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Bacon, Leonard Woolsey / A History of American Christianity
E-text prepared by Dave Morgan, Daniel J. Mount, Lisa Reigel, and the
Project Online Distributed Proofreading Team
(/c/) from digital material generously made available
by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (http://www.ccel.org/)

Note: The digital material used for the preparation of this file,
including images of the original pages, are available through
the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. See

Transcriber's notes:

Greek words in this text have been transliterated and placed
between +marks+.

Words in italics are surrounded with underscores.

A list of corrections made is at the end of the text.

The American Church History Series

Consisting of a Series of Denominational Histories Published Under the
Auspices of the American Society of Church History

General Editors

RT. REV. H. C. POTTER, D. D., LL. D.
REV. E. J. WOLF, D. D.

Volume XIII

American Church History




New York
The Christian Literature Co.
Copyright, 1897, by
The Christian Literature Co.



Purpose of the long concealment of America, 1. A medieval
church in America, 2. Revival of the Catholic Church, 3,
especially in Spain, 4, 5.


Vastness and swiftness of the Spanish conquests, 6. Conversion
by the sword, 7. Rapid success and sudden downfall of missions
in Florida, 9. The like story in New Mexico, 12, and in
California, 14.


Magnificence of the French scheme of western empire, 16.
Superior dignity of the French missions, 19. Swift expansion
of them, 20. Collision with the English colonies, and triumph
of France, 21. Sudden and complete failure of the French
church, 23. Causes of failure: (1) Dependence on royal
patronage, 24. (2) Implication in Indian feuds, 25. (3)
Instability of Jesuit efforts, 26. (4) Scantiness of French
population, 27. Political aspect of French missions, 28.
Recent French Catholic immigration, 29.


Controversies and parties in Europe, 31, and especially in
England, 32. Disintegration of Christendom, 34. New experiment
of church life, 35. Persecutions promote emigration, 36, 37.


The Rev. Robert Hunt, chaplain to the Virginia colony, 38.
Base quality of the emigration, 39. Assiduity in religious
duties, 41. Rev. Richard Buck, chaplain, 42. Strict Puritan
régime of Sir T. Dale and Rev. A. Whitaker, 43. Brightening
prospects extinguished by massacre, 48. Dissolution of the
Puritan "Virginia Company" by the king, 48. Puritan ministers
silenced by the royal governor, Berkeley, 49. The governor's
chaplain, Harrison, is converted to Puritan principles, 49.
Visit of the Rev. Patrick Copland, 50. Degradation of church
and clergy, 51. Commissary Blair attempts reform, 52.
Huguenots and Scotch-Irish, 53.


George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, 54; secures grant of Maryland,
55. The second Lord Baltimore organizes a colony on the basis
of religious liberty, 56. Success of the two Jesuit priests,
57. Baltimore restrains the Jesuits, 58, and encourages the
Puritans, 59. Attempt at an Anglican establishment, 61.
Commissary Bray, 61. Tardy settlement of the Carolinas, 62. A
mixed population, 63. Success of Quakerism, 65. American
origin of English missionary societies, 66.


Faint traces of religious life in the Dutch settlements, 69.
Pastors Michaelius, Bogardus, and Megapolensis, 70. Religious
liberty, diversity, and bigotry, 72. The Quakers persecuted,
73. Low vitality of the Dutch colony, 75. Swedish colony on
the Delaware, 76; subjugated by the Dutch, 77. The Dutch
evicted by England, 78. The Dutch church languishes, 79.
Attempts to establish Anglicanism, 79. The S. P. G., 80.


