The Mohicans of Stockbridge

By Patrick Frazier | Go to book overview

8
PROFITING FROM EDUCATION

Pastoral tranquillity would not be the rule in Stockbridge in the coming years. The Edwards family had barely settled when they found themselves involved in yet another controversy. This time the storm center was a new building in town, a boarding school, which had been John Sergeant's pet project before he died. It was a different attempt to civilize his flock, but it was also evidence that the mission had not been succeeding to his satisfaction. Within eight years after the mission started, Sergeant recognized that something more than divine light was needed to keep the Indians steady in the Calvinist ethic. He observed that the tradition of Indian women alone doing the agricultural work, for instance, was hard to overcome. Although the Stockbridges had been given plows, they still preferred to have plowing done for them. So when the men were not following their traditional pursuits of hunting, fishing, and trapping, they were, in the English view, idle or "indolent," a condition worse than intemperance to the religious mind. The women, in turn, never had time to learn the arts of "housewifery."

Seasonal projects like the maple sugar excursions involved whole families and took children back into an uncivilized environment. At times families also accompanied men to distant hunting camps for extended periods. Fathers, of course, wanted to teach their sons hunting, fishing, and trapping, and most boys would naturally listen more to the call of the outdoors than to the lectures of teacher or preacher. Even during war,

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