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U.S. History/Salem witch trials


I am a student in middle school and I need to interview an expert on my topic. Can you answer at least 2-3. I'm sorry if this is too much. Thank you for considering this!

What led to the Salem witch trials

Did the witch trials take place anywhere else the world

How did they decide if someone was a witch

What happened to the people after they were found guilty

Who came up with the idea of people practicing witchcraft

1.  The daughters of Reverend Samuel Parris (along with two of their cousins) had been told by a black house slave named Tituba that there were witches in the town and if the young girls (all around 14 years-old at the time) watched the townswomen they would find devilish behavior on their part.  With this in mind the girls began to read devilish interpretations in ordinary behavior on the part of several elderly women in the township of Salem.  The religious authorities were notified (mainly Reverend Samuel Parris) and trials were held to ascertain the degree of possession the women suffered from.

2.  Yes, the witch trials in America were actually small potatoes compared to the witch hunts that took place in Europe about a hundred years earlier wherein several hundred young women were killed for being witches.  Also in the Colonies there were witch hunts in Virginia, North Carolina, and in other parts of Massachusetts.  The only reason why we know so much about the Salem, Massachusetts witch trials was because they were written about extensively by the sister of one of the victims.

3.  Purely by questioning.  If the accused woman (all elderly) deni8ed being a witch she was said to be lying or possessed of a lying spirit.  If she then confessed she WAS a witch they assumed she was impelled by the power of God to tell the truth--so either way the woman accused was considered to be guilty.

4.  All nineteen women were hanged (NONE were burned in Massachusetts).  One man was also killed when he refused to testify against his wife and was killed by being pressed to death by having stones placed on him one at a time during questioning in an attempt to "press" the truth out of him.  Also one dog was killed for being possessed.

5.  Well religiously, the whole concept of witchcraft was devised by Satan as an attempt to duplicate the true priesthood of God that prophets held upon the earth anciently.  Men such as Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, and other prophets of God held the priesthood of God, or the authority to act in God's name.  Satan, in an attempt to establish HIS kingdom on the earth devised the notion of witchcraft in which Satan was the alleged source of supernatural powers and so-called authority.

A great book to consult for further reading is titled, "The Devil in the Form of a Woman."

Good luck in your studies.

S. Anderson

U.S. History

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Steve Anderson, MA


Any area of American History, EXCEPT military history or economic history, these are not strong points of mine. Areas of particular expertise include the assassination of John F. Kennedy, 19th century women's history, 1950s-1960s popular culture, 1920s, Colonial America, Jacksonian Era, migration west, immigration, ethnic history, presidential decisions, treaties, tariffs, causes and results of wars, and entertainment history since World War II (television, movies, and music.)


Twenty-five years of teaching Advanced Placement American History, Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in American History, thirty post-graduate hours in American History

Member of Phi Alpha Theta--The History Honor Society (November 2001), California Teacher's Association

American History Teaching Credential, Recognized by the University of Chicago as an Outstanding Educator

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