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Cotton Mather


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Richard Mather

MATHER, Richard, clergyman, born in Lowton, Lancashire, England, in 1596; died in Dorchester, Massachusetts, 22 April, 1669. He was the progenitor of the Mather family in New England. His father was Thomas Mather, and his grandfather was John Mather, of the chapelry of Lowton, in the parish of Winwick, Lancashire. In the early days of the 17th century, during the reign of James I., a band of Puritans cleared away the heavy forests at the south of the city of Liverpool, and settled what was known as Toxteth Park. They looked upon the burning of John Bradford, at Smithfield, as a martyrdom, and they erected a stone chapel in which they might hear the doctrines of the Reformation. The chapel is still in existence. It is plain and square, with no steeple or belfry of any description. The exterior is covered with ivy. Among the tablets upon the interior wall is one bearing this inscription: "Near this walk rest the remains of several generations of an ancient family of yeomanry named Mather, who were settled in Toxteth Park as early as the reign of Queen Elizabeth. They were distinguished by many virtues and by strong religious feeling, and were among the fairest specimens of those who, in former times, were called Puritans." Richard Mather was called at a very early age to act as instructor to the youth of this church. While filling this post he resolved to prepare for the ministry, and to this end he entered Brasenose college, Oxford. In 1620 he was ordained by the bishop of Chester and was settled over the church in Toxteth, where he remained until 1635, when he removed to this country. This step was taken because he had been suspended twice for non-conformity, and because he foresaw the troubles under Charles I. and Archbishop Laud. He took the ship "Bristol" on 16 April and landed in Boston, in disguise, on 17 August His manuscript, journal for 1635 is among the collections of the Dorchester antiquarian and historical society. It was printed in Boston in 1850. In regard to the immigration of those days Daniel Neal wrote that he had a list of seventy-seven divines, ordained in the Church of England, that became pastors of churches in this country before 1640, and that Richard Mather was one of the number. On his arrival in Boston, Mr. Mather found the church of Dorchester deserted by its minister, who had become a colonist at Windsor, Connecticut, with a part of his flock. He was called to the vacant church and served it from 1636 till his death. His preaching was direct and without the use of quotations from the Latin. Thomas Hooker said of him: "My brother Mather is a mighty man." In his time the religious discussion was not so much upon the doctrines as upon the forms of worship and the status of church government. In such discussions he took an active part, and answered for the ministers of the colony the thirty-two questions relating to church government that were propounded by the general court in 1639. He was a member of the synod of 1648, and drew up the celebrated Cambridge platform of discipline. He was one of three ministers to prepare the New England edition of the Psalms (1646), and he was the author of several minor works, chiefly on church discipline, including '" Discourse on the Church Covenant" (1639), and "Treatise on Justification" (1652). He married in 1642 Catharine, daughter of Edward Holt, of Bury, Lancashire, the mother of his six children, who were all sons, and four of whom were ministers