Puritan and Separatist, 82. The Separatists of Scrooby, 83.
Mutual animosity of the two parties, 84. Spirit of John
Robinson, 85. The "social compact" of the Pilgrims, in state,
87; and in church, 88. Feebleness of the Plymouth colony, 89.
The Puritan colony at Salem, 90. Purpose of the colonists, 91.
Their right to pick their own company, 92. Fellowship with the
Pilgrims, 93. Constituting the Salem church, and ordination of
its ministers, 95. Expulsion of schismatics, 97. Coming of the
great Massachusetts colony bringing the charter, 98. The New
England church polity, 99. Nationalism of the Puritans, 100.
Dealings with Roger Williams, Mrs. Hutchinson, and the
Quakers, 101. Diversities among the colonies, 102. Divergences
of opinion and practice in the churches, 103. Variety of sects
in Rhode Island, 106, with mutual good will, 107. Lapse of the
Puritan church-state, 108.


Dutch, Puritan, Scotch, and Quaker settlers in New Jersey,
109. Quaker corporation and government, 110. Quaker reaction
from Puritanism, 113. Extravagance and discipline, 114.
Quakerism in continental Europe, 115. Penn's "Holy
Experiment," 116. Philadelphia founded, 117. German sects,
118. Keith's schism, and the mission of the "S. P. G.," 119.
Lutheran and Reformed Germans, 120. Scotch-Irish, 121.
Georgia, 122. Oglethorpe's charitable scheme, 123. The
Salzburgers, the Moravians, and the Wesleys, 124. George
Whitefield, 126.


Fall of the New England theocracy, 128. Dissent from the
"Standing Order": Baptist, 130; Episcopalian, 131. In New
York: the Dutch church, 134; the English, 135; the
Presbyterian, 136. New Englanders moving west, 137. Quakers,
Huguenots, and Palatines, 139. New Jersey: Frelinghuysen and
the Tennents, 141. Pennsylvania: successes and failures of
Quakerism, 143. The southern colonies: their established
churches, 148; the mission of the Quakers, 149. The gospel
among the Indians, 150. The church and slavery, 151.


Jonathan Edwards at Northampton, 156. An Awakening, 157.
Edwards's "Narrative" in America and England, 159. Revivals in
New Jersey and Pennsylvania, 160. Apostolate of Whitefield,
163. Schism of the Presbyterian Church, 166. Whitefield in New
England, 168. Faults and excesses of the evangelists, 169.
Good fruits of the revival, 173. Diffusion of Baptist
principles, 173. National religious unity, 175. Attitude of
the Episcopal Church, 177. Zeal for missions, 179.


Growth of the New England theology, 181. Watts's Psalms, 182.
Warlike agitations, 184. The Scotch-Irish immigration, 186.
The German immigration, 187. Spiritual destitution, 188.
Zinzendorf, 189. Attempt at union among the Germans, 190.
Alarm of the sects, 191. Mühlenberg and the Lutherans, 191.
Zinzendorf and the Moravians, 192. Schlatter and the Reformed,
195. Schism made permanent, 197. Wesleyan Methodism, 198.
Francis Asbury, 200. Methodism gravitates southward and grows
apace, 201. Opposition of the church to slavery, 203; and to
intemperance, 205. Project to introduce bishops from England,
resisted in the interest of liberty, 206.


Distraction and depression after the War of Independence, 208.
Forlorn condition of the Episcopalians, 210. Their republican
constitution, 211. Episcopal consecration secured in Scotland
and in England, 212. Feebleness of American Catholicism, 214.
Bishop Carroll, 215. "Trusteeism," 216. Methodism becomes a
church, 217. Westward movement of Christianity, 219. Severance
of church from state, 221. Doctrinal divisions; Calvinist and
Arminian, 222. Unitarianism, 224. Universalism, 225. Some
minor sects, 228.


Ebb-tide of spiritual life, 230. Depravity and revival at the
West, 232. The first camp-meetings, 233. Good fruits, 237.
Nervous epidemics, 239. The Cumberland Presbyterians, 241. The
antisectarian sect of The Disciples, 242. Revival at the East,
242. President Dwight, 243.


Missionary spirit of the revival, 246. Religious earnestness
in the colleges, 247. Mills and his friends at Williamstown,
248; and at Andover, 249. The Unitarian schism in
Massachusetts, 249. New era of theological seminaries, 251.
Founding of the A. B. C. F. M., 252; of the Baptist Missionary
Convention, 253. Other missionary boards, 255. The American
Bible Society, 256. Mills, and his work for the West and for
Africa, 256. Other societies, 258. Glowing hopes of the
church, 259.


