Should the government apologize for what happened in the Salem colony for what is described in "The Crucible"?Should the government apologize for what happened in the Salem colony for what is...

Should the government apologize for what happened in the Salem colony for what is described in "The Crucible"?

Should the government apologize for what happened in the Salem colony for what is described in "The Crucible"?

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sagesource's profile pic

sagesource | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Many of the persons concerned did apologize in public for their parts in the trial. About a decade after the executions, Judge Samuel Sewall admitted the court had been in error, and requested "to take the blame and shame of it, asking pardon of men." In 1709, some survivors of the witch trials applied for financial compensation, and this was approved in 1711. In October of 1711, charges were formally withdrawn against twenty-two of the thirty-one people who had been convicted in 1692; the rest of the charges were annulled in 1957 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  

The "Confession of Error" by the Salem witch trial jurors is an impressive document. Issued in January 1696, only four years after the trials, it reads in part,

We do therefore signify to all in general, and to the surviving sufferers in especial, our deep sense of, and sorrow for our errors, in acting on such evidence to the condemnation of any person. And we do hereby declare that we justly fear that we were sadly deluded and mistaken....and do humbly beg forgiveness....we also pray that we may be considered candidly and aright by the living sufferers as being then under the power of a strong and general delusion....

We do heartily ask forgiveness of you all whom we have justly offended....we would none of us do such things again on such grounds for the whole world.... 

(quoted in Robbins, Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, p. 448)

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

This is a question that should be on the discussion boards.

Should the government apologize to the victims of the Salem Witch Trials? Well, let's look at the facts.

The trials took place in 1692. If by "government" you mean the US, then the answer has to be a definite "no" because the United States did not yet exist.

The American colonies were under the governance of England. So does that mean Prime Minister Gordon Brown or Queen Elizabeth should apologize? Again, no. The people who settled the Salem colony were Puritans. They left England because they wanted to live by their own principles. What happened in Salem had nothing to do with the government of England.

So that leaves us with the Puritans. As far as I know, they're not around anymore--unless you count the Congregational Church.

If anybody needs to apologize for what happened at Salem, it was the people of that colony who allowed it to happen. They are long gone and have to make their apologies to a higher authority now!

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