J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, September 28, 2020

“Onesimus and Rev. Cotton Mather” Program, 1 Oct.

On Thursday, 1 October, I’ll be part of an online discussion through the Freedom Forum on “Onesimus and Rev. Cotton Mather: Race, Religion, and the Press in Colonial America.”

The Freedom Forum’s description says:
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?
Besides myself, the panelists will be Tom Meenan, citizen researcher and educator for the Freedom Forum, and Debra L. Mason, Ph.D., Fellow at Harvard’s Religion Literacy Project and Professor Emerita at the Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri.

This free event will start at 1:00 P.M. Eastern time. Register through this link.

Among the other discussions in this Freedom Forum series is one covering the African-American ministers Richard Allen and Absalom Jones during the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, as well as conversations about more recent American history.


Matt said...

Will this be recorded so we working stiffs will be able to enjoy it?

J. L. Bell said...

The previous events in this series are on the Freedom Forum's YouTube channel, so I expect this will be, too.