BN.com Gift Guide

Pox and the Covenant: Mather, Franklin, and the Epidemic That Changed America's Destiny

Overview

After several days of skirting the North American coast, the Seahorse reached Boston, the largest city in the colonies, with a population of roughly eleven thousand souls. With such a large number of people, Boston rivaled the cities of mother England, save only for London. Boston was moreover one of the great hubs of the Atlantic trade network. It gathered goods from the farms of the New England hinterland and from smaller cities and ports along the American coast. These commodities were shipped all over the ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (22) from $1.99   
  • New (5) from $4.93   
  • Used (17) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 4 of 5
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$4.93
Seller since 2007

Feedback rating:

(5899)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
New

Ships from: Miamisburg, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$11.49
Seller since 2007

Feedback rating:

(120)

Condition: New
2010-04-01 Hardcover New in New jacket Brand new hardback, new dust jacket, never opened.

Ships from: Cardington, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$11.50
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(0)

Condition: New
Naperville 2010 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Tight binding with clean text. New. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 277 p. Contains: Maps. Audience: ... General/trade. On April 22, 1721, the HMS Seahorse arrived in Boston from the West Indies, carrying goods, cargo, and, unbeknownst to its crew, a deadly virus. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Arlington, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$20.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(14)

Condition: New
Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 277 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Brand New-Gift Quality In a plastic ... cover Read more Show Less

Ships from: San Jose, CA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 4 of 5
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

After several days of skirting the North American coast, the Seahorse reached Boston, the largest city in the colonies, with a population of roughly eleven thousand souls. With such a large number of people, Boston rivaled the cities of mother England, save only for London. Boston was moreover one of the great hubs of the Atlantic trade network. It gathered goods from the farms of the New England hinterland and from smaller cities and ports along the American coast. These commodities were shipped all over the Atlantic which other goods were imported into the city and sent elsewhere. For a virus, a better place to contaminate could hardly be found...

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The Lancet
The Pox and the Covenant does contain some vivid descriptions of plague-ridden New England and it is well organised and lucidly written.
ForeWord
"Williams excels at parsing out the individual experience of smallpox in the midst of crowded panic. Using diaries and other primary sources as jumping off points, he offers a richly imagined stage of grief, resilience, and resourcefulness."
American History
A frightful look at the 1721 smallpox epidemic and clash between religious and medical leaders over inoculation.
New York Journal of Books
The Pox and the Covenant is a well-written, informative read. Readers interested in colonial American history or the history of science more generally will find much to enjoy. It is also readable and approachable enough to make an excellent choice for upper-level high school or college history classes. It will serve as a launching place for those interested in exploring the nature of illness and medical science in the period, but also stands on its own as an engaging treatment of this chapter in American history.
From the Publisher
""A fascinating aside to American medical history."" - Publishers Weekly

"A lively history of the 1721 Boston smallpox epidemic, the first in America to feature inoculation." - Kirkus

"With present-day controversy

over vaccination, everything old is new again. And Williams' history is timely as well as engaging.

" - Booklist

"A welcome shade of gray into the traditional depiction of Puritans as repressive and closed-minded" - Boston Globe

""Williams does convey the point that these smallpox inoculations marked a good start toward better control over future epidemics. The book is well written and has an extensive bibliography, including primary and secondary sources, endnotes and index."" - Virginian-Pilot

"This slice of history showing religion and science working together to avert an uncontrollable catastrophe, is revelatory." - Sacramento Book Review

"The Pox and the Covenant does contain some vivid descriptions of plague-ridden New England and it is well organised and lucidly written." - The Lancet

""Williams excels at parsing out the individual experience of smallpox in the midst of crowded panic. Using diaries and other primary sources as jumping off points, he offers a richly imagined stage of grief, resilience, and resourcefulness."" - ForeWord

"A frightful look at the 1721 smallpox epidemic and clash between religious and medical leaders over inoculation." - American History

"The Pox and the Covenant is a well-written, informative read. Readers interested in colonial American history or the history of science more generally will find much to enjoy. It is also readable and approachable enough to make an excellent choice for upper-level high school or college history classes. It will serve as a launching place for those interested in exploring the nature of illness and medical science in the period, but also stands on its own as an engaging treatment of this chapter in American history.

