Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Chris Rodda Headshot

A Tale of Two Faith-Based Initiatives

Posted: Updated:

Contrary to the claims of historical revisionists like David Barton, who assert in defense of faith-based initiatives such nonsense as "you'll find early on that we were, in the federal government, funding programs that did mission work" and "you'll find early on that under George Washington -- he funded a number of those programs -- as did John Adams, as did Thomas Jefferson, as did James Madison," there were actually only two federal government programs during the 19th century that can even be remotely compared to today's faith-based initiatives, and neither of these occurred during the administrations of any of the four presidents listed by Barton.

The two programs, one begun in 1819 to promote agriculture education among the Indians, and the other a part of Ulysses S. Grant's Indian "Peace Policy," met with less than stellar results, and, in the case of Grant's disastrous Peace Policy, and the "contract school" system it spawned, made an already bad situation even worse.

But, before getting into these early "faith-based initiatives," there's something that's been bugging me for the last few weeks regarding the debate over recipients of federal grants being permitted to discriminate in their hiring practices on the basis of religion. Something that has been conspicuously absent from this debate is Article VI of the Constitution, which states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." What is a federally funded program, if not a public trust? The reality is that nothing short of a constitutional amendment will ever make any other legislation or executive order allowing faith-based employment discrimination in federally funded programs legal. So, unless the proponents of such discrimination are asking our next president to exert the same disregard for the Constitution as our current president, Article VI would seem to be a debate ender.

Now, back to our 19th century faith-based initiatives. I apologize in advance for the length of this piece, but I'm guessing there are at least a few history buffs out there who might find it interesting to take a look at how these early faith-based programs played out.

The 1819 "Act making provision for the civilization of the Indian tribes adjoining the frontier settlements" had the two most basic elements that define today's faith-based initiatives. The purpose of the act was to provide a secular service, in this case teaching agriculture to the Indians living along the American frontier, and it was decided, due to the inadequate amount of money appropriated, that this service could best be provided by already existing Indian schools, virtually all of which were run by religious organizations.

There were, however, two distinct differences between this 1819 act and today's faith-based initiatives. The first was that the schools that would receive the grants were not located within the territory of the United States, and the students were not American citizens. The second was the degree of congressional oversight exercised to ensure that the government funds were being used only to carry out the purpose of the act and not to promote religion, and, more importantly, that the program was actually working.

The following is from the section of my book explaining this program, beginning with the text of the 1819 "Act making provision for the civilization of the Indian tribes adjoining the frontier settlements."

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That for the purpose of providing against further decline and final extinction of the Indian tribes, adjoining the frontier settlements of the United States, and for introducing among them the habits and arts of civilization, the President of the United States shall be, and he is hereby authorized, in every case where he shall judge improvements in the habits and condition of such Indians practicable, and that the means of instruction can be introduced with their own consent, to employ capable persons of good moral character, to instruct them in the mode of agriculture suited to their situation; and for teaching their children in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and in performing other such duties as may be enjoined, according to such instructions and rules as the President may give and prescribe for the regulation of their conduct, in the discharge of their duties.

"SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the annual sum of ten thousand dollars, and the same is hereby appropriated, for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of this act; and an account of the expenditure of the money, and proceedings in execution of the foregoing provisions, shall be laid annually before Congress."(1)


Funding under this act did go to Indian schools run by missionary societies, but only as a means of accomplishing the object of the act -- instructing the Indians in agriculture. Only those schools that provided agriculture education could apply for this money.

