and Indians' Advocate
Wednesday, October 14, 1829
Vol. II. no. 27
Page 2, col. 1a-2a
From the New York Observer.
NEW MISSIONARY SOCIETY
MESSERS, EDITORS- I have perused within a few days a pamphlet entitled "Documents and Proceedings relating to the Formation and Progress of a Board in the city of New York, for the emigration, preservation, and improvement of the Aborigines of America". There seems to be something singular both in the origin and character of this Board, if one may judge from this pamphlet in connexion [sic] with certain reports; and I hope you will allow me to present the following inquiries respecting it;
1. Is there an understanding with the National Executive, that this Board is to be supplied with its funds by the Government?
2. Is there also an understanding, that, when this Board shall have gone into operation, no missionaries or preachers or any Society employing them can share in the appropriation heretofore made by the Government for the moral improvement of the Indians, until such teachers or society shall have obtained in some form, the approbation of this Board?
3. Is it in conformity with these views, that we are to understand the declaration of the Government Agent, when he says in his letter to the present Secretary of the board, "I have no doubt but such an Association would receive all the Government assistance, that it might be in the power of the Executive to afford?" Or, indeed, could anything short of such an understanding justify the Board in declaring, as they do in their Constitution. "This board engages to afford to all the emigrant Indians, all the necessary instruction in the arts of life and duties of religion?"
4. Does it consist with the impartiality and good policy of the Government, to make any Board the sole almoner of their bounty, in the appointment of which, by this Constitution, the Government has no control?
5. By the Constitution, "the acting members of this Association shall not exceed thirty in number." The names of twenty-nine are published as belonging to it. But of these twenty-nine, twenty-two belong to one denomination, the reformed Dutch Church. Of the remainder, four are Presbyterians, one is a Covenanter, another is a Moravian, and the other is an Episcopalian. Besides these, no other denomination in our country, however numerous, as the Methodists, Baptists, &c. are represented in the Board. Is it according to the liberal principles of our Government, that Presbyterians and Episcopalians, Baptists and Methodists, and all other denominations, should be compelled to abtain [sic] the sanction of a board so constituted, before they can share in the bounty of Government, to aid their benevolent labors among the Indians? I am persuaded, that the great body of the highly respectable Denomination, a few of whose members have taken this business so entirely into their own hands would be among the first to discard such a principle.
6. The title of the Association is "The Indian Board for the Emigration, &c." The emigration of the Indians then, is their first declared object. Indeed it would appear from the letter of the Government Agent, that the "entire eneigies" [sic] of the Board are to be "applied towards changing the location of the Indians now within our States; and also their relation to political and civil and religious rights." But how are they to effect or promote this emigration? Not by compulsion, for that is disclaimed on all hands; not by co-attributing funds, for ways and means, it would seem are coming from another quarter. We presume the Board intend to act "by moral suasion in the efforts made to induce the Indians to emigrate. This leads to another inquiry:
Does this claim to be a Missionary Board? They so describe themselves, when they engage to furnish "all necessary instruction in the arts of life and the duties of religion."- Here then is a Missionary Board, the first business of whose missionaries is not to preach " Christ and him crucified," but to preach emigration. Is it a common thing to put such a message "into the mouth" of a missionary, when he is sent to the perishing pagans?
8. What are we to make of this article in the constitution: "The Board is pledged to co-operate with the Federal Government of the United States, in its operations on Indian affairs; and at no time to contravene its laws?" A Christian Board volunteering a formal pledge to the Federal Government, "at no time to contravene its laws," is something new, and with such an assurance from this Indian Board, it is hoped the Government will feel itself safe. But an unconditional pledge to "co-operate with the Federal Government of the United States in its operations on Indian Affairs," without reserving the right to judge whether such operations may be right or wrong, wise or unwise, is very like a surrender of conscience; and an admission of infallibility scarcely becoming Protestant Christians. We have heard much said of late, about alliances between Church and State, when, as I believe neither Church nor State had ever thought of such a measure. But is not something of this sort here distinctly avowed by an organized Board? and, at the same time, we are given to understand from these "documents and proceedings," that all is in accordance with the wishes of the United States Government, and has now received an official sanction through the Secretary of War!
Should these interrogatories be answered, I may perhaps trouble you with some other on the subject.