From 1945 to around 1952, America endured the Red
Scare. The Red Scare, the hunt for Communists, was epitomized in
the McCarthy trials when many innocent citizens were labeled as
Communists. In many ways, it resembled the notorious Salem
Witch Hunt of the 1690's. Both involved fear, prejudice, and a lack
of respect for civil rights.
The Salem witch hunt was centered in Salem,
Massachusetts during the 1690's. The thing most important about
this is the time--1690. In 1563, a little more than a century before
the witch hunts of the1690's, Queen Elizabeth legalized the killing
of witches. She made a law stating that the first offense was
punishable by pillory (public ridicule) but the second offense was
punishable by death. James I wasn't so lenient. He decided that on
the first offense, a witch must die.
At this time in America, the New England colonies were
recovering from a serious Native American uprising lead by the
Wampanoag tribe. The Wampanoags had come close to
eliminating the colonies in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode
Island until they were defeated in 1675. In the 1690s, the wartime
atrocities were vivid memories. Witchcraft and demon-worship
were central to the religion of several Native American tribes, and
had become a threat to the moral existance of the settlers. This was
a time when people believed magic worked and witches could kill
with spells. The settlers felt they were under attack again. All that
was needed was a spark, and the fire would be uncontainable.
The spark was Abigail, a Protestant girl around 17 years
old, who had an affair with John Proctor, an extremely attractive,
desirable man. She wanted his wife out of the way. She and her
friends were bored with their Protestant life. They thought it
needed a little spice. So they decided to go dancing naked in the
woods at night with Tituba, a Barbados slave who k...