Working of the voluntary system of church support, 261.
Dueling, 263. Crime of the State of Georgia against the
Cherokee nation, implicating the federal government, 264.
Jeremiah Evarts and Theodore Frelinghuysen, 267. Unanimity of
the church, North and South, against slavery, 268. The
Missouri Compromise, 270. Antislavery activity of the church,
at the East, 271; at the West, 273; at the South, 274.
Difficulty of antislavery church discipline, 275. The southern
apostasy, 277. Causes of the sudden revolution of sentiment,
279. Defections at the North, and rise of a pro-slavery party,
282. The Kansas-Nebraska Bill; solemn and unanimous protest of
the clergy of New England and New York, 284. Primeval
temperance legislation, 285. Prevalence of drunkenness, 286.
Temperance reformation a religious movement, 286. Development
of "the saloon," 288. The Washingtonian movement and its
drawbacks, 289. The Prohibition period, 290.


Dissensions in the Presbyterian Church, 292. Growing strength
of the New England element, 293. Impeachments of heresy, 294.
Benevolent societies, 295. Sudden excommunication of nearly
one half of the church by the other half, 296. Heresy and
schism among Unitarians: Emerson, 298; and Parker, 300.
Disruption, on the slavery question, of the Methodists, 301;
and of the Baptists, 303. Resuscitation of the Episcopal
Church, 304. Bishop Hobart and a High-church party, 306. Rapid
growth of this church, 308. Controversies in the Roman
Catholic Church, 310. Contention against Protestant
fanaticism, 312.


Expansion of territory and increase of population in the early
part of the nineteenth century, 315. Great volume of
immigration from 1840 on, 316. How drawn and how driven, 316.
At first principally Irish, then German, then Scandinavian,
318. The Catholic clergy overtasked, 320. Losses of the
Catholic Church, 321. Liberalized tone of American
Catholicism, 323. Planting the church in the West, 327.
Sectarian competitions, 328. Protestant sects and Catholic
orders, 329. Mormonism, 335. Millerism, 336. Spiritualism,


Material prosperity, 340. The Kansas Crusade, 341. The revival
of 1857, 342. Deepening of the slavery conflict, 345. Threats
of war, 347. Religious sincerity of both sides, 348. The
church in war-time, 349.


Reconstructions, 351. The Catholic Church, 352. The Episcopal
Church, 352. Persistent divisions among Methodists, Baptists,
and Presbyterians, 353. Healing of Presbyterian schisms, 355.
Missions at the South, 355. Vast expansion of church
activities, 357. Great religious and educational endowments,
359. The enlisting of personal service: The Sunday-school,
362. Chautauqua, 363. Y. M. C. A., 364. Y. W. C. A., 366. W.
C. T. U., 367. Women's missionary boards, 367. Nursing orders
and schools, 368. Y. P. S. C. E., and like associations, 368.
"The Institutional Church," 369. The Salvation Army, 370. Loss
of "the American Sabbath," 371.


Unfolding of the Edwardean theology, 374. Horace Bushnell,
375. The Mercersburg theology, 377. "Bodies of divinity," 378.
Biblical science, 378. Princeton's new dogma, 380. Church
history, 381. The American pulpit, 382. "Applied
Christianity," 385. Liturgics, 386. Hymns, 387. Other
liturgical studies, 388. Church music, 391. The Moravian
liturgies, 394. Meager productiveness of the Catholic Church,
394. The Americanizing of the Roman Church, 396.


