The Puritans, who settled in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s, were a self-righteous group. Anyone who enjoyed recreational activities—the arts, the plays of Shakespeare, dancing, card playing, social events, and smoking—were considered damned.
To maintain a strong grip on their community, Puritan leaders poked their noses into the private affairs of their neighbors. Malicious gossip became a civic duty.
They showed a fanatical intolerance of other religions, particularly Catholicism. Quakers and Baptists were also maltreated and, of course, there were the executions for witchcraft.
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