The Correspondence of John Cotton

Sargent Bush Jr.
Paperback price: $60
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Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Imprint: OIEAHC
Cloth/Hardcover Publication Date: 03/2001
Reprint Date: 03/2016
Pages: 584
Paperback ISBN: 9781469615240
Paperback Publication Date: 03/2016
Ebook ISBN: 9780807839157


John Cotton (1584-1652) was a key figure in the English Puritan movement in the first half of the seventeenth century, a respected leader among his generation of emigrants from England to New England.

This volume collects all known surviving correspondence by and to Cotton. These 125 letters–more than 50 of which are here published for the first time–span the decades between 1621 and 1652, a period of great activity and change in the Puritan movement and in English history. Now carefully edited, annotated, and contextualized, the letters chart the trajectory of Cotton’s career and revive a variety of voices from the troubled times surrounding Charles I’s reign, including those of such prominent figures as Oliver Cromwell, Bishop John Williams, John Dod, and Thomas Hooker, as well as many little-known persons who wrote to Cotton for advice and guidance.

Among the treasures of early Anglo-American history, these letters bring to life the leading Puritan intellectual of the generation of the Great Migration and illustrate the network of mutual support that nourished an intellectual and spiritual movement through difficult times.

About The Author

The late Sargent Bush Jr., was John Bascom Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


“The letters in The Correspondence of John Cotton deepen our knowledge of Cotton’s life and times.”–William and Mary Quarterly

“Scholars of 17th-century New England have eagerly awaited the publication of this definitive edition of the letters of John Cotton, Massachusetts Bay’s most prominent first-generation minister. . . . The editing is impeccable and the scholarship prodigious. . . . Any institution offering courses in Colonial American history or literature will need this major contribution to the documentary history of early New England.”–Choice

“Though John Cotton is the focus of this collection, Bush’s study illuminates transatlantic Puritanism and Puritan literary culture more broadly. . . . It is clear that Bush’s enormous project of manuscript tracking, paleography, transcription, and annotation was a labor of love. The book that has emerged from this labor is a treasure.”–Early American Literature

“How provocative, how valuable is Bush’s marvelous edition of the letters. . . . The Correspondence of John Cotton is a rich scholarly resource, a glowing testament to Bush’s decade of painstaking research, and quite simply a model of its kind.”–Seventeenth-Century News

“Sargent Bush Jr.’s herculean labors of source hunting, paleography, and annotation have produced an indispensable treasure trove of a book for scholars of Puritanism. The Correspondence of John Cotton sheds new light on the dangerous, rapidly changing worlds of Cotton and his correspondents while making Cotton’s exalted contemporary reputation finally comprehensible.”–Michael Winship, University of Georgia

“An outstanding achievement of scholarly devotion and determination. . . . This book gives us a more vivid sense than was previously possible of the mind and heart of New England’s leading theologian and minister during the first years of settlement. The result is a genuine contribution to knowledge for which everyone interested in the formative years of American culture will be grateful.”–Andrew Delbanco, Columbia University

“Sargent Bush’s extraordinary edition of all of John Cotton’s extant correspondence will renew and redirect debates about the enigmatic Puritan preacher and the transatlantic intellectual world in which he played such a central role. . . . A signal contribution to Cotton scholarship, transatlantic Puritan studies, and colonial cultural studies.”–Teresa Toulouse, Tulane University

“Students of transatlantic Puritanism stand deep in debt to Bush for this superbly achieved collection. Its multifaceted materials shed bright new light on Cotton’s central role and wide influence as counselor, arbiter, and teacher.”–Michael McGiffert

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