--Samuel, Nathaniel, Eleazer, and Increase. In 1656 he married, for his second wife, Sarah Story, widow of the Reverend John Cotton, of Boston, who survived him. His will is considered one of the most remarkable productions of its kind that has ever been written, His tomb, with Latin inscription, is in the old burying ground at Dorchester. See " Life and Death of Richard Mather," by his son Increase (1670).--His eldest son, Samuel, clergyman, born in Toxteth, England, 13 May, 1626; died in Dublin, Ireland, 29 October, 1671, came to this country with his father, was graduated at Harvard in 1643, and was the first graduate to be retained as a tutor. He was so beloved as a teacher that the students wore badges of mourning for thirty days when he took his leave. Soon after entering the ministry at Rowley lie was asked to be the pastor of the new North church, a colony of the old South church, in Boston. He consented for a few months, and then he left for England. His popularity abroad soon became great, and his health was so seriously impaired that he was in danger of losing his life. He was appointed chaplain to the lord mayor of London, which post brought him in contact with many eminent ministers, lie preached at Graves-end and in the cathedral in Exeter, and was made chaplain of Magdalen college, Oxford, where he remained for some time. Having accompanied the English commissioners into Scotland, he labored m that coquetry for two years. In 1660 he went to Ireland with several other ministers and the lord deputy, Henry Cromwell. He was made joint pastor of the church of St. Nicholas, in which he was afterward buried, and also senior fellow of Trinity college, Dublin. All these appointments he received during the protectorate and in return for his non-conformist views. While his ideas were positive, they were liberal. He refused to displace several Episcopal ministers, when opportunity offered, on the ground that he would hinder no one from preaching the gospel. Upon the Restoration he was suspended for sedition in preaching two anti-Episcopal discourses. Being debarred from Ireland, he established himself at Burton Wood in Lancashire, until, with 2,000 other non-conformist ministers, he was ejected from England in 1662. Returning to Dublin, he founded a Congregational church, to which he ministered till the day of his death. His writings were chiefly against the Established church and in favor of a united effort by the several churches of the Dissenters. His exposure of a religious quack was approved by the king's privy council in Ireland. He stood in the first rank of pulpit orators, and it was said of him: " Mr. Charnock's invention, Dr. Harrison's expression, and Mr. Mather's logic would make the perfectest preacher in the world." His epitaph, translated, reads: "He lived long, although lie did not continue long." He published many sermons and tracts, " Old Testament Types Explained and improved " (London, 1673), and "Life of Nathaniel Mather" (1689)

.--Richard's third son, Nathaniel, clergyman, born in Lancashire, England, 20 March, 1630; died in London, 26 July, 1697, came to this country with his father, and was graduated at Harvard in 1647. After entering the ministry he followed his elder brother Samuel to England, and was presented by Oliver Cromwell with a living in Barnstable, which he held from 1656 till 1662. He was then ejected for non-conformity, after which he ministered to an English church in Rotterdam. After the death of Samuel in 1671 he succeeded to the vacant pulpit in Dublin. Afterward he was pastor of a Congregational church in London and one of the lecturers at Pinner's hall. He was the author of several religious works. On his tombstone in the cemetery near Bunhill Fields is a long inscription in Latin, prepared by Dr. Isaac Watts, which ascribes to him high character and ability.

-Richard's fifth son, Eleazer, clergyman, born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, 13 May, 1637; died in Northampton, Massachusetts, 24 July, 1669, was graduated at Harvard in 1656, and at the age of nineteen began to preach. He was ordained minister over the first church that was organized in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1658, and retained that pastorate till his death. He is said to have been "a very zealous preacher and a pious walker." He married a daughter of Reverend John Warham, of Dorchester and Windsor, Connecticut After his death she married his successor, the celebrated Reverend Solomon Stoddard, and became the grandmother of Reverend Jonathan Edwards. Mr. Mather's only daughter married Reverend John Williams, of Deerfield, Massachusetts, and was slain by the Indians in their attack on that place in 1704. After Mr. Mather's death appeared "A Serious Exhortation to the Succeeding and Present Generation, being the Substance of Several Sermons" (1671).

--Richard's sixth and youngest son, Increase, clergyman, born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, 21 June, 1639; died in Boston, 23 August, 1723, pursued his studies out of college, and was graduated at Harvard in 1656 with his elder brother Eleazer. At the request of his brother Samuel, in Ireland, and Nathaniel, in England, he followed them to their fields of labor, and took his second degree at Trinity college, Dublin, in 1658. His first ministerial charge, at Great Torrington, in Devonshire, was given at the instance of John Howe, one of Cromwell's chaplains. In 1659 Mr. Mather became chapgarrison on the island of Guernsey, and he also preached in the cathedral in St. Mary's. Returning to his chaplaincy at Guernsey, he remained till 1661, when, refusing to conform and accept various livings that were offered on that condition, he returned to Massachusetts. He preached alternately for his father in Dorchester, and for the new North church, a branch of the old South church, in Boston. In 1664 he was ordained pastor of the North church, which office he held till his death--nearly sixty years. For a considerable part of this time his son Cotton was his colleague, and their bodies lie side by side in the Mather vault in Copp's Hill cemetery nearly opposite Christ church. As a pastor, his sermons and prayers were full of originality and fervor. He kept frequent fasts and recorded his daily life in a book. His life with his family is said to have been most delightful. During his pastorate the churches of New England were discussing the right of those who were not members in full communion to bring their children to baptism. It was a transition state of the colony. The older churches had been established for nearly a generation, and many of the younger people did not regard themselves as regenerated persons. According to the rules of the church, their children could not be baptized. This question was begun in Connecticut, but it soon spread to Massachusetts and the other colonies. In the discussion, Mr. Mather united his efforts with those of President Chauncy and John Davenport in opposition to the general synod's decree in favor of the "halfway covenant." He afterward gave in a modified consent to the decision. He urged a stronger union of all anti-Episcopal believers both in England and in America, and anticipated the doctrine of Jonathan Edwards in regard to the millennium. It was his discussion of the subject, together with that of Samuel Hopkins and Joseph Bellamy, that reversed the previously received notions of the coming thousand years of peace.

