DBQAmericans in the colonial period were primarily concerned
with matters of religion and conscience.In every aspect of
their society, religion and morality was one of the first things
that came into focus.
In 1688, a group of Quakers voted in favor of a resolution
against slavery. Their reason for doing this was that slavery
was bad enough for any human being to partake in, let alone
Christians like themselves. The Quakers were a
non-discriminatory group of people who believed in religious as
well as personal freedom.
In New England schools, religion and death were the two
principal themes mentioned the most in textbooks. By stressing
religion in school, it was hoped that children would follow the
right path to their deliverance. They also told children the
truth about death, and that it was cruel and could come at any
moment in their lives. Again, religion was thrust into young
peoples minds, pressuring them into thinking about their own
salvation, before it was too late.
The Puritans were also another group in early America who
came to the new world to escape the ways of Europe and to start
a new life. They believed that the Universe was God-centered,
and that man was inherently sinful and corrupt, rescued from
damnation only by discretionary divine grace. They felt they
were duty-bound to do God’s will which they could understand
best by studying the Bible and the universe which God had created
and which he controlled.
The Puritans are known most for their involvement in the
Salem Witch Trials. The Salem Witch Trials began when two young
girls, Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, began playing with
magic. After strange things began to happen during their
meddlings, they fell ill. Sometimes they would stare into empty
space, choke and cough, or get on their knees and bark as if they
were animals. After doctors diagnosed that the “evil hand” had
touched the girls, their ministers pressured them to confess who
was responsible. More local girls, many of whom were friends of
Abigail or Betty, also starting having fits. Eventually the
girls identified the culprits. During the trials of Sarah Good
and Sarah Osborne (the first two “witches” accused), the entire
community immersed itself in the situation. Many explanations
exist to interpret what exactly happened to the girls, but the
most apparent explanation is that the girls were victims of
conversion hysteria. They were so swamped in the superstitions of
the community that they became convinced that evil forces had
bewitched them. These mental stresses would then convert into
physical manifestations. It can not be said that all of the
“afflicted” were hysterical, as some were most likely faking in
order to get attention or to justify the problems of the
community. The Puritans were merciful to the repenters, but
executed those who refused to do so.
Americans during the colonial period were concerned
primarily with matters of religion and conscience. The Quakers,
Puritans, and even schools all focused their lives around
religion and what they thought was right or wrong. They were all
very opinionated, and stood their ground firmly when presenting
an argument about why they thought their ideas and beliefs were


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