Alse Young immigrated from England and settled in Windsor, Connecticut, in the 1630s. In 1647 she became the first woman in Connecticut to be hanged for witchcraft, and possibly the first in the American colonies. She wasn't the last; by 1663 a total of 11 people, nine of them women, were executed for witchcraft in Connecticut, long before the Salem witch trials.
Nine generations later, Young's namesake Alse C. Freeman has joined other descendants of those accused of witchcraft in Connecticut to demand that these 11 be completely exonerated. They united under the name of the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project. The states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Virginia have all pardoned or acquitted those convicted during witch trials. The city of Windsor pardoned the two from that village who were executed, Alse Young and Lydia Gilbert, in 2017. There have been several pushes to get the Connecticut victims exonerated over the past decade, but nothing has happened. Why can't Connecticut clear their names?
It appears to be a bureaucratic problem. When you take a close look at the law, "the governor of Connecticut lacks the power to pardon and the State Board of Pardons and Paroles does not have a posthumous waiver process." In order to pardon anyone for a wrongful conviction based on unjust laws of the past, the powers of the state government will need to be changed by law. Read about this roadblock and the efforts to exonerate America's first witch trial victims.
(Image credit: CT WITCH Memorial)
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