Salem Witch Trials Facts and History - Stories for Kids (2023)


  • The Salem witch trials took place in 1692.
  • The girls began to say that they were going to catch the devil. They later accused people in their community of being witches.
  • The court heard the cases, found 18 guilty and hanged them even though they had done nothing wrong.
  • In September 1692, people began to believe that the trials were not fair. The court reversed the guilty verdicts.

In the 1400s, European countries began killing people accused of witchcraft. Many witch hunts took place in places in Europe such as West Germany, France, and Switzerland. According to historical records, between 40,000 and 60,000 people were executed for witchcraft between 1650 and 1750. Read on to learn more about the Salem witch trials.

The "hunt" was to find someone they believed to be a witch. Witches were people who followed Satan and traded their souls for his help.

People thought that witches used demons to do magic. Witches could change from human to animal form or from one human form to another. Animals were the "household spirits" of witches. Witches are said to fly in the air at night to worship the devil and use magic for evil purposes.

The witch identification process began when people noticed suspicious things. Accusations followed and some people were convicted of witchcraft.

When the Salem witch trials took place, church politics and family feuds were mixed with hysterical children. There were no political authorities there to stop him.

(Video) The History of the Salem Witch Trials!

Causes of the Salem Witch Trials

Salem Witch Trials Facts and History - Stories for Kids (1)

The causes of Salem with evidence were:

  • Life can be tough in the puritanical community of Salem Village.
  • The English rulers William and Mary started a war with France in the American colonies. Colonists called it King William's War, but it affected different colonies in different ways. The refugees came to Essex County and, in particular, to the town of Salem in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • There was recently an epidemic of smallpox.
  • The people feared that the Indians would attack them.
  • There is a long-standing rivalry with the wealthiest settlement in Salem City.

the two salems

At the end of the 17th century there were two Salems. One was a thriving commercial port city on Massachusetts Bay known as Salem Town, which would later become modern Salem. The second was 10 miles inland. It was a small, low-income farming community of about 500 people known as Salem Village.

The town was divided by a disagreement between two families. These disagreements became acute and constituted the rivalry. The wealthy shippers were a family that had notable connections with the wealthy merchants of the Salem towns. The other people in town were the Putnams, who wanted more autonomy and were a voice for poorer families. People often fought over land, and this often led to lawsuits.

Samuel Paris

Samuel Parris, a Bostonian from Barbados, was elected pastor of the village church in 1689 due to the influence of the Putnams. Parris attended Harvard University (now called Harvard University), where he majored in theology. However, he had temporarily abandoned his studies before he could complete them.

He arrived in the town of Salem with his wife, three children and a niece. He owned two slaves from Barbados named John Indian and Tituba. Some people think they were of African descent, others thought they might be native to the Caribbean.

This man, Parris, negotiated his contract with the congregation. But he was not happy. He wanted more money, including the vicarage property. This did not sit well with many members of the community.

Parris's puritanical beliefs had a powerful effect on the people. The people in his church divided into two groups, those who agreed with him and those who disagreed with him.

This division became visible when he demanded that non-church members leave before the communion celebration. There were two groups of people in Salem: factions for and against Parris.

(Video) What really happened during the Salem Witch Trials - Brian A. Pavlac

Salem Witch Trials: How It All Began

In 1692, Elizabeth (Betty) Parris and Abigail Williams, the daughter and niece of Samuel Parris, aged just 9 and 11, suffered strange convulsions. The seizures resulted in violent writhing and uncontrolled screaming.

Betty, Abigail, and their friend Ann Putnam Jr. (age 12) were influenced by the voodoo stories Tituba told them. Then they began to practice fortune telling.

Academics who have studied the strange behavior with the help of modern science believe it could have been caused by asthma, epilepsy or a condition called "convulsive ergotism." It is when you eat bread or muesli made from rye that has become infected with fungus.

The girls in the town of Salem behaved strangely, like the people of Boston, who were considered witches. This behavior was described in the book Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions (1689), which these girls probably read.

A local doctor said other girls in the community had the same symptoms as Betty and Abigail. The doctor said they were under a spell and blamed something supernatural for their behavior. These girls were named Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard, Mary Walcott, and Mary Warren.

Tituba made a witch cake at the suggestion of a neighbor. The witch cake didn't work, angering Reverend Parris, who considered it blasphemy.

Parris pressured Betty and Abigail to identify their tormentor. They said Tituba and two other people did it. Neither of them went to church very often, but they were still part of the community.

In February, arrest warrants were issued for Tituba, a Caribbean slave of the Parris family, along with two other women: Sarah Good, a homeless beggar, and Sarah Osborn, an elderly poor woman.

(Video) The Truth of the Salem Witch Trials

exams start

Salem Witch Trials Facts and History - Stories for Kids (2)

People accused of witchcraft went to talk to the judges. People would see her and strange things would happen like convulsions, writhing, screaming and squirming.

At first, Tituba said that he was not guilty. But after the judges wanted him to say it, he finally said what they wanted to hear. She told them that she had made a deal with the devil and that he was visiting her.

Three days later he recounted his encounters with Satan's animal companions. This included a tall man from Boston who asked him to sign the devil's book. Good's and Osborn's names were on the list, but there were others he couldn't read. Tituba wanted to avoid being convicted of witchcraft, so she told the Puritans that other witches were dealing with her.

The people of the community were afraid. They said some people were responsible. But some of those people were good community members like Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse. Sarah Good's four-year-old daughter was also charged.

Like Tituba, some accused witches confessed to the crime. And then they named other people who were also accused of being witches. As time went on, more and more defendants became enemies of the Putnams. Many of the people who accused others were family members or relatives by marriage.

If the person confessed and named other witches, that person was spared from punishment by the court. That's because the Puritans thought that God would punish them.

The court cases soon became too many for the local justice system. Then in May 1692 Governor Phips changed things so that there was a special court to hear and decide witchcraft cases in Suffolk, Essex and Middlesex.

Trials turn into executions

The court consisted of judges named Hathorne, Sewall, and Stoughton. The first person they convicted was Bridget Bishop. This happened on June 2. She was hanged in what is now Galgenberg, Salem Town, exactly eight days after her conviction.

(Video) The Salem Witch Trials (1692) Cartoon

Five other people were executed in July; there were five in August and eight more in September. The accused witches also died in prison, seven of them among the accused. Giles Corey, Martha's husband, refused to plead guilty after her arrest, so he was crushed under rocks until he finally died.

There were complaints against people from other communities. Cotton Mathers' father (a minister and president of Harvard) said they should not use spectral evidence to make accusations and instead place the blame squarely on the people involved.

the end of the exams

Governor Phips acted when people accused his wife of being a witch. He prevented the court from proceeding. He made another dish. You were not allowed to use evidence that can only be seen in your mind (spectral evidence).

After January and February, the trials resumed. Only three people were convicted. They were pardoned by Phips in May 1693 when the trials ended. Nineteen people were hanged and another five died in custody.

Years later, people apologized for the tragedy that resulted from the trials. The Massachusetts court urged everyone to fast and reflect on what happened.

Samuel Sewall said publicly that the judgments were wrong. The court also agreed with him. They said that the trials of 1702 were illegal.

When people were accused of being witches, they did not have lawyers. Their legal processes did not protect them. They had no right to cross-examine their accusers and were automatically guilty. These abuses played a role in our modern rules on legal representation, the right to question your accuser, and the presumption of innocence instead of guilt.


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