Between the February 1692 and May 1693 several trials were held against the existence of suspected individuals who have engaged in witchcraft in Salem. The said trials were held in three different regions including Ipswich and Andover. The Court of Oyer and Terminer were the primary venues for the said trials, there were more than two hundred individuals who came and were tried and heard during the said series of trials. It was the culture and the situation in the society that made this particular trial a controversial point in history. Not only did it define the issue of behind the well-stated clauses of law in definition of certain situations resulting to mass hysteria, it also provided a mirror on the possibility of developing particular understanding on the part of the result on the existence of isolation and stereotyping among people who are simply accused of a specific condition (Poole, 2011, 23).
This part of the North American history was a stationed indication that the beginning on the belief of Satan being true and powerful. People then believed in God to be all powerful, nevertheless, due to the development of the philosophies behind the existence of supreme beings, the assumption of an anti-God persona was then introduced; and during this time, the art of witchcraft seem to have proven such idea (Robinson, 1992, 42). The balance between good and evil was assumed to have a great insistence on this particular matter. People in Salem believed that whatever it was that was happening in their community, something or someone has to have manipulated it. In this case, the good events were attributed to the existence of a ‘good God’ while the bad things were of course assumed to have come from the devil (Rosenthal, 1993, 48). This belief however was not enough, since there is no ‘devil’ that can actually be seen, people assumed that there would be those who would be used by the devil just as God utilizes the priests to spread good news and good deeds.
Relatively, there are those who did favor the idea of having someone opposite from God. Perhaps wanting to take revenge or at least just use the power that was believed to have come from the devil, the development of witchcraft has emerged. Even though the members of the groups saluting this particular activity say that they only become a part of it just to make sure that the balance of nature remains at ease [seemingly established upon the balance between good and bad], it could not be denied that witchcraft does have its dark sides. Because of this fact, people believed that anyone engaging in the craft are the ones who are inviting evil into the community therefore causing several unrest and disturbances in the lives of others who are not members of the group.
The people of Salem [now known as Danvers, Massachusetts] are known to be quarrelsome and usually involved in chaotic situations even before the emergence of the belief on Witchcraft. Relatively, when the said belief came into existence, the people found a escape goat to which they could burden their trials on. Saying that it was what caused the dilemma in their community, the idea of witchcraft and all those engaging in it were put into a situation where they are specifically asked to pay the community for matters they might not even have any idea about.
The worst thing is that the mass hysteria over the impact of witchcraft on the daily lives of the people affect their vision of what is religious and what is not especially in relation to the people who practices according to the said beliefs. For instance, those who were not religious, although they may not actually be engaged in any form of witchcraft were specifically accused of being a part of the said group. They were not asked, nor were proofs gathered to prove their guilt. Instead, the accusation over the possibility that they are witches and wizards were enough to put them into trial and worse, put them to death.
Overall, the incident of the Salem Witch Hearings affected the culture of belief on both religion and justice not only in Salem but also in other areas where witchcraft was believed to have existed at one time. For instance, the belief on being religious was a specific requirement for one not to be labeled as witch (Robbins, 1959, 99). One had to follow the norms of the society and accept what was supposedly religious at the time. Relatively, it is because of this that it was later on found out that out of the many individuals killed after the final decision of the trails were released were specifically innocent of the accusation placed upon their heads. Accusations of even the young girls taught the court something in relation to this matter, that the lives wasted in false accusations are the same as the value of the most despising things that could mark the weakness and the crookedness of human justice. Lives were lost and other were taken away from them even when they were still alive; false accusations due to wrong assumptions have been a strong source of failure on this part of the justice system’s history. Because of this, reestablishing the course of collecting evidences properly before judgments are passed on as the final decision have been pushed through. This is the reason why the Salem witch incident, so long as it did take the time for the people to realize their mistakes, was one of the many sources of the development of the current American rules and policies. Overall, it has provided the groundwork with regards the recognition of the right of a person to practice his own religion so long as it does not inflict any harm or danger to others in the community. It is through this that a person’s desire to praise the god he choose to believe becomes evidently legal in the United States. Being a land of the free men, the country welcomes any kind of religion so long as it does not impose danger on the lives of other or that of its members. The tolerance over this particular aspect of recognizing the freedom to believe and be religious or be not religious at some point does have its pros and cons. Nevertheless, the important thing for the lawmakers is that they are not to make the same mistakes again as did the ones who handled the Salem Witch Trials.
Poole, W. Scott. Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting. Waco, Texas: Baylor, 2011.
Robbins, Rossell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. Crown Publishers Inc., 1959.
Robinson, Enders A. Salem Witchcraft and Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables. Heritage Books: Bowie, MD. 1992.
Rosenthal, Bernard. Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692. Cambridge University Press: New York. 1993.