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Witchcraft conviction overturned after 329 years — Analysis

Massachusetts’ 1692 Salem Witch Trial was axed by her school class and a teacher from the same school.

After a campaign by a teacher at school and her students to get rid of the name of the mentally ill woman who was condemned in the Salem Witch Trials, the US state Massachusetts overturned an earlier witchcraft conviction. 

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has signed the $53 billion state budget bill, which exonerates Elizabeth Johnson Jr at 22 years old. It comes just 329 year after Elizabeth Johnson was accused by her of being a witch.

Johnson Jr. was one of over 200 suspects in witchcraft practices during the Salem Witch Trials (1692-1693). The trial, which was fueled by paranoia, fear of diseases, and superstitions saw 19 people executed and one victim crushed by rocks. Johnson was sentenced along with 10 others for witchcraft. But, Governor William Phips issued an order in 1693 to stop executions. Johnson Jr., who was 77 years old, died on 1747.

Johnson Jr., one of many women who were accused as witches in the trial, has since been cleared. Johnson Jr., however, was still excluded, possibly because she had no descendants.




That prompted civics teacher Carrie LaPierre and her students at North Andover middle school to launch a campaign to clear the woman’s conviction, aided by state senator Diana DiZoglio who helped champion the cause and ultimately included the motion in the state’s annual budget bill.

LaPierre told the New York Times that she got the idea while she and her class were covering the notorious witch hunt as part of the school’s yearly curriculum. 

She realized that Johnson was not one of the many women or men found guilty in Salem by city officials.

They petitioned the local legislator about the possibility of having the ruling reversed. The group finally reached out to the Massachusetts State Senator DiZoglio.

DiZoglio gave evidence to the Senate about the May case, saying ‘We will never be able to change what happened to victims like Elizabeth but at the very least can set the record straight.”

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