The Pox and the Covenant

The Pox and the Covenant

Mather, Franklin, and the Epidemic That Changed America's Destiny

Book - 2011
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A covenant of life and death. For 100 years, God had held to his promise, and the colonists had as well: live uncorrupted lives or suffer divine wrath. But on April 22, 1721, the arrival of one doomed ship in Boston's harbors unleashed a deadly smallpox epidemic that put this covenant to its greatest test. The fierce debate over how to combat the growing tragedy quickly became a battle between faith and reason that would reshape the colonists' view of their destiny, setting a new course for America and inciting the first drumbeats of revolution. The Pox and the Covenant is the story of well-known figures such as Cotton Mather, James Franklin, and a young Benjamin Franklin struggling to fight for their cause amidst the chaos of death and panic -- although not always for the side one would expect - Back cover
In the midst of the deadly 1721 smallpox epidemic, two factions faced off in Boston over scientific innovation versus the Bible. A small but not inconsequential cadre believed that the previously unheard-of practice of inoculation would stem the spread of this serious disease. The larger community protested that the very notion of inoculation flew in the face of everything the Bible stood for. What's more, they insisted, it was bad science. The surprising twist here, without spoilers, is that the latterly iconic Puritan minister Cotton Mather led the group putting its faith in science. The opposition numbered among it the most prominent and powerful physicians of the day, joined by several of Mather's peers and community leaders and supported by members of the Boston press, including a teenaged Benjamin Franklin, who penned several scathing invectives criticizing Mather and his heretical proposal. Mather's reputation took a beating, but Franklin did an about-face on inoculation within the decade. With present-day controversy over vaccination, everything old is new again. And Williams' history is timely as well as engaging. -- Donna Chavez (Booklist)
Publisher: Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks ; Bath : Manning Partnership [distributor], [2011], c2010
ISBN: 9781402260933
Characteristics: xxiv, 277 p. : map, photographs ; 22 cm


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Algonquin_Lisa Mar 02, 2011

A more positive take on Cotton Mather than any I've seen before. I found it absorbing, as I love reading about the history of New England.


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