$10,000 a year was not enough money to establish even a few public schools for the Indians. To put this in perspective, in a report listing the twenty-one Indian schools receiving a portion of this money in 1823, one school, established in 1822 with sixty-six students, had annual expenses totalling over $15,000. Two schools established about five years earlier, each with around eighty students, had expenses of over $7,000 and $9,000. The only way that a $10,000 appropriation could be put to any good use was to cooperate with existing schools, and the only schools that existed at the time were mission schools. President Monroe had the Department of War send a circular to the missionary societies that were already running Indian schools, and those that were in the process of raising money to establish new ones. The circular informed these societies that they could apply for a portion of this funding, but only under certain conditions. One condition, as already mentioned, was that the school's curriculum include instruction in agriculture, as well as reading, writing, and arithmetic. The other was that the schools had to be in Indian territory. The ultimate goal of promoting agriculture education was to encourage the Indians, particularly those closest to the white settlers on the frontier, to stop wandering by turning them into farmers rather than hunters.

Obviously, since these schools were outside the boundaries of the United States, the students were not American citizens, the teachers were not employees of the government, and the object of the act was completely secular, nobody saw these grants as a violation of the First Amendment. In addition to this, the act required that the means of instruction, which would be a mission school, could only be introduced with the Indians' consent.

The following, from the circular sent to the missionary societies by the Department of War on September 3, 1819, clearly stated that this grant money was to be used "to effect the object contemplated by the act of Congress."

"In order to render the sum of $10,000 annually appropriated at the last session of Congress for the civilization of the Indians, as extensively beneficial as possible, the President is of the opinion that it ought to be applied in co-operation with the exertions of the benevolent societies, or individuals, who may choose to devote their time or means to effect the object contemplated by the act of Congress. But it will be indispensable, in order to apply any of the sum appropriated in the manner proposed, that the plan of education, in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, should, in the instruction of the boys, extend to the practical knowledge of the mode of agriculture, and such of the mechanic arts as are suited to the condition of the Indians; and in that of the girls, to spinning, weaving, and sewing. It is also indispensable that the establishment should be fixed within the limits of those Indian nations who border on our settlements. Such associations or individuals who are already actually engaged in educating the Indians, and who may desire the co-operation of the government, will report to the Department of War, to be laid before the president, the location of the institutions under their superintendence, their funds, the number and kind of teachers, the number of youths of both sexes, the objects which are actually embraced in their plan of education, and the extent of the aid which they require; and such institutions as are formed, but have not gone into actual operation, will report the extent of their funds, the places at which they intend to make their establishments, the whole number of youths of both sexes which they intend to educate, the number and kind of teachers to be employed, the plan of education adopted, and the extent of the aid required."(2)


In 1824, the House of Representatives considered repealing the 1819 appropriation act, and referred the issue to the Committee on Indian Affairs. The committee recommended that the appropriation be continued for the following reasons -- the schools receiving the grants were complying with the condition of teaching agriculture, and the goal of getting the Indians to settle down on farms was gradually being accomplished because of this.

"All the schools are increasing; and so urgent is the wish of the Indians to have their children educated, that numerous applications are refused, from the limited means which the schools possess. The time of the children is not wholly devoted to their books while at school; the girls are instructed in such arts as are suited to female industry in civilized life, and the boys are required to devote a part of their time in acquiring a knowledge of husbandry. The advances of males and females in these branches are most satisfactory, and have already had no small influence in inducing their parents to become less fond of an erratic life, and more inclined to have fixed residences, and rely for their support on the cultivation of the ground. Such has been the effect of the above circumstances, combined with some others not more influential, that, at many of the places where schools have been established, the Indians have already constructed comfortable dwellings, and now cultivate farms of considerable extent. They have become the owners of property necessary to agricultural pursuits, and for the convenience of life."(3)


The committee also concluded that the reason for the failure of most Indian missions was that they only taught religion, while ignoring general education and instruction in agriculture.

