Salem Witch Hunts in Colonial America
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The paper discusses several factors that led up to the Salem witch trials and notes the significant historical precedent for punishing people for religious crimes, such as heresy, the impact of the Puritan doctrine and Calvinist beliefs, the expectation that women were expected to be subservient to men and the fact that Salem was a virtual powder keg, needing only a minor incendiary device to explode. The paper describes the hysteria, trials and executions and discusses how while the Salem witch hunt may have been the first case of mass hysteria in America's history, it was, shamefully, not the last time that Americans sought to scapegoat groups of people for America's ills. Finally, the paper points out that some still refer to the executed as "witches"; this paper argues that no witches were killed in Salem, but innocent people, caught up in hysteria and victimized by their peers.
From the Paper:"The modern conception of the colonists who first came to the New World is that they were a group of people seeking religious freedom and tolerance. In some ways, this point of view is true; certainly, most original colonists, especially those in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, came to the New World in an attempt to escape religious persecution and seeking the freedom to practice their religion. However, they did not extend that freedom to people outside of their individual religious groups, with the result that the colonists were more religiously restrictive than the people in the countries from which they had fled. Like most religiously restrictive communities, the Puritan colonists displayed suspicion and mistrust of other religious traditions. This suspicion and mistrust had dramatic consequences, because it led to the mass persecution of significant numbers of colonists, mostly women, as witches. These people were subjected to imprisonment, torture, and execution, although modern people agree that there was literally no real evidence to support the allegations against them.
"It is very difficult for modern people to understand how the Salem witch hunts could have occurred, because modern people generally dismiss the notion of witchcraft. However, several factors led up to the Salem witch trials, and understanding them places the witch hunt in context."
Sample of Sources Used:
- McBain, J. (2003). The Salem witch trials: a primary source history of the witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
- Roach, M. (2004). The Salem witch trials: a day-by-day chronicle of a community under siege. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing.
- Rosenthal, B. (1993). Salem story: reading the witch trials of 1692. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Wesley, K. (2002). The Salem witch trials. New York: Pocket Books.
- Wilson, L. (1997). The Salem witch trials. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company.
Cite this Persuasive Essay:
Salem Witch Hunts in Colonial America (2013, May 01) Retrieved October 20, 2019, from https://www.academon.com/persuasive-essay/salem-witch-hunts-in-colonial-america-152982/
"Salem Witch Hunts in Colonial America" 01 May 2013. Web. 20 October. 2019. <https://www.academon.com/persuasive-essay/salem-witch-hunts-in-colonial-america-152982/>