Vanguards of the Frontier: A Social History of the Northern Plains and Rocky Mountains from the Earliest White Contacts to the Coming of the Homemaker

By Everett Dick | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE MISSIONARY

FROM THE TIME the first colonists arrived on the Atlantic seaboard, the settlers carried on missionary efforts for the Indians in the back country of the English colonies. Missionary zeal had waxed and waned from time to time until the Civilization Act of 1819 gave a new impetus to missionary activity, which continued until the removal policy of the thirties caused its decline. The act set aside an annual appropriation of $10,000 for the civilization of the tribes adjacent to the frontier settlements. It authorized the President to appoint suitable persons to teach the Indians and instruct them in agriculture. It was understood that these appointees were to teach religion, although it was not so stated on account of the fact that Congress is forbidden by the Bill of Rights to pass religious laws. The President rather than Congress was to direct the recipients of government support.1 An act of 1802 had previously provided for the erection of schools and teachers' residences and for tools and implements in suitable quantities.

Immediately following the passage of the Civilization Act, in 1820, a delegation of Osage visited Washington asking for missionaries. This request from savages who had traveled two thousand miles to petition President Monroe for a mission station appealed to the people. The United Foreign Missionary Society responded, and from the more than one hundred volunteers a mission family of forty-one persons was selected, consisting of twenty-five adults and sixteen children. There were in the group ministers, a physician, a mechanic capable of manufacturing ma

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1
Martha L. Edwards, "Government Patronage of Indian Missions, 1789-1870", Edwards Papers, Ms., Wisconsin State Historical Society Library.

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