Cotton Mather has been a very important role in recording early history in the colonies through his writing. Many people were very stereotypical in those days even when it wasn't a term that was used. Mather graduated Harvard with a Masters degree in arts; he spoke many different languages and pushed for the study of religion. He wrote with such grace and movement through his stories. "When he was deeply moved, however, he could make it an impressive instrument, particularly in the biographical sketches in Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), his best known production." (Perkins).
Although he was a very intelligent man for the age and time, he still tried so hard to keep people believing the old puritan ways. He was the heir to the congressional hierarchy and succeeded to Second Church of Boston during the years of 1685 to 1728. His name was brought up quite a bit during the Salem Witch Trials, but not for persecution purposes more for evidence that was weighed in court. He may not have been directly in the courtroom that made the decisions about the trials, although his opinion was taken very thoughtfully when making the courts verdict. He had wanted to live the "old New England way" very badly which brought him to his writing. His most important piece of work was the Magnalia Christi Americana. This was more the story and life a John Winthrop, his jobs and roles throughout the colony and how he led the colonies through religion. During the time that this book was written was when the puritan community was slowly dying and more logical thinking was taking over. Most of his writing was more political than theological. He was a many of many written words during this time. "â€¦ Mather spoke with a prophet's self-assurance and he spoke often. He published over 400 works and left volumes of manuscripts that have never seen print." (Heim). There is no telling what else history is left out there that we might not know about. Mather was very important in giving us better understanding of the way things were back during this time, and not just from the religious point of view. The way that he compares Winthrop to Moses seems like he was able to put great faith and trust into him as the people that followed Moses did. Although he does refer to many scriptures in this text, not all of his writing was like this. While writing this book he puts in the place the beginning of the crew and ship coming to the colony and Winthrop taking the chance and faith to take these people onto land and to start a settlement where he would run as governor of this area. He didn't quite see himself as a historian but more a story teller along the lines of writing this piece of work. Mather seemed to stay with the idea that the colonists were to the Israelites as America was to Israel. When writing this text he trying to put a link between the past and the present. Mather seems to think that "history working out of God's will."(Duffy).
Although Mather wasn't treated fairly he still kept writing and putting history down for later generations to read. During the Salem Witch Trials, Mather wrote a publication about what went on during that period called The Wonders of the Invisible World. During this writing Mathers' writes plagued people with fear about the trials and what was happening during this time. Although he was such a great historian during the puritan colonel time, he was fighting with himself within. "Cotton Mather was a man tortured by his Puritanical fear and fantasies. The theme of his diary is a titanic struggle between god and Satan. God was fighting so that Cotton Mather could further his work on earth, whereas Satan was fighting to prevent it."(Duffy). Even though he may have seems a little crazy, he still was a big part of this time and telling history in a way that would be understood by generations to come. Many people saw him as the guy that always bragged about himself and preached about the way things should be. During this time people were moving away from the more traditional ways of things and towards scientific ways of ideas. "â€¦Boston was no longer a Puritan community of his father's youthâ€¦" (Perkins 172). Although he still preached about the religion he knew that things were changing. He may have been bias to most of his work about the history in the community, but that is why many people didn't give him much credit during this time. He wasn't a favorable person during this time. Although he did succeed his father, his public role as a leader had failed but he always stood beside his beliefs.
During this time in the colonies Mather wasn't exactly favored but to us he is a true gem. We are thankful to have had him document the history that he lived through so that we can ge a better understanding of what happened in those times. Although "Cotton Mather was a man tortured by his Puritanical fears, He felt that the cosmos revolved around himself." (Robinson) Many people saw that he was the father of history in these hard times of survival in the colonies.
Duffy, John P. "Cotton Mather Revisited." Massachusetts Studies in English 1.2 (Fall 1967): 30-38. Rpt. in Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800. Ed. Jelena O. Krstovic. Vol. 38. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.
Heim, William J. "Cotton Mather: Overview." Reference Guide to American Literature. Ed. Jim Kamp. 3rd ed. Detroit: St. James Press, 1994. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.
Robinson, Enders A. "Cotton Mather." The Devil Discorverd: Salem Witchcraft 1692. Hippocrene Books, 1991. 37-55. Rpt in Literature Cristisim from1400 to 1800. Ed. Jelena O. Krstovic. Vol. 38 Detroit:Gale Research, 1998. Literature Resouces from Gale. Web. 13. Oct. 2010.