Stamped From the Beginning - Part One: Cotton Mather - Chapters 4-6 Summary & Analysis

Ibram X. Kendi
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Summary

In February 1663, Cotton Mather, the descendant of prominent New England Puritans and lawmakers, was born. Influenced by his contemporaries and predecessors, Cotton Mather would grow up to become influential in normalizing American slavery. At the same time, other religious thinkers and leaders are squaring Christianity with slavery by arguing that the institution "would be helpful for African people" (48). Regardless, laws prohibiting the enslavement of Christians made enslavers reluctant to baptize their slaves at it would give them grounds to sue for freedom. In 1667, Virginia rules that baptism does not alter "the condition of the person as to his bondage" (49). Other states such as New York and Maryland followed suit.

Other scholars at the time justified slavery by perpetuating the stereotype of the "voluntary slave" or through justifying the legitimacy of enslaving prisoners of war. At the same time...

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