The Salem Witchcraft Trials Essay Research Paper

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?The Salem Witchcraft Trials? Essay, Research Paper 3-4 page Research Paper on Cotton Mather ?The Salem witchcraft trials,? a phrase not too often heard these days in everyday conversation. Witches burning at the stake, or drowning in a tub of water, and perhaps the most humane way of their execution, hanging (5). This piece of American history is a prudent example of how everyday people can, and were, be lead astray from what would normally be considered ridiculous and preposterous ideas, into something that warrants these horrible means of human demise. What or more importantly who was responsible for this catastrophic loss of life? The Quaker society of colonial America was where these events took place. The term Quaker refers to a member of a religious sect called The

Society of Friends, which had significant religious influence in the northeastern parts of America, perhaps too much influence. The man who played a great part in these events was Cotton Mather. Cotton Mather was an extremely influential man during the 65 years of his life here on earth (1663-1728). Cotton was the son of Increase Mather and Maria (Cotton) Mather (1). His father, an educated man who was pastor of the Old North Church in Boston and also the president of Harvard College, set a high precedent for his young son to follow (2). Cotton, inspired by his father?s success, graduated from Harvard College at the age of sixteen and went on to be ordained as minister of the Old North Church in 1685 (2). It is here where Cotton gains the seemingly blind trust of the members of

this community, which enables him to have such a significant influence on the outcome of this period of history. Cotton used his influence as pastor through the church to convince the people that witches were living amongst their society. This is perhaps the only negative influence he had to society. Cotton was also an excellent writer. His major publications were Wonders of the Invisible World in 1693, Magnalia Christi Americana in 1702, Bonifacius year 1710, Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions in 1689 and several others. What type of man was Cotton Mather? What did he value? And how did his writing reflect his beliefs? Let us first start by evaluating a writing related to the events described above, The Wonders of the Invisible World. In this

publication, Mather makes many references to accounts of eyewitness testimonies and confessions of the accused; not only to justify, but also to prove that the Salem witchtrials were a God sanctioned attack against Satanic works. Mather says, ?He (the devil) has wanted incarnate legions to persecute us, as the people of God have in the other hemisphere been persecuted: he (the devil) has therefore drawn upon his more spiritual ones to make an attack upon us.? (2) Mather?s use of the term ?spiritual ones,? is meant to represent the accused witches of the time. Witches, Mather believes, are the work of the devil. Throughout this writing Mather quotes from the Bible. Mather knows that the people of his church would not dare question the validity of the Bible. So, by choosing

specific verses that favor the intended goal of his writings he is able to add rock solid validity to the statements he is making to the members of his church. References to past situations illustrated in the Bible prove to Mathers? audience that these situations happened once and could happen again. The references to the Bible combined with Mather?s claim of witchcraft were obviously enough to convince the people of this town that their pastor was correct in his beliefs. The Negro Christianized is an essay by Mather about the relationship between slaves and slave owners. Mather again uses the Bible to add validity to the main message. Mather quotes Ephesians 5.9, ?Masters, know that your Master is in Heaven. (7)? With this he sends a message to slave owners so strong it is