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THE BEGINNING The Salem witch hysteria of 1692 was one of the most tragic events in American history To study this event we must consider the social religious and political influences of that time The Puritans from England settled in Massachusetts to escape religious persecution in their home land The Puritans had a strict moral code and their way of living was fashioned around their religious beliefs There was a political division between the first Minister appointed to Salem Village in 1679 James Bayley and Samuel Parris elected as minister in 1689 When the first accusations of witchcraft were voiced by the adolescent girls and throughout the entire event the ministers exploited the bizarre behavior of the girls to bolster their waning leadership The accusations of witchcraft and the subsequent executions were an extreme expression of deeply felt moral divisions The negative references to witchcraft in the Bible and the belief that witchcraft was Satans work created a paralyzing fear of witchcraft which made it a natural vehicle for the hostility of the community Personal enemies and socially undesirable individuals were transformed into enemies of the community and an enemy of the community was therefore a servant of Satan Between the years of 1690-92 several events occurred which were the immediate causes of the hysteria Samuel Parris had a West Indian slave named Tituba who was steeped in magical lore Several adolescent girls became fascinated by Titubas stories of natural magic and island culture Two of the girls were related to Samuel Parris while others were children of his supporters When the girls became afflicted and subsequently named the witches the supporters of James Bayley took the outrageous accusations of the hysterical girls as confirmation of what they already suspected that their opponents were in league with Satan This is the beginning of the Salem witch hysteria of 1692
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