The Salem Witch Trials

Kei Quinal

Reading — Advanced Level
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The infamous Salem witch trials began during the spring of 1692, after a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft.

Belief in the supernatural–and specifically in the devil’s practice of giving certain humans (witches) the power to harm others in return for their loyalty–had emerged in Europe as early as the 14th century, and was widespread in colonial New England.

As a wave of hysteria spread throughout colonial Massachusetts, a special court convened in Salem to hear the cases; the first convicted witch, Bridget Bishop, was hanged that June. Eighteen others followed Bishop to Salem’s Gallows Hill, while some 150 more men, women and children were accused over the next several months.

By September 1692, the hysteria had begun to abate and public opinion turned against the trials. Though the Massachusetts General Court later annulled guilty verdicts against accused witches and granted indemnities to their families, bitterness lingered in the community, and the painful legacy of the Salem witch trials would endure for centuries.
  1. The Salem Witch Trials started because of   .

  2. Which of the following is the CLOSEST answer as to why people wanted to kill witches?

  3. Males were exempted in the Salem Witch Trials.

  4. How did the leaders of Salem address the problem of witchcraft?

  5. The people of Salem were fully supportive of the witch trials.


Practice your writing skills by discussing the questions below

  1. Do you believe in the existence of witches? Why or why not?

  2. What do you think brought an end to the Salem Witch Trials?

  3. Why do you think were women often accused of witchcraft instead of men?

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      • (abated) to become weaker : to decrease in strength
      • (accused) to blame (someone) for something wrong or illegal : to say that someone is guilty of a fault or crime
      • (annulled) to say officially that something is no longer valid : to make (something) legally void
      • (convened) to come together in a group for a meeting
      • a situation in which many people behave or react in an extreme or uncontrolled way because of fear, anger, etc.
      • a promise to pay for the cost of possible damage, loss, or injury
      • well-known for being bad : known for evil acts or crimes
      • (lingered) to continue to exist as time passes
      • the examination before a judicial tribunal to determine a person's guilt or innocence
      • an official statement or decision saying that a crime has been committed but not naming a criminal or saying that there has been a death but not naming the cause of death


    From English
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