With City Hall behind you, please turn and look ahead and to your right along Washington Street. Where these buildings stand today, once stood a number of lots owned by prominent figures of 17th century Salem; Judge John Hathorne, and the Reverend Nicholas Noyes, among them. The Salem court house was located, roughly, just to the right of City Hall, across from the Masonic building.
In that court, Judges John Hathorne and Samuel Sewall would preside over the Salem Witch Trials, resulting in the executions of 19 innocent people. However, unlike Hathorne, Sewall would ultimately come forward to apologize, and to repent for his involvement in the Witch Trials. Sewall also spoke out against prejudice and violence against Native Americans. In 1700, with his essay,
The Selling of Joseph, Sewall would become an early and outspoken critic of the institution of slavery in America.
In 2007, Eve LaPlante, a descendant of Judge Sewall, authored the book, Salem Witch Judge: the Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall. LaPlante’s book was the winner of the 2008 Massachusetts Book Award, as well as Winslow House Book Award. This book is significant for its research into one of America’s most famous, albeit horrific, moments in history, and documenting a lesser-known figure who transcended a terrible history of fear and injustice.
Please proceed back to Essex St. Continue on to our next stop, on the right-hand side -- Wicked Good Books.