names of “witches.” As stated by Kekla Magoon, ’’They shouted some names during their fits and whispered others calmly afterward. Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne were the first named. Sarah Good was a beggar woman living in Salem, and Sarah Osborne was a feisty widow. Since both women were social outcasts, no one was surprised to think that they might be witches.’’

After all the speculations on the girls who were claimed witched, officials would house to houses trying to find any evidence to claim them as “witches.” They were searching every house and interrogated every person who seemed suspicious. The article Salem Witch Trials (American History) states, “ Looking back with the perspective provided by modern science, some scholars have speculated that the strange behaviors may have resulted from some combination of asthma, encephalitis, Lyme disease, epilepsy, child abuse, delusional psychosis, or convulsive ergotism” When they were being taken away, many freaked out, which may have caused their cases to even worst. This was called the Witch Hunts, and once they were caught all of them were placed in jail, that was overflowed. Many became sick and died while they were there, and they even had little kids as low as 4 years old. They even had a head judge, by the name of Governor William Stoughton, who had absolutely no law experience. Robin Johnson says, “Accusations followed, often escalating to convictions and executions. The Salem witch trials and executions came about as the result of a combination of church politics, family feuds, and hysterical children, all of which unfolded in a vacuum of political authority.’’

Witches are something many religions are passionate about, whether they believe in it or not. Kekla Magoon states, throughout history, the idea of a witch has been perceived in many different ways. In various cultures and belief systems, witches have been revered, feared, persecuted, or met with disdain and disbelief. Their perceived skills in magic, potions, spells, and curses have been received as blessings.’’

The outcome of all the Salem Witch Trials was very traumatic and sad, especially for their poor families. Robin Johnson states, “The death toll included 19 people who were hanged at Gallows Hill. One man was pressed to death. Several people died in prison waiting for their trials.’’ After the hangings, court tried to reimburse all the families for all lives that were lost, but the families never forgot this awful act. Massachusetts finally decided to apologize 250 years after the terrible Salem Witch Trials. Salem also decided to dedicate the lives lost from this dreadful act. They made a memorial in 1992 to mark 300 years, since the tragedy. After the trials, a day of fasting was designed by the court to the people of Salem and was made for the families that had to suffer. Salem, Massachusetts, even has a museum that tells the whole story of the trials and explains all of it.


  1. ROBIN JOHNSON. The Salem Witch Trials. Crabtree Chrome. [Place of publication not identified]: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2014.
  2.[email protected]sdc-v-sessmgr01&vid=1&format=EB&rid=3
  3. Britannica School, s.v. ‘Salem witch trials,’ accessed November 19, 2019
  5. Magoon, Kekla. 2008. The Salem Witch Trials. Essential Events. Edina, MN: Abdo Publishing.
  6.[email protected]sdc-v-sessmgr01&vid=1&format=EB&rid=6       


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