Growth of the nation and national union, 398. Parallel growth
of the church, 399; and ecclesiastical division, 400. No
predominant sect, 401. Schism acceptable to politicians, 402;
and to some Christians, 403. Compensations of schism, 404.
_Nisus_ toward manifest union, 405. Early efforts at
fellowship among sects, 406. High-church protests against
union, 407. The Evangelical Alliance, 408. Fellowship in
non-sectarian associations, 409. Cooperation of leading sects
in Maine, 410. Various unpromising projects of union: I. Union
on sectarian basis, 411. II. Ecumenical sects, 412. III.
Consolidation of sects, 413. The hope of manifested unity,
416. Conclusion, 419.




The heroic discovery of America, at the close of the fifteenth century
after Christ, has compelled the generous and just admiration of the
world; but the grandeur of human enterprise and achievement in the
discovery of the western hemisphere has a less claim on our admiration
than that divine wisdom and controlling providence which, for reasons
now manifested, kept the secret hidden through so many millenniums, in
spite of continual chances of disclosure, until the fullness of time.

How near, to "speak as a fool," the plans of God came to being defeated
by human enterprise is illustrated by unquestioned facts. The fact of
medieval exploration, colonization, and even evangelization in North
America seems now to have emerged from the region of fanciful conjecture
into that of history. That for four centuries, ending with the
fifteenth, the church of Iceland maintained its bishops and other
missionaries and built its churches and monasteries on the frozen coast
of Greenland is abundantly proved by documents and monuments. Dim but
seemingly unmistakable traces are now discovered of enterprises, not
only of exploration and trade, but also of evangelization, reaching
along the mainland southward to the shores of New England. There are
vague indications that these beginnings of Christian civilization were
extinguished, as in so many later instances, by savage massacre. With
impressive coincidence, the latest vestige of this primeval American
Christianity fades out in the very year of the discovery of America by

By a prodigy of divine providence, the secret of the ages had been kept
from premature disclosure during the centuries in which, without knowing
it, the Old World was actually in communication with the New. That was
high strategy in the warfare for the advancement of the kingdom of God
in the earth. What possibilities, even yet only beginning to be
accomplished, were thus saved to both hemispheres! If the discovery of
America had been achieved four centuries or even a single century
earlier, the Christianity to be transplanted to the western world would
have been that of the church of Europe at its lowest stage of decadence.
The period closing with the fifteenth century was that of the dense
darkness that goes before the dawn. It was a period in which the
lingering life of the church was chiefly manifested in feverish
complaints of the widespread corruption and outcries for "reformation of
the church in head and members." The degeneracy of the clergy was
nowhere more manifest than in the monastic orders, that had been
originally established for the express purpose of reviving and purifying
the church. That ancient word was fulfilled, "Like people, like priest."
But it was especially in the person of the foremost official
representative of the religion of Jesus Christ that that religion was
most dishonored. The fifteenth century was the era of the infamous
popes. By another coincidence which arrests the attention of the reader
of history, that same year of the discovery by Columbus witnessed the
accession of the most infamous of the series, the Borgia, Alexander VI.,
to his short and shameful pontificate.

Let it not be thought, as some of us might be prone to think, that the
timeliness of the discovery of the western hemisphere, in its relation
to church history, is summed up in this, that it coincided with the
Protestant Reformation, so that the New World might be planted with a
Protestant Christianity. For a hundred years the colonization and
evangelization of America were, in the narrowest sense of that large
word, Catholic, not Protestant. But the Catholicism brought hither was
that of the sixteenth century, not of the fifteenth. It is a most
one-sided reading of the history of that illustrious age which fails to
recognize that the great Reformation was a reformation _of_ the church
as well as a reformation _from_ the church. It was in Spain itself, in
which the corruption of the church had been foulest, but from which all
symptoms of "heretical pravity" were purged away with the fiercest zeal
as fast as they appeared,--in Spain under the reign of Ferdinand and
Isabella the Catholic,--that the demand for a Catholic reformation made
itself earliest and most effectually felt. The highest ecclesiastical
dignitary of the realm, Ximenes, confessor to the queen, Archbishop of
Toledo, and cardinal, was himself the leader of reform. No changes in
the rest of Christendom were destined for many years to have so great
an influence on the course of evangelization in North America as those
which affected the church of Spain; and of these by far the most
important in their bearing on the early course of Christianity in
America were, first, the purifying and quickening of the miserably
decayed and corrupted mendicant orders,--ever the most effective arm in
the missionary service of the Latin Church,--and, a little later, the
founding of the Society of Jesus, with its immense potency for good and
for evil. At the same time the court of Rome, sobered in some measure,
by the perilous crisis that confronted it, from its long orgy of simony,
nepotism, and sensuality, began to find time and thought for spiritual
duties. The establishment of the "congregations" or administrative
boards, and especially of the _Congregatio de Propaganda Fide_, or board
of missions, dates chiefly from the sixteenth century. The revived
interest in theological study incident to the general spiritual
quickening gave the church, as the result of the labors of the Council
of Trent, a well-defined body of doctrine, which nevertheless was not so
narrowly defined as to preclude differences and debates among the
diverse sects of the clergy, by whose competitions and antagonisms the
progress of missions both in Christian and in heathen lands was destined
to be so seriously affected.

