Magnalia Christi Americana: or, the Ecclesiastical History of New-England from Its First Planting in the Year 1620, Unto the Year of Our Lord, 1689

MATHER, Cotton.
Hartford: Silas Andrus, 1820.
First U.S. edition. Two volumes, complete. 573 pp.; 595 pp. The books were owned by Rev. Herman Landon Vail (1790-1870), each volume signed by him.
Quarto, later full brown calf, burgundy gilt lettered spine labels. Some rubbing and scuffing of covers, browning and some foxing throughout, top of title page excised, albeit a nice copy.


Cotton Mather, FRS (February 12, 1663 – February 13, 1728; A.B. 1678, Harvard College; A.M. 1681, honorary doctorate 1710, University of Glasgow) was a socially and politically influential New England Puritan minister, prolific author, and pamphleteer. Known for his vigorous support for the Salem witch trials, he also left a scientific legacy due to his hybridization experiments and his promotion of inoculation for disease prevention. He was subsequently denied the Presidency of Harvard College which his father, Increase, had held.

Mather wrote more than 450 books and pamphlets, and his ubiquitous literary works made him one of the most influential religious leaders in America. Mather set the moral tone in the colonies, and sounded the call for second- and third-generation Puritans, whose parents had left England for the New England colonies of North America, to return to the theological roots of Puritanism. The most important of these, Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), comprises seven distinct books, many of which depict biographical and historical narratives.
From his religious training, Mather viewed the importance of texts for elaborating meaning and for bridging different moments of history—linking, for instance, the Biblical stories of Noah and Abraham with the arrival of such eminent leaders as John Eliot, John Winthrop, and his own father, Increase. Highly influential, Mather was a force to be reckoned with in secular, as well as in spiritual, matters. After the fall of James II of England, in 1688, Mather was among the leaders of the successful revolt against James' governor of the consolidated Dominion of New England, Sir Edmund Andros.

Mather was not known for writing in a neutral, unbiased perspective. Many, if not all, of his writings had bits and pieces of his own personal life in them or were written for personal reasons. In 1689, Mather published Memorable Providences, detailing the supposed afflictions of several children in the Goodwin family in Boston. Catholic washerwoman Goody Glover was convicted of witchcraft and executed in this case. Robert Calef, a contemporary critic of Mather, considered this book responsible for laying the groundwork for the Salem witch trials three years later:
Mr Cotton Mather, was the most active and forward of any Minister in the Country in those matters, taking home one of the Children, and managing such Intreagues with that Child, and after printing such an account of the whole, in his Memorable Providences, as conduced much to the kindling of those Flames, that in Sir Williams time threatened the devouring of this Country.

Nineteenth-century historian Charles Wentworth Upham shared the view that the afflicted in Salem were imitating the Goodwin children, but put the blame on both Cotton and his father, Increase Mather:
They are answerable.. more than almost any other men have been, for the opinions of their time. It was, indeed a superstitious age; but made much more so by their operations, influence, and writings, beginning with Increase Mather's movement, at the assembly of Ministers, in 1681, and ending with Cotton Mather's dealings with the Goodwin children, and the account thereof which he printed and circulated far and wide. For this reason, then in the first place, I hold those two men responsible for what is called 'Salem Witchcraft.' -wikipedia. [Sabin 46393. Howes M391 ""Most famous 18th century American book.""].

Price: $750.00
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