Mccarthyism Vs Salem Witch Trials

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Nowadays, America is the top country in the world. The U.S is to keep developing day by day. When someone talks about America, people know that as a big country, have good education, and strong economic. But how many people know about American’s history. How many people know what did America experience to be strong such as today. Before America becomes strong such as today, it has experienced throughout many crises. Some of events that led to death of many innocent people were The Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism.

Nowadays, every high school teach about The Salem Witch Trials. Everything began when Puritans moved to Salem- a town of Massachusetts. The reasons the Puritans moved to Salem because they wanted to practice their religion as free. Religion of Puritans was heavy influenced by the church and Christian beliefs. Their law was so harshly; that’s why if anyone did something strange or do not follow a strict moral code will regarded to against them. The Salem Witch Trials occurred from February 1692 to May 1693. It was happened when two girls named Betty and Abigail suddenly screamed, threw things and made some weird sounds. They covered their ears in church, and was trying to suicide by jumping into the fire. The local doctors could not find the reason so they blamed on supernatural and declared that witches was existing in Salem. In a book talks about this event is The Crucible was written by Arthur Miller.

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The book says everything begin because of a girl who named Abigail William. When she and her friends danced in the forest, her uncle was caught them and Petty- her cousin immediately fainted then never wake up. She was sleeping for age, even her uncle invited doctor comes to find the reason why she did not wake up yet, but the doctor could not find the reason. However, at that time, dance is committed sin in Salem. Because of fear, Abigail started to spread the rumor of witchcraft. She started to blame on others. Some facts said that because the girls want to harm people who they do not like. Furthermore, there were conflict between some wealthy families, so they take advantage of this rumor as an excuse to remove people they do not like. This rumor made everyone in Salem town scared. Especially, the people who lived in Salem have strongly believe in religion so they believe that Devil could give witches power to harm others to get their loyalty. Many innocent people- mostly women were accused because someone charged them on witchcraft.

People would accuse someone has some strange acts or as what they say is not following their rule, against God, they would bring them to the court to jail, asked them some stupid questions; and if they confessed they were witches, they worked for Devil, people would let them go. But if they were stubborn, not confessed that they’re witches, and people would hanged them. Many people were confessed to avoid punishment. So it meant they had no choice. The Trials were happening for a year until people stopped hunting for witches because they had lost their friends and their family. Another reason was because when the Trials start, it was target in the people in lower class so they did not have enough power to defend themselves, but they it was spreading out to upper class people. Everything had gone beyond the limit, it made the whole village became chaos. It reached the limit when someone accused Governor Phipps’ wife, so he decided to dissolve the court.

The term people used to called the reason for this event is “mass hysteria”. Mass hysteria is a phenomenon when the rumor is spreading out in society, whether real or imaginary, through a population in society as a result of rumors and fear. The reason why it impact people in Salem because at that time Salem people had stress from growing population and narrow opportunities for women to participate in society; King Charles II reviled the Massachusetts Bay’s charter as a result of not following the tariff, and navigation laws. Besides, the winter of 1692- 1693 was also harsh, it made they did not do well in cultivation. One of the most concrete studies, published by psychologists Linnda Caporael said that the reason of some strange acts because of the fungus ergot. Some scientists say that eating ergot food will lead to vomiting, paralyzed inability, and hallucinations. Also, the fungus thrives in warm and wet climates- not too unlike with the climate in Salem. But because of that time, people did not have enough knowledge to realize and understand it. So they started to believe in some things nonsense to cover their fears. Whenever a society feels threatened, the people may project their fears onto something else.

Arthur Miller stated in The Crucible (1953) that: “He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from here!” ( p. 145). This is an impressive quote and very meaningful to people who read the book realize that even John made Elizabeth disappointed, she still forgives him. That’s why she did not take his last chance to John saves his eternity. Another quote from the famous book about the Salem Witch Trials is “In 1692, The Massachusetts Bay Colony executed four teen women, five men, and two dogs for witchcraft” ( Schiff 3) . It describes how crazy this event was, they even accused animals being witchcraft. Everything was chaos, people could not distinguish between right and wrong. They did not care about moral, or dogma. They just accused whoever they want. They just cared about themselves and ignored the lives of others. They accused everybody as insane. Humans’ indifference is a terrible thing. The quote from a real victim and it is even engraved on the rock nowadays in Salem and be the popular place that visitors comes is “God knows I am innocent. I can deny wickedness. I do not plead guilty” Rebecca Nurse says. This quote expresses the despair of Rebecca.

Even when threatened to admit guilty, she was still stubborn and did not admit it because she knew she did nothing wrong and was not ashamed of herself. She believes that God knows it. One of the first victims to be accused of witchcraft said to Rev. Nicholas Noyes- a colonial minister at the time: “You’re a liar! I’m no more a witch than you are a wizard! If you take my life away, God will give you blood to drink!”- Sarah Good. Noyes died twenty years late, choking on his own blood. That message was show of her beliefs to God, and it was a her curse for Noyes before she was hanged. That curse became true was proven for her innocent, and integrity.

