The Life and Times of Cotton Mather

Kenneth Silverman
ISBN 9781566492065 (paperback)
Published in November 2001
MSRP $15.00
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography
"The most sensible, lucid, and engaging biography of Cotton Mather we have. A treasure for scholars and a lively account for anyone interested in early America."
- Emory Elliot, Princeton University
"A model of historical scholarship, consistently interesting; emarkable both for its enormous learning and for its clarity of analysis."
- Sacvan Bercovitch, Harvard University
The early American Congregational minister and author Cotton Mather (1663-1728), remembered mainly for his participation in the Salem witch trials, is perhaps the greatest and most misunderstood figure in pre-revolutionary American history. Mather believed his main purpose in life was to do good and he devoted his life to praying, preaching, and writing, eventually publishing more than 400 works.

However in this startling revisionist life of a much-maligned figure. Professor Silverman makes the case for Mather as "the first American" the only person born in America between the time of Columbus and of Franklin who strove to be conspicuous as an American. Unlike his father, who was also born in America and who won lesser (ultimately) fame, he did not hanker to live and die in England. Among his countless accomplishments was the introduction of smallpox inoculation to the New World.

Kenneth Silverman is Professor Emeritus at New York University and co-director of the NYU Biography Seminar.