The Salem Witchcraft Trials

The Salem Witchcraft


The Salem Witchcraft trials in Massachusetts
during 1692 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. It all began at the end of 1691 when a few girls in the town began
to experiment with magic by gathering around a crystal ball to try to find
the answer to questions such as "what trade their sweet harts should be
of ". This conjuring took place in the Parris household where a woman
named Tituba, an Indian slave, headed the rituals. Soon after they had
begun to practice these rituals, girls who had been involved, including
the Master Parris\' daughter and niece, became sick. They had constant fits,
twitched, cried, made odd noises, and huddled in corners. The family
called in doctors, and they were treated for many illnesses. Nothing
helped. Many weeks later after running out of reasons for their strange
behavior, all of their symptoms seemed to lead to one belief, "The evil
hand is upon them." They were possessed by the Devil.

At first the families of the children could
not find anyone to accuse for being the witch responsible for possessing
the children. Then, late in February of 1692, Parris\' neighbor, Mary

Sibley recommended that Parris\' slaves, Tituba and John Indian, should
work a spell to try to find the culprits. Even after trying this
solution the girls\' condition worsened, and the people responsible still
had not been found. The girls began to see hazy shadows and believed
that these shadows were of the people who had done this to them. After
more and more children became victims of this, the hunting for the witches
who were to blame for the girls\' sickness began to get more serious. By
the end of February 1692, not one, but three witches had been named.

These women were Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba, all residents of

Salem Village.

Sarah Good was a poor "socially undesirable"
member of the village of Salem which made her susceptible to accusations
of being a witch and of practicing black magic. She was well known
in the village for her eccentric behavior, and in the past people had suspected
her of being a witch. Her husband, William Good, was a simple laborer and
his inadequate income forced the Goods to accept charity and to beg for
goods from their neighbors. Sometimes they even had to live with their
neighbors, but this never lasted long. Sarah Good\'s actions and behaviors
would often cause unrest in the hosts and their families, and then the

Good family would be asked to leave. A few of the villagers they stayed
with reported that their livestock would begin to sicken and die after
the Goods were forced to leave. More than fifteen families claimed
that Sarah Good bewitched their livestock while others reported that she
could make objects disappear into thin air. When Good was questioned
about these accusations, her answers were always tight-lipped and aggressive,
further leading the people to believe that she was in fact a witch.

Sarah Osborne was also one of the first
three women accused of putting spells on the girls and possessing them.

Unlike Tituba and Sarah Good, however, she was from a very wealthy household.

Although it is believed sometimes that only poor people were accused of
being witches, in the Salem Witchcraft Trials, this was not true, as in
the case of Osborne. Women and men accused of being witches were either
looked down upon in the community or envied for their land and wealth,
as Sarah Osborne was in Salem.

Tituba, like Good, was very poor.

She worked as a servant in the Parris home and was a Carib Indian born
in Barbados in the West Indies. Reverend Parris brought Tituba to New England
when he was still a merchant, and after this she married John Indian who
also worked as slave for Reverend Parris. Tituba was the person asked to
aid with the girls\' illnesses by making a witch\'s cake to find their culprit
and after this did not work, she was arrested four days later for being
a witch herself.

Each of these three women was examined
by local Salem officials before they were sent off to await trial in a

Boston jail. The girls, who these witches had supposedly inflicted
sickness upon, were also present during these trials to show the court
how much pain the three women had caused. During the trial Sarah

Good kept insisting that she was not guilty but rather that she had been
wrongly accused. When asked why