Cotton Mather, born on February 12, 1663 to Increase Mather and Maria Cotton in Boston, Massachusetts, was a well-known minister, a talented American writer, and is a powerful symbol to the Salem Witch Trails (Kennedy 10).
At just the small age of 15, Mather graduated from Harvard College in 1678, then shadowing his father as a minister and finally succeeded his father as a minister at North Church in 1685 (Silverman 5). As a renowned American writer, Mather wrote more than 450 novels surrounding religious influence, colonial life, and Puritan beliefs (Kennedy 11). Mather wrote almost all his texts from personal experiences and used his novels to benefit himself through shaping and helping other people (Kennedy 11).
While Mather is a prominent American writer, he also played a significant role in the Salem Witch Trails. Mather observed and recorded results from children and women that were either thought to be using witchcraft or being controlled by a witch (Silverman 28). He then concluded that most “fits” the subjects were having could be explained from natural causes (Silverman 28). Mather furthered his arguments by stating that the evidence against the women was poor and inadequate, longing the court to delay the execution of the accused witches (Silverman 29). Mather was married twice, both widowed, and only 2 out of his 15 children survived after him. In November of 1713, Mather’s wife, newborn twins, and two-year-old daughter passed away because of the measles epidemic (Kennedy 7). Mather himself then died 15 years later, on February 13, 1728, the day after his 65th birthday (Silverman 382). Works Cited – Timeline Kennedy, Rick.
The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather. Wm. B.
Eerdmans, 2015. Sewall, Samuel. Samuel Sewall’s Diary.
Edited by Mark Van Doren, New York, Russel & Russel, 1652-1730. “The First Newspapers in America.” PaperAge, Nov.-Dec.
2004, pp. 52-55. Works Cited – IntroductionKennedy, Rick. The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2015.
Silverman, Kenneth. The Life and Times of Cotton Mather. New York, Harper & Row, 1817