Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

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Cotton Mather Character Analysis

Cotton Mather was a late 17th- and early 18th-century Boston Puritan minister and writer. He’s the first of the five intellectuals whom Kendi uses as guides through the history of racist ideas in Stamped from the Beginning. Named after his grandfathers, the influential Puritan ministers John Cotton and Richard Mather, Cotton Mather grew up extremely religious and started studying at Harvard University at just 11 years old. He went on to become one of the most influential intellectuals in the Thirteen Colonies. In particular, he defended a strict social hierarchy that put white Puritan men at the top. He also helped launch the Salem Witch Trials in an attempt to prevent poor colonists from rebelling against the elite. His actions and ideas represent the early roots of segregationism in the United States.

Cotton Mather Quotes in Stamped

The Stamped quotes below are all either spoken by Cotton Mather or refer to Cotton Mather. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism vs. Antiracism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Little, Brown Books for Young Readers edition of Stamped published in 2020.
Chapter 4 Quotes

Once the witch hunt eventually died down, the Massachusetts authorities apologized to the accused, reversed the convictions of the trials, and provided reparations in the early 1700s. But Cotton Mather never stopped defending the Salem witch trials, because he never stopped defending the religious, slaveholding, gender, class, and racial hierarchies reinforced by the trials. He saw himself as the defender of God’s law and the crucifier of any non-Puritan, African, Native American, poor person, or woman who defied God’s law by not submitting to it.

Related Characters: Jason Reynolds (speaker), Cotton Mather
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
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Stamped PDF

Cotton Mather Character Timeline in Stamped

The timeline below shows where the character Cotton Mather appears in Stamped. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: A Racist Wunderkind
Racism vs. Antiracism Theme Icon
Power, Profit, and Privilege Theme Icon
How Racist Ideas Spread Theme Icon
Back in Massachusetts, the Cotton and Mather families intermarried and had a grandson named Cotton Mather . He was extremely religious, and he became a preacher after studying at Harvard. Meanwhile,... (full context)
Racism vs. Antiracism Theme Icon
Power, Profit, and Privilege Theme Icon
How Racist Ideas Spread Theme Icon
Cotton Mather ’s ideas, like Gomes de Zurara’s, spread because they helped powerful people justify slavery. And... (full context)