Most of those who have ever lived are now dead. All but very few must surely burn in hell. We may someday over-people this vast, empty new land, but I fear that we have already over-peopled hell. So that, as it is written in Isaiah, "Hell hath enlarged itself" and is now called America. I have been in Salem a fortnight, and I have already hung three witches. Is this the price of building heaven on earth? I have laid my hands upon his most deadly servants, the witches. Or have I? I obeyed every one of your instructions. I even pressed a possibly innocent man to death. I still taste his spattered blood on my lips.

Please, Lord, I beg thee. Give me a sign.

~ Cotton Mather.

Cotton Mather is one of the main protagonists of the WGN America thriller TV Series, Salem.

Driven by secret obsessions and desire, Cotton Mather is the well-educated local aristocrat who fans the flames of Salem’s witch hunt. The foremost expert on witches and malice, Cotton is a Puritan reverend, son of the infamous witch hunter Increase Mather. But even as he is hunting witches, he lives under the shadow of his very famous father and agonizes about living up to him.  Cotton is a man of contradiction.  He is a God-fearing believer that strives to uphold the law, and yet he has demons inside himself that he is too afraid to exorcise. As of now, he is the husband of Anne Hale.

He is played by American actor Seth Gabel.


Cotton Mather is a man with a multi-faceted personality, since he is responsible for both horrible and severe gestures and loving compassion. His childhood has undoubtedly marked him, having grown up with a despotic father who took all the decisions for their child, even resorting to physical punishment and psychological terror. The education he received made him a skilled orator, able to agitate and control the masses at will, thus showing to be more adept at taming the demons of other people, and not his own.

Raised according Puritans precepts, Cotton is a fervent believer in the Almighty's plan, however, the closeness to real evil in Salem made him aware of the discrepancies and probable false beliefs, prompting him to seek not exactly orthodox answers to his questions. Emotionally, Cotton constantly needs reassurance and comfort, whether they come from God, from a woman or the bottom of a liquor bottle, is irrelevant. He is also at perennial search for his father's approval. On a romantic level, Cotton shows again a split personality, as he can be so loving and kind, but also jealous and violent, using as an excuse the fact of being an only child not used to sharing. On several occasions, Cotton showed paranoid behavior, as well as depressed as he tried to take his own life.



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Season One

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Season Two

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  • Cotton Mather is based on the real Cotton Mather who was a socially and politically influential New England Puritan minister, prolific author and pamphleteer. Noted for fostering the Salem witch trials, Cotton Mather also has a scientific legacy due to his hybridization experiments and his promotion ofinoculation for disease prevention.
  • Cotton has extensive knowledge of Witchcraft, learned from the many books in different languages studied over the years.
  • He suffers from inferiority to his father.
  • Ironically, the real Cotton Mather was an erudite connoisseur of languages, including some indigenous dialects, while in the WGN's Salem series is John Alden who know the language of Native Americans.
  • His name comes from the last names of his parents; his mother, in fact, was a Cotton, while his father a Mather.
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