The Connecticut State Senate voted Thursday to absolve 12 women and men who were convicted of witchcraft over 370 years ago, apologizing to distant family members for a ‘miscarriage of justice.’
At least 11 of the accused were executed in a 15-year period of Connecticut’s early history as a colony.
The Senate voted 33-1 in favor of a resolution that officially proclaimed their innocence.
It marked the culmination of years of effort by a group called the CT Witch Trial Exoneration Project, made up of history buffs and descendants.
Some of the descendants recently learned through genealogy testing that they were related to the accused witches and have since lobbied the state’s General Assembly to officially clear their names.
‘People can say we’re wasting our time this afternoon, maybe we could be doing other things,’ said Republican state Senator John Kissel, acknowledging early criticism of the legislative effort.
‘But I think it’s a small step to acknowledge our history and move forward together, Democrat, Republican, men and women into a brighter future.’
The resolution, which lists the nine women and two men who were executed and the one woman who was convicted and given a reprieve, already passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 121-30.
Because it’s a resolution, it does not require the governor’s signature.
Republican state Senator Rob Sampson cast the lone no vote on Thursday.
He said it was wrong and childlike to suggest ‘somehow we have a right to dictate what was right or wrong about periods in the past that we have no knowledge of.’
‘I don’t want to see bills that rightfully or wrongfully attempt to paint America as a bad place with a bad history,’ Sampson added.
‘I want us to focus on where we’re going, which is a brighter and better future. And I don’t want to see anyone try and put a stain on the country that I love.’
Advocates of the resolution argued it’s important to raise public awareness about the witch trials in Connecticut, which occurred decades before the infamous Salem witch trials in Massachusetts.
‘It’s important to right the wrongs of the past so we learn from them and move on and not repeat those mistakes,’ said Joshua Hutchinson, of Prescott Valley, Arizona, who traced his ancestry to accused witches in Salem and is the host of the ‘Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast.’
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