Cotton Mather

1663-1728. Puritan minister. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, the eldest son of Increase Mather, he was educated at Harvard College. Entering the ministry, he served the Second Church of Boston, first as his father's colleague and then as senior pastor. In 1690 he was elected a fellow of Harvard. The greater part of his 400 publications was published after 1692. They reveal that he was primarily a theologian and historian, with amateur interests in a wide variety of subjects. His Magnalia Christi Americana (1702) was and is much used. His Bonifacius (1710), later called Essays to do Good, was widely read in America. Through his books and voluminous correspondence he enjoyed a European reputation. He was also well known as a philanthropist, supporting, for example, a school for slaves. Though his influence in politics diminished when Joseph Dudley became governor in 1702, he exercised influences in the churches of Massachusetts all his life. The theology he expounded in his later life (e.g., in Christian Philosopher, 1721) suggests a move away from orthodox Calvinism.