"The attempts which have heretofore been made, many of which have failed, omitted this essential part. Many zealous but enthusiastic persons, who have been most conspicuous in endeavoring to reclaim the Indians, persuaded themselves to believe that, to secure this object, it was only necessary to send missionaries among them to instruct them in the Christian religion. Some of their exertions failed, without producing any salutary effect, because the agents employed were wholly unfitted for the task. Others, though productive of some good effect at first, eventually failed, because to their missionary labors were not added the institutes of education and instruction in agriculture."(4)


The government grants to individual mission schools were small, some schools receiving as little as $50 a year. To the missionary societies, however, the amount of the grants was unimportant. They knew that any appropriation for Indian education would spark an increase in private donations to their schools. People who considered efforts to educate the Indians frivolous might reconsider this if they saw that the government was taking it seriously enough to provide funding for it. In their 1824 report, the Indian Affairs Committee reported that private donations to Indian missions had, in fact, increased dramatically as a result of the appropriation. The committee's only interest in this was whether these donations were aiding or undermining the goals of the appropriation act. In other words, Congress did not want the appropriations to encourage donations to missions whose only goal was to spread religion. The committee, however, found no signs that this was happening.

"No fanciful schemes of proselytism seem to have been indulged. They formed a correct estimate of the importance of their undertaking, and pointed to the most judicious means for the accomplishment of their wishes. Since the passage of the law, hundreds and thousands have been encouraged to contribute their mite in aid of the wise policy of the government. However the various denominations of Christians may differ in their creeds and general doctrines, they all unite in their wishes that our Indians may become civilized. That this feeling almost universally prevails, has been declared in language too unequivocal to admit of doubt. It has been seen in their words and in their actions.

"The committee believe that such demonstrations are not to be regarded lightly; that the National Legislature will treat them with the highest respect. If a sectarian zeal had had any agency to produce this general interest, it would be less entitled to serious consideration."(5)

[end of book excerpt]

This first 19th century faith-based initiative, although reevaluated in 1842, when the House Committee on Indian Affairs was called upon to "to inquire into the expediency of repealing" the act of 1819, continued until 1871, the year after Congress began making other appropriations for the education of those Indian tribes who didn't already have education funds resulting from treaties. The annual amount of funding from the act of 1819, however, was never increased during the five decades the act was in force, remaining at the original token amount of $10,000 a year.

This brings us up to the time of the second faith-based initiative of the 19th century, one which, unlike the tolerably successful and innocuous act of 1819, was a complete disaster, doing far more harm than good. In an effort to end corruption in the Indian agencies, these agencies were placed under the control of missionary organizations, the members of which, in many cases, proved to be just as corrupt as their secular predecessors. The program also gave rise to what should have been completely foreseeable new problems -- sectarian competition for control of the agencies, and both real and perceived denominational favoritism by Congress in assigning the agencies. The story ends, quite ironically, with the major Protestant denominations calling for an end to the whole business, citing as their reason an "obedience to the principle of separation between Church and State."

Here's the whole story, from my book:

When President Grant took office in 1869, one of his top priorities was a complete overhaul of the country's Indian policies. A big part of what was known as Grant's "Peace Policy" was to rid the Indian agent system of corruption. One of the causes of Indian hostilities was the widespread problem of corrupt Indian agents stealing and selling the food and other goods intended as treaty payments. The military was doing little to stop this because they knew that Grant was reducing the size of the army, and retaliation by Indians who didn't receive their treaty payments meant job security for soldiers.

Grant's plan to end this corruption can best be described as a faith-based initiative gone bad. His idea was to have missionaries who were already established among the Indians oversee the Indian agencies. The missionary societies would nominate men to fill the Indian agent and other positions within their agencies, submitting the names to the Secretary of the Interior. This plan was first tested on a small scale by putting a few of the Indian agencies under the control of the Quakers. While this experiment was going on, the rest of the agencies were turned over to the military. Once the Quaker experiment was deemed a success, a law was passed that had the effect of removing military control over the other agencies. As part of an act reducing the size of the military, army officers were made ineligible to perform the duties of any civil position, which included the position of Indian agent. This meant that any army officer who was temporarily in control of an Indian agency could only continue to act in that capacity if he resigned his commission, something no officer was likely to do. This cleared the way to put the rest of the agencies under the control of missionaries.

