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Cotton Mather, slave owner

J.L. Bell has been taking a look at the story of Onesimus, the slave owned by Cotton Mather, Increase's pride and joy, Boston Latin School graduate and champion of inoculation, who also didn't mind owning human beings.

Onesimus, who may very well have been the one to first tell Mather how to prevent smallpox, eventually proved too much of a bother for Mather, who gave him his freedom - by signing a contract that required him to pay Mather five pounds for the privilege and to shovel out his yard after snow. Bell also reports on traces of Onesimus's life in freedom.




signing a contract that required him to pay Mather five pounds for the privilege and to shovel out his yard after snow.

For all the time I rented in various apartments around Boston my leases always required the residents of my unit to shovel the snow on the sidewalks and driveway for the house's owner.

Nice to see the "shovel Snow" clause of contracts has existed in Boston since well before the American revolution. I wonder if Onesimus was also required to put a broken old chair in front of Mather's house after shoveling too.

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... landlords in trouble.

LOL about the space saver!

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How is it illegal? So long as its spelled out in the lease its perfectly legal.

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Just because it's in the lease and both parties agree to it doesn't make it legal. Specifically, for snow shoveling, the landlord can only require it of the tenant if the tenant has their own private walkway and entrance - and even then, they can only require that the tenant clear those areas (the landlord is still on the hook for the sidewalk and any shared driveway). Of course, that's not going to stop a lot of landlords from adding it to the lease anyway, and hoping the tenant isn't up with the minutiae of the laws...

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It seems Onesimus may have been "vaccinated" in Africa before he was enslaved. Such a procedure was common there:

If you have a Globe subscription:

Or if you have a Boston library card:

And, of course, Wikipedia:

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And I learned a new word - “immorigerous”.

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One of the original creators of race and racism in the United States. Wrote at length that the only mission of slavery was to "save the souls of the slaves because through that salvation the enslaved would be in turn be whitened. Purified." His ideas spread all over the colonies and all over the world. He played as big a part as anyone in the history of this world in creating the idea of race and the system of racism.

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