Magnalia Christi Americana. Cotton Mather. 1855. Cotton Mather was the most prolific writer of colonial New England. In these two magnificent volumes, he preserves much history of the institution that became the Congregational Church.
Most importantly, he collected important biographical information on nearly all the early New England ministers.ÃâÃÂ ÃâÃÂ Mather knew no moderation in collecting information and putting it in print. Although the work is described as an ecclesiastical history, there is more to it than that. Mather also presented accounts of the founding of the various New England colonies, with biographical sketches of the governors of those colonies and of some other leading citizens. He also included accounts of the early history of Harvard College and of the Indian wars of the seventeenth century.Mather searched widely for information on the ministers whose lives he delineated. In many cases, he would have known the ministers themselves, or their children or members of their congregations. (He was, of course, grandson of two of the greatest ministers of the immigrant generation: Rev. John Cotton and Rev. Richard Mather.) Mather also made use of such printed sources as existed at that early date.