In the essay “Devil In Salem Village” from Portrait of America, Edmund S. Morgan describes the terror that had spread through Salem, Massachusetts, when the locals were convinced that many of the women living in the city were in fact witches. In this essay Morgan outlines the factors that ultimately led to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Morgan starts with how the Massachusetts Bay colony was founded by the Puritans in 1630 as a model Christian community. However, by 1680, the Puritan movement was perilously in danger of losing its following. Many of the youngsters had become “increasingly preoccupied with material pleasures and comfort” (Morgan, 45), straying away from the beliefs and lifestyles of their parents. Women around Boston and Salem started to be accused of witchcraft when King James II tried to become the ruler of the colony once again. By 1685, the insecurities of the people continue to grow while the youngsters continued “frolicking in taverns rather than going to church” (Morgan, 48). There was no such thing as psychology in 1692, the year in which the Salem witch trials took place. The Puritans were fiercely convinced that the Devil was responsible for any behavior that was eccentric; mad, out of place, and strange. This was among the factors that drove the people of Salem to believe that witches were among them, as Morgan has outlined in this essay. Salem authorities began assuming that occurrences within the city from young girls performing love spells to other bizarre behavior among the women were a result of witchcraft. All of this ultimately led to a witch hunt. Women were unfairly accused of witchcraft, arrested and executed. Morgan describes the explicit details of how the witch hunt began and its aftermath. Twenty apparent “witches” were executed during the Salem Witch Trials during those two terrorizing years. Indeed, the trials had been unjust, and the Puritans had no solid proof, other than spectral evidence, that the accused were indeed witches. It was simply the illogical belief of the Puritans that Satan was behind anything that was out of the ordinary that led to the deaths of innocent women, and Morgan has described it all quite well in his essay.
Oates, S. B., & Errico, C. J. (2012). “Devil In Salem Village.” Portait of america. (10 ed., Vol. 1). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.