BOSTON (AP) — It took greater than three centuries, however the final Salem “witch” who wasn’t has been formally pardoned.
Massachusetts lawmakers on Thursday formally exonerated Elizabeth Johnson Jr., clearing her identify 329 years after she was convicted of witchcraft in 1693 and sentenced to loss of life on the top of the Salem Witch Trials.
Johnson was by no means executed, however neither was she formally pardoned like others wrongly accused of witchcraft.
Lawmakers agreed to rethink her case final 12 months after a curious eighth-grade civics class at North Andover Middle School took up her trigger and researched the legislative steps wanted to clear her identify.
Subsequent laws launched by state Sen. Diana DiZoglio, a Democrat from Methuen, was tacked onto a funds invoice and accredited.
“We will never be able to change what happened to victims like Elizabeth but at the very least can set the record straight,” DiZoglio mentioned.
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In an announcement, North Andover trainer Carrie LaPierre — whose college students championed the laws — praised the kids for taking up “the long-overlooked issue of justice for this wrongly convicted woman.”
“Passing this laws might be extremely impactful on their understanding of how essential it’s to face up for individuals who can not advocate for themselves and the way sturdy of a voice they really have,” she said.
Johnson is the last accused witch to be cleared, according to Witches of Massachusetts Bay, a group devoted to the history and lore of the 17th-century witch hunts.
Twenty people from Salem and neighboring towns were killed and hundreds of others accused during a frenzy of Puritan injustice that began in 1692, stoked by superstition, fear of disease and strangers, scapegoating and petty jealousies. Nineteen were hanged, and one man was crushed to death by rocks.
Johnson was 22 when she was caught up in the hysteria of the witch trials and sentenced to hang. That never happened: Then-Gov. William Phips threw out her punishment as the magnitude of the gross miscarriages of justice in Salem sank in.
In the more than three centuries that have ensued, dozens of suspects officially were cleared, including Johnson’s own mother, the daughter of a minister whose conviction eventually was reversed.
But for some reason, Johnson’s name wasn’t included in various legislative attempts to set the record straight. Because she wasn’t among those whose convictions were formally set aside, hers still technically stood. Unlike others wrongfully accused, Johnson never had children and thus had no descendants to act on her behalf.
“Elizabeth’s story and struggle continue to greatly resonate today,” DiZoglio mentioned. “While we’ve come a good distance because the horrors of the witch trials, ladies in the present day nonetheless all too typically discover their rights challenged and considerations dismissed.”
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