AS FUNDING from missionary societies evaporated, missionaries began to look to the governments and the general public for financial support. By the 1850s, missionaries needed to find sources of unqualified funds and to prove their own value to the pre-Confederation Canadian and the U.S. governments. To accomplish this goal, they needed to reach a broad audience quickly. Missionaries turned to lecturing and to publishing their works to garner support from the general public.
Missionary lectures and publications helped define and expand on the idea of the wretched Indian. Though missionary writers had begun creating the concept in the 1830s, they had blamed the wretchedness on the influence of traders and trappers. Now missionaries were exasperated over funding and felt underappreciated by the missionary societies and the governments. Unfortunately for the Indians, in their desire to alleviate their frustration, the missionaries employed images built from prevalent racial concepts that attracted attention and titillated audiences. Even as missionaries sought public support for their missions, they slowly replaced the Canadian and U.S. conception of the noble savage with that of the wretched Indian. As missionaries faced financial pressures and political crises, they helped the image of the wretched Indian mutate. Through their publications and lectures, they subtly shifted the blame for the Indians' wretchedness from traders and trappers to the Indians themselves. As the focus of racial theories about the Indians moved from the idea that environment shaped racial differences to the idea that racial traits were inherited, so did the opinions of missionary authors.
As missionary society support of missions declined from the 1850s to the end of the nineteenth century, missionaries followed the missionary societies' example