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Compare and contrast the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism.

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nmuulak | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted February 5, 2012 at 7:27 PM via web

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Compare and contrast the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism.

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted February 6, 2012 at 7:01 AM (Answer #1)

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The connection between Salem in 1692 and McCarthyism during the 1950's was primarily due to Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Miller wrote the play as a response to what he viewed as a 'modern' day witch hunt. Led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, the House Committee on Un-American Activities sought to weed out and expose so-called communist sympathizers in the U.S. Although Miller researched several historical records of the 1692 trials, the similarities between the destructive trial of Martha Carrier and those 'blacklisted' by the House Committee can not be denied.  In the The Crucible those in power in the Salem hierarchy used their political position to impose fear within the Salem turning neighbor against neighbor and destroying lives. Ironically, according to Miller, the hearings led by Senator McCarthy had the same agenda; discrediting the reputations of some in order to instill fear in others.

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 5, 2012 at 7:49 PM (Answer #2)

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This is a really a good comparison. Both The Salem Witch trials and the era in which Joseph McCarthy was in influence are unfortunate times in history. They both had many things in common, but I will name only two of them.

First, they both accused people of certain things without grounds for evidence. In the Salem Witch trials (1692-1693), people were accused of being witches and many were hanged. In the 1940-1950's people were accused of being sympathetic to and involved with communism. Again these people were accused without much evidence. All of this was an example of mass hysteria.

Second, the upshot of all of this was that innocent people were persecuted all because of fear. Civil liberties were also called into question. Indeed, these were dark days for America.

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