What is your impression of colonial society based on the American Yawp textbook

Section A: What is your impression of colonial society based on the American Yawp textbook?  How are some of the colonies different from others?  Share 3-4 specific examples you learned from the textbook.

The Rules of evidence were established by the judiciary to prevent court proceedings from degenerating into unfounded accusations, where public opinion and hysteria is substituted for credible evidence, as happened in the 1692 witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts.  Judge William Stoughton, who was a clergyman with no training in law, presided over the trials.  Nineteen people, mostly women, were sentenced to death for witchcraft on the basis of the most flimsy evidence, and most were executed.  Only one person was found innocent.

In his denunciation of the Salem court proceedings, Boston clergyman Increase Mather wrote that “It is better that ten suspected witches should escape than the innocent person should be condemned.”  Although Mather was a Puritan intellectual, still believed in the existence of witches, he also felt that human begins were unable to detect them through judicial means.  The impropriety of the Salem witch trials had a profound influence on the development of the American judicial system.  The public outrage elicited by these trials brought an end to the Puritan’s control of the courts in Massachusetts and are reflected in the “ innocent until proven guilty” philosophy of today’s court system.

Section B: What is your reaction to the Salem Witch Trial Videos?  What are three things you learned that captured your attention?

Section C: Think of a time when you mistakenly accused someone, or were accused yourself, of a wrongdoing.  Discuss how applying the rules of evidence might have helped you, or the person who accused you, to make a better and fairer decision.

*Note: If you do not have your own example, ask a friend, relative, or co-worker and see if they have an experience you can share.

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