Wednesday, November 26, 2008

puritian preacher & early american medical scientist

In honor of Thanksgiving Day, Saturday's Wall Street Journal had a selection of the five best rare books on early America. One of which was the tract An Account of the Method and Success of Inoculating the Small-Pox . . . by Puritan preacher Cotton Mather (1722). Here is the description:

Cotton Mather is best known for his incendiary influence on the Salem witch trials, but he was also an intellectual omnivore, a prolific science writer whose interests included rainbows and rattlesnakes, cures for syphilis and Indian methods of keeping time. Having witnessed the devastation of smallpox epidemics, Mather was fascinated when one of his slaves told him of a form of inoculation practiced in his native Sudan. Mather found writings on the subject by Turkish doctors and English scientists eager to try it, and he soon threw his religious passion behind a campaign for inoculation trials in Boston. The campaign faced fierce opposition, but American medical history was born here, in a conversation between a Puritan preacher and his African slave.

Source: Rare Books on Early America
~ As Thanksgiving nears, Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim picks her favorite rare books on early America.
» Full Story in Wall Street Journal (November 22, 2008).

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Be blessed!

P.S. Click to see the page images of the original at Harvard University Library.

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