Witch Trials: The Salem Witchcraft Trials

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Chloe Dault 9/28/2009 1st hour Witchcraft Paper Many who practiced “magic” or strange rituals were thought to be witches. These people were commonly accused and prosecuted. During the 1600s, one particular town in Massachusetts gained a reputation for rash prosecutions. Witchcraft trials held inSalem took an abnormal approach compared to other court proceedings located in many American colonial towns. Spectral evidence, in Salem, was used for most trials, unlike trials held in other American towns, where it was not allowed. “…that strange, extraordinary, and unaccountable calamities befell his cattle, their death being such as they could guess at no natural reason for.” (Mather 78). This says that cows were dying for no natural reason, meaning a witch must be killing the cows. This is spectral evidence given by the victim’s husband, in the Martha Carrier trial, which was taken into account…show more content…
“At least forty of the defendants were put to death; the rest were acquitted or convicted of a lesser charge.” (Demos 31). These results from the Salem “hysteria” of 1692 show how severe the punishments really were. Most trials in Salem ended in the death penalty, whereas the majority of trials in other towns were either acquitted or in the case where the defendant truly was found guilty the punishment was dramatically less severe. Salem witchcraft trials, when compared to other colonial towns across America, were very different and unique in almost every way. In other American towns spectral evidence was unheard of, but in Salem, not only was it not uncommon, it was widespread. The most common results of the Salem witch trials were either the accused confessing to witchcraft, even if they were innocent, or being found guilty thus receiving the harshest of penalties which was

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