Adelaide Avery is a young girl on a mission to obtain a posthumous pardon for her ancestress, who was hanged as a witch.
Mary Sanford was executed in Connecticut in 1662, accused of participating in Satan-worshipping rituals involving wine and a bonfire. Curiously, her name does not appear in the Espy file, generally considered the most thorough and all-encompassing roll of names of the executed in the United States. One historian who delved deeply into the records says there was some doubt about her fate. (For more on Connecticut's witch hunts, see Hartford's Witches.)
As her descendant, young Addie, recently told a Connecticut legislative committee: "This isn't something that just happened 350 years ago in some far-off place that doesn't relate to us whatsoever. The Witchcraft Trials happened right in Hartford and the surrounding areas, which are the founding cornerstones of the State of Connecticut. Whether or not the society at the time believed that this was right or wrong, or whether it was legal or illegal, we know now it was so wrong. I think this would be a great acknowledgement towards our past if we let it be known that present and future people of Connecticut realize that these people who were hanged were wrongly convicted."
The New York Times takes her campaign seriously, but some mock the effort. The snide commentary comes from far right-wing bloggers already troubled by requests that the government apologize for other egregious errors such as slavery, lynching, and the WWII internments of Japanese-Americans. Unbeknownst to the young Connecticut girl, she has touched a nerve already quite raw.
One essayist remarked that Addie Avery owes the public an apology.
Said another anti-ACLU blogger: "You’d be excused if you just rolled your eyes at the silliness of it all and you’d also be exhibiting the proper reaction to the whole business.... I see no reason to apologize... for something that hasn’t happened to anyone else for 300 years. "
The trouble, of course, is that it has happened to other "Satan worshippers" since then.
Does anyone care to take a guess when the last woman was arrested and/or convicted of witchcraft in the English-speaking world? (Take a guess.) The last witch convicted in the UK was Helen Duncan, who died in 1956 while in custody following her second arrest. For details, see The Mirror. The last female arrested in the US for witchcraft (as far as I can find, in a quick search) was in 1950 in Delaware.
And, as a matter of fact, a man was convicted of a Satanic murder two years ago in Ohio. A chief witness against him: an ordained exorcist who told the jury the murder was an occult ritual.
Do you, high-minded, educated, all-knowing, modern ladies and gentlemen, do you think there will never be another groundless arrest and conviction for witchcraft or Satanry or devil-worship in the United States ever again?!