The Salem Witch Trials

The Salem Witch Trials

History will never die, but it is our job to make sure we do not make the same mistakes from our past.

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The term witch hunt has been defined as: a searching out for persecution of persons accused of witchcraft. In today's society, we no longer see that term being used for witchcraft but more so politically in a reasoning for harassment.

The most well-known "witch hunt" that took place in the United States was during the spring of 1692 in Salem Village, Massachusetts. A group of young women claimed that they had been possessed by the Devil and women in their village were practicing witchcraft. This accusation rippled into mass panic throughout the village, leading up to the events we know now as the Salem Witch Trials.

These trials took place during February of 1692 to May of 1693 - resulting in the death of 20 women while over 200 women were accused of practicing witchcraft. While these trials are in the past, we are still being faced with "witch-hunts" to this very day in our modern society.

In 1689, William III and Mary II, English rulers of the time, started a war with France in the American colonies. This was known as King William's War to colonists and it devastated areas around upstate New York, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. This sent refugees into the country of Essex and, specifically, Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Since people from these damaged lands were trying to find a haven, it also resulted in a major decrease in sources for Salem Village. Due to the high amounts of stress created through the village, townsfolk began to grow aggravated with each other. One thing lead to another and soon the Puritan villagers began to believe that this was the work of the Devil.

Since townsfolk were already on edge with one another, it became easier for those to believe that others in town were practicing witchcraft, blaming the accused for anything wrong that came their way - and it didn't stop there. By January of 1692, the daughter and niece of Salem Village's minister, Samuel Parris, were growing sick, and accusations flew through the roof. Parris' daughter, Elizabeth – otherwise known as Betty, and Abigail, began having fits that included violent contortions and screaming outbursts.

A local doctor, William Griggs, diagnosed both girls with bewitchment, along with other young girls in the community showed similar symptoms. These young girls were Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard, Mary Walcott, and Marry Warrant. In late February, arrest warrants were issued for the Parris' Caribbean slave, Tituba, along with two other women–the homeless beggar Sarah Good and the poor, elderly Sarah Osborn–whom the girls accused of bewitching them. The three women that were accused of practicing witchcraft were brought to civilian officers, Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne, for questioning.

While Good and Osborn denied that they were witches, Tituba confessed. Tituba described in detail images of black dogs, red cats, yellow birds, and a "black man" who wanted her to sign his book. Tituba admitted that she signed the book and said there were several other witches looking to destroy the Puritans. All three women were put in jail.

The thing that truly made the Salem Witch Trials so gut-wrenching were the tests done to the accused. The most well-known tests done were the swimming test, prayer test, and the witch's mark. All tests were done to prove whether or not the accused were really a witch or not, and the tests were usually extremely unfair. When it came to the swimming test, the accused were tied to a chair and thrown into the lake.

It was believed that if you were a witch, you would float, but if you were innocent, you would sink. The majority of the time, it ended with the accused sinking to the bottom of the lake, many not surviving despite the rope tied around their waist. When it came to the prayer test, if the accused slipped even in the slightest way possible, they were deemed a witch and burned to death.

The witch's mark was a flaw on the body that only a "witch" could have, or so the townsfolk thought. If the accused had a mole, scar, extra nipple, or even a birthmark, they were sentenced to death as a witch. As you can see, these tests were extremely unfair and led to far too many deaths that were not needed whatsoever.

The newly appointed governor of Massachusetts, William Phips, established the special Court of Oyer and Terminer (hear and determine) witch cases on May 27th of 1692. This determined the fate of accused witches in Suffolk, Essex, and Middlesex counties. The court consisted of eight judges; Jonathan Corwin, Bartholomew Gedney, John Hathorne, John Richards, William Stoughton (Chief Magistrate), Samuel Sewall, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Peter Sergeant, and Waitstill Winthrop.

The first case this special court had to judge was that of Bridget Bishop, an older woman in town. Bishop was later found guilty and on June 10, the first hanging occurred in what later would be known as Gallows Hill. Five days later, minister Cotton Mather wrote a letter that pleaded the court to not accept testimonies that related around dreams and visions.

The court would not listen and five people were sentenced and hanged in July, five more in August and eight in September. On October 3, following in his son's footsteps, Increase Mather, then president of Harvard, denounced the use of spectral evidence. In January 1697, the Massachusetts General Court declared a day of fasting for the tragedy of the Salem witch trials. The Court of Oyer and Terminer was later found to be unlawful when it came to trials.

While the witch hunt did finally come to an end, the painful memory of those killed lasted forever. Fortunately, the heirs of townsfolk would not have to live the way they had to – suffering to find food and deal with constant accusations over religion and witchcraft. The town never did return to how it originally started, the damage of the trials being too overwhelming for others to ignore but in the end, Salem Village survived the mass hysteria.

