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The Puritans & The Salem Witch Trials
Where did the Salem Witch Trials take place? In Salem, Massachusetts, during the 1600’s. Where is Salem, Massachusetts?
Who were the Puritans? Wanted to change the Church of England by eliminating “fancy stuff” - stained glass, gold candlesticks. Left England for America in 1620 to escape religious persecution
Who were the Puritans? (continued) The Puritan community was a theocracy a government that blends church and state church officials were also the government officials
Who were the Puritans? (continued) Girls and boys needed to learn to read so they could read the Bible themselves. Children were expected to behave like small adults. Displays of emotion or imagination were discouraged.
Why should we know about them? The Puritans were the first express the idea of the American Dream. valued independence, patriotism, hard work, practicality believed goals could be attained
Why should we know about them? From them, we have... Value hard work Value religion Value duty to our country Value freedom from oppression
Puritan Beliefs Puritans were an extremely religious group of people. They believed in God, Satan, Heaven and Hell. They believed in following strict rules in order to show God they loved him.
Time for a 3-minute Brain Break!
The Puritan Moral Code Look at the provided sheet. Write down a claim about one of the rules or about the Puritans in general in your packet. HINT: Start with the assertion: what point do you want to make? What are your reasons? What would the opposing side (or the Puritans) say?
The Salem Witch Trials Betty Parris (daughter of the minister) and other girls in the community became ill Doctor suggested that their problems might be supernatural Puritans believed that witches targeted children
The Salem Witch Trials Three women accused of witchcraft Tituba, a slave, confessed
The Salem Witch Trials By the end of 1692, over 200 in jail 19 men and women convicted and hanged Four died in jail Giles Corey was pressed to death by heavy stones Many kept in jail for months without trial
Background Reasons for the Hysteria How could things spiral out of control so quickly? Puritan beliefs: Satan is present in the world He actively recruits witches and wizards Belief that a person working with Satan exhibits certain symptoms.
Background Reasons for the Hysteria A time of troubles, which made it seem like Satan was active: Groups splitting up the church in Salem Frontier wars with Indians Children were falling ill and acting strangely
Other Reasons for the Hysteria Moral Panic : a fear spread among many people that some evil threatens the well-being of the community. As more and more people begin to believe that it poses a real threat to public safety, people respond disproportionately (aka, they WAY overreact) Prohibition (banning of alcohol) in 1920s HIV/AIDS in the 1980s Muslim terrorists for the last 20 years
Two big problems emerged during the trials: The court accepted “spectral evidence”: If someone said he/she saw a person’s SPIRIT do something, it was believed the same as if someone saw the actual person do it. As long as someone claimed that they “saw” his spirit do something, there was no way to prove his innocence.
2. Accused Puritans found themselves in a “moral quandary”: The only way people could save themselves was to confess to witchcraft--then they’d just go to jail. In order for the court to believe them, however, people would often have to name others--say who ELSE they saw with the devil. BUT… Puritans believed that lying (bearing false witness) was a serious sin; if you lied, you were dooming yourself to hell.
So if an innocent person was accused, she had two choices: She could give a false confession and live , but when she did die (of old age, etc.), she’d go to hell . She could refuse to confess , in which case she would be hanged . But that kind of faithfulness would likely go to heaven . NOW consider the fact that if people were arrested, there was often no one to take care of their children. If convicted and hanged, their land could be taken as well.
Why the Hysteria Ended Doubts began to grow - Respected citizens were convicted and executed: Rebecca Nurse was elderly and well respected citizen of Salem, she was accused of witchcraft and eventually hanged. George Burroughs, also well-respected, recited the Lord’s Prayer perfectly at his hanging--something a witch supposedly could not do
Why the Hysteria Ended Powerful, well-connected citizens of Salem were accused (like governor’s wife) -Important people began to speak out against the trials Educated people in Boston didn’t like spectral evidence Increase Mather, important minister: “It were better that 10 suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned.”
The Second Red Scare - 1950s The first Red Scare occurred after the Russian Revolution Often referred to as McCarthyism after its most famous supporter, Senator Joseph McCarthy
The Second Red Scare - 1950s Americans were afraid that communists (particularly from the Soviet Union) would threaten their freedom.
The Second Red Scare - 1950s Senator McCarthy formed the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to “hunt down” suspected communists in the U.S.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller Written in 1953 by Arthur Miller Set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692-1693 Miller’s play is LOOSELY based on history; Miller was inspired by the Second Red Scare (McCarthyism)
Suspected communists were asked to confess and identify other “Red” sympathizers. House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) People who refused to cooperate with questioning were “blacklisted”: their professional reputations were ruined no one would hire them (in case they, too, were accused)
House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) Many tried to save themselves through false confessions. created the idea that America was overrun with communists and increased the hysteria (much like in Salem)
Can you think of any other “witch hunts,” or examples of mass hysteria, in modern society?