Samuel Sewall

Born: March 28, 1652 Hampshire, England Died: January 1, 1730 Boston, Massachusetts

Businessman and public official

Samuel Sewall was a prominent businessman and judge in Boston, Massachusetts, during a time of social and political upheaval in the New England colonies. He is known today for making a dramatic public apology for the role he played as a judge in the Salem witch trials, which resulted in the executions of twenty people. Sewall is equally famous for his diary, a remarkable work that spans more than fifty years and provides modern historians with a vivid picture of life in Puritan New England. The diary offers an eyewitness account of the role of the Puritan elite in manipulating evidence in order to eliminate accused witches (see Diary Entries and Apology of Samuel Sewall in the Primary Sources section). After the Salem trials, Sewall went on to be a vocal advocate (supporter) of slaves' rights and tried to improve the living conditions of Native Americans.

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