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Religious Resolve: Stories from Our Past, for Our Future (Program 3)
October 1, 2020 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDTFree
Onesimus and Rev. Cotton Mather: Race, Religion and the Press in Colonial America
The third program in the Freedom Forum’s series, Religious Resolve: Stories from Our Past, for Our Future, explores a story that received cursory attention when the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged in the United States. That is the story of the enslaved man, Onesimus, who was inoculated for smallpox in Africa and who taught The Rev. Cotton Mather the technique just as a deadly smallpox epidemic hit Boston in 1721. While this historical fact is known, the program will explore less familiar but interesting aspects of the story. How did other Boston religious and medical leaders react to Rev. Mather’s promotion of African medical techniques? How did Benjamin Franklin get involved? How did the ensuing confusion lead to the development of Boston’s first independent newspaper? And what happened to Onesimus after Rev. Mather finally gave up on converting him to Christianity?
- Tom Meenan, citizen researcher and educator for the Freedom Forum
- J.L. Bell, historian, writer, and speaker who specializes in the start of the American Revolution in Boston and maintains the Boston 1775 blog
- Debra L. Mason, PhD, Fellow, Harvard University’s Religion Literacy Project and Professor Emerita at the Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri
For more information about the series, contact [email protected].
This series is made possible by generous support from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.