What were the political and economic causes of the Salem Witch Trials?

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During the Salem witch trials, which occurred in 1692 and 1693, twenty people were executed, out of over two hundred people who had been accused of practicing witchcraft. The mass hysteria that gripped Salem Village and provoked such extreme behavior was caused by a combination of religious, political, and economic conditions prevalent in that place at that time.

Although New England had been colonized by refugees looking for the freedom to establish societies based upon Biblical principles, their views, in fact, were extremely intolerant and superstitious. Their beliefs included a certainty that the devil existed and could give people the power to harm others. They assumed that the quarrels, political turmoil, economic uncertainties, and other difficulties they faced were the work of the devil.

As far as political context, at the time, the northeastern American colonies were in the midst of a war between England and France known as King William's War. This caused a flood of refugees to...

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