After almost 376 years, the bad spell that befell the innocent people accused of being witches during the US’s colonial period is over.
Connecticut last week passed a resolution exonerating people tried and executed for witchcraft nearly four centuries after their so-called crimes.
State senator Saud Anwar, who introduced the resolution, said the gesture was “righting a wrong that has stood in Connecticut’s history for centuries”.
“We cannot go back in time and prevent the banishment, tarnishing or execution of the innocent women and men who were accused of witchcraft, but we can acknowledge the wronghoods they faced and the pain they felt, pain still recognized by their survivors today,” Anwar said.
The resolution resulted from the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project, whose participants became disenchanted by what had been state lawmakers’ failure to apologize for the fate suffered by many convicted of witchcraft.
Passed by a vote of 33-1, the resolution made clear that the state legislature recognized the residents of colonial Connecticut were falsely accused.
The witch trials of colonial America in the 16th and 17th centuries, including the most famous proceedings in Salem, Massachusetts, saw hundreds of people accused of practicing witchcraft and associating with the devil, casting them out of their societies and tarnishing their family names. Many were ultimately tortured and hanged to death.
In Europe, an estimated 50,000 people were executed in witch-hunts between the 15th and 18th centuries.
At least 34 people were indicted for practicing witchcraft in the Connecticut witch trials. Eleven people were hanged.
One of the victims of the Connecticut witch trials was Alice “Alse” Young, who left behind a seven-year-old daughter when she was hanged. Young was a botanist accused of using witchcraft to create a pandemic that killed children in the town of Windsor.
For some of the descendants of these victims, the resolution brought relief.
Hartford resident Susan Bailey, Young’s ninth-great-granddaughter, told the Washington Post: “It doesn’t matter that it was so long ago; it was somebody’s life that was taken unjustly. It may not help her in the afterlife, but maybe it will. But the relatives of hers that know about her terrible death … will gain some peace from it. It will help the healing process.”
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