The Diary of Samuel Sewall”
An English immigrant and son of a Puritan family, Samuel Sewall settled in the Province of Massachusetts Bay at a young age and eventually entered local politics. In 1692, he became one of nine judges serving the court of Oyer and Terminer and tasked with judging many of those accused of witchcraft in Salem. Sewall’s diary sketches some of the most famous episodes of the frenzied atmosphere but also some of the growing doubt about the guilt of the alleged witches. Sewall was one of the few to express regret publically about his role in condemning the innocent. Notably, Sewall would also lament slavery in his 1700 book The Selling of Joseph, one of the first antislavery publications in North America
April 11th 1692. Went to Salem, where, in the Meeting-house, the persons accused of Witchcraft were examined; was a very great Assembly; ëtwas awfull to see how the afflicted persons were agitated. Mr. Noyes prayíd at the beginning, and Mr. Higginson concluded. [In the margin], VÊ, VÊ, VÊ, Witchcraft.
May 24th 1692. First general Council, Saltonstall, Major Gedny, Walley, Hutchinson,
Lothrop, Alcot, Sewall took their Oaths together, presently after Major Appleton took his. Justices of the Peace were nominated for the Province.