Intolerance leads to hysteria... The Salem Witch Trials are one of the great atrocities ever wrought against a group of people out of sheer ignorance and pure hatred. They were an incidence of bias and prejudice in its basest form and yet so many people seem to know so very little about them. Perhaps it's because many of those same old misconceptions and prejudices that caused the Salem Witch Trials and other similar events to occur still exist in society today, or perhaps it's because no one believes anything like them could ever happen again. To believe the latter is only further proof of the ignorance that still exists, to believe the former is a state of denial. Be vigilant. Be compassionate. Be tolerant.
The Carey Document: On The Trail of a Salem Death Warrant by Bryan F. Le Beau
Notable Women Ancestors: Witches by Sam Casey This site includes links to biographies of many women accused of witchcraft, including:
National Geographic's Salem Witch Hysteria Ask an Expert by Richard Trask
Goody Cole and Jonathan Moulton by John Putnam Demos
Witch City -- Our Review by Peg Aloi
The Salem Witch Trials Page by Tim Sutter
The Salem Witch Trials were among the last outbreaks of persecution for accused witches, but it was also one of the darkest times in American history. The episode began when a few young girls were caught playing with a crystal ball. In an attempt to escape punishment, they claimed to have been bothered by a witch. With almost an insane fervor, authorities—acting rashly—proceeded to seek out and punish the witch responsible for tormenting the girls.
The town's newly arrived minister, Samuel Parris, not only did nothing to easy people's fears, but in fact helped to fuel them by telling people witches were everywhere and no one could be trusted. Neighbor accused neighbor and many profited personally from the confiscation of property. The need for retribution against any suspected witch eventually deteriorated to the point where "spectral evidence" was accepted. Spectral evidence involved witnesses being allowed to testify in court that a spirit had told them about someone being a witch.
By the time this tragedy closed nineteen people had been hanged as suspected witches and over 150 more had been imprisoned for varying lengths of time. Most of those imprisoned or killed were on the fringes of society or members of families that Samuel Parris considered to be trouble-makers.