AP United States History

Witches In Salem

 

Examine these documents for information that will help you write an essay about the nature of the witch trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts during the 1690s.



Document A

Source: Massachusetts Body of Liberties, 1641

94. CAPITAL LAWS

1.     If any man after legal conviction shall have or worship any other god, but the Lord God, he shall be put to death. Deut. 23.6, Exodus 22.20

2.     If any man or woman be a witch (that is, hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit), they shall be put to death. Lev. 20.27, Deut 28.20, 21

3.     If any man shall blaspheme the name of God, the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, with direct, express, presumptuous, or high-handed blasphemy, or shall curse God in the like manner, he shall be put to death. Lev. 24. 15, 16

4.     If any person shall commit any willful murder, which is manslaughter, committed upon premeditate malice, hatred or cruelty, not in a man’s necessary and just defense, nor by mere casualty, against his will, he shall be put to death. Exod. 12.12, 12, 14 Num. 15.30, 31

5.     If any person slayeth another suddenly in his anger or cruelty of passion, he shall be put to death. Num. 35.30,31

6.     If any person shall slay another through guile, either by poisoning or other such devilish practice, he shall be put to death. Exod 21.14

 

 

 

 

Document B

AGE AND SEX OF ACCUSED WITCHES (WHERE KNOWN)

 

Age

Male

Female

Total

Under 20

6

18

24

21-30

3

7

10

31-40

3

8

11

41-50

6

18

24

51-60

5

23

28

61-70

4

8

12

Over 70

3

6

9

TOTAL

30

88

118

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Document C

VICTIMS OF WITCHCRAFT BY AGE AND SEX

 

Age

Male

Female

Sex not known

Total

0-9

8

6

3

17

10-19

8

12

-

20

20-39

49

19

-

68

40-59

10

18

-

28

60+

1

2

-

3

TOTAL

76

57

3

136

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Document D

AVERAGE SIZE OF SALEM VILLAGE LANDHOLDINGS 1640-1700

 

 

 

 

Document E

Source: Report of Year 1675

 

“The destruction of Captain Lothrop and his company, on the 18th of September, filled the country with grief and consternation; and as the year…drew towards a close, the conviction became general, that the crisis of fate of the colonies was near at hand.  The Indians were carrying before them…spreading conflagration, devastation, and slaughter around the borders, and striking sudden and deadly blows into the heart of the country.”

 

 


 

Document F

YEARLY EVENTS

 

1684

Great Britain revokes charter of Massachusetts

1686

Whole of New England thrown together under one government in the Dominion of New England

1688

Revolution in England

1680s/90s

Very cold winters, called by some “the Little Ice Age”

1689

Cotton Mather comments, “Tis almost unaccountable, that at some time in some places here, melancholy distempered, ragings toward self=murder, have been in a manner, epidemical.”

1689-90

Small Pox epidemic

1690

Military expedition against Quebec ends in defeat

1691

Indian attacks on border of Massachusetts at Billerica

1692

Young People believed to be profaning the Sabbath

 

 

 

Document G

DESCRIPTION OF BRIDGET BISHOP, ACCUSED WITCH

 

“Edward Bishop had resided, for some seven years previous to the witchcraft trials, within the limits of Salem, near the Beverly line.  His wife Bridget, was a singular character, not easily described.  She kept a house of refreshment for travelers, and a shovel-board for the entertainment of her guests, and generally seems to have countenanced amusements and gayeties to an extend that exposed her to some scandal.  She is described as wearing a black cap and a red paragon bodice, bordered and loopered with different colors…”

 

 

 

Document H

Source: Reverend Hale, Minister of the Beverly congregation

 

“ A certain woman being in full communion with out church, came to me to desire that Goodwife Bishop, her neighbor, wife of Edward Bishop, Jr., might not be permitted to receive the Lord’s Supper in out church till she had given her satisfaction for some offenses that were against her; namely, because the said Bishop did entertain certain people in her house at unreasonable hours in the night, to keep drinking and playing at shove-board, whereby discord did arise in other families, and young people were in danger to be corrupted.  The night after this complaint was brought to me, the woman was found to be distracted and we sought the Lord by fasting and prayer.  After a while, the woman recovered her senses and expressed a suspicion that she had been bewitched by Bishop’s wife.”

 

 

Document I

Source: Testimony by Richard Coman at the witchcraft trial of Bridget Bishop

 

“I being awake did then see Bridget Bishop of Salem, alias Oliver, come into the room we lay in and two women more with her, which two women were strangers to me. I knew them not, but said Bishop came in her red paragon bodice and the rest of her clothing which she then usually did wear. ...And quickly after they appeared the light was out, and the curtains at the foot of the bed opened, where I did see her. And presently [she] came and lay upon my breast or body and so oppressed me that I could not speak nor stir, no not so much as to awake my wife, although I endeavored much so to do it.”

 

 

Document J

CRIMES THE ACCUSED WITCHES WERE CONVICTED OF PRIOR TO 1692

 

 

Assaultive Speech

20

Theft

10

Lying

6

Sex Offenses

5

Physical Assault

4

Resisting Authority

2

Arson

1

Fraud

1

Unspecified

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Document K

FEMALE WITCHES BY PRESENCE OR ABSENCE OF BOTHERS OR SON, NEW ENGLAND 1620-1725

 

Action

Women without Brothers or Sons

Women with Brothers or Sons

Total

Accused

96 (61%)

62 (39%)

158

Tried

41 (64%)

23 (36%)

64

Convicted

25 (76%)

8   (24%)

33

Executed

17 (89%)

2   (11%)

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Document L

Source: The Diary of Cotton Mather

 

“The souls of many, especially of the rising generation, have been…awakened unto some acquaintance with religion…Some scores of young people have joined the church after being awakened by the picture of Hell exhibited in [Bridget Bishop’s] sufferings.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Document M

 

 

Document N

Source: Reverend Samuel Parris, a chief instigator of the Salem witchcraft trials

 

Now if we would not be devils, we must give ourselves wholly up to Christ, and not suffer the predominancy of one lust—and particularly that lust of covetousness …which so sorely prevails in these perilous times.  Christ knows who they are that have not chosen him, but prefer farms and merchandise above him and above his ordinances."

 

 

 

Document O

FACTIONALSISM AND WEALTH IN SALEM VILLAGE, 1695

 

 

Number of householders in each tax bracket

Percentage of householders in each tax bracket

Amount of 1695-96 tax

Pro-Parris

(average tax: 10.9 shillings)

Anti-Parris

(average tax: 15.3 shillings)

Pro Parris

Anti-Parris

Under 10 shillings

31

15

61%

43%

10-20 shillings

16

12

31%

34%

Over 20 shillings

4

8

8%

23%

TOTAL

51

35

100%

100%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Document P

THE GEOGRAPHY OF FACTIONALISM: RESIDENTIAL PATTERN OF THE SIGNERS OF THE PRO-PARRIS AND ANTI-PARRIS PETITIONS OF 1695