Ergotism In Salem

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In 1692, the town of Salem in the Massachusetts saw the rise of paranoia to power and the degradation of social order the likes of which has never been seen in American History. An entire community of people swept up in a sudden outbreak of elaborate scheming, finger-pointing, and witchcraft that ended in tragedy. Was it down the fault of Puritanism, economic conspiracy within Salem, or a group of young girls too afraid of getting caught in a lie to reveal the truth? As anything in history, the events of the witch scare had multiple complex and intertwined causes that can hardly be separated for a single simple explanation. The root of this disaster in Salem’s history is directly linked to the Puritans’ relationship with god and the devil, …show more content…
One of the girls was the daughter of the Reverend Parris. Worried that his daughter was exhibiting signs of demonic possession, understandable given the limits of medical knowledge of the period, Parris- the minister struggling to keep the people of Salem Town within the sphere of the Salem Village church and keep the church united-was panicked enough to accept a verdict of witch craft rather than sickness. Fear of demonic attack was likely to spread once the people got word of possession, echoing the enduring fear of Native American and French attack. Whether it be physical attack from outsiders or spiritual attack from satan’s minions, the Puritans would’ve taken it as a sign that God was punishing them, warning them that He had the power to destroy them by Indians or Demons. This kind of speculation would lend to the agitation growing beneath the surface in …show more content…
It’s possible that the accusations come from those in Salem Town on fiscal decline as industry began to outgrow agriculture in the area, lashing out at those from Salem Town who were successful, resenting that success (Boyer and Nissenbaum). The longer this political battle was waged between the Village and Town, the more hysteria and panic set in amongst the average people who were so used to their leaders containing and defusing these kinds of situations rationally. In this way there were nearly no consequences to denouncing someone as a witch, causing wilder and more far reaching accusations. The first deaths inspired real terror in people. Most people believed in their typically rational system of government that wouldn’t possibly wrongly sentence someone to death. This along with the arrival of outside officials to investigate only seems to lend credence to the idea that real witchcraft is at work. Even among those who did doubt, no one could protest the proceedings because that would only cast suspicion on them and the consequences of that suspicion was no longer anything to be taken lightly. The chaos only came to an end at the intervention of the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and

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