The Disruptive Effects Of The Negro Slavery Controversy Upon The Presbyterian Missions Among The Choctaw And Chickasaw Indians -- By: William L. Hiemstra

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 11:2 (May 1949)
Article: The Disruptive Effects Of The Negro Slavery Controversy Upon The Presbyterian Missions Among The Choctaw And Chickasaw Indians
Author: William L. Hiemstra


The Disruptive Effects Of The Negro Slavery Controversy Upon The Presbyterian Missions Among The Choctaw And Chickasaw Indians

William L. Hiemstra

THE Second Great Awakening of the early nineteenth century affected all the major Protestant churches in the United States. A renewed interest in missions was one result of this religious movement. Several missionary societies were formed; among them was the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.1 Shortly after its organization in 1810 the A. B. C. F. M. established mission stations and schools among the Cherokee and Choctaw Indians.

Presbyterian activity among the Choctaw Indians was begun in 1818. Cyrus Kingsbury and Cyrus Byington were pioneer Presbyterian missionaries among the Choctaws in Mississippi. Both of these men, born and reared in New England, served the Choctaw Indians first in Mississippi and later in the Indian Territory.

Presbyterian labor among the Chickasaw Indians was begun in 1799 by the New York Missionary Society. This mission was discontinued in 1803. A more permanent work among the Chickasaws was begun by the Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Synod of South Carolina and Georgia in 1820. The Reverend Thomas C. Stuart served the tribe from 1820 to 1834. The Chickasaw mission was transferred on December 17, 1827 to the supervision of the American Board,

under whose administration the Presbyterians continued to serve the Chickasaw Indians.

Missionary activity among the Choctaws and Chickasaws in Mississippi was terminated because the Indians were moved to lands west of the Mississippi river. By 1834 the majority of these tribes had left Mississippi. The mission stations were completely abandoned in 1834 and several missionaries accompanied the Indians on the “Trail of Tears”.

Mission activity among the tribes was continued in the Indian Territory. The first churches were organized in 1832. From small beginnings in 1832, the church grew to a total membership of more than two thousand in 1861. Approximately eight per cent of the church membership was negro.2

In the Indian Territory the Presbyterian missionaries also promoted an educational program for the Indians. The mission schools received support both from mission and government funds. The government appropriations were made from the Civilization Fund in accordance with the provisions of a treaty negotiated in 1825.3

Indian Slave Owners

There were slave owners among the Choctaw and...

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