As soon as they began to implement this plan, Congress made a mistake that pretty much guaranteed its failure. Of the large numbers of Indians who had converted to Christianity, the majority were Catholic, and were as attached to their religion as any other Catholics. Based on the religious make-up of each tribe and the locations of the missions that already existed, thirty-eight of the seventy-three Indian agencies should have been put under the control of the Catholics. Completely disregarding this, the Board of Indian Commissioners, an advisory board appointed by Congress to oversee the program, and composed entirely of Protestants, recommended that all but seven of the agencies be assigned to Protestants. This went against President Grant's guideline that each agency be assigned to the mission already established there, but the Board of Indian Commissioners found a way to get around this. In all of the many cases in which a well established Catholic mission and a newer, competing Protestant mission existed within the same agency, they picked the Protestant one.

This whole plan, particularly considering that it involved schools, was very out of character for Grant, who, in one of his annual messages, urged Congress to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting the teaching of any sectarian tenets in any public school in any state. The following remarks were made by Grant in an 1876 speech.

"Encourage free schools and resolve that not one dollar of the money appropriated to their support shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian school; that neither the state or nation, nor both combined, shall support institutions of learning other than those sufficient to afford to every child in the land the opportunity of a good common-school education, unmixed with sectarian, pagan, or atheistic dogma.

"Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and private schools entirely supported by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate."(6)


Whatever the reason for Grant's inconsistency when it came to Indian schools, the result was that this part of his Peace Policy fueled an increase in Indian hostilities. Because of the sectarian favoritism of Congress and the Board of Indian Commissioners, thousands of Catholic Indian children were suddenly transferred from Catholic to Protestant schools. Complaints from parents who wanted their children in Catholic schools were completely ignored by the Indian agents, who, of course, were almost always members of whatever Protestant denomination controlled their agency. The agents were also loyal to the missionary societies because the same societies that had nominated them for their jobs also had the power to recommend their removal.

Grant's plan did little to improve the Indian agent system. The agents chosen by the religious denominations weren't much better than the old agents. Some were just as corrupt, while others were honest, but incompetent. The only good thing to come out of the new system was a bit of public outrage at the government's infringement on the Indians' right to religious freedom. Prior to the Indian agencies being put under denominational control, agents assigned where there were missions of religions other than their own often interfered with and tried to undermine the work of the missionaries. In some cases, they even succeeded in driving these missions out of their agencies. Grant's plan, under which the agents were almost exclusively members of whatever denomination controlled their agency, solved this problem, but created a new problem. On a number of occasions, Catholic missionaries, attempting to visit Catholic Indians, were expelled from the grounds of Protestant agencies. When reports of these incidents began appearing in the newspapers, the government's policy of forcing Indian children into sectarian schools against their parents' wishes became widely known, and the right of the Indians to religious freedom became a big issue among the American people, Catholic and Protestant alike. Eventually, in 1881, the government ordered that all missionaries have access to all agencies.

In 1874, the Catholic church opened an office in Washington D.C. called the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions to collect and disburse funds from private donations, and, more importantly, to lobby for a fair proportion of the Indian schools. At this point, Congress had not appropriated any money for Indian education since the appropriations of 1870 and 1871. For the most part, the schools were funded by private donations, and in some cases by treaty payments or tribal education funds. Not long after it opened, the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions began lobbying for what became known as the contract school system. Under this system, the government paid a certain amount for the living expenses of each student in a contracted private school. The government had already entered into contracts with a few schools, and the Catholics immediately saw that a per capita contract system would give them an edge. Before applying for a contract, a school had to be built and students enrolled, and the Catholics had the resources to build more schools and attract more students than the other denominations.

[snip]

Three major factors contributed to the increase in contracts to Catholic Indian schools. First, as already mentioned, the Catholics were able to build more schools than any other denomination; second, many of the Protestants lost interest in the whole business; and third, the Catholic schools were just better.

