Samuel Sewall

(3049 words)
  • Oliver Scheiding (Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz )

Samuel Sewall is one of a number of important public figures of the colonial period. He is probably best known as one of the witch judges who helped sentence twenty people to death during the notorious Salem witchcraft trials (1691-1693). His penitence and deep contrition for the share he had in them later made him an advocate for human rights and a spokesman against the injustice of the institution of slavery. John Greenleaf Whittier remembered him as the “the Judge of the old Theocracy / Whom even his errors glorified” (1894, 67). Although he was closely related to the orthodox religious leaders of New England – foremost among them Increase and Cotton Mather – he took part in the reexamination of the ‘New England way’ in …

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Scheiding, Oliver. "Samuel Sewall". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 December 2008
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]