Abstract: In December 1812, American missionary Samuel Newell sent word of the death of his wife Harriet Newell, to Joseph Hardcastle, a man he had never met. Hardcastle was a director of the London Missionary Society, and for a missionary of the American Board exiled from India in the midst of the War of 1812, he was the only hope of getting news back to the United States. This article examines the beginnings of American foreign missionary work during the early republic, focusing on the relationship between American and British evangelicals. When British missionaries first began working in India in the 1790s, American evangelicals watched their progress eagerly. Americans interested in missions soon came to argue that they, too, had a duty to evangelize the whole world. With the formation of the ABCFM in 1810, Americans sponsored their own missionaries to the region only to find that working within the British Empire presented new and unexpected challenges. When the first missionaries left American shores for South Asia, the War of 1812 began before they reached their destination and the politics of empire affected the mission and its supporters. By examining the ways that missionaries and their supporters negotiated the tensions between their national identity as Americans and their religious identity as evangelical Christians, this article argues that for these Americans, national identity was created in a global context.
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Jan 28, 2014
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