The Accounts of the Salem Witchcraft and Massachusetts Bay Colony Case Against Anne Hutchinson Trials
The Massachusetts Bay Colony Case Against Anne Hutchinson and Accounts of the Salem Witchcraft Trials are both accounts of cases that are being held in colonial times. The Massachusetts case is about a charge against Anne Hutchinson for practices and beliefs deemed threatening to the stability of church and commonwealth. Hutchinson was conducting meetings at her residence which entailed her attacking doctrinal premises, denouncing ministers in her community, and her inclination to mysticism. The trial is composed mostly of the prosecution questioning her about the details of the meetings such as , “Why do you keep a meeting at your house as you do every week upon a set day?” (Shi Mayer 26). The prosecution keep pressuring her into admitting guilt of the charges with these constant questions about very specific details about her meetings. Towards the end of the trial she starts to justify her actions by comparing herself to Abraham in the sense that they were both spoken to by God. The trial ends with her being found guilty of the charges and being exiled. In the Accounts of the Salem Witchcraft Trials a summary of the hysteria that occurred during the Salem Witchcraft Trials is told. According to the passage 43 people were brought to trial for witchcraft. The accusers would often provide evidence such as being cursed by the defendant. By the end of the trial many people were pressured into confessing guilt; however, of the 43 accused only eight were found guilty and prosecuted.
The authors point of view in The Massachusetts Bay Colony Case Against Anne Hutchinson is to recount what was said during the trial. The trial clearly shows the prosecutor’s attempt at forcing Hutchinson to admit guilt. It also provides Hutchinson’s reasoning as to why she held these meetings and why she felt right performing these meetings. The author’s point of view in Accounts of the Salem Witchcraft Trials is to show the evidence of satan’s work. The author was not so much providing an account of the trial as to show how the town itself was being influenced by the work of the devil. This is evident since the testimonies are the most ridiculous and far-fetched that are available. An example of this is shown in the account of Joseph Ring. “This man has been strangely carried about by Daemons, from one Witch-meeting to another, for near two years together; and for one quarter of this time, they have made him, and keep him dumb tho’ he is now again able to speak…” Although these articles are both about trials they do have some major differences and similarities.
The similarities between the two articles are that they are both accounts of trials and they both contained evidence of prosecutors attempting to force defendants into admitting guilt. The prosecutor that questioned Hutchinson consistently tried to pry incriminating details from Hutchinson through slight variations on questions about her meetings. The prosecutor during the Salem Witchcraft Trials successfully forced some defendants into admitting that they sold their soul to the devil. “When these Witches were Tried, several of them confessed a contract with the Devil, by signing his Book” (Shi Mayer 47). Obviously these people could not have signed a contract with the devil however the prosecutors beat into the defendants the belief that they were witches so much that the defendants started to believe it themselves. The difference between the two articles is that they both have different results. In the first article, the prosecutor successfully gets Hutchinson exiled. In the second article the prosecutor only successfully gets three people charged with the witchcraft. Both of these articles possess a significance in history.
The trial against Anne Hutchinson showcases the struggles of expressing freedom of speech and freedom of religion before the Bill of Rights was created. Since there were no rights protecting Anne to speak freely she was charged with threatening the stability of the commonwealth and church for simply expressing her dissatisfaction with the current way that the bible was being interpreted. The Salem Witchcraft Trial showed the danger of the mob mentality and the damage that it can cause. There was no factual evidence to support the charges. The testimonies consisted of speculation of coincidental circumstances and were probably exaggerated to further their case. For example this testimony by John Atkinson states, “he exchanged a Cow with a Son of Susannah Martin’s, whereat she muttered and was unwilling he should have it … She broke all the ropes that were fastened unto her and … yet she made her escape … and gave them such further trouble, as they could ascribe to no cause but Witchcraft.” (Shi Mayer 46) In today’s times this evidence would be unbelievable; however, in colonial times this evidence was seen as probable.. This also displayed the irrational fear and hysteria that these colonists had. These trials serve as an example of how hysteria and fear can result in unnecessary deaths. These articles are also part of U.S history being that the trials occurred during the colonial era.
The trial against Anne Hutchinson is a prime example for the reasoning behind the creation of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was created to protect U.S. citizens from these kinds of injustices. The first amendment seemed to have been written to protect Hutchinson in particular since it would have guaranteed her freedom of speech at her meetings, her freedom to assemble to have the meeting, and the freedom of religion so the charge of corrupting the church would have been lifted. The Salem Witchcraft Trial occurred in Massachusetts during colonial times. So it is United States history on the horrible events that transpired in the town of Salem in 1692.
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The Massachusetts Bay Colony Case Against Anne Hutchinson and Accounts of the Salem Witchcraft Trials are both accounts of cases that are being held in colonial times. The Massachusetts case […]