In 1669 he was prostrated by fever, but in 1670 resumed his pulpit. In 1675 he declared to his people that King Philip's Indian war had come upon them because of their iniquities. During the second year of the war his church and library were destroyed by a fire that was set by the Indians. Then came the small-pox, which led to the calling of a synod at the suggestion of himself and several others to make inquiry what follies had provoked the Lord to bring his judgment upon New England. This synod declared that the work of reformation must begin with the magistrates and all those who are in authority, and it enjoined greater strictness in the admission of members to the church. The well-known New England confession of faith was also adopted. This was, in substance, the Savoy confession, together with some of the points of the Westminster confession. The confession was printed with the Cambridge platform of 1648 as the book of doctrine for the churches of the Massachusetts colony. Mr. Mather was a strong supporter of the established order of things within the New England churches. It was the custom to require of persons that were admitted to communion some account of their religious experience. It was declared by some clergymen that no such evidence of regeneration should be required, but this was opposed by Mr. Mather. Another innovation that he opposed was the abandonment by particular churches of their separate action in the choice of pastors and their consenting to vote only in connection with the congregations. The Brattles and John Leverett, afterward president of Harvard, were leaders in this movement, and took church affairs out of the hands of the whole membership as a body. Dr. Elliot speaks of Increase Mather as "the father of the New England clergy." President Quincy said that he was an effective agent in producing the excitement relating to witchcraft. The fact is that he was in England nearly all the time of the greatest excitement, and that on his return he immediately prepared a book entitled "Causes of Conscience concerning Witchcraft" (1693), in which he refuted the doctrine of "spectral evidence" on the ground of which so many innocent persons had been condemned. The governor immediately pardoned the condemned, and the accused were acquitted. Thus while Mr. Mather wrote sermons and books against witches, yet he also became a powerful factor in subduing the excitement. He looked with sorrow upon the innovations that have been noted above. He always insisted upon filling the churches with converted members and the right of each church to decide upon what minister it should have. It is claimed for him that he was the man who, in the face of much personal sacrifice, saved the great body of Massachusetts Congregational churches from the ruin which threatened them. President Quincy says he was influenced by worldly, selfish, and ambitious motives, but this has hardly been substantiated.

Side by side with his duties in the line of religion Mr. Mather became one of the chief educators in this country. In 1681 the Reverend Uriah Oakes, president of Harvard, died, and Increase Mather was appointed his successor, taking the chair and conferring the degrees at the following commencement. His church, however, refused to give him a dismission, and he at once resigned the office. The offer of the presidency was renewed in 1685 after the death of President, John Rogers. This time it was accepted, with the understanding that Mr. Mather was to reside in Boston and spend part of his time in Cambridge. Thus he remained the sixth president of Harvard college until 1701. Before this time the classes at Harvard had usually consisted of from two to ten students, but during Mr. Mather's presidency the number increased so that the classes often contained more than twenty. While serving the colony in England he presented the claims of the college to the king, and solicited not only royal but private patronage. In this way he secured the benefits that came from the donations of Thomas Hollis. During the four years of his absence from the country the college was committed to the care and instruction of John Leverett and William Brattle, the tutors.

