Were the Salem Witch Trials Just One Big Misunderstanding?

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Introduction "Almost as soon as it had begun, the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts ended" (Linder - page 1). The Salem witch trials occured in 1692 and ended in 1693. Women were accused of being witches and using witchcraft to harm other people in the village. The trials began when three young girls became ill with an unknown disease. A local doctor diagnosed the girls as being possessed by the devil. This led to a massive witch hunt. Hundreds were falsely accused. And so, the witch trials began. How It All Began Susannah Sheldon, Elizabeth Hubbard, and Mary Warren became very sick but no one knew why. Now a days, the girls could have been diagnosed with illnesses such as "convulsive ergotism caused by eating rye bread made from a grain infected by the fungus Claviceps Purpurea (a natural substance from from which LSD is derived), an epidemic of bird-borne encephalitis lethargia (also known as sleepy-sickness), and sleep paralysis to explain the nocturnal attacks alleged by some of the accusers" (Salem Witch Trials - Wikipedia). People back then did not understand this sicknesses and therefor decided that the girls had been cursed by a witch. The Out-come Without the knowledge or technology to understand why the girls had been behaving so strangely, the doctors in Salem didn't know any better than to go with what others had been talking about; the girls being possessed by the devil or being cursed by witches. Innocent people (mostly women) were being accused daily of being witches. "Some were accused merely because they kept cats, which were thought to be familiars or demons given to witches by the devil to act as advisers and messengers" (The Witch Trials - page 1). Once the people had been accused of witchcraft, they were either put in jail or sentenced to death. They were hanged, decapitated, or burned at the stake. One man was even

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