Witch-hunting, which began in Europe in the 13th century, soon spread not only to European states such as Germany, France, Italy but also to the New England states of America. Medieval Christians believed that the devil had given the power to the witches who perform witchcraft to harm others in favor of their loyalty. Until the end of the 18th Century, (The last murder of a woman believed to be a witch was reported in 1782 in Switzerland)in the process of hunting witches, The counting records show that approximately 110,000 innocent women were accused and 40,000-60000 amount of them have been reported killed.
“The trial of Salem’s witches” began in the spring of 1962, when several rural women in Salem, Massachusetts, were accused of practicing witchcraft under the influence of the devil. Outraged by this, the authorities hanged about 20 of the 200 women, girls, and villagers accused in a short period of time in a court of law for women accused of witchcraft.
But by the spring of 1962, the unrest among the villagers started to wear off, building an opinion against the trial. Later, a Massachusetts court acquits‐ ted the accused and paid compensation to their families, but it’s not wrong to say that the painful memory of the Salem witches’ trial persisted for centuries.
The beginning of a terrible period
The Christian belief that the devil had given the power to witches to harm people over their loyalty had spread to New England, a British colony by the 17th century. In addition, smallpox spread like an epidemic among the people of Salem, which was a Puritan society, and attacks from neighboring native Indians, a long-running power struggle between wealthy Salem Families, they also had to face the side effects of the British War of 1869 between the New England colonies and France. The trial of the witches in Salem took place in a situation where even their neighbors could not be trusted.
In January 1692, Elizabeth “Betty” Paris, 9-year-old daughter of Samuel Paris, pastor of Salem, and Abigail Williams, 11-year-old niece, began to cry out uncontrollably, showing symptoms of seizures. According to local physician William girls, they had been subjected to some form of dark magic. In a short time, several other girls in the village started showing similar symptoms, frightening the whole village of Salem. By the end of February, the pastor’s Negro slave named Tituba, beggar woman Sarah Good, and an elderly poor woman, Sarah Osborne, had been issued warrants for their arrest after they were accused of sorcery over the ill girls, mentioned above.
The witchcraft that disturbed the villagers day by day
The three accused witches have been brought before magistrates Jonathan Covin and John Hawthorne for further questioning. Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne pleaded not guilty, but Tituba pleaded guilty on the condition of reduction of her sentence by providing information about other witches living in the Salem village. Upon hearing that there were other witches in the village, the Salem people became more and more agitated. Good Christians Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse, and Sarah Good’s 4-year-old daughter have also been declared witches very soon.
Several of the accused women had pleaded guilty as in Tibet, and other witches were prosecuted without delay. In May 1962, William Phipps became the new governor of Massachusetts, established a special court of order and termination for witchcraft. New Court Justices Samuel Seville and William Stone sentenced Bishop Bridget to death on June 2 for practicing witchcraft.
A New England pastor named Cotton Mather has sent a letter five days after the trial explaining Spectral Evidence witch based on dreams and hallucinations trial to be ignored, but eight days after the trial, Bridget Bishop is hanged on Mount Gallows in Salem. Then five people were killed in July, five people in August, and eight people were killed in September. Furthermore, seven witches die in prison, and Martha Corey’s husband is pushed with stones to death for refusing to acknowledge that he is a witch.
The end of a cruel trial
Governor Phipps forbade the arrest of witches on the basis of Pastor Cotton Mather’s letter. He also dissolved the Special Judicial Court and establish a superior court of judicature to deny evidence based on dreams and hallucinations instead. In May 1963, Governor Phipps sought the release of those accused of practicing witchcraft after the trial of witches in Salem claimed twenty innocent lives.
The trial court judges then publicly apologized and the court on January 14, 1697, declared a day of fasting for those who had died due to the unfortunate situation in Salem. In 1702, an American court ruled that the trial of witches in Salem was unconstitutional. In addition, in 1711 the American government passed a bill restoring the rights and reputation of those accused of witchcraft and paid their heirs 600 pounds in compensation.