Salem Witch Trials
By Tyson Wencl
Between the years of 1692 and 1693, over 200 people were tried in court for witchcraft and twenty of those were put to death. Witchcraft was believed to be the Devil's magic and was given to individuals to harm others in return for their loyalty to Satan. It took place in colonial Massachusetts and began when Reverend Samuel Parris' daughter Elizabeth,9, and his niece Abigail Williams,11, began having “fits”. These “fits” included screaming, throwing things, mumbling strange sounds, and contorting their bodies into strange positions. The 200 accused and the twenty killed were only ones there in Massachusetts and does not include the tens of thousands killed in Europe from the 1300's to the late 1600's.
Reverend Samuel Parris was born in 1653 and pursued a career in as a merchant and a planter in London and Barbados. In his twenties, he moved to Massachusetts to attend Harvard but later dropped out when his father died and Parris returned to Barbados as a merchant. In 1680, when he was 27, he returned to Boston to go back to college although there are no records discovered showing that he graduated with a degree. In 1688, Samuel Parris cut off all of his business ties in Boston and moved his family to Salem Village, Massachusetts to become a priest. The town had mixed emotions about the reverend in that he wanted a more expensive church than what the town wanted but he also refused the idea of the Half-Way Covenant. This meant that people who had become baptized but did not confess their love to God or the Church were no longer allowed to be members of the church. This made the Puritans like him more but the Half-Way Covenant was forced to leave the church and they became allies with other non-members of the Church. Finally, in 1691, the town stopped paying Parris his salary and he began to preach that Satan was conspiring to destroy the church in Salem Village.
In his home lived his wife, Elizabeth Eldridge Parris, as well...