In 1692 he prepared a charter for the college, which received the sanction of the general court, but it was afterward vetoed in England. Several times Mr. Mather attempted to go to England to procure a charter that would receive the signature of the king, but was prevented and the college continued in a very unsatisfactory state. President Mather repeatedly proposed to resign, the corporation as repeatedly prevailed upon him to reconsider his determination, and finally induced him to remove to Cambridge. Finding that he could not do justice to his pastoral work also, he sent in his resignation. President Mather was not only active in affairs of religion and education, but he served the colony well at a most critical time. In 1682 Charles II. demanded the surrender of the charter that had been granted to the colony of" Massachusetts bay. In case of refusal he threatened that a quo warranto should be prosecuted against the colony. The people were led by Mr. Mather in their opposition to the surrender, the ground being that by voluntarily yielding the charter the people lent aid to the plots of designing men, but if they were overpowered the sole responsibility would be on their oppressors. For his activity Mr. Mather had the enmity of Edward Randolph, the king's emissary, who was afterward the secretary of Sir Edmund Andros. After the charter had been taken away, and while Andros was governor, Mr. Mather was sent to England in 1689 as the agent of the people to ask redress from the king. The hostility of Andros and Randolph was so great that he was obliged to go on board ship in disguise to avoid the service of a writ that Randolph had taken out against him.

Samuel Nowel, Elisha Hutchinson, and Richard Wharton met him in London. Randolph, in a letter to the lords of trade, dated 29 May, 1689, gives a narrative of the unsettled state of the territory of New England and speaks of" some persons, inhabitants of Boston, who had pretended grievances against the governor and who wished to obtain a renewal of their former charter from the king." At the time of Mr. Mather's visit in England the Revolution had placed William and Mary on the throne. Mr. Mather had frequent interviews with King William and his ministers, in which he asked the restoration of the former charter with enlargements. When this was found impossible, he procured a new charter under which the united colonies of Massachusetts bay and Plymouth lived down to the time of the American Revolution. Owing to his efforts, the Plymouth colony was prevented from being annexed to New York. So great was the confidence that was reposed in him by the king that he was allowed to name the governor, lieutenant-governor, and first board of council to be appointed by the king. He arrived in Boston in May, 1692, and the speaker of the general assembly, in the name of the representatives, returned him thanks for his faithful endeavors to serve the colony. In the same year Harvard gave him the degree of D.D., the first that was conferred in this country.

There was opposition to the new charter on the ground that it contained restrictions not in the old charter. Mr. Mather lost some of his friends among those who insisted upon popular rights, but he was sustained by the more conservative. President Quincy declared that his policy was mainly successful and that his conduct entitled him to unqualified approbation. The election of John Leverett as president of Harvard in 1708 was brought about by Governor Joseph Dudley. There is no doubt that this election was distasteful to Mr. Mather, and he has been charged with seeking the place for himself or for his son Cotton. He addressed a spicy letter to Governor Dudley which has been made the basis of considerable criticism by President Quincy and others. But a study of the character of Dudley shows that his connection with Andros was such as to be a cause of uneasiness to Mr. Mather and his friends. Governor Hutchinson says of Dudley : "Ambition was his ruling passion, and perhaps, like Caesar, he had rather be the first man in New England than the second in Old."

