Judge Sewall's Apology by Richard Francis
The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of an American Conscience

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The Salem witch hunt has entered our vocabulary as the very essence of injustice. Judge Samuel Sewall presided at these trials, passing harsh judgment on the condemned. But five years later, he publicly recanted his guilty verdicts and begged for forgiveness. This extraordinary act was a turning point not only for Sewall but also for America's nascent values and mores.

In Judge Sewall's Apology, Richard Francis draws on the judge's own diaries, which enables us to see the early colonists not as grim ideologues, but as flesh-and-blood idealists, striving for a new society while coming to terms with the desires and imperfections of ordinary life. Through this unsung hero of the American conscience -- a Puritan, an antislavery agitator, a defender of Native American rights, and a Utopian theorist -- we are granted a fresh perspective on a familiar drama.


About Richard Francis

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Richard Francis, novelist, broadcaster, and academic, is the author of Transcendental Utopias. He was a fellow at Harvard and has taught creative writing at universities in Britain and the United States.
Published August 9, 2005 by Harper. 412 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Fresh, insightfully written investigation of how colonial Puritanism's core beliefs and ragged edges produced its most ungodly legacy.

Aug 16 2005 | Read Full Review of Judge Sewall's Apology: The S...

Kirkus Reviews

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Francis ferrets out his subject’s anxieties, obsessions and anathemas (he was consoled in good measure though not entirely by the rigidly elaborate tenets of his Puritan faith) to conclude: “He was confident for much of the time but could be gauche and awkward too,” and though he was devout, he “...

Jun 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Judge Sewall's Apology: The S...

Publishers Weekly

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In this lively chronicle, historian Francis (Transcendental Utopias ) offers a compelling portrait of the decline of Puritan ways in the late 17th century and the ascent of a secular spirit in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Jun 13 2005 | Read Full Review of Judge Sewall's Apology: The S...

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