The Salem Witch Trials Essay: Fact or Fiction
American history is a collaboration of all of the wonderful events and the not so successful ones that make up this great country that we call the United States. Records of this fabulous nation date back all the way to dates way before our original founding fathers. However, few episodes of American history have aroused such intense and continuing interest ad the trials and executions for the witchcraft which occurred in Salem Massachusetts in 1692. Historians have scrutinized the event from many perspectives; novelists and playwright from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Arthur Miller have capitalized upon its inherent dramatic possibilities. The value, then, of a collection of primary documents relating to this event would seem to be clear, or would it.
Witchcraft had been around long before the Salem witch trials. Indeed by 1692 the witch craze, which had begun in Europe around 1500, was distinctly on the wane so that the trials in the Salem Village were among the last of the major outbreaks-if the execution of only twenty persons entitles this outbreak to be called major in the history of European witchcraft. However, if this was one of the last instances of witches, why is it so famous? They are different in many ways. Before the outbreak at Salem Village, trials for witchcraft had been fairly common events in colonial America, but they had not invariably resulted in executions or even in conviction. The other reason the trials are so famous, is the highlight of this paper about proving that the trials were just an act put on by the children who started this outbreak. Only in 1692 did the accusations multiply so quickly and develop an entire community.
On February the 29, 1691/1692, the warrant for the arrest of Sarah Good was handed to Constable George Locker, who would go to the home of William and Sarah Good and arrest her. It was written in her warrant, that she had displayed witchcraft on the children of the village: Elizabeth Paris, Abigail Williams, Anne Putnam, and Elizabeth Hubert were the children involved. An interesting point however, is that the children did not make the complaint to the courts. It was the fathers and relatives of Joseph Hutchinson, Thomas Putnam, Edward Putnam, and Thomas Preston that went to the courts and made the complaint for the children. In addition, in the warrant for her arrest, it said that she had hurt the children several times over the past two months. Why did it take so long for the children to say something to someone?
The children, who accused Sarah Good of witchcraft, had to provide a deposition for their testimony.
The legal definition of the word deposition is Law. Testimony under oath, especially a statement by a witness that is written down or recorded for use in court at a later date. Ironically, the girls depositions seemed to be very similar. Now this is ironic because it is the first example of a conspiracy among the children. Here are girls who are acquaintances that provide a written testimony to the courts that is very similar in context. For example: Anne Putnam wrote that, I saw the apparition of Sarah Good, which did torture me most grievously, but I did not know her name until the 27th of February, and then she told me her name was Sarah Good, and then she did prick me and pinch me most grievously, and also since, several times urging me vehemently to write in her book.
Elizabeth Hubbard also stated, I saw the apparition of Sarah Good, who did most grievously afflict me by pinching and pricking me, and so continued hurting of me till the first day of March, being the day of her examinationAlso several times since, she hath afflicted me and urged me to write in her book. Here one can clearly see that the girls talked about or met with each other to write their testimonies.
On March 1, 1691/92, Sarah Goods examination began. Presided over by Chief Justice William Stoughton, the special Court of Oyer (to hear) and Terminer (to decide) sat in Salem to hear the cases of witchcraft Sarahs Examination was performed by two .