Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cotton Mather stirred up Salem Witch Trials

It is the birthday of prominent New England Puritan minister Cotton Mather (1663), who largely set the stage with his writings for the Salem Witch Trials. Although Mather did not attend the trials himself, he did attend the public execution of some of those found guilty. Mather wrote more than 450 books and pamphlets. Scholars consider his most important work Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), a seven-book opus that offers details of how the American colonies developed. Another interesting book is Pillars of Salt (1699), a collection of sermons offering details accounts of a dozen crimes and subsequent punishment. Scholars consider it an early example of true-crime literature.

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