You that are men and thoughts of manhood know,
Be Just now to the Man who made you so.
Martyr'd by Scholars the stabbed Cassian dies,
And falls to cursed Lads a Sacrafice.
Not so my Cheever; Not by Scholars slain,
But Praised and Lov'd, and wished to Life again.
Cotton Mather, 1708
In New England, as in the country as a whole, teaching began as a male occupation. The earliest schoolmasters taught in small settlements of religious dissenters who had migrated to the wilderness of New England in the seventeenth century. The gendered meaning of teaching accompanied the social practice of hiring male teachers. Puritan minister Cotton Mather, in his passionate elegy for seventeenth-century New England schoolmaster Ezekiel Cheever, attests to the settlers' belief in the manliness of teachers. To Mather and other English settlers, the very term schoolmaster denoted masculine qualities. In Mather's own words: “He lives as a Master, the Term, which has been for above three thousand years, assign'd to the Life of a Man.” For Mather, teachers were not only male but embodied a particular vision of the masculine as well. Mather's vision of the ideal teacher, as having a specific kind of masculinity, was not unique to him. Drawing on English and Puritan traditions, the early New England colonists embraced an image of the ideal teacher that incorporated masculine virtues.