" - New York Journal of Books

Publishers Weekly
Historian Williams (Hurricane of Independence) explores a fascinating aside to American medical history—how “a Puritan minister and one lone doctor... stood up to the medical establishment” by carrying out the first-ever American inoculation program during Boston’s 1721 smallpox epidemic. Here’s the brilliant Puritan minister Cotton Mather, also a member of the prestigious British Royal Society, and Zabdiel Boylston, the doctor whom Mather persuaded to test out the theories of inoculation. The results were stunning. Out of 242 persons inoculated against smallpox, only six died. Despite this success, the public—including the young and brash Ben Franklin—loudly disapproved. If this account of the raucous, turbulent times is often stilted, the compelling details of the momentous experiment and the epidemic’s devastating human toll speak for themselves. Williams argues that the campaign of Mather, the greatest preacher of his day, for inoculation illustrates the error of assuming that religion has always been “an impediment to the progress of modern science and reason.” But his better story is the one of Mather, a spiritual man and loving father who—despite being the target of an attempted assassin—wanted nothing more than to save his family and city.Map. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
A lively history of the 1721 Boston smallpox epidemic, the first in America to feature inoculation. During that time period, "inoculation" transferred the actual virus from a victim to the patient, producing mild, but occasionally serious, smallpox. Historian Williams (Hurricane of Independence: The Untold Story of the Deadly Storm at the Deciding Moment of the American Revolution, 2008) narrates through the lens of eminent Puritan minister Cotton Mather and Benjamin Franklin. Readers who think they know who championed this lifesaving advance are in for a jolt. The author delivers a history of Puritanism, emphasizing that most believers had no objection to the scientific discoveries of the Enlightenment period. Mather was an enthusiastic naturalist. Elected to the British Royal Society, he corresponded with other members in London and throughout Europe. As the epidemic spread, he urged inoculation, but only one Boston physician, Zabdiel Boylston, took him up on it. Others denounced it. The dispute mushroomed, producing a flood of pamphlets, abusive newspaper essays, decrees forbidding inoculation (which Boylston ignored) and even an attempt on Mather's life. Many attacks appeared in the New-England Courant published by James Franklin, whose younger brother, Benjamin, played a minor role. Some readers may skim extensive quotes from sermons, editorials and speeches teeming with personal attacks, rumors, anecdotes and appeals to religion. Ultimately, Mather's opponents ignored evidence that Boylston's inoculation worked, preferring to proclaim that it was useless, dangerous or a violation of God's will. A painless reminder that historical figures often become cliches. Now known as theepitome of Puritan intolerance, Mather had a genuine interest in science, unlike most doctors in 1721 Boston.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402236051
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/2010
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Read an Excerpt

On September 6, 1620, the Puritans aboard the Mayflower departed on their religious errand into the American wilderness. They were Separatists who fled on their divinely ordained mission to escape persecution and establish a pure church free of the Catholic corruptions of the Anglican Church. As chronicler William Bradford wrote, in England, "religion has been disgraced, the godly aggrieved, afflicted, persecuted.... Sin has been countenanced, ignorance, profanity, and atheism have increased, and the papists have been encouraged." The Puritan church in the New World would recover its ancient biblical purity and be a model for the English Church; the Separatists could then return to their Mother Country.

The Mayflower sailed from Plymouth for the New World, Bradford wrote, with a "prosperous wind." The crowded vessel measured roughly one hundred feet in length and was rated at 180 tons. Her sister ship, the Speedwell, had proved to be leaky beyond repair and had put in at Dartmouth to be mended. After a great deal of expense of lost time, the pair put to sea again but was forced back to Plymouth when the Speedwell sprang more leaks. The ship was clearly unequal to a transatlantic voyage, and some of her passengers boarded the Mayflower while others were forced to stay behind. Half of the provisions had been consumed in the weeks spent dealing with the Speedwell. It had been an inauspicious start to a voyage blessed by the Lord.

The Mayflower sped across the white-tipped waves once the voyage was under way, and the passengers were quickly afflicted with seasickness. The crew took great delight in the sufferings of the landlubbers and tormented them mercilessly. "There is an insolent and very profane young man," Bradford wrote, "who was always harassing the poor people in their sickness, and cursing them daily with grievous execrations." He even laughed that he hoped to "throw half of them overboard before they came to their journey's end." The Puritans believed that a just God punished the young sailor for his cruelty when, halfway through the voyage, "it pleased God...to smite the young man with a grievous disease, of which he died in a desperate manner." He was the first to be thrown overboard.

The favorable winds dissipated, and the Mayflower encountered a series of fierce storms and westerly gales that forced the crew to furl the sails and ride it out. They were "forced to hull for many days" and driven back. They surrendered to the will of God and prayed for deliverance to survive their arduous journey. One day a young indentured servant came on deck during a terrible storm and was thrown into the sea. He somehow grasped the rope that raised and lowered the topsail even as he was dragged several feet under the surface. He was frantically hauled onto the deck. The Puritans interpreted his rescue as an instance of God's providence rewarding them for their piety. Unlike many other transatlantic voyages, only one passenger died.

After a two-month trip during which they suffered the dreadful effects of that common seafaring disease scurvy, land was sighted on November 9. There were some disputes about where they would ultimately land because they tried to head southward for the Hudson River but encountered dangerous shoals and breakers that threatened to wreck the ship. The captain resolved on Cape Cod, but not before "discontented and mutinous speeches" were uttered by some of the "strangers" (passengers who were not Puritans) on board. The strangers were Englishmen who vowed that they were free men and would not submit to any authority over their lives.

Given these threatening circumstances to a people plunging into a vast and dangerous wilderness, the Puritans assembled and laid the foundation of their government in the New World. They wrote:

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc., having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and of one another, covenant and combine ourselves into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation, and the furtherance of the ends aforesaid and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general use of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness thereof we have here underscribed our names as Cape Cod, 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James of England, France, and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. A.D. 1620.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xiii

Prologue xix

1 A Killer Lurking 1

2 Walking Around Boston 11

3 Contagion 21

4 Ordinary and Extraordinary Concerns 33

5 At the Pulpit 51

6 A Consult of Physicians 59

7 Dr. Boylston Responds 69

8 Social Disharmony 89

9 The Brothers Franklin 97

10 For and Against Inoculation 107

11 "My Dying Children" 121

12 Death's Head 139

13 Life-Giving Fires 157

14 "The Afflicted Still Multiply" 165

15 "Cotton Mather, You Dog, Damn You!" 173

16 The Final Boston Inoculations 187

Conclusion 207

Bibliography 211

Endnotes 227

About the Author 259

Note to Reader 261

Index 263

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)