This is an older documentary featured on the History Channel about the Salem Witch Trials. It is an older documentary on the Salem Witch Trials. This documentary uses the words from the trials and the people who were on trial for being Witches.
In 1692, witch mania went through Salem, Massachusetts. It began when a girl fell sick with convulsions, visions, contortions, and random outbursts. This triggered the people to hunt out witches. Over 100 supposed witches were imprisoned during this hunt. Cotton Mather writes an account of what went on in Salem. This documentary presents the story he wrote.
Salem is a hotbed of controversy and fighting. Everyone in Salem seems to be angry with each other. Families fight over farmland. The church argues over a Pastor’s salary. The new pastor Samuel Parris shames the congregation for trying to raise his salary. What he does not know is that the town is going to be witch-hunting. The source of the bewitching is at his house. The girls of the household were convulsing, acting like something was biting them. At times they could not speak or see. The doctor concluded that the girls were bewitched.
Witchcraft is the reality in 17th Century America. Witches are as real as rocks and trees. Witches were nasty people who caused mischief and mayhem. If you did not treat a witch right, they may put a curse on your cattle. Being a witch was a crime punishable by death. In Salem, the hunt for witches is on.
Cotton Mather had written a book previously about a case of four children. It was a popular book. They were being attacked by a witch. Mather wrote about the accused: a woman named Goody Glover. Goody Glover seemed to have been Irish and could only speak Gaelic. At trial, they tried to get her to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Unfortunately, she could not and was eventually hanged as a witch.
Witchcraft had its roots in folk magic. There was a belief these people could heal people and animals and land fertility. However, this image was changed and people believed that witches made deals with the devil for powers. In Europe, witch-hunting was on. Supposed witches were put on trial and burned at the stake. However, as time progressed, governments changed their minds about witchcraft. Government officials wanted additional proof of witchcraft.
In Salem, the young girls are acting like something is bewitching them. This triggers a witch hunt in Salem. A neighbor suggests using witchcraft to find a witch. Tituba, Parris’ servant, confesses to being a witch. She had made a cake to find the witch. She fed the witch cake to a dog, who would help find the witch. Parris is not happy with that suggestion. He fasts and prays for the girls. However, this does not help the girls heal. The fits continued.
There are several theories as to why the girls suffered fits. One is that the girls were undisciplined and were afraid of going to hell. Another theory was poisoning. An additional theory was that it was ergot poisoning that caused the fits. The afflicted in Salem throw fits when there are visitors. Were the girls play-acting? This was a dangerous risk to the girls because they could be accused of witchcraft and be hanged. So were the girls faking their symptoms?
To continue to learn about the Salem Witch Trials, keep watching this documentary.
This would be a good documentary to show in an American History classroom. If you have a sub in the room, then feel free to have the sub show this documentary in the classroom.
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