Cotton Mather was a New England Puritan who hoped to reconcile both his religion and the more intellectual beliefs of his time period. His ancestors were considered as the "spiritual fathers of the Massachusetts bay colony. Like his father and grandfather, he was educated to become a minister.
Later in his life he became involved in the infamous Salem Witch Trials:
Mather became embroiled in the witchcraft trials at Salem. He believed in witches and wrote several pamphlets defending the introduction of such spectral evidence as dreams and visions in the judicial proceedings. Although he was more of an observer than an instigator, his defense of the prosecutions was criticized at the time and vigorously denounced by historians ever since. After all, more than 150 persons were jailed and mistreated as accused witches and nineteen persons were executed. Indeed, the negative historical image of Mather as the learned but bigoted and superstitious Puritan preacher is based squarely upon his inglorious involvement in the pathetic witchcraft controversy.