Experiences setbacks and tragedy

Despite his achievements, Mather was constantly experiencing setbacks and tragedy. After the death of his first wife, Abigail, with whom he had a happy marriage, he wed Elizabeth Clark Hubbard in 1703. He and Elizabeth were happy together, but she too died at a young age. Mather's third marriage, to Lydia Lee George, was disastrous: Lydia reportedly ruined him financially before she went insane. With his three wives Mather had fifteen children, but only two survived at the time of his death. Neither of them was capable of carrying on the intellectual tradition of three previous generations of Mathers. For instance, his son Increase—named for Mather's father—preferred to spend his time in pubs (bars) instead of preparing for the ministry. Yet Cotton Mather was even more disappointed in himself. When he was not chosen to succeed his father as president of Harvard College, he concluded that he was a failure because he had not carried on the Mather tradition.

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