Nearly 330 years after the infamous Salem witch trials, the Massachusetts Senate has voted to clear the name of the last victim who has yet to be exonerated.
The State House News Service (SHNS) reported Thursday that during the $50 billion budget debate, the Senate passed an amendment by Sen. Methuen Diana DiZoglio that added Elizabeth Johnson Jr. to the resolution officially erasing the names people wrongly accused of witchcraft during trials. .
“Although we have come a long way since the horrors of the witch trials, women today still too often see their rights challenged and their concerns dismissed,” DiZoglio told the news service.
“There continue to be great injustices, with attacks on women and on the rights of marginalized populations. It was unacceptable then and it remains unacceptable now that she and other women have been deemed unworthy of the dignity and respect they deserve.
According to SHNS, Johnson lived in what is now North Andover and was 22 when she was convicted in 1693. She was not executed, but her name was never officially cleared.
Johnson was one of more than 170 people accused of witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and 1693, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Of the defendants, 19 were hanged and one man was crushed to death.
Historians now cite mass hysteria and xenophobia as the cause of the trials, which remain the largest and deadliest witch hunt in the United States, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
SHNS reported that a 1957 state legislation and a 2001 amendment formally pardoned most of the victims, but somehow Johnson was not included, and historians are unsure why.
The effort to clear her name was started last year by teacher Carrie LaPierre’s North Andover Middle School eighth grade class. They urged DiZoglio to introduce legislation to clear Johnson’s name.
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