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 Post subject: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:02 pm 
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THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS WERE A SERIES OF HEARINGS AND PROSECUTIONS OF PEOPLE ACCUSED OF WITCHCRAFT IN COLONIAL MASSACHUSETTS,BETWEEN FEBUARY 1692 AND MAY 1693.....WHATS YOUR OPINION ON THE COURTS ACTIONS TO EXECUTE ALL THOSE PEOPLE AND DO YOU BELIEVE THAT SATIN WAS LET LOOSE IN MASSACHUSETTS?


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:11 pm 
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zoltan hound dracula wrote:
THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS WERE A SERIES OF HEARINGS AND PROSECUTIONS OF PEOPLE ACCUSED OF WITCHCRAFT IN COLONIAL MASSACHUSETTS,BETWEEN FEBUARY 1692 AND MAY 1693.....WHATS YOUR OPINION ON THE COURTS ACTIONS TO EXECUTE ALL THOSE PEOPLE AND DO YOU BELIEVE THAT SATIN WAS LET LOOSE IN MASSACHUSETTS?


While I would like to visit Salem, the subject of the witch trials is just very frustrating and infuriating to me. I think the basis of the witch trials was simply ignorance.


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:02 pm 
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I think it's a classic example of paranoia in conjunction with a rampant epidemic of Ergot poisoning... which was followed by several instances of people taking advantage of a situation.

Puritans were extremely religious. Anything that seemed out of the ordinary or if it was something they couldn't explain was classified as "Satanic". (Heaven forbid someone had epilepsy... ) There is a lot of conjecture that the whole ordeal was influenced by a toxin in Rye bread, which caused Ergot poisoning. One of the symptoms of Ergot poisoning is hallucinations, so that seems to be the most accurate scientific explanation of the situation to date.

Of course, once "the hanging Judge" (Judge Hathorne) came to town, it became a matter of trying to stay alive amidst the mud fight of accusations. Why, with the witch outbreak, if you wanted your neighbor's 10 Acre farm to add to your farmlands... just call 'em a witch! Hathorne had a reputation... so I think people were playing upon their knowledge that the judge would more than likely hang the offender. And, that's exactly what he did.

Fortunately, someone put an end to the whole thing. Unfortunately, they didn't end it soon enough.

I've been to Salem. It's a very fun place.

Here are some of my Salem Photos

... and a couple Salem related articles I wrote for my paranormal blog:
Burying Point Cemetery
Hawthorne Hotel


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:42 am 
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I was going to mention the ergot poisoning theory, but you beat me to it. One of the reasons this is attractive to me is that a dog seemed to have been "bewitched." That would make sense if the root problem was really a toxin that the animal, like its owners, had ingested.

I also agree that some people were clearly taking advantage of the situation, coveting farmland, getting even with people they had never liked, etc.

It is intriguing to me that the witch trials happened in America in the 1690s. Back in England, no one would have killed a witch in the 1690s. 1400s maybe, but no way would they have done anything like that as late as the 1690s. That was the age of the Restoration, a backlash against the Puritans who had governed England from 1640-60. It was a very secular, profane society. People like Rochester were writing poetry at court, and playwrights like Wycherley held the stage. (Actually, Rochester had died in 1680, but his profanity had "distinguished" the early Restoration era. If you've ever seen the Johnny Depp movie The Libertine, you learned a lot about him and his society.) Dryden was a popular satirist. Jonathan Swift was young. Aphra Behn (the first self-supporting writer, and a woman) had written a novel called Oroonoko, about an unsuccessful slave rebellion in Surinam, which started the abolitionist movement. Politically, England experienced the Glorious Revolution in 1688, deposing King James II almost bloodlessly because he and his Catholic second wife had produced a male heir, and England didn't want a Catholic monarch. The way this revolution happened so impressed political theorists like Montesquieu & Locke that they started writing treatises on government, which eventually formed the basis of the United States government about a hundred years later.

What I'm saying is that that little Puritan enclave in the Massachusetts wilderness was a hotbed of superstition and paranoia and claustrophobia, I think. They were severely out-of-touch with the main philosophic currents of their age. But I do think something weird and, to them, inexplicable, really did happen there. Ergot poisoning. It was scary. It would be to us, too.


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:58 am 
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jadewik wrote:
I think it's a classic example of paranoia in conjunction with a rampant epidemic of Ergot poisoning... which was followed by several instances of people taking advantage of a situation.

Puritans were extremely religious. Anything that seemed out of the ordinary or if it was something they couldn't explain was classified as "Satanic". (Heaven forbid someone had epilepsy... ) There is a lot of conjecture that the whole ordeal was influenced by a toxin in Rye bread, which caused Ergot poisoning. One of the symptoms of Ergot poisoning is hallucinations, so that seems to be the most accurate scientific explanation of the situation to date.

Of course, once "the hanging Judge" (Judge Hathorne) came to town, it became a matter of trying to stay alive amidst the mud fight of accusations. Why, with the witch outbreak, if you wanted your neighbor's 10 Acre farm to add to your farmlands... just call 'em a witch! Hathorne had a reputation... so I think people were playing upon their knowledge that the judge would more than likely hang the offender. And, that's exactly what he did.

Fortunately, someone put an end to the whole thing. Unfortunately, they didn't end it soon enough.

I've been to Salem. It's a very fun place.

Here are some of my Salem Photos

... and a couple Salem related articles I wrote for my paranormal blog:
Burying Point Cemetery
Hawthorne Hotel

THANKS JADEWIK FOR POSTING SALEM PHOTO"S AND FOR THE INTERESTING ARTICLES YOU WROTE FOR YOUR PARANORMAL BLOG,IM VERY INTERESTED IN IT!


