Salem Witch Trials – Repressing Women in Colonial America

witch trialsWhile certainly not the first period of witch hysteria, the Salem Witch Trials were arguably the most famous in the American Colonies. The natures of the convicted tells us a good deal about the values of the time. Those accused of witchcraft were mainly widowed women over 40, especially those who had inherited their husband’s land or were wealthy or powerful. This was very different from the accused witches back in England and Europe, who tended to be very poor. The fact that these women were powerful shows how the men of New England were threatened by these women and saw witchcraft as a way to tear them down and take their property. An example of this is Abigail Faulker, who was denounced as a witch almost immediately after inheriting her husband’s estate. Women were not supposed to be independent, so drawing on religious hysteria to get rid of them was relatively simple. In addition to denouncing powerful women the witch trials were also used to explain a series of troubles, including smallpox, wars with the Indians, and conflict between different churches. During the Salem witch trials the town of Salem was gripped with a group hysteria, believing Satan was at work and anyone could be guilty of witchcraft.



About annawilson17

Junior at Suffield Academy
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