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{August 4, 2010}   Salem Witch Trials part 2

The evidence which was used at the time is no longer admissable in a court of law. The evidence that was provided at the trials were spectal evidence in which the accusers would provide testimony of seeing the specter of the accused. Another favored form of evidence was known as a touch test. This test involved the accused laying their hands on the accusers. If the accusers became well while being touched by the accused then it was thought that the accused was a witch.

One could say it is because of the Salem Witch trials that in modern American law, the accusers must provide evidence besides hearsay and that evidence must be beyond a resonable doubt. One could also say that it is also because of the witch trials that is now a risk to prosecution to put a young child who may be influenced by others on the stand. Trials now may be judged by a jury of peers instead of the local church leaders or town leaders. One can now claim the 5th amendment to remain silent and not incriminate themselves.

The punishment for witch craft during the Salem witch trials was hanging, however the exception was for one of the few men accused. Giles Corry was crushed to death by having stones placed on his chest after refusing to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty (http://www.salemwitchtrials.com/faqs.html). The punishment here in America was different than what the punishment was in Europe during the same time for the same crime. In Europe the punishment for being accused of witch craft was burning at the stake. The reason european countries punished accused witches with being burned to death was because in Europe it was considered heresy. In America however it was considered to be a felony (http://www.salemwitchtrials.com/faqs.html).

The Salem witch trials did impact the American socity in that the beliefs began to change in regard to witches. The correction of the errors made in regard to the accused began to change. On January 14,1697 a general court ordered a day of soul searching and fasting for the tragedy at Salem Village. In 1702 the trials were were declared unlawful. Nine years later in 1711 the colony passed a bll restoring the rights and good names of the accused along with providing restititution to the surviving heirs. In 1953 Author Millers’ “The Crucible” was proformed on Broadway. The play was based on the trials in Salem Village. However the play was a satyr on the McCarthyism of the day (http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/sal_cru.htm). However it was not until 1957. which was more than 250 years later, that the state of Massachusetts issued a formal apology for the witch trials (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/brief-salem.html?c=y&page=2). In August of 1992, which marked the 300th anniversary of the trials, the Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel dedicated the Witch Trials Memorial in Salem (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-acrhaeology/breif-salem.html?c=y&page=2).

As one can see the witch trials that took place in colonial Salem Village were a dark part of American history. The names of the accused have been cleared while the names of the accusers may be forever tarnished. The trials are as important to the American people of today aw they were for our founding fathers before us. Though witches may not exist in today’s society, the fear and mob mentality following various circumstances does. During the cold war of the 1950s America almost reverted back to the biased fear mongering ideas of the Salem Witch trials. In more recent history, Pesident Barrack Obama asked the american people th report “fishy” behavior of their neighbors, coworkers, and friends (http://www.aclj.org/News/Read.aspx?ID=3404). This move could have started yet another American witch hunt. It was a move that could have affected the 1st admendment right of free speech for the American people. The major problem was that once again a politician in Washington D.C. was attempting to bring fear to the American people to try and force them to go along with his agenda, just like senator McCarthy did in the 1950s. Witch hunts have been a part of american history for over 3 centery’s. They will continue to be apart of American society until we refuse to follow the leaders who attempt to raise fear and prejudice. It is important to my generation to not forget what these people went through because it is by these trials and accusations that we can see what blindness to truth could lead to. The deaths of innocent people is never easy to accept but it is by the bloodshed before us that we as a people can learn from the mistakes of others. The decenants of the accused remain intergal part of our society because they hold the key to the past. It is the descendants who live that remind us of what has transpired before our time. This story will not end until we as human beings make a vow to question what we are told is true. When we began to look at the evidence ourselves it will be then that we will come to know truth. It is important that we as a society remember the sacrifices made by the people of Salem Village,

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