The horrors of history are passed on from generation to generation in the hope that they will never happen again. However, in the 1950s, history repeats itself. Meanwhile, The Salem Witch Trials was about witchcraft. The McCarthyism was about communism. McCarthyism happened during 1950-1954. It was the horrible time in America history. McCarthyism know as the Red Scare occurred in United States. Everything started because of Senator Joseph McCarthy. In a speech, he proclaimed that he was aware of two hundred fifty members of Communist Party was working in United States Department of States.

This speech was open the new era of paranoia and accusations of America. The reason why everybody was starting believe in what he says because at that time, during the World War II, when the USA and USSR ( Soviet Union) were allied against Hitler, some American communism actually spied for the Russians. There were fears of a nuclear holocaust based on the knowledge that the Soviet Union exploded its first A-bomb in 1949. That same year, China, the world’s most populous nation, became communist. Half of Europe was under Joseph Stalin’s influence, and every time Americans read their newspapers there seemed to be a new atomic threat. Besides, when the Cold War escalated and this espionage became known, domestic communism came to be seen as a threat to national security.

People accused victims by the nonsense ways such as if someone hung modern art on their walls, had a multiracial social circle, or signed petitions against nuclear weapons, they might just have been a communist. McCarthy exploited that to help his position, and his political party in the Sage Department. He became notorious by flaunting ever- changing lists of alleged communists. Egged on by other politicians, he continued to make outrageous accusations while distorting or fabricating evidence. People who were accused would put in jail if they were citizens, if they were not, they would be send back to their country. McCarthy made a big mistake. He charged communism are in CIA and U.S weapon industry. McCarthy’s wild accusations became a nuisance to Republican Part- the party that he was belong to. McCarthy was stubborn that he was right so the government decided to open the court about it. With the nonsense evidence, McCarthy lose. The McCarthy-Army hearings collapsed soon thereafter.

Both Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism are the horrible event that no one in America want to happen again. They have many similar things. In the book called “The Crucible” was written by Arthur Miller, he used the Trials as an allegory for the McCarthyism paranoia in the 1950s. The McCarthy Hearings were referred to as witch hunts because of their similarly to the Salem Witch Trials. McCarthy started McCarthyism as the group of girls started the Salem Witch Trials. He was like the group of girls, accusing innocent people of false acts. They both made everybody fall into fear due to the guilty until they confess attitude which ruled in the court. They grew mostly out of fear. They grew relentless in persecution of their opposing groups. Their persecution of the opposing party pretty much walked over the rights of the citizens.

The matter of fact was that legal infractions were held to smaller degree than supporting the opposing party. Neither of these two needed much evidence to make an accusation and the Salem Witch Trials most of the accusations were just based off of things that kids were seeing and in the United State, all people needed was a little bit of association from indirect people and they were in it. It was a very strange time and many people were upset with the type of persecution that was happening. It is also considered that a lot of innocent people were persecuted. Both events regarded the victims as scapegoats for all the problem, they also led to damage reputation forever. Another similar thing is McCarthy and Abigail both had strongly believe that they were doing the right things and they should keep doing that. Abigail and McCarthy also were highly respected in the beginning, but their reputations had become ruined by the ends of the events that had taken place.

These citizens had eventually downfall of the Trials and McCarthyism. Beside, The Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism were happening of mass hysteria, hysteria’s period. That is why many people were listening and believing in McCarthy as people in Salem were to the girls baselessly. McCarthy’s and the girls substantiated claim ruined lives and led to increased hostility. In McCarthy era many people lost their jobs, and were basically black mailed, and in the Salem Witch Trials many people were hanged, and lost their relatives. In both Puritans and McCarthyism, the desire to maintain a social order, based on the dominance of white, possessed wealth, was very strong. The last thing is era were also characterized by strong conformation and little overt dissent.

McCarthyism and The Salem Witch Trials had many similar things that does not mean they do not have different things. One different points that every one can see that the time it happened. McCarthyism occurred 1950-1954, while The Salem Witch Trials occurred about three hundred years ago (1692-1692). Beside, McCarthyism was the Trials happened between two political party and it was more about politics than religion as Salem Witch Trials. McCarthy accused people of being communists, whereas Abigail accused people of being witches. Another difference is some first people who were accused of being witches were“outsiders”of those who accused, and practiced evil because they were different. Some people were not used to some of the things different people did so they automatically figured they were associated with the Devil.

But in McCarthyism, some first people who were accused were “insiders”, people that were in the entertainment business and had relations, connections with many people. So those people were accused of being communist because they were part of a really huge and international industry. Besides, the one big difference thing between two events was their punishment. The severity of punishments was very much different landscape at the time. In McCarthyism, being in the U.S and being called a communist could result in jail time, blacklist from their occupation. Most of them came out with a bad reputation whether or not they denied it. It was very severe buttons, meanwhile, Salem took it up a notch being accused of witchcraft could result in immediate execution, hanging, burning by stake. An accusation of witchcraft was as goof as a ticket for death row at that time.       

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Mccarthyism vs Salem Witch Trials. (2021, Apr 19). Retrieved from