Home Education 329 years later, the last Salem “witch”, who was not, was pardoned

329 years later, the last Salem “witch”, who was not, was pardoned


Boston (AP) – More than three centuries have passed, but the last Salem “witch” who was not, was officially pardoned …

Boston (AP) – More than three centuries have passed, but the last Salem “witch” who was not, was officially pardoned.

Massachusetts lawmakers on Thursday formally released Elizabeth Johnson Jr., clearing her name 329 years after she was convicted of witchcraft in 1693 and sentenced to death in the midst of a Salem witch trial.

Johnson was never executed, but she was not officially pardoned, like others, mistakenly accused of witchcraft.

Lawmakers agreed to reconsider her case last year after a curious civil law class in the eighth grade of North Andover High School took over her case and studied the legislative steps needed to clear her name.

Subsequent legislation introduced by State Senator Diana Disalio, a Democrat from Methuen, was included in the budget bill and approved.

“We will never be able to change what happened to victims like Elizabeth, but at least we can fix the record,” Disalia said.

In a statement, North Andover teacher Carrie LaPierre – whose students championed the law – praised the young people for taking on “a long-ignored issue of justice for this wrongly convicted woman.”

“Adopting this legislation will have an incredible impact on their understanding of how important it is to stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves, and how strong their voice really is,” she said.

Johnson is the last accused witch to be purged, according to “Massachusetts Bay Witches,” a group dedicated to the history and knowledge of the 17th-century witch hunt.

Twenty people from Salem and neighboring cities were killed and hundreds more accused during the rage of Puritan injustice that began in 1692, fueled by superstition, fear of disease and strangers, scapegoats and petty jealousy. Nineteen were hanged and one man was stoned.

Johnson was 22 years old when she was gripped by the hysteria of witch trials and sentenced to be hanged. This has never been the case: the then governor. William Phipps renounced punishment when the scale of gross judicial errors plunged into Salem.

Over the more than three centuries that followed, dozens of suspects were officially cleared, including Johnson’s mother, the minister’s daughter, whose sentence was eventually overturned.

But for some reason Johnson’s name has not been included in various legislative attempts to fix the record. As she was not among those whose trials were formally overturned, she was technically preserved. Unlike the other defendants, Johnson never had children and therefore had no descendants who could act on her behalf.

“Elizabeth’s story and struggle continue to resonate today,” said Disalia. “Although we have come a long way after the horrors of the witch trials, today women still too often feel that their rights are being challenged and problems are being rejected.”

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