The Apology of Ann Putnam, Jr. (1706)
Many of the young girls who made accusations in the Salem witch trials apparently moved away from Salem when they became adults. Records do not indicate, however, what happened to Abigail Williams, Elizabeth Hubbard, Susannah Sheldon, or Mary Warren. The most detailed story found by historians is that of Ann Putnam, Jr. (see biography entry), who stayed in Salem Village for the rest of her life. Both of her parents died of an unknown infectious disease within months of one another in 1699, leaving Putnam to raise her nine younger siblings by herself. In 1706, at age twenty-seven, Putnam was admitted to membership in the Salem Village church. During the ceremony she made a public apology for her role in the imprisonment and execution of innocent people during the trials fourteen years earlier. The Reverend Joseph Green, who had replaced the banished Samuel Parris (see biography entry) as minister of the church, read Putnam's statement to a restless and embittered congregation, many of whom had taken part in both sides of the conflict. Putnam admitted that innocent people had been wrongfully accused, but she claimed to have acted not out of anger or malice but instead out of a "great delusion of Satan." In other words, she herself had been bewitched by the devil.
Putnam opened her apology by saying that she had been a victim of "that sad and humbling providence that befell my father's family in the year about '92": a child at the time of the trials, she was used as "an instrument for the accusing of several persons of a grievous crime." She was referring the fact that the Putnams—her father, Thomas Putnam, and his brothers and their families—had been the main source of witchcraft accusations against certain Salem residents. At the end of the apology Putnam said she was particularly sorry for being "a chief instrument of accusing of Goodwife Nurse and her two sisters."
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