The Salem Witch Trials Essay
Mr. John Hathorn, a Judge involved in the witchcraft case of Sarah Good, then asked all of the afflicted children to look upon her and see if this was the person that had hurt them so. They all gazed at Goody Good and said that this was the person that tormented thempresently they were all tormented.
Puritanical beliefs had all of Salem truly believing that witches rode on broomsticks across the sky every night alongside the devil himself. They believed that these mere humans could send their "specter" out and haunt the children of their town.Order now
Proof of their belief follows, in an excerpt from Cotton Mathers Memorable Providences:
Go tell Mankind, that there are Devils and Witches; and that tho those night-birds least appear where the Day-light of the Gospel comes, yet New-Engl. has had Exemples of their Existence and Operation; and that no only the Wigwams of Indians, where the pagan Powaws often raise their masters, in the shapes of Bears and Snakes and Fires, but the House of Christians, where our God has had his constant Worship, have undergone the Annoyance of Evil spirits. Go tell the world, What Prays can do beyond all Devils and Witches, and What it is that these Monsters love to do; and through the Demons in the Audience of several standers-by threatned much disgrace to thy Author, if he let thee come abroad, yet venture That, and in this way seek a just Revenge on Them for the Disturbance they have given to such as have called on the Name of God.
Goody Nurse was a highly regarded, pious pillar of the community who unfortunately could not withstand the power of hysteria. There were many reasons that Rebecca was accused, but it was mostly the hatred exhibited towards her by the Putnam family. She was against Samuel Parris as Reverend of the Salem Town Church, while the Putnam family was his friend, and her husband was at war with the Putnam family estate over some land.
Rebecca exuded a saint-like presence over the dark days of the witch-hunt. After her accusation, thirty-nine of the most prominent leaders of the community signed a petition attesting to Rebeccas goodness of heart. Even one of her original accusers, Jonathan Putnam, put his name to the appeal.
During her trial, Sarah Holton testified that Goody Nurse killed her husband, Benjamin, because she found his pigs in her field. In actuality, Benjamin Holton died of a heart attack three years after the pig incident. In further evidence against Nurse, Ann Putnam, Sr.
, whom we have already established as being unfairly biased, testified before the court. She claimed that apparitions of Goody Nurse came to her and choked her in the night while the spirit proclaimed all of the people she had killed (the list incidentally included Benjamin Holton).
Fortunately, the speculative evidence against Rebecca Nurse was not substantial enough to convict her; on June 30, the jury came back with a verdict of not guilty. The afflicted children broke out in tantrums and hideous screaming fits and Chief Justice Stoughton urged the jury to reconsider. They came back with a decision of guilty. As if this was not punishment enough, Nurse was excommunicated from her church on July 3.
This proved to be most devastating to a God-fearing, pious woman. Goody Nurse, at age 71, was executed on July 19, 1692.
Sarah Good fit the ultimate stereotype of a witch: the lonely beggar, fed up with society, arguing with anyone that would not give his or her charity. She was destined to be accused; it was only a matter of time before an accused witch, Tituba, would sacrifice her soul for her life. Tituba confessed to being a witch and named Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne as fellow witches.
During her trial, as can be imagined many people came forward to testify against Good.
Seven people testified against her general attitude; however, the most detrimental to Good was the examination of her own daughter, who confessed herself and mother as being witches. Susannah Sheldon testified as to "apparitions" that were seen of Mrs. Good. The following was taken, verbatim, from the original court .