It would seem that Mr. Mather was justified in feeling grieved at the influence that Dudley had obtained in the colony, and especially in the affairs of Harvard. That Mr. Mather was influential in affairs of state is proved from another source. In the year 1700 the Earl of Bellomont wrote from New York to the lords of trade in London to the effect that Sir Henry Ashurst, along with Mr. Mather, had "got Sir William Phipps made governor of New England." During the four years that he remained in England in the service of the colony he worked without any charge. "I never demanded," wrote he, "the least farthing as a recompense for the time I spent, and I procured donations to the province and the college at least £900 more than all the expenses of my agency came to." Dr. Mather married, in 1662, Maria, daughter of John Cotton, by whom he had seven daughters and three sons. Mrs. Mather died in 1714, and he took for his second wife Anna, daughter of Captain Thomas Lake, and widow of Reverend John Cotton, of New Hampshire, a grandson of his first wife's father. Dr. Mather's publications number 136. Many of these were preserved in the collection of George Brinley, of Hartford, Connecticut, which was sold in New York city in 1879. The Antiquarian society at Worcester, Massachusetts, has probably the largest number of his works that have been gathered in any one place. Among his books are "The Life and Death of Reverend Richard Mather" (1670); "Important Truths about Conversion" (1674); "A Discourse concerning Baptism and the Consociation of Churches "(1675) ; "A History of the War with the Indians" (1676; reprinted, with notes and an introduction by Samuel G. Drake, Boston, 1862); "A Relation of Troubles of New England from the Indians" (1677; with notes and introduction by Samuel G. Drake, Boston, 1864); "Cometographia, or a Discourse concerning Comets" (1683); "Remarkable Providences" (1684; republished, with an introduction by Charles Offer, London, 1856); "Several Papers relating to the State of New England" (1690); and " Dying Pastor's Legacy" (1722). See Joseph Sabin's "Dictionary of Works relating to America" (New York, 1867). His life was written by his son Cotton (Boston, 1724). --Richard's grandson, Samuel, clergyman, eldest son of Timothy Mather, clergyman, born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, 5 July, 1650; died in Windsor, Connecticut, 18 March, 1728, took honors at Harvard in 1671, and was ordained pastor of the Congregational church in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1682. This church had removed from Dorchester to Windsor, and was in a weak state when he took charge as its third minister and brought unity and prosperity. He was one of the trustees of Yale from 1700 till 1724, and published several religious books, among them " The Dead Faith," and "On renouncing our Righteousness."

--Increase's son, Cotton Mather, clergyman, born in Boston, 12 February, 1663 ; died there, 13 February, 1728, was graduated at Harvard in 1678, when scarcely sixteen years of age. An impediment in his speech was apparently an obstacle to his becoming a minister of the gospel, but he cured his habit of stammering by prolonging his syllables as in singing. His speech being perfected, he renewed his theological studies, and began to preach before he was eighteen years old In 1684 he was ordained colleague pastor of the North church in Boston, in connection with his father, and his life ministry was spent in that pulpit. One of the earliest developments of his character was his desire to be useful. To this end he devised a plan of voluntary associations, in every neighborhood, to watch and suppress all evils. He wrote and published much against intemperance, established at his own expense a school for colored children in Boston, advised the christianizing of negroes, devoted his energies to the benefit of the seamen, and fostered with zealous care the introduction of inoculation. To assist in this work, as well as in the duties of a faithful pastor, he prepared a series of questions for every day in the week, which he asked of himself year after year. As the outcome of these endeavors he compiled a small book, "Essays to do Good" (1710 ; new ed., Glasgow, 1838), which is better known than any of the other 381 volumes that he wrote In a letter to Cotton Mather's son, Samuel, dated Passy, France, 10 November, 1779, Benjamin Franklin said, "Permit me to mention one little instance which, though it relates to myself, will not be quite uninteresting to you. When I was a boy I met with a book entitled ' Essays to do Good, ' which I think was written by your father. It had been so little regarded by its former possessor that several leaves of it were torn out; but the remainder gave me such a turn of thinking as to have an influence on my conduct through life; for I have always set a greater value on the character of a doer of good than any other kind of reputation, and if I have been. as you seem to think, a useful citizen, the put)lie owes the advantage of it to that book." He was systematic in his work, and over his study-door was the warning to all comers " Be short." While he had considerably less to do with civil affairs than his father, yet it was his interposition, both oral and written, that saved Governor Andros and his subalterns from being put to death by the people of Boston.