When senators and other officials visited some of the contract schools in the early 1880s, they found the Catholic schools to be far superior to the Protestant. The success of the few existing Catholic contract schools led even some of the most anti-Catholic members of Congress to support giving more contracts to the Catholics. When the 1884 Indian Appropriation Bill was under consideration in the Senate, Senator George Vest of Missouri, who had personally visited a number of the schools, described what he had seen at the Catholic schools on the Flathead Reservation.

"To-day the Flathead Indians are a hundred per cent. advanced over any other indians in point of civilization, at least in Montana. Fifty years ago the Jesuits went amongst them, and to-day you see the result. Among all those tribes, commencing with the Shoshones, the Arapahoes, the gros-Ventres, the Blackfeet, the Piegans, the river crows, the Bloods and Assiniboines, the only ray of light I saw was on the Flathead Reservation at the jesuit mission schools, and there were boys and girls -- fifty boys and fifty girls. They raise cattle; the Indian boys herd them. They have mills; the Indian boys attend them. They have blacksmith-shops; the Indian boys work in them. When I was there they were building two school-houses, all the work done by the scholars at the mission. They can not raise corn to any extent in that climate, but they raise enough vegetables and enough oats to support the whole school, and I never saw in my life a finer herd of cattle or horses than they had at that mission.

"Five nuns, sisters, and five fathers constitute the teachers in the respective schools. We had a school examination there which lasted through two days. I undertake to say now that never in the States was there a better examination than I heard at that mission, of children of the same age with those I saw there. The girls are taught needlework; they are taught to sew and to teach; they are taught music; they are taught to keep house. The young men are taught to work upon the farm, to herd cattle, to be blacksmiths and carpenters and millwrights."(7)


Senator Vest went on to give some possible reasons for the success of the Catholic schools, then added the following remarks.

"I do not speak with any sort of denominational prejudice in favor of Jesuits. I was taught to abhor the whole sect; I was raised in that good Old-School Presbyterian Church that looked upon a Jesuit as very much akin to the devil; but I now say, if the senator from Massachusetts, the chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, will find me any tribe of 'blanket' Indians on the continent of North America -- I do not speak of the five civilized tribes, because they got their civilization in Georgia and Alabama, and by immediate contact with the whites -- but if he will find me a single tribe of Indians on the plains, 'blanket' Indians, that approximate in civilization to the Flatheads who have been under control of the Jesuits for fifty years, I will abandon my entire theory on this subject. I say that out of eleven tribes that I saw -- and I say this as a Protestant -- where they had Protestant missionaries they had not made a single, solitary advance towards civilization, not one."(8)


Within a few years, Catholic contract schools greatly outnumbered the Protestant schools, and in 1888, the Catholics, for the first time, received more in contract payments than the Protestants. In 1889, the first of the three years in which the total amount appropriated for sectarian schools reached $500,000, the Catholics got $356,957 of the $508,600.

Beginning in 1883, representatives of the various Protestant Indian mission societies had been holding yearly conferences with the all-Protestant Board of Indian Commissioners at a Lake Mohonk, New York resort. These conferences also included various government officials and politicians, and members of anti-Catholic organizations like the Indian Rights Association. The idea of abolishing the contract school system had been discussed at these conferences since the first signs that the Catholics were pulling ahead, but those who wanted to put an end to the whole system were in the minority until the end of the 1880s.

The Protestants found plenty of things on which to blame the increase of Catholic Indian schools, but the most popular was Grover Cleveland's Democratic administration, under which more Catholics were appointed to the Indian Bureau. Most assumed that this Catholic favoritism would end when Republican Benjamin Harrison was elected in 1888, and that the contract school system would shift back to Protestant control. What the Protestants got from President Harrison, however, was a Commissioner of Indian Affairs who wanted to completely reform the Indian education system. The new Commissioner, Thomas Morgan, was a Baptist minister and educator who, like some of the Protestants, wanted to abolish contract schools altogether. Morgan attended the 1889 Lake Mohonk conference, where he proposed his plan, which called for a gradual replacement of the contract schools with a school system run entirely by the government. All of the Protestant groups, whether they had previously opposed contract schools or not, got behind Morgan's plan. This universal support, of course, was only universal among the Protestants.

