The Salem Witch Trials
Same thing Different Era????
Over three hundred years ago in the town of Salem Massachusetts a problem was laid into our hands. A problem that will haunt our nation for years and years to come. When our nation was faced with a simillar problemit was almost taken the same as it was with the Salem Witch Trials. This problem was called McCarthyism. Many people feel that the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism was just about the same conspiracy, but more than two hundred and fifty years later.
One day two girls and an Indian slave were caught dancing in a field, the two girls knew that they would get into trouble because the puritans didn?t believe much in having fun. They knew that if they acted “bewitched” then it would save them a lot of trouble. So the girls started to go into convulsions, and act very weird. (Linder, Douglas. P1). This led part into something that is shunned upon in our nations history. This was the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials.
In the late 1940?s we found out that Russia had gotten the atomic bomb secret from two spies. This and other small things sparked the era of McCarthyism, the era many people would like to forget. Senator Joe McCarthy was a very talented man. He had ways of intimidating people very easy and very fast (Cook, Fred J p5). Senator Joe McCarthy knew how to work the public, and he knew that if he sparked up the communist issue with many people he would get his seat in the senate. This was another era in our nation that people would rather forget. This era ruined peoples lives and made them “black listed” from Hollywood forever.
McCarthyism and The Salem Witch trials are very common for many reasons. They both started up because of the selfishness of others. If Joeseph McCarthy were not so selfish then the people that he accused would have had a job, and the would not have been shunned by the comminity. If the two girls were not so selfish then 19 people would have their lives back. This shows how McCarthyism and The Salem Witch Trials started off as somebody trying to get out of trouble, or somebody trying to get a higher seat in public but ended up as two of the most horribly looked upon events in American history.
The Salem Witch Trials did not have a very good court system. As Mr. Larry Gragg explains the legal matters “Governor Phips faced a legal dilemma The Massachusetts Bay colony had made the practice of witch craft a felony under the authority of a charter granted by Charles I in 1629. That document, however, had been revoked in 1686. Two years later, the colony became part of the Dominion of New England. Since the 1689 overthrow of Edmond Andros, the Dominion governor Massachusetts had existed in a legal limbo while its agents negotiated with William III for a new charter. Technically, then, no law against witchcraft existed. Governor Phips, who had arrived with a new charter, was unable to convene another provincial legislature to confirm the old statue until June 8. But he didn?t want to wait that long so he appointed a special court of Oyer and Terminer (a judicial body to hear and determine) on May 27. He selected Deputy Governor William Stoughton and 8 leading merchants and landowners to serve on the court.” “They took various kinds of intangible evidence including direct confessions, supernatural attributes, and reactions of the afflicted girls were used” (Dialogue Based on the Examination of Sara Good, by Judges Hawthorne and Corwin p5). They decided to accept “Specter Evidence” That is if someone in the community said that the accused person let the devil use their shape. They thought that was the best evidence because they figured you had to let the devil take your shape, and he couldn?t take it without your permission.
The court of Joe McCarthy was also very unlawful. According to 1950-1954: a man without a cause. “there was an obvious case of “guilty until proven innocent” as opposed to innocent until proven guilty.” Since they didn?t have and tangible evidence against these people they couldn?t throw them in jail, but they published their names in newspapers and almost all of the people that got their names published in the paper never worked in Hollywood again. They called people in even if they just played a communist part in a movie.
Both the Salem Witch Trials, and McCarthyism had very insufficient court room settings, and they have very unfair trials. They were also set up on some very unfair terms.
Mr. Gragg explains the first days of the trials. “For four days during the first week of March, Salem Villagers heard magistrates Corwin and Hawthorne interrogate the first three suspects about familiars, specters, and incidents in their past that might shed light on the suffering girls. Sara Good and Sarah Osbourne denied complicity in the affair., but Tituba, impressed by the spectacle and fearful of reprisals, confessed to a number of malicious actions. The devil had forced her to harm the girls on several occasions and to sign a pact she testified. As she wrote in the devils book, Tituba claimed she saw numerous names, including Good?s and Osborne?s. Moreover, she offered detailed descriptions of the two villagers? familiars. Good had a yellow bird, a wolf, and a cat. Osbourne had one with wings and two legs.” While they questioned Good and Osbourne the girls went into fits, convincing the judges that the 2 ladies were indeed witches (Gragg, Larry p2). When they examined Sara Good many people of the village offered evidence against her for the trial. From June 2 to September 17, Twenty-seven people went to court. And everyone of them were prosecuted and taken to jail (Gragg, Larry. P1).
“Do you harbor communist thoughts?” That question is still fresh in many people minds, they can remember watching the television, and see Joe McCarthy asking yet another person that. “On October 24, 1947, 50 of Hollywood?s writers, producers, and actors charted a plane to fly to Washington DC to express their displeasure with House Un-American Activities Committee investigation in Hollywood. Fifty representatives included such people as: Lauren Bacall, Groucho Marx, Frank Senatra, John Houston, Ronald Reagon, and Danny Kaye, with the head of the group Humphrey Bogart. The committee for the first amandment not only tried to protect the rights of “The Hollywood Ten,” but also to protest the violation of the constitutional rights. The group held press conferences in Kansas City, St. Lewis, Chicago, and finally Washington DC. However the committee didn?t avcheve anything, but brought trouble for some of its members. Uncooperative people of the Hollywood 10 would got to jail. Explains “The Second Cold War” P3. Many of the people were thrown out of their jobs because they were suspected to be Commies. The people that testified had to tell the names of other communists, and if they didn?t they would be considered guilty.
Unalike in the issue but alike in the way it was handled, the Salem Witch trial and McCarthyism are two things this country would like to forget. Both these trials were set up on unfair basis? they were getting people in trouble just because themselves did not want to get in trouble or “be proven guilty.” Just imagine, somebody in your neighborhood doesn?t like you. So they tell somebody that your a witch, or you are a communist, and you got called in. How would you feel to loose your job, or to get hung? The Salem Witch trials was a terrible tragedy that occurred. And when we were confronted with another similar problem did we try and correct it? No, we went on with a illegible court system and threw many people out of their homes and jobs. Now that we have better court systems and laws, we can hope that this predicament doesn?t happen again.