This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Pox and the Covenant: Mather, Franklin,…

The Pox and the Covenant: Mather, Franklin, and the Epidemic That Changed…

by Tony Williams

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
622191,731 (2.4)9

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 9 mentions

Showing 2 of 2
During Boston's smallpox outbreak in 1721, Puritan clergyman Cotton Mather and a young Benjamin Franklin found themselves on opposite sides of the inoculation question. One was for using a method known in Africa and Asia but only recently discovered by the European scientific community. The other was against this untried method that would likely spread the contagion rather than curb it. Surprisingly, Cotton Mather was the most prominent Bostonian advocating inoculation, while most of its physicians as well as Benjamin Franklin and his printer brother were against it. Using the smallpox epidemic as an example, the author explores the worldview of clergymen such as Cotton Mather who integrated science and religion.

The end notes and bibliography consist mainly of secondary sources; primary sources are limited to newspapers of the era, a few pamphlets, and published papers, diaries, journals, and autobiographies/memoirs. It is not suitable for an academic/scholarly audience, although it might be appropriate for a high school library collection. Recommended only for readers with a casual interest in the topic. ( )
  cbl_tn | Aug 17, 2015 |
Another bit of research for my Boston By Foot Dark Side tour, this one discussing the history of the smallpox pandemic of 1721. Cotton Mather, a religious conservative but also a man of science (and member of the Royal Society), responded by encouraging people to take inoculation with the only doctor willing to help him, Zabdiel Boylston. Mather partially credited the practice to his African slave Onesimus once again showing himself a man ahead of his time as he both thought African medicine valid and gave credit where credit was due. Mather faced much opposition both on superstitious and scientific grounds. His most surprising opponent was the New England Courant published by Benjamin Franklin's elder brother James whom one would assume would be on the side of reason and science. Williams holds that the smallpox pandemic and the inoculation controversy was the death knell of the Puritan covenant and forever changed the culture of Boston. He brings in lots of interesting details and facts of early 18th century Boston although at times it feels like he's padding an already thin book. Maybe this would hold together better as a long article rather than a book but I found it interesting and informative. ( )
1 vote Othemts | Jul 6, 2011 |
Showing 2 of 2
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Presents an account of the 1721 smallpox epidemic in Boston that caused death and panic across the city while the clergy turned to fasting and prayer, rejecting the scientific community's new approach--inoculation.

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (2.4)
1 1
2 1
2.5 1
3 1
3.5 1


2 editions of this book were published by Sourcebooks.

Editions: 1402236050, 1402260938

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 126,453,484 books! | Top bar: Always visible