The Salem witch trials were held during the year 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts BayColony. Beginning in May of that year, the proceedings led to the hanging deaths ofnineteen suspected witches and the imprisonment of many others over the five monthsthat would follow. The courtroom episodes of those being tried for witchery werecomplete, and utter travesties of justice. Women were actually considered guilty asaccused until proven innocent.
In addition to the known hangings, other cruel forms ofpunishment such as the burning of “witches” on a stake and the slow torturous humancrushings by brick. That which is said to have initiated the trials and related hysteria has become anhistorical irony in our time and is the subject of many contemporary jokes and theatricalperformances. Caused by the accusations of a few young girls against women in theSalem community; a special court was convened; and trials grew quickly into sociallystereotypical prejudices regarding any women seen acting out of or performing “witchery”. Within time the social chaos did not even exclude Salem’s more prestigious women as thelocal governors wife was even implicated in accusations of witchcraft. The dramatic ironyis re-exemplified through an examination of the young ladies who intentionally lied to areligious authority and created the “spark” to cause the fire.
Based entirely on their beliefsand accusations, the fear and ignorance of an entire town led to hundreds ofimprisonments and nearly twenty senseless deaths. When community leaders did finally begin to cast doubt on evidence; special court wasdissolved and those imprisoned were pardoned. Eventually indemnities were paid to thefamilies of those killed yet of the three judges who presided over the trials, only SamuelSewall admitted error in a public statement The Salem witch trials were clearly America’s most notorious episode of witchcraftBy September 22, the court had tried and convicted twenty-seven persons. Nineteen werehanged and one said to have been pressed to death by stones. In addition, about onehundred and fifty were in jail. With the jails overflowing, the hysteria abated.
With this support the governor abruptlyintervened and freed all who were in jail. In 1711, heirs of the alleged witches were votedcompensation for their losses. As one can see the power of superstition and the hearsaycan distort the truth. The Salem witch trials were horrifying and it changes many peopleslives.Words / Pages : 408 / 24 .