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cotton mather

The Salem witchcraft trials, a phrase not too often heard these days in everyday conversation. Witches burning at the stake, or drowning in a tub of water, and perhaps the most humane way of their execution, hanging (5). This piece of American history is a prudent example of how everyday people can, and were, be lead astray from what would normally be considered ridiculous and preposterous ideas, into something that warrants these horrible means of human demise. What or more importantly who was responsible for this catastrophic loss of life? The Quaker society of colonial America was where these events took place. The term Quaker refers to a member of a religious sect called The Society of Friends, which had significant religious influence in the northeastern parts of America, perhaps too much influence. The man who played a great part in these events was Cotton Mather.Cotton Mather was an extremely influential man during the 65 years of his life here on earth (1663-1728). Cotton was the son of Increase Mather and Maria (Cotton) Mather (1). His father, an educated man who was pastor of the Old North Church in Boston and also the president of Harvard College, set a high precedent for his young son to follow (2). Cotton, inspired by his fathers success, graduated from Harvard College at the age of sixteen and went on to be ordained as minister of the Old North Church in 1685 (2). It is here where Cotton gains the seemingly blind trust of the members of this community, which enables him to have such a significant influence on the outcome of this period of history. Cotton used his influence as pastor through the church to convince the people that witches were living amongst their society. This is perhaps the only negative influence he had to society. Cotton was also an excellent writer. His major publications were Wonders of the Invisible World in 1693, Magnalia Christi Americana in 1702, Bonifacius year 1710, Memorable Pro...

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