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:38 am 
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Wow! Murf, what an eloquent description of what happened. I do love your answer. =)


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:24 pm 
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jadewik wrote:
Wow! Murf, what an eloquent description of what happened. I do love your answer. =)


:lol: Thanks. Ph.D. in Restoration & 18th century lit. Doctoral dissertation on verse satire, 1660-1750. (Specifically, satires based on Latin & French models.) Among those writers I studied were Rochester, Dryden, Swift, Pope, Johnson. Mainly Pope, who was born in 1688.

Knowing as much as I do about the English literary/intellectual scene at the time, it has always seemed bizarre to me, what was going on across the Atlantic. In Massachusetts, it was still the Middle Ages.


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:17 am 
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When discussing the Salem Witch Trials, one must take into account, the times in which they happened. First of all, it was the late 17th century. Many people held to a lot of the old superstitions back then. Secondly, the Puritan Religion was very strict and rigit, even by the standards of their time, which is why they came to America to begin with. The hystaria that created the With Trials was borne initialy of boredom, but there are many who believe that the young girls who started it all were either histerical or liars, in addition to being bored. Ignorance and superstition, and mass hysteria all came together to creat an insane situation where innocent people were tried and executed. Of course, you can also throw in a deliberate false accusation or two. IT was common both in the Americas and in Europe to falsely accuse a neighbor one didn't like of witchkraft in order to get rid of that person.

In the end, some of the accused who were actualy not convicted were kept in jail because they didn't have the money to pay for their jailing while they were awaiting trial.

Another point of interest, not one convicted "witch" was burned at the steak. All but one were hanged, and one was crushed.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:37 pm 
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That's true, the Puritans were people who had left England because they didn't like how things were going over there. I guess the first group of them came over in 1620, right? That was before the English Civil War (1640s), so their sect hadn't yet gotten the upper hand in England, as they did for about 20 years, 1640-60. There were a lot of religious tensions in England in the early 17th century--first, Protestants against Catholics, and then Anglican Protestants against the more Puritanical version later on. I guess it was the English equivalent of the Continental warfare that happened in the wake of the Protestant Reformation.

The Puritans didn't like the Church of England because they thought it hadn't gone far enough in its reforms of the Catholic church. The Anglican or Episcopal church has most of the same rituals and traditions of Catholicism, minus allegiance to the Pope and belief in Purgatory. The Puritans wanted a more Bible-based Christianity and were very suspicious of any sort of non-Biblical admixture (they wouldn't even celebrate Christmas because there was no Biblical authority for it, and they felt the traditional Christmas celebration had too many pagan overtones).

Puritans are objects of satire in some of Shakespeare's plays (for example, Malvolio in Twelfth Night) because they always disapproved of the theater and wanted to shut it down. To be sure, there were lots of things for decent people to object to in the theater of those days--prostitutes hung out in the theater, for example, and would go up and down among the patrons, selling oranges and whatever else people wanted. As most people know, young boys played women's roles on stage in Shakespeare's day, so there was the cross-dressing aspect of it (and whatever else that might have implied). Most English people found the strict Puritanical conscience too strict for comfort, but the Puritans were strong enough by mid-century that they did succeed in overthrowing the government and executing the king.

When the Puritanical government was overthrown in turn, the reaction was very profane for a while. Honestly, some of the poetry of those years (1670s especially) was filthy. You read it and understand why the Puritans were disgusted; but then, the reaction wouldn't have been that extreme if the Puritans hadn't been too extreme in the other direction.

So those were the folks who had settled in Massachusetts in the earlier 17th century. I guess they wanted to set up their little theocracy and have their little Heaven-on-earth the way they never could in England. Like most Utopian schemes, it ended badly.


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:43 am 
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Excelent observations, Murf. I especialy liked your closing comment about Utopian Societies ending up badly. We've seen that happen with the Nazies of Germany, the Communists of Russia and China, and a whole host of others.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:54 am 
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Hey Murf, the time frame you're talking about--was that when Cromwell was in business? I'm sorry I can't be bothered to look that up :lol: I remember learning about him in history class back in high school and thinking, "I really hate this guy. Can we move on before I claw my own eyes out?"


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:07 am 
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Yes, Cromwell was the leader of the Puritans and head of the Protectorate during the 1650s (this after King Charles I was beheaded in 1649). I think Cromwell died around 1658, and his son took over from him, but didn't last long.

He was very anti-Catholic and went after the Catholics in both Scotland and Ireland. The Irish still hate him.

John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, was a civil servant under the Cromwell regime. He was on the side of the Puritans and republicanism generally, which is the form of government the Puritans had sought to establish in England, though they failed (my understanding is that Cromwell was more of a dictator, a strong man, than a true republican leader). Milton wrote some well-known tracts against censorship and advocating divorce when the husband and wife are incompatible. He wrote Paradise Lost after the Restoration of the monarchy, when he was blind and in retirement from public life.


Last edited by Murfreesboro on Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:13 am 
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Murfreesboro wrote:
Yes, Cromwell was the leader of the Puritans and head of the Protectorate during the 1650s (this after King Charles I was beheaded in 1649). I think Cromwell died around 1658, and his son took over from him, but didn't last long.

He was very anti-Catholic and went after the Catholics in both Scotland and Ireland. The Irish still hate him.


I still hate him too. That might have been the most painful figures I've ever had to learn about in history.


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:22 am 
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My mom was no slouch when it came to teaching me about Irish history, especialy when it concerned Cromwell.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
 Post Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:28 am 
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When you study literary history, Milton is generally grouped with the Renaissance writers, like Shakespeare, but that skews his chronological position as an active member of the government during the Protectorate and his writing Paradise Lost after 1660.


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