Reverend Joshua Gee (1698–1748)
John Smibert (1688–1751)
Oil on canvas
34 ½ x 28 ½ in.
From the earliest years of English settlement, religion formed the backbone of the development of New England. Families were required to read the Bible; therefore a high value was placed on literacy and education, which led to the founding of Harvard College and the establishment of newspapers and printing presses. Joshua Gee, the son of a wealthy merchant, graduated from Harvard in 1717, and in 1723 succeeded Puritan clergyman Cotton Mather (who figured infamously in the Salem witch trials) as minister of the Second Church of Boston.