Samuel Sewall

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Samuel Sewall

Samuel Sewall born in 1652 in England. He was taken as a child to Newbury, Massachusetts,
and graduated from Harvard in 1671. He became a minister but gave up the role to take
management of a printing press in Boston and entered upon a public career. He was elected
in 1683 to the general court and was a member of the council. As one of the judges who
tried the Salem witchcraft cases in 1692, he shared the responsibility for the conviction
of nineteen persons. However, he became convinced of the error of these convictions and in
1697 in Old South Church, Boston, publicly accepted the "blame and shame" for them. Sewall
served for thirty-seven years as judge of the superior court of the colony, being chief
justice during the last ten years of his service. Sewall was also a well-known author and
his most famous work was his three-volume diary, which is very revealing of Samuel Sewall
and the period he lived in. Sewall was a respected figure of his time and shared relations
with other prominent icons of the colonial era. When Sewall entered Harvard he shared a
home for two years with Edward Taylor, a famous American poet who became a lifelong friend
of Sewall's. Also in the year of the Salem witch Trials Samuel Sewall was appointed as one
of nine judges by Govenor Phips, another fellow judge on this board was Cotton Mather. A
famous individual of colonial times he was a minister of Boston's Old North Church and was
a true believer in witchcraft. Sewall and Mather were both puritans, authors, and shared
similar views. Samuel Sewall died in Boston, Massachusetts in 1730, January 1st.


Samuel Sewall's writing was of a traditional Puritan style. His work often concentrated on
religion, politics, business life, and good living. But unlike Puritans of his time
Sewall's many writings addressed specific concerns about the rights of Native Americans
and of African-Americans brought as slaves to the colonies. Sewall wrote the first Puritan
anti-slaveholding tract The Selling of Joseph. The literary work that Sewall is most
famous for is his Diary; it consists of a minute record of his daily life, reflecting his
interest in living piously and well. He notes little purchases of sweets for a woman he
was courting, and their disagreements over whether he should affect upper class and
expensive ways such as wearing a wig and using a coach. Sewall's Diary is an acclaimed
source of eighteenth century culture. It provides a view into the concerns both worldly
and spiritual of a man whose life was well-known and very public in his own day.


Throughout American history there is exemplary men of each time period because of their
achievements in society, religion, and the way they executed living their lives. A
commendable figure of colonial times was the author, politician, judge, and Puritan Samuel
Sewall. Sewall is best know for his literary works that largely described colonial
society, his outspoken opinion on slavery and equality, and his own moral views. Sewall's
work as an author had a positive result on early American society, and made a difference
in contemporary views of the time. Ultimately, Samuel Sewall got American Culture thinking
more critically about slavery, and he contributed to American Culture an insightful full
picture of a Puritan man and his society.

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