His literary life was perhaps more remarkable than that of any other American of his day. His prolific writing has been the cause of much diverse criticism. Dr. Charles Chauncy wrote: "In regard to literature, or an acquaintance with books of all kinds, I give the palm to Cotton Nather. No native of this country had read so much, or retained more of what he read. He was the greatest redeemer of time I ever knew. There were scarcely any books written but he had, somehow or other, got the sight of them. His own library was the largest, by far, of any private one on the continent .... He knew more of the history of this country than any man in it" and, could he have conveyed his knowledge with proportionate judgment, he would have given the best history of it." His son Samuel writes : " In two or three minutes' turning through a volume he could easily tell whether it would add to his stock of ideas. If it would not, he quickly laid it by. If otherwise, passing over those parts which contained the things he had known before, he perused those only which contained what was new." Of himself, Cotton Mather wrote: "I am able, with little study, to write in seven languages. I feast myself with the sweets of all the sciences which the more polite part of mankind ordinarily pretend to. I am entertained with all kinds of histories, ancient and modern. I am no stranger to the curiosities which, by all sorts of learning, are brought to the curious. These intellectual pleasures are far beyond any sensual ones." Glasgow university gave him the degree of D. D. in 1710, and he was made a fellow of the Royal society in 1713, being the first American to receive this distinction. He had a very extensive correspondence with philosophers and literary men in all parts of the world and in various languages, but more especially with August Herman Francke, leader of the German Pietists and founder of the orphan house at Halle, for which he obtained many benefactions on both sides of the Atlantic. He also corresponded with Francke's pupils, and especially with those who became Danish missionaries at Tranque bar. He was an admirer of Father Jacques Bruyas, the French philologist, who prepared a dictionary and catechism for the Mohawk Indians: and at the very beginning of his " Magnalia" he quoted a short poem of Dominic Selyns, the Dutch pastor at New Amsterdam. And yet, in spite of a worldwide acquaintance, a cosmopolitan education, and most uncommon ability, his very best friends must concede that his judgment was ill-balanced, and that he was vain to the last degree.

