Salem, MA

Woman Pardoned for Being Convicted of Witchcraft 329 Years Ago

Andrei Tapalaga
Depiction of Salem Which Trial from the 17th century.Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

A woman from Massachusetts who is believed to be the last convicted witch in Salem has been pardoned. The state legislature voted to exonerate Elizabeth Johnson Jr., who in 1963 was found guilty of being a witch amid the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials

Johnson was never executed, but neither was she ever pardoned like others wrongly accused of witchcraft. During the 17th century, every woman who was seen as able to read or have more intellectual abilities were thought of as a witch by society. 

Legislation introduced by state Sen. Diana DiZoglio, a Democrat from Methuen, was tacked onto a budget bill and approved. The senator does acknowledge that this pardon does not change the history of what happened to victims like Johnson, but at least this bill will set historical records straight. 

“We will never be able to change what happened to victims like Elizabeth but at the very least can set the record straight,” (Quote by Sen. Diana DiZoglio)

Within the community of Massachusetts Bay, there are dedicated people who are devoted to the history of the 17th-century witch hunts. This supports their mission very much of accurately pointing out the truth behind many women who were falsely accused of witchcraft, as well as preserving the history for future generations. 

“For 300 years, Elizabeth Johnson Jr. was without a voice, her story lost to the passages of time,” (Quote by Sen. Joan Lovely, of Salem)

This was not the first time people tried to set the records straight with Johnson’s case. The first attempt was in 1712 when Elizebeth Johnson Jr. herself submitted an exoneration petition to the Massachusetts court, but her request was never heard. 

Another person was tried in 1957, but yet again the exoneration was excluded from a legislative resolution. After 329 years, the issue has been solved and justice has been preserved. 

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