The Catholics, led by Father Joseph Stephan of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, opposed Morgan's appointment as Commissioner, as well as that of Daniel Dorchester, a Methodist minister appointed by Harrison as Superintendent of Indian Schools. Morgan and Dorchester both opposed Catholic schools of any kind. In 1888, Dorchester had published Romanism versus the Public School System, and Morgan, that same year, had publicly attacked Catholic schools at a meeting of the National Education Association. Aided by the Democratic press, the Catholics unsuccessfully fought against the Senate confirmations of both men. Harrison had appointed Morgan in July 1889 during a Senate recess, giving him time to propose his plan at the Mohonk conference in October and get the support of the influential Protestant groups and the Board of Indian Commissioners before his name was sent to the Senate for confirmation in December. By this time, Morgan and Dorchester had already begun removing Catholics appointed to the Indian Bureau during the Cleveland administration, claiming that they were incompetent, or charging them with insubordination or intemperance. The Senate confirmed both Morgan and Dorchester in February 1890.

Shortly after President Harrison took office in 1889, representatives of the Protestant Indian mission societies went to Washington to meet with him and his Secretary of the Interior, John W. Noble. At this point, which was prior to Morgan's appearance at the Lake Mohonk conference, few members of these societies wanted to abolish the contract school system. Most, as already mentioned, just wanted the Protestants to get more contracts than the Catholics, and thought this would happen now that a Republican administration was in power. Since it was unlikely that any existing contracts would be taken away from the Catholics, they wanted the government to increase the number of contract schools and give the new contracts to Protestants. The recommendations made to Noble by the societies were printed in the May 1889 issue of the Congregationalist magazine The American Missionary. One of these recommendations was that the contract school system be expanded.

"3. That the co-operation of the Government with the missionary societies in what are known as Contract schools should be continued and enlarged. We believe that no better teaching has been afforded to the Indians than that given in these Contract schools. The educational qualifications of the teachers, together with their disinterested and self-denying characters and their religious influence and instruction, render them pre-eminently fit for their places and successful in their work. The experience of the past and the testimony of all unprejudiced persons bear witness to this fact."(9)


A few months later, of course, at the October 1889 Mohonk conference, the leaders of these same societies agreed to support Thomas Morgan's plan, under which there would be no new contracts, and the contract schools would be gradually replaced by government schools. Rumors about Morgan's plan had been in the newspapers prior to the conference, and the leaders of the missionary societies no doubt anticipated that the decision of the conference would be to support the plan. But, they had just reported to their church memberships a few months earlier that they supported enlarging the contract school system. They couldn't just suddenly report their support of a plan that opposed this, so they began by raising some questions about the system, and slowly worked their way up to calling for an end to contract schools.

The following is how the story progressed over the next few years in The American Missionary, beginning with a hint in the October 1889 issue that the system might be unfair to Protestants.

INDIAN CONTRACT SCHOOLS.

"The public has been made aware through the press recently that the United States government aids the Roman Catholics to support 2,098 Indian pupils and assists all Protestant denominations in the support of only 1,146 pupils. Why is this discrimination, and who is to blame for it? If the Roman Catholics give for plant, teachers' salaries, etc., an amount proportionately greater than given by the Protestants, then the Protestants have themselves only to blame, and the difficulty can be remedied by their giving an equal amount. But if, on the other hand, the Government gives in proportion more to the Roman Catholics than it does to the Protestants, then the Government is showing a wholly unjustifiable partiality. Figures are in order on this subject. Who will furnish them?"(10)


In September 1890, they began broaching the subject of withdrawing from the contract school system because of the Senate's favoritism towards Catholics.

SECTARIAN LEGISLATION.

"The recent action of the United States Senate on the Indian Appropriation Bill presents a marked instance of denominational favoritism. In 1889, the Roman Catholics received from the government for Indian Schools $356,000 as against $204,000 for all other denominations.