An incident of the Catholic Reformation of the sixteenth
century--inevitable incident, doubtless, in that age, but none the less
deplorable--was the engendering or intensifying of that cruel and
ferocious form of fanaticism which is defined as the combination of
religious emotion with the malignant passions. The tendency to
fanaticism is one of the perils attendant on the deep stirring of
religious feeling at any time; it was especially attendant on the
religious agitations of that period; but most of all it was in Spain,
where, of all the Catholic nations, corruption had gone deepest and
spiritual revival was most earnest and sincere, that the manifestations
of fanaticism were most shocking. Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic
were distinguished alike by their piety and their part in the promotion
of civilization, and by the horrors of bloody cruelty perpetrated by
their authority and that of the church, at the instigation of the
sincere and devout reformer Ximenes. In the memorable year 1492 was
inaugurated the fiercest work of the Spanish Inquisition, concerning
which, speaking of her own part in it, the pious Isabella was able
afterward to say, "For the love of Christ and of his virgin mother I
have caused great misery, and have depopulated towns and districts,
provinces and kingdoms."

The earlier pages of American church history will not be intelligently
read unless it is well understood that the Christianity first to be
transplanted to the soil of the New World was the Christianity of
Spain--the Spain of Isabella and Ximenes, of Loyola and Francis Xavier
and St. Theresa, the Spain also of Torquemada and St. Peter Arbues and
the zealous and orthodox Duke of Alva.


[2:1] See the account of the Greenland church and its missions in
Professor O'Gorman's "History of the Roman Catholic Church in the United
States" (vol. ix. of the American Church History Series), pp. 3-12.



It is a striking fact that the earliest monuments of colonial and
ecclesiastical antiquity within the present domain of the United States,
after the early Spanish remains in Florida, are to be found in those
remotely interior and inaccessible highlands of New Mexico, which have
only now begun to be reached in the westward progress of migration.
Before the beginnings of permanent English colonization at Plymouth and
at Jamestown, before the French beginnings on the St. Lawrence, before
the close of the sixteenth century, there had been laid by Spanish
soldiers, adventurers, and missionaries, in those far recesses of the
continent, the foundations of Christian towns and churches, the stately
walls and towers of which still invite the admiration of the traveler.

The fact is not more impressive than it is instructive. It illustrates
the prodigious impetuosity of that tide of conquest which within so few
years from the discovery of the American continents not only swept over
the regions of South and Central America and the great plateau of
Mexico, but actually occupied with military posts, with extensive and
successful missions, and with a colonization which seemed to show every
sign of stability and future expansion, by far the greater part of the
present domain of the United States exclusive of Alaska--an
ecclesiastico-military empire stretching its vast diameter from the
southernmost cape of Florida across twenty-five parallels of latitude
and forty-five meridians of longitude to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The
lessons taught by this amazingly swift extension of the empire and the
church, and its arrest and almost extinction, are legible on the surface
of the history. It is a strange, but not unparalleled, story of
attempted coöperation in the common service of God and Mammon and
Moloch--of endeavors after concord between Christ and Belial.