We are no longer burning accused "witches" at the stake, yet witch hunts are still a very common thing to this day. In politics, people can become very nasty with one another – targeting anyone that disagrees with their ideas. It is cruel and shows how little we have moved forward in history. We see witch hunts between white officers and innocent black community members, cis-gender men and women targeting transgender men and women, and most of all – our very own president.

Many bystanders could say that these "witch hunts" are nowhere near as cruel as they were back in Salem, but those who are being accused, much like the witches of Salem, are fearing for their lives just like the accused were in the 1600s. History will never die, but it is our job to make sure that we do not repeat the same mistakes from our past.

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The 10 Most Important Things You Need To Know About Relationships

Without communication, there is no relationship; without respect, there is no love; and without trust, there is no reason to continue.
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When you see an old couple holding hands or sharing romantic kisses while sitting on a park bench, doesn't that spark warm feelings of love and happiness in your heart? Doesn't it make you think about how they maintained their relationship for so many years when couples you know have trouble making it past six months? And of course, some people are not made for each other and so their relationship just simply doesn't work. But then there are couples who give up the minute an obstacle comes along, which makes you think their relationship wasn't truly important to them in the first place. What everyone has to understand in order to preserve a strong, happy, and prosperous relationship is that love is colorful, and the same kind of love doesn't exist for everyone. Being in a loving relationship that continues to thrive, I'm going to share some of the few things that I believe should exist between two lovers who want to sustain their prosperous relationship.

1. Communication

Communicating with your partner is essential. I'm sure you've heard it before, but communication is key. If something is bothering you or what your partner wants to do isn't what you're interested in, say something! Neither you nor your partner are mind readers, so how are they supposed to know how you feel if you keep your feelings bottled up inside? Not speaking up and communicating your ideas, feelings, desires, and wants is unhealthy because one day you might blow up and say some things you'll either regret or feel sorry for saying. Communicate to find a middle ground in your relationship because it's unfair for one person to constantly accommodate the other. Relationships cannot grow without communication, so don't be afraid to speak your mind and embrace your thoughts.

2. Trust and Honesty

A relationship cannot continue without trust and honesty. By being honest with your partner, they have no reason to doubt you or not trust you. Trust is vital in a strong and successful relationship because you don't want to think twice about what your partner says or does. Almost anything can be acceptable in a relationship as long as you're honest with your partner. Being in a relationship doesn't mean that everything else in your life has to change. You can still see your friends, go out, and be your own person, but be honest with your partner with whatever you do because by hiding something from them, you might be giving them the perfect reason not to trust you.

3. Forgiveness

No relationship is perfect. That's because none of us are perfect. People make mistakes in everyday life in the same way that people make mistakes in relationships. Of course, there are some things that are unforgivable, such as cheating on your partner (at least in my eyes), because it means that your relationship didn't mean much to you anyway. But, most things can be forgiven. Forgiveness is extremely important and necessary in a relationship because we have to accept and be reminded that we aren't perfect. So if I bailed on you because something important came up or you had a bad day at work and said some things to me that should have been directed at someone else out of anger, it's okay. Sometimes all it takes is a simple I'm sorry and I forgive you.

4. Respect and Appreciation

Without respect and appreciation, there is no love. How can you disrespect the one you love and care for? Exactly: it's hard to find an answer. Respect is the foundation of a healthy relationship. Respect your partner by choosing your words carefully, honoring boundaries, being willing to compromise, showing consideration, and protecting your partner. Make sure you're being respected by knowing your worth, acting honorably, setting and upholding boundaries, being a man or woman of your word, and showing respect for yourself. Appreciate your partner for who they are, the things they do for you, the support they give you, and the growth that they contribute in building your own identity.

5. Emotional Support

Real men don't cry is a load of bullshit. I have been blessed to be surrounded by a few strong and courageous men in my life who I've seen shed a tear or cry when losing a loved one or simply out of pure happiness. We all have emotions and though we try to hold them in check, those emotions sometimes boil over. In relationships, it's important to show emotional support for your partner, regardless if they are a man or a woman. So when your partner is going through a tough time or is struggling for whatever the reason might be, stray away from the pathetic Be A Man go-to phrase and be their shoulder to lean on. If your partner knows that you're emotionally there for them, they might have an easier time opening up to you in the future.

