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American history
New England
The Pox and the Covenant: Mather, Franklin, and the Epidemic that Changed America's Destiny
 
 
Author
Tony Williams.
Publisher Sourcebooks  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 8.7 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
ISBN 9781402260933
Pages/Publication Date 277/2010
Daedalus Item Code 40817
This item is not available.
Description
Early in the 18th century, many Puritans living in Boston believed that their city held a covenant with God; they would live uncorrupted lives, and God would spare them His divine wrath. But in April 1721, the Seahorse entered Boston Harbor with a contagion aboard and unleashed a deadly smallpox epidemic. As the author of Hurricane of Independence reveals in this "rollicking good story" (Howard Markel), the debate over how to treat the outbreak became a battle between faith and science that would reshape the colonists' view of their destiny. Surprisingly, it was Puritan minister Cotton Mather who insisted that inoculation was the key to saving the city.

"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."Booklist

 
 
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