There is no reason to question the sincerity with which the rulers of
Spain believed themselves to be actuated by the highest motives of
Christian charity in their terrible and fatal American policy. "The
conversion of the Indians is the principal foundation of the
conquest--that which ought principally to be attended to." So wrote the
king in a correspondence in which a most cold-blooded authorization is
given for the enslaving of the Indians.[7:1] After the very first voyage
of Columbus every expedition of discovery or invasion was equipped with
its contingent of clergy--secular priests as chaplains to the Spaniards,
and friars of the regular orders for mission work among the Indians--at
cost of the royal treasury or as a charge upon the new conquests.

This subsidizing of the church was the least serious of the injuries
inflicted on the cause of the gospel by the piety of the Spanish
government. That such subsidizing is in the long run an injury is a
lesson illustrated not only in this case, but in many parallel cases in
the course of this history. A far more dreadful wrong was the
identifying of the religion of Jesus Christ with a system of war and
slavery, well-nigh the most atrocious in recorded history. For such a
policy the Spanish nation had just received a peculiar training. It is
one of the commonplaces of history to remark that the barbarian invaders
of the Roman empire were themselves vanquished by their own victims,
being converted by them to the Christian faith. In like manner the
Spanish nation, triumphing over its Moslem subjects in the expulsion of
the Moors, seemed in its American conquests to have been converted to
the worst of the tenets of Islam. The propagation of the gospel in the
western hemisphere, under the Spanish rule, illustrated in its public
and official aspects far more the principles of Mohammed than those of
Jesus. The triple alternative offered by the Saracen or the
Turk--conversion or tribute or the sword--was renewed with aggravations
by the Christian conquerors of America. In a form deliberately drawn up
and prescribed by the civil and ecclesiastical counselors at Madrid, the
invader of a new province was to summon the rulers and people to
acknowledge the church and the pope and the king of Spain; and in case
of refusal or delay to comply with this summons, the invader was to
notify them of the consequences in these terms: "If you refuse, by the
help of God we shall enter with force into your land, and shall make war
against you in all ways and manners that we can, and subject you to the
yoke and obedience of the church and of their Highnesses; we shall take
you and your wives and your children and make slaves of them, and sell
and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take
away your goods, and do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as
to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord; and we
protest that the deaths and losses that shall accrue from this are your
own fault."[8:1]

While the church was thus implicated in crimes against humanity which
history shudders to record, it is a grateful duty to remember that it
was from the church also and in the name of Christ that bold protests
and strenuous efforts were put forth in behalf of the oppressed and
wronged. Such names as Las Casas and Montesinos shine with a beautiful
luster in the darkness of that age; and the Dominican order, identified
on the other side of the sea with the fiercest cruelties of the Spanish
Inquisition, is honorable in American church history for its fearless
championship of liberty and justice.

The first entrance of Spanish Christianity upon the soil of the United
States was wholly characteristic. In quest of the Fountain of Youth,
Ponce de Leon sailed for the coast of Florida equipped with forces both
for the carnal and for the spiritual warfare. Besides his colonists and
his men-at-arms, he brought his secular priests as chaplains and his
monks as missionaries; and his instructions from the crown required him
to summon the natives, as in the famous "Requerimiento," to submit
themselves to the Catholic faith and to the king of Spain, under threat
of the sword and slavery. The invaders found a different temper in the
natives from what was encountered in Mexico and Peru, where the
populations were miserably subjugated, or in the islands, where they
were first enslaved and presently completely exterminated. The insolent
invasion was met, as it deserved, by effective volleys of arrows, and
its chivalrous leader was driven back to Cuba, to die there of his

It is needless to recount the successive failures of Spanish
civilization and Christianity to get foothold on the domain now
included in the United States. Not until more than forty years after the
attempt of Ponce de Leon did the expedition of the ferocious Menendez
effect a permanent establishment on the coast of Florida. In September,
1565, the foundations of the oldest city in the United States, St.
Augustine, were laid with solemn religious rites by the toil of the
first negro slaves; and the event was signalized by one of the most
horrible massacres in recorded history, the cold-blooded and perfidious
extermination, almost to the last man, woman, and child, of a colony of
French Protestants that had been planted a few months before at the
mouth of the St. John's River.

