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Chapter 3: the third and fourth generation

When the eighteenth century opened, many signs of change were in the air. The third generation of native-born Americans was becoming secularized. The theocracy of New England had failed. In the height of the tragic folly over the supposed “witchcraft” in Salem, Increase Mather and his son Cotton had held up the hands of the judges in their implacable work. But before five years had passed, Judge Sewall does public penance in church for his share of the awful blunder, desiring “to take the shame and blame of it.” Robert Calef's cool pamphlet exposing the weakness of the prosecutors' case is indeed burned by Increase Mather in the Harvard Yard, but the liberal party are soon to force Mather from the Presidency and to refuse that office to his son. In the town of Boston, once hermetically sealed against heresy, there are Baptist and Episcopal churches — and a dancingmaster.

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