The Puritans Were America's First Anti-VaxxersRoundup
tags: medicine, Puritans, Vaccination, Vaccine
A plague is a busy time for a man of the cloth.
Cotton Mather was the most prominent clergyman in colonial Boston, the last in a line of preachers who had provided spiritual solace to the city from the beginning. Yet when he looked down from his pulpit in the fall of 1702 he saw his congregation dwindling by the day.
With funerals “daily celebrated and multiplied,” as he noted in his journal, the usual Puritan terrors of devils and Indians were replaced in public consciousness with fears of the “fevers and fluxes” that spread by the sad magic of human touch and breath.
Though best known for lighting the fuse of the Salem Witch Trials, Mather faced his greatest challenge not in the imagined spiritual malady of a few girls claiming to be hexed, but in the very real epidemic of small pox. His efforts to fight it, and his willingness to skirt theological orthodoxy in doing so, might stand today as a model for religious leaders to speak out against an anti-vaccine movement that represents a dangerous intersection of medical ignorance and misplaced spiritual confidence that Mather knew well.
By the reckoning of historians of the day, small pox made an appearance in Boston roughly every twenty years, always with disastrous effect....
comments powered by Disqus
- ‘Lock me up’: The last man to be arrested for defying Congress during an investigation
- Faith made Harriet Tubman fearless as she rescued slaves
- A Turkish dam is about to flood one of the oldest continuously settled places on Earth
- Soldiers got Medals of Honor for massacring Native Americans. This bill would take them away.
- UNC Will Give Silent Sam to a Confederate Group — Along With a $2.5-Million Trust
- The Ten Best History Books of 2019
- ‘Well Worth Saving’
- Anne Boleyn Has Had a Bad Reputation for Nearly 500 Years. Hayley Nolan Wants to Change That
- James Grossman Writes Article on Career Diversity: "Revising Revisited: Words Matter When It Comes to Career Diversity"
- Review: A Gospel for the Poor: Global Social Christianity and the Latin American Evangelical Left