The trials, and the ultimate executions, of many so-called witches in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 is one of the most widely known events in American history. In the past three centuries, historians have wrestled with those tragic events and have written as much about them as other seminal events in our nation's history, such the Revolutionary War. But, the Salem Witch Trials did not lead to a great transformation in our country, like the Revolutionary War or the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Despite this, the Salem Witch Trials have intrigued and fascinated us for centuries.
This course begins with a historical overview of the environment in Salem in 1692. An examination of the way life was like in Colonial Salem will provide a backdrop to the tensions and circumstances that led to so much unrest. We will then take a look at the specific series of events that led to the accusations of witchcraft and the beginning of the trials.
This course will also profile the people who accused others of witchcraft, and it will examine those accused of the crime. Careful attention will be paid to the legal proceedings used in the trials, how they were influenced by prominent members of society, and the roles played by the ministers and judges. This comprehensive course will conclude with a look at how the trials ultimately came to an end and examine the long-lasting effects they had in American history.