"Not content with this, the Roman Catholics recently urged the appropriation of large sums to three additional schools. The Indian Bureau, anxious to avoid sectarian discussion by still farther increasing the disparity, declined to enter into contract for those schools. But the Roman Catholics maintain an active Bureau of Missions in Washington which has been constantly pushing their schools upon government support; and when the Indian office declined, this Mission bureau went to the House of Representatives and obtained the insertion of amendments granting aid to these three schools. The Senate Committee, unwilling to increase the existing preponderance of appropriations to Roman Catholic schools, struck out two of these amendments, but the Senate itself adopted them all, and the bill was passed in that form, thus granting in full the added demands of the Roman Catholics.

"If this is not sectarian favoritism, we know not what is. Why should this one denomination be aided beyond all others? Is a Roman Catholic Mission Bureau to dictate measures to the House of Representatives and dominate the Senate? We believe in 'contract schools,' but rather than have a foreign hierarchy rule in National legislation, we should prefer to receive no Government aid for our Indian schools. Impartial legislation is better than money."(11)


In 1892, the Methodists, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians all announced that they would no longer be accepting any government funding. The Congregationalists soon joined them, publishing the following resolutions in the December 1892 issue of The American Missionary.

"Whereas, The system known as 'contract schools,' in connection with Indian work, is open to very serious abuse; and

"Whereas, Government schools have now reached a position as to equipment, methods and general efficiency, where the common school education among the Indians may be safely and wisely entrusted to them; therefore

"Resolved, First, that public money expended upon the education of Indians ought to be expended exclusively by government officers upon government schools.

"Resolved, Second, that the practice of appropriating public money for the support of sectarian schools among the Indians ought henceforth to cease.

"Resolved, Third, that it is wise for the A.M.A. to join in the purpose expressed by other great ecclesiastical bodies, the Methodist General Conference, convened at Omaha, May 9th, 1892, the Presbyterian General Assembly, which met at Portland, Ore., May 23d, 1892, and the Episcopal Convention at Baltimore October 19th, 1892, to decline to seek or accept any subsidy from the government, and that henceforth this Society act in conformity with this purpose."(12)


An 1893 appeal to the Congregational churches for donations to replace the government funding gave "obedience to the principle of separation between Church and State" as the very noble reason that the societies were giving up this funding.

"It was felt at Hartford that a question of principle was at issue. The great Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopal Communions had taken a stand against Government aid to denominational schools. It was felt to be time that Congregationalists took the same American position. The Association took it, trusting God and the churches. We gave up money for the sake of a principle. Congregationalists are not the men to repudiate that principle, or let our grand work suffer because we have taken that position. If every man will give to our A.M.A. treasury this year, one quarter more than he gave last year, our work will not suffer, and we pledge ourselves that it shall even advance in the Indian department as well as others.

"The emergency is peculiar and peremptory. The logic of it is decisive upon this point of special obligation. You, yourselves, brethren of the ministry and of the churches, have voiced a command by your special committees, a command for advance in the Indian work. But on the very threshold of such advance we find ourselves counseled and compelled by the action at Hartford to surrender twenty-two thousand dollars in obedience to the principle of separation between Church and State."(13)


1. Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, vol. 3, (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846), 516-517.

2. American State Papers: Indian Affairs, vol. 2, (Washington D.C.: Gales and Seaton, 1834), 201.

3. ibid., 458.

4. ibid.

5. ibid., 458-459.

6. The Annals of America, vol. 10, (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1976), 365.

7. The Catholic World, Vol. 40, No. 239, February 1885, 601.

8. ibid., 602.

9. The American Missionary, Vol. 43, No. 5, May 1889, 127.

10. ibid., Vol. 43, No. 10, October 1889, 279.

11. ibid., Vol. 44, No. 9, September 1890, 267-268.

12. ibid., Vol. 46, No. 12, December 1892, 427.

13. ibid., Vol. 47, No. 3, March 1893, 85.

Register To Vote