Visit Website Did you know? In an effort to explain by scientific means the strange afflictions suffered by those "bewitched" Salem residents ina study published in Science magazine in cited the fungus ergot found in rye, wheat and other cerealswhich toxicologists say can cause symptoms such as delusions, vomiting and muscle spasms.
Depiction of the Salem Witch Trials Source Ergot Source The Ergot Poisoning Theory The Salem witch trials have fascinated historians for centuries, largely because of their bizarre nature and the great uncertainty that surrounds them.
One of the most intensely debated topics is the question of why the girls began to accuse seemingly random townspeople of witchcraft.
However, there is little evidence to support any theory, and consequently historians are forced to rely heavily on speculation. Many, including author and scientist Linnda Caporael, have found the traditional theories of fraud and hysteria to be inadequate.
The Puritan Witch-hunt Myth Although popular culture often portrays Puritan New England as a place where ministers were more powerful than the government, accusations of witchcraft were ever-present, and it was commonplace for accused witches to be condemned to death, in reality very few witchcraft trials had taken place in Massachusetts prior to the events in Salem in When witchcraft trials were held, they rarely resulted in convictions, much less capital punishment for the accused.
Their illness did not subside, and they continued to allege that certain members of the community were witches.
The first witchcraft case was heard on June 2 and resulted in a conviction and a hanging of the accused. The Massachusetts ministers, including Cotton Mather, continued to caution the judges associated with the trials of using insufficient evidence to convict the accused witches.
Every accused person who admitted guilt was spared from execution, but those who maintained their innocence were sentenced to death. Twenty people had been executed when the trials reached an abrupt halt, and approximately accused witches awaiting trial were released and had the charges against them dropped .
Source Traditionally, this bizarre sequence of events has been attributed to either fraud or hysteria. Many historians believe that fraud is the most likely explanation, in part because it is the least complex.
Fraud-theorists posit that the young girls did not realize the full consequences of their accusations, and that they were either seeking attention or attempting to escape punishment. To escape punishment, the girls pretended to be possessed and accused others, including Tituba, of witchcraft.
Scientist Linnda Caporael counters by arguing that no eyewitness accounts present fraud as a possibility—and most New Englanders attributed their condition to demonic possession.
The Puritans developed a mob-mentality and were stricken with a need to cleanse their community of witchcraft.
However, Caporael points out that it is highly improbable that all of the girls would be overtaken with hysteria simultaneously.
Further, the Purtians had dealt with previous accusations of witchcraft very sober-mindedly and had been very reluctant to resort to capital punishment.
She admits that the argument is largely circumstantial, but she believes that the evidence better supports her case than any other. Ergot grows on a variety of cereal grains, including rye, and Alan Woolf notes that the growing conditions necessary for the growth of ergot, cold winters, warm, humid summers, and swampy farmland, were present in Salem in Convulsive ergotism has been known to cause LSD-like symptoms in those that it infects.Salem witch trials, (June –May ), in American history, a series of investigations and persecutions that caused 19 convicted “witches” to be hanged and many other suspects to be imprisoned in Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (now Danvers, Massachusetts).
Nov 04, · Watch video · The infamous Salem witch trials began during the spring of , after a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women.
The Salem Witch Trials took place in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts. The town was a very prosperous port, engaging in commerce, shipbuilding, and other activities. The town was a very prosperous port, engaging in commerce, shipbuilding, and .
Apr 16, · The Salem witch trials have fascinated historians for centuries, largely because of their bizarre nature and the great uncertainty that surrounds them. One of the most intensely debated topics is the question of why the girls began to accuse seemingly random townspeople of regardbouddhiste.coms: The Salem Witch Trials were a string of trials, hearings and prosecutions of many people accused of witchcraft in Massachusetts between the dates of February and May The trials ended up leading to the execution of twenty people, men and women, but mainly women.
An infamous episode in American history, the Salem witch trials of resulted in the execution by hanging of fourteen women and five men accused of being witches.
In addition, one man was.