He was active in the witchcraft persecutions. In 1685 he published "Memorable Providences relating to Witchcraft and Possessions," and, when the children of John Goodwin became curiously affected in 1688, he was one of the four ministers of Boston who held a day of fasting and prayer, and favored the suspicion of diabolical visitation. He afterward took the eldest daughter to his house in order to observe the phases of the phenomena. When the first phenomena occurred at Salem in 1692, he at once became a prominent adviser concerning them, and. in order to convince all who doubted the possessions and disapproved of the executions, he wrote his "Wonders of the Invisible World" (London, 1692). When the reaction in the popular mind followed, he attempted to arrest it" and though he afterward admitted that "there had been a going too far in that affair," he never expressed regret, and charged the responsibility upon the powers of darkness. His course in the matter has been the subject of much criticism, some of it unjust. The belief in witches had been world-wide for hundreds of years before he was born" thousands of such accused persons had been put to death in Germany, France, and Spain, and hundreds in England during the century before the date of his birth" and later, during the years of his youth, thousands of alleged witches were burned in England under the judicial administrations of Sir Matthew Hale and Chief-Justice Holt. It was therefore not strange that a, n intensely spiritual and trusting nature like that of Cotton Mather fell in with a belief that was shared by many who did not sympathize with him in other things. Among those who believed in the reality of witches were the president and fellows of Harvard, the French and Dutch ministers of the province of New York, and William Penn, in America, and Richard Baxter and Isaac Watts in England. Even so late as 1780 Sir William Blackstone declared a similar belief. It must be admitted that he did not rejoice at the earlier allegations" that he advised the separation of the accused and the use of milder measures" that when judicial proceedings had been determined upon he opposed the admission of the " spectral," or any other, evidence resting on the authority of the devil" that though he protested to the judges against such evidence, yet he did not in the end think it his duty to abuse the judges in writing a history of the trials" and that, with his associates, he saw the measure of the delusion and ended it years before it was ended in England. The Reverend Chandler Robbins, in his history of the Second church, declares that he approached the discussion of Cotton Mather's character with much prejudice against him" but that a full investigation of the whole subject, and a due regard for the times in which he lived, led him (Robbins) to form a most favorable opinion. This analysis of Cotton Mather's character by Robbins is the most complete that has ever been attempted. Cotton Mather is buried in Copp's Hill burying-ground, in the older part of Boston. (See illustration.) The following inscription is on a slab: "Reverend Drs. Increase, Cotton, and Samuel Mather were interred in this vault. 'Tis the tomb of our fathers, Mather's and Crocker's." Several years ago a story was published to the effect that a visitor to the inner tomb had discovered that the dust of several generations had vanished, and that literally nothing remained. This was a mistake. The real tomb is a large room containing nearly forty co/tins, all of which, so far as can be learned, are as well preserved as could reasonably be expected. Chief among Mather's works is his "Magnalia Christi Americana," a mass of chaotic material for an ecclesiastical history of New England (London, folio. 1702; 2 vols., Hartford, 1820; 2d American ed., with introduction and notes by Thomas Robbins, D. D., translations of the quotations by Lucius F. Robinson, and a memoir by Samuel T. Drake, 2 vols., Boston, 1855). His "Psalterium Americanum" (1718) is an exact unrhymed metrical translation of the Psalms, printed as prose, and was an attempt to improve the careless current versions. He left several large works in manuscript, the chief of which was the "Biblia Americana, or Sacred Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, Illustrated." The list of his publications, appended to his life by his son, Sanmel Mather, numbers 382, and a list recently compiled by John Langdon Sibley, in his work on the early graduates of Harvard, is even larger. A sum-total of 242 volumes was all that had been gathered down to the year 1879 by the American antiquarian society, the Massachusetts historical society, the Boston athenaeum, and the Prince collection in the Boston public library. The number in the possession of each ranged from eighty to one hundred and thirty; but of 114 there was only a single copy in all of the libraries named. The British museum and the Bodleian library at Oxford have made a specialty in collecting the works of Increase and Cotton Mather. The Brinley collection of the works of Cotton Mather was the best in the United States. It was gathered in Hartford, Connecticut, and sold in New York city in 1879. Book hunters have paid enormous prices for some of these rare books, and others, heretofore unknown, are frequently found. Although the earliest book thus far discovered was printed when Cotton Mather was twenty-two years old, yet it is known that he had, at that time, written many poems, and compiled several almanacs, one of the latter being published without his name, as a " happy snare" to give information and to " warn sinners." It is thought that some of these stray volumes may yet be found and identified. Cotton Mather's life was written by his son, Samuel Mather (Boston, 1729), and by W. B. O. Peabody in Sparks's "American Biography." See also Charles W. Upham's " History of the Delusions in Salem in 1692" (1831); "The Mather Family," by Reverend Enoch Pond (1844) ; and Chandler Robbins's "History of the Second Church, or Old North, in Boston" (1852).--Increase's second son, Nathaniel, born in Boston, 6 July, 1669; died in Salem, Massachusetts, 17 October, 1688, was noted for his precocity. His mental powers exhausted his vitality, and he died at the age of nineteen. At sixteen he was a graduate of Harvard, and he was also a thorough scholar in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. His cast of mind was highly religious. His epitaph in the Charter street cemetery in Salem reads thus: "Memento Mori. Mr. Nathaniel Mather. Died October ye 17th, 1688. An aged person who had seen but nineteen winters in the world. He was the youngest brother of the famous Cotton Mather, who came to Salem during Nathaniel's illness, and closed his dying eyes.... He was possessed of wonderful attainments, was a prodigy of learning, and his first published work appeared in print when he was only fifteen years of age." He prepared "The Boston Ephemeris, an Almanack for 1686."--Increase's youngest son, Samuel, clergyman, born in Boston, 28 August, 1674; died in Witney, Oxfordshire, England. He was graduated at Harvard in 1690, and established a Congregational church at Witney, where he died and was buried in the church-yard of St. Mary. He wrote several religious works, including "The Godhead of the Holy Ghost " (London, 1719), and " A Vindication of the Holy Bible" (1723).--Cotton's son, Samuel, clergyman, born in Boston, 30 October, 1706" died there, 27 June, 1785, was graduated at Harvard in 1723, and received the degree of D. D. from the same institution in 1773. In 1732, four years after his father's death, he was ordained as colleague pastor over the same church to which his father and his grandfather, Increase, had so long ministered. Differences arose in the congregation in 1742 relative to the subject of revivals, and a separate church was established under Mr. Mather in North Bennett street. He published "Life of Cotton Mather" (1729) : " Essay on Gratitude " (1732) ; "Apology for the Liberties of the Churches in New England" (1738);" America Known to the Ancients " (1773) ; "The Sacred Minister," a poem in blank verse (1773); and occasional sermons. He is buried, with his father and grandfather, in Copp's Hill cemetery, Boston.

