October 19, 2014
The Salem Witchcraft trials helped to shape a stronger modern day judicial system. One of the examples I intend to address in my research paper is the separation of church and state. Although both the current judicial system and that of the primitive seventeenth century Salem are based on the foundation of justice, they show some major differences in terms of defense, how much religion and public opinion play a role.
There are many similarities but also major differences in the way our judicial system and that of Salem. Convictions now require hard evidence based on fact .
In Marilyn K. Roach book Six Women of Salem An excerpt from the Preface tells us that “The Salem Witch Trials consumed over twenty communities in 1692, dragged at least 162 people (and their reputation) before the law, tried 52, condemned 30 and put 20 to death-19 by hanging and 1 by pressing to induce a proper plea. At least 5 more died in prison.”(IX) Roach’s book is a compilation of different historical documents interwoven to show a story that shows the reader how anyone can fall prey to mass hysteria, prejudice, superstition and fear. This book also shows us the evidence presented in the trials and how unsubstantial the evidence was and how the convicted were not given a fair trial.
A lot of the issues presented in the Salem Witchcraft trials were religion based and in our current judicial system has a division of church and state put in place. Had the exact same situation happened now, it would most likely be quickly diffused due to this division. The witches of Salem were flimsy and fueled my mass fear, religion and public opinion. Despite the process of trial by jury, the right to call witnesses and a right to defense, there are many differences in the way things are carried out now.
The evidence presented used to convict the Salem “witches” was fueled by fear, hysteria and public...