Some were villagers and some were authoritative figures in the community. One of these people was Increase Mather, who wrote Cases of Conscience. Finally, in October of , so many people were doubting the guiltiness of the witches that Governor Phips, governor of Massachusetts, decided to stop the trials and the executions. They realized that the trials should not continue due to lack of evidence and credibility of the witnesses.
Many people accused others of being witches if they disliked them or if they were outsiders in society. Because of this, the witches on trial would confess even if they were innocent, and they would also accuse other innocent people of being witches.
The government saw that there was no real way to make sure the person was a witch before executing them and that there was a great chance that they may be killing innocent people. People were still being accused of being witches even after the trials were suspended, but the charges were not taken seriously. Now the question was how to handle the rest of the cases of the people still locked up in the jails awaiting their doom filled trials.
Because the possessed could not testify and the magistrates were reluctant to accept any more false statements, by the month of May , the few men and women left in the jails were sent back to their homes. Even the witches who had been tried already and convicted were let free to return to their normal lifestyles. Although there were still some being accused of witchcraft in other towns the cases went unheeded.
This chaotic time was for the most part over. Mostly all confessing witches during this period were females ranging in age from less than ten to more than seventy. Out of the forty-eight possessed, mostly were females. Another 38 percent were over twenty while 18 percent were under sixteen. Three-fourths of the non-possessed accusers whose main concern was maleficium were men. In , the legislature passed the Reversal of Attainder, which was an act to clear the names of everyone jailed during the trials.
Massachusetts also repaid the survivors and the heirs for jail and court fees and for some property that the government had taken away from them. The government also wrote up a sincere apology for their mistake in proceeding with the trials when there was no solid evidence and for possibly executing innocent people. As time passed many people wondered what was the purpose of the Salem Witchcraft Trials? Why were so many innocent people jailed or even killed?
How could anyone have hanged their neighbor for being a witch? People pondered on what kind of an illness could have been mistaken for the symptoms of possession, but some thought that the possessed were simply liars and fools. Many times, the Puritans were blamed for the trials, encouraging witchcraft fears, and the number of people affected by them. Some people believe that the Puritans blamed anyone who was different as being a witch. This was because the Puritans had always suspected, as one of their main beliefs, that the Devil envied their way of life and was constantly trying his best to make their lives miserable.
By accusing so many people of being witches, they thought they were just purifying the church and their community. Most of the time, credibility of an accusation was not checked thoroughly, instead the person accused was simply locked up in jail until their trial time came. Even then, if they did not confess to being guilty, they were punished sometimes even killed. Although the law is innocent until proven guilty, and had been practiced before the trials, in the case of the witchcraft trials, the accused witches were guilty until proven innocent.
Not many were given the chance to prove themselves to be innocent. Facts on File, , The women were hanged on July By this time the witchcraft hysteria had spread not only to Salem Town but to Andover. August and September brought more convictions and hangings. The last eight accused witches were hanged on September 22, in what would turn out to be the final executions. The elder Mather insisted that proper evidence should be used in witchcraft cases just as in any other capital cases.
He strongly opposed spectral evidence, or evidence based on ghost sightings. As accusations mounted against people of higher and more respectable positions, skepticism grew in the public as to the appropriateness of witchcraft charges.
Thomas Brattle wrote an insightful letter to Governor Phips highly criticising the trials. On October 12, Phips, whose own wife had been accused of witchcraft, forbade any further imprisonments for witchcraft, and on the 29th dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer.
When a new special court convened in early , with several of the same members and William Stoughton once more as chief justice, forty-nine accused persons were acquitted. The difference was in no small part due to the governor not permitting spectral evidence to be heard. When three prisoners were convicted, Phips immediately granted reprieves. Three months later Phips freed all the remaining prisoners and issued a general pardon. Soon many jurors and judges apologized, and Judge Sewall attempted to take full responsibility for the trials and hangings.
A central problem in the trials themselves was the use of spectral evidence. Because the actual crime involved an agreement made between the accused witch and the devil, in which the devil was given the right to assume the witch's human form, and because, by its very nature, this compact would not have witnesses, finding acceptable evidence was difficult. Spectral evidence included testimony by the afflicted that they could see the specters of the witches tormenting their victims; the evil deeds were not perpetrated by the accused themselves, but by the evil spirits who assumed their shapes.
One problem with spectral evidence was that apparitions of demons were invisible to other people in the same room; only the afflicted girls could see the shapes.
Another concern was the possibility that Satan could appear in the shape of an innocent person. To overcome these obstacles, confessions were vigorously sought. Another example is the McMartin preschool abuse trial of the late s.
During that trial, witnesses who would lie were planted on the witness stand and exonerating evidence was concealed. During the day care abuse trials of the s, many unbelievable charges were presented, child witnesses became involved and hysteria happened, as it did in Salem.
Another essay topic is Giles Corey, also known as the Man of Iron, who suffered a public death that played a large role in the public beginning to oppose the Salem witch trials. Corey refused to plead guilty or not guilty after awaiting trial for five months in prison with his wife.
Corey knew that if he avoided conviction of wizardry, his farm, which he had recently deeded to his two sons-in-law, would not become the property of the state after his death. Corey was an uneducated, year-old, church-going farmer who died after two days of being pressed under heavy stones, a punishment never before seen in Salem. The aftermath of the witch trials is a rich essay topic, for Salem and the surrounding lands took a hard hit in several ways.
Crop failures, epidemics and political changes interrupted life around the village.
The Salem witch trials of took place in Salem, Massachusetts. Overall, people were arrested as 19 were hanged and one person crushed to death. Researchers describe the Salem witch trials as a series of court trials that were aimed at prosecuting persons who had been accused of witchcraft.
From the beginning of time, an estimated 50 to thousand people have been killed because of witch trials ; however, the most famous witch trial that ever took place was the Salem Witch Trials that occurred during , in Salem, Massachusetts.
Salem Witch Trials – An infamous episode in American history, the Salem witch trials of resulted in the execution by hanging of fourteen women and five men accused of being witches. The Salem Witch Trials, of , occurred in Salem Massachusetts. This is a case where people accused other people of witchcraft. Salem was a town governed by strict Puritan religion, and to have such a charge labeled against you could cost you your life.
The Salem Witchcraft trials in Massachusetts during resulted in nineteen innocent men and women being hanged, one man pressed to death, and in the deaths of more than seventeen who died in jail. Salem Witch Trials Essay The Salem Witch Trials were a dark age in the American history. More than people were accused of practising the Devil’s magic and 20 were executed.