Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Pox and the Covenant

Last night I finished The Pox and the Covenant by Tony Williams.  It really isn't a long book and it left me feeling the way a good history book should, wanting to know more about the subject.  I knew from other readings that inoculation was a touchy subject in Colonial days, but I hadn't realized just how touchy it was.

I must confess to also being one of the many Americans that knew Reverend Cotton Mather only through the lens of the Salem Witch Trials.  I had no clue he was actually a learned scholar and could legitimately be called a scientist.  I figured he was simply a hidebound theologian.  My mistake.  I think I'll be reading more about him.

The book seemed to end a bit abruptly, as if the author didn't quite know if there was more he should put in there, but he did show how the kerfuffle over the smallpox epidemic of 1721 and the inoculations championed by Mather and his friend Boylston sped up a disconnect between the Puritan Covenant and a rapidly modernizing Boston and New England society.  I will definitely be looking into this more.

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