Cotton Mather died on this day in 1728, the day after his 65th birthday. The last of the great Puritan ministers, he was the first pastor to make calls on parishioners, the first to visit inmates in prison, the first to hold church meetings for young people. His life was filled with tragedy – he lost two wives and outlived 13 of his 15 children – yet his faith remained unshakable. A true Puritan, he did not think more highly of himself than he ought; indeed, he considered himself “feeble and worthless, yet (Lord, by Thy grace) desirous to approve himself a sincere and faithful servant of Jesus Christ”. Aside from his public life as a puritan leader, Cotton Mather wrote Magnalia Christi Americana, the definitive history of the first half-century of New England. Chronicling their spiritual journey from humble origins through great trials and adversities to their current strength, he was dismayed. God had honored the trust and obedience of the “first comers” with blessing, and now at the dawn of the 18th century their descendants were turning away from Him.