6. Humor

Sharing laughs and smiles with the one you love is extremely important. After all, being in a relationship is sharing your life with someone you care for, cherish, and have fun with. Being able to joke around and laugh with one another is extremely healthy for your well-being and the relationship. It's not just about fun and games, but it's also no fun to be so serious and stern about everything. Keep your relationship alive with some humor, adventure, and daily laughs to see the smile of your loved one!

7. The Magic of Small Things

The small things in life are actually not that small. There are times where the smallest deed can make someone the happiest and that's usually because the small things are the most thoughtful ones. Preparing breakfast when your partner is too tired or surprising them with an iced caramel latte on their way home from work can be enough to make their day. The small things really do count and they are remembered more than you might think. There's something magical in knowing that your partner feels appreciated and happy that they have the privilege of calling you mine. And the small things can do just that.

8. Sharing Interests

Having things in common with the one you love and sharing interests with your partner is perfect because neither one of you need to accommodate the other! There will be days where both you and your partner will not want to do the same things and a middle ground will have to be met, but sharing interests makes it easier when looking for fun things to do and finding things to talk about! Having a few similar interests like bike riding or playing football allows you and your partner to have your "thing," the thing that brings you two together. Liking similar things is also a perfect conversation starter, but also talking about your dislikes and things that you don't agree on can spark an intense and even more enticing conversation!

9. Celebrate Achievements

The happiness you feel because of your own achievements should be the same feeling you get when your partner accomplishes something they've been striving for, no matter how little it may be. Whether it be winning the Noble Peace Prize, having a 4.0 GPA, or hitting a new record at the gym, no achievement should go unnoticed. Being proud of your partner's achievements can strengthen your relationship and bring the both of you closer together.

10. Love and Affection

Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life. This might strike you at first, but what's the point of being successful, rich, happy or really anything else if you have nobody to share it with? Love is one of life's greatest gifts. It brings people together and allows them to build a life that some can only dream of. But sometimes love is not enough to maintain a prosperous and healthy relationship. That's because relationships aren't easy, people are so different from one another, and relationships take much effort and patience. But in the end, if you don't have love in a relationship, you really don't have anything. Take the time to show your partner some affection, to make alone time a priority. The kisses, hugs, and even sex is something that in the end does make a relationship healthy. But without love, all of that means nothing.

Every relationship struggles, but only strong relationships get through it. Take the time to focus on these ten things that are important in keeping the love alive and feelings between you and your partner strong. And most importantly, remember that no one falls in love by choice; it's by chance, and no one falls out of love by chance--it's by choice.

Cover Image Credit: Marika Cygert

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8 Types Of People Fetuses Grow Into That 'Pro-Lifers' Don't Give 2.5 Shits About

It is easy to fight for the life of someone who isn't born, and then forget that you wanted them to be alive when you decide to hate their existence.

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For those in support of the #AbortionBans happening all over the United States, please remember that the unborn will not always be a fetus — he or she may grow up to be just another person whose existence you don't support.

The fetus may grow up to be transgender — they may wear clothes you deem "not for them" and identify in a way you don't agree with, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them a mentally unstable perv for trying to use the bathroom.

The fetus may grow up to be gay — they may find happiness and love in the arms of someone of the same gender, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them "vile" and shield your children's eyes when they kiss their partner.

The fetus may grow up and go to school — to get shot by someone carrying a gun they should have never been able to acquire, and their life will mean nothing to you when your right to bear arms is on the line.

The fetus may be black — they may wear baggy pants and "look like a thug", and their life will mean nothing to you when you defend the police officer who had no reason to shoot.

The fetus may grow up to be a criminal — he might live on death row for a heinous crime, and his life will mean nothing to you when you fight for the use of lethal injection to end it.

The fetus may end up poor — living off of a minimum wage job and food stamps to survive, and their life will mean nothing to you when they ask for assistance and you call them a "freeloader" and refuse.

The fetus may end up addicted to drugs — an experimentation gone wrong that has led to a lifetime of getting high and their life will mean nothing to you when you see a report that they OD'd and you make a fuss about the availability of Narcan.

The fetus may one day need an abortion — from trauma or simply not being ready, and her life will mean nothing to you as you wave "murderer" and "God hates you" signs as she walks into the office for the procedure.

* * *

Do not tell me that you are pro-life when all of the above people could lose their lives in any way OUTSIDE of abortion and you wouldn't give 2.5 shits.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is gay or trans, you will berate them for who they are or not support them for who they love.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is poor or addicted, you will refuse the help they desperately need or consider their death a betterment of society.

You fight for the baby to be born, but when the used-to-be-classroom-of-fetuses is shot, you care more about your access to firearms than their lives.

It is easy to pretend you care about someone before they are even born, and easy to forget their birth was something you fought for when they are anything other than what you consider an ideal person.

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