What were the Salem Witch Trials?
The Salem witch trials occurred during the spring of 1692, after a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft.
The message got spread all throughout Massachusetts and a special court took to these cases. Bridget Bishop was the first convicted witch and was hung that June. Eighteen others followed Bishop to Salem’s Gallows Hill, while some 150 more men, women, and children were accused over the next several months.
Who were the Witches?
The belief in the “supernatural” and devil’s practice of giving certain humans (witches) the power to harm others in return for their loyalty has been dated back to as early as the 14 century, in Europe.
In January 1692, 9-year-old Elizabeth (Betty) Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams (the daughter and niece of Samuel Parris, minister of Salem Village) began having fits, including violent contortions and uncontrollable outbursts of screaming. After the village doctor, William Griggs, diagnosed bewitchment, other young girls in the community began to exhibit similar symptoms, including Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard, Mary Walcott, and Mary Warren.
Scientists have studied and attempted to find answers as to why these outbursts were happening. The closest answer they got was that this originated from a fungus, ergot, which can be found in wheat and cereals. This discovery was done roughly 300 years after the Salem witch trials in 1976.
This would ultimately result in the hanging deaths of 19 men and women. In addition, one man was pressed to death. Several others died in prison In conclusion, The Salem Witch Trials changed the lives of many.