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Please join us in our mission to incorporate The Congressional Evolution of the United States of America discovery-based curriculum into the classroom of every primary and secondary school in the United States of America by July 2, 2026, the nation’s 250th birthday. , the United States of America: We The People Click Here


Historic Documents

Articles of Association

Articles of Confederation 1775

Articles of Confederation

Article the First

Coin Act

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

Emancipation Proclamation

Gettysburg Address

Monroe Doctrine

Northwest Ordinance

No Taxation Without Representation

Thanksgiving Proclamations

Mayflower Compact

Treaty of Paris 1763

Treaty of Paris 1783

Treaty of Versailles

United Nations Charter

United States In Congress Assembled

US Bill of Rights

United States Constitution

US Continental Congress

US Constitution of 1777

US Constitution of 1787

Virginia Declaration of Rights


Historic Events

Battle of New Orleans

Battle of Yorktown

Cabinet Room

Civil Rights Movement

Federalist Papers

Fort Duquesne

Fort Necessity

Fort Pitt

French and Indian War

Jumonville Glen

Manhattan Project

Stamp Act Congress

Underground Railroad

US Hospitality

US Presidency

Vietnam War

War of 1812

West Virginia Statehood

Woman Suffrage

World War I

World War II


Is it Real?

Declaration of

Digital Authentication
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America’s Four Republics
The More or Less United States

Continental Congress
U.C. Presidents

Peyton Randolph

Henry Middleton

Peyton Randolph

John Hancock


Continental Congress
U.S. Presidents

John Hancock

Henry Laurens

John Jay

Samuel Huntington


Constitution of 1777
U.S. Presidents

Samuel Huntington

Samuel Johnston
Elected but declined the office

Thomas McKean

John Hanson

Elias Boudinot

Thomas Mifflin

Richard Henry Lee

John Hancock
Chairman David Ramsay]

Nathaniel Gorham

Arthur St. Clair

Cyrus Griffin


Constitution of 1787
U.S. Presidents

George Washington 

John Adams
Federalist Party

Thomas Jefferson
Republican* Party

James Madison 
Republican* Party

James Monroe
Republican* Party

John Quincy Adams
Republican* Party
Whig Party

Andrew Jackson
Republican* Party
Democratic Party

Martin Van Buren
Democratic Party

William H. Harrison
Whig Party

John Tyler
Whig Party

James K. Polk
Democratic Party

David Atchison**
Democratic Party

Zachary Taylor
Whig Party

Millard Fillmore
Whig Party

Franklin Pierce
Democratic Party

James Buchanan
Democratic Party

Abraham Lincoln 
Republican Party

Jefferson Davis***
Democratic Party

Andrew Johnson
Republican Party

Ulysses S. Grant 
Republican Party

Rutherford B. Hayes
Republican Party

James A. Garfield
Republican Party

Chester Arthur 
Republican Party

Grover Cleveland
Democratic Party

Benjamin Harrison
Republican Party

Grover Cleveland 
Democratic Party

William McKinley
Republican Party

Theodore Roosevelt
Republican Party

William H. Taft 
Republican Party

Woodrow Wilson
Democratic Party

Warren G. Harding 
Republican Party

Calvin Coolidge
Republican Party

Herbert C. Hoover
Republican Party

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Democratic Party

Harry S. Truman
Democratic Party

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Republican Party

John F. Kennedy
Democratic Party

Lyndon B. Johnson 
Democratic Party 

Richard M. Nixon 
Republican Party

Gerald R. Ford 
Republican Party

James Earl Carter, Jr. 
Democratic Party

Ronald Wilson Reagan 
Republican Party

George H. W. Bush
Republican Party 

William Jefferson Clinton
Democratic Party

George W. Bush 
Republican Party

Barack H. Obama
Democratic Party

Please Visit

Forgotten Founders
Norwich, CT

Annapolis Continental
Congress Society

U.S. Presidency
& Hospitality

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