What was Cotton Mather's influence on the Puritan community?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Cotton Mather (1663-1728) played a key role in the Puritan community reminding its members of the glorious days of their forefathers when such memories were beginning to fade in the world of second- and third-generation Puritans. With his epic work Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), he chronicled the history of the Puritan settlement and celebrated the saintliness of New England's founders. At a time when the Puritan theocracy and orthodoxy were challenged, Mather offered exemplary lives to the community, reconstructing the lives of John Winthrop, William Bradford and others. In The Wonders of the Invisible World (1692), Mather gave an account of the Salem witch trials defending them from accusations. Although not directly involved in the trials, Mather legitimized them using religious and biblical references. He also described witches as agents of the devil and not simply possessed by evil spirits.

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