by WorldTribune Staff, June 1, 2022
Although they did not have her physical presence to determine if she weighed the same as a duck and was therefore made of wood (see below), Massachusetts lawmakers have, 329 years later, determined that the last Salem woman convicted of being a witch was, in fact, not a witch.
Elizabeth Johnson Jr. was cleared of her 1693 witchcraft conviction by the Massachusetts state legislature on May 26. State Sen. Diana DiZoglio, who introduced the legislation to clear Johnson’s name in August, said: “It is important that we work to correct history.”
During the Salem witch trials 329 years ago, 19 convicted “witches” were hanged and a man was crushed to death with rocks, according to historians.
Johnson, convicted at age 22, had received a death sentence, but then-Gov. William Phips intervened and spared her life. Several convicted witches were exonerated in the years following, but Johnson was left out.
There is no record of if Johnson ever married or had children or when she died, but it is assumed to have been in the 1700s.
Johnson’s case was brought to the attention of lawmakers by eighth grade students at North Andover Middle School. Civics teacher Carrie LaPierre’s students researched what was necessary to accomplish their goal of getting a pardon for the convicted “witch.”
In a statement, LaPierre praised her students for their work on “the long-overlooked issue of justice for this wrongly convicted woman.”
DiZoglio credited the students in part for Johnson’s pardon, saying, “They are to be celebrated for stepping up to the plate and having the courage to be a voice for someone who hasn’t had a voice for so long.”