The colony thus inaugurated seemed to give every promise of permanent
success as a center of religious influence. The spiritual work was
naturally and wisely divided into the pastoral care of the Spanish
garrisons and settlements, which was taken in charge by "secular"
priests, and the mission work among the Indians, committed to friars of
those "regular" orders whose solid organization and independence of the
episcopal hierarchy, and whose keen emulation in enterprises of
self-denial, toil, and peril, have been so large an element of strength,
and sometimes of weakness, in the Roman system. In turn, the mission
field of the Floridas was occupied by the Dominicans, the Jesuits, and
the Franciscans. Before the end of seventy years from the founding of
St. Augustine the number of Christian Indians was reckoned at
twenty-five or thirty thousand, distributed among forty-four missions,
under the direction of thirty-five Franciscan missionaries, while the
city of St. Augustine was fully equipped with religious institutions and
organizations. Grave complaints are on record, which indicate that the
great number of the Indian converts was out of all proportion to their
meager advancement in Christian grace and knowledge; but with these
indications of shortcoming in the missionaries there are honorable
proofs of diligent devotion to duty in the creating of a literature of
instruction in the barbarous languages of the peninsula.

For one hundred and fifteen years Spain and the Spanish missionaries had
exclusive possession in Florida, and it was during this period that
these imposing results were achieved. In 1680 a settlement of Scotch
Presbyterians at Port Royal in South Carolina seemed like a menace to
the Spanish domination. It was wholly characteristic of the Spanish
colony to seize the sword at once and destroy its nearest Christian
neighbor. It took the sword, and perished by the sword. The war of races
and sects thus inaugurated went on, with intervals of quiet, until the
Treaty of Paris, in 1763, transferred Florida to the British crown. No
longer sustained by the terror of the Spanish arms and by subsidies from
the Spanish treasury, the whole fabric of Spanish civilization and
Christianization, at the end of a history of almost two centuries,
tumbled at once to complete ruin and extinction.

The story of the planting of Christian institutions in New Mexico runs
parallel with the early history of Florida. Omitting from this brief
summary the first discovery of these regions by fugitives from one of
the disastrous early attempts to effect a settlement on the Florida
coast, omitting (what we would fain narrate) the stories of heroic
adventure and apostolic zeal and martyrdom which antedate the permanent
occupation of the country, we note the arrival, in 1598, of a strong,
numerous, and splendidly equipped colony, and the founding of a
Christian city in the heart of the American continent. As usual in such
Spanish enterprises, the missionary work was undertaken by a body of
Franciscan friars. After the first months of hardship and
discouragement, the work of the Christian colony, and especially the
work of evangelization among the Indians, went forward at a marvelous
rate. Reinforcements both of priests and of soldiers were received from
Mexico; by the end of ten years baptisms were reported to the number of
eight thousand; the entire population of the province was reckoned as
being within the pale of the church; not less than sixty Franciscan
friars at once were engaged in the double service of pastors and
missionaries. The triumph of the gospel and of Spanish arms seemed
complete and permanent.

Fourscore years after the founding of the colony and mission the sudden
explosion of a conspiracy, which for a long time had been secretly
preparing, revealed the true value of the allegiance of the Indians to
the Spanish government and of their conversion to Christ. Confounding in
a common hatred the missionaries and the tyrannous conquerors, who had
been associated in a common policy, the Christian Indians turned upon
their rulers and their pastors alike with undiscriminating warfare. "In
a few weeks no Spaniard was in New Mexico north of El Paso. Christianity
and civilization were swept away at one blow." The successful rebels
bettered the instruction that they had received from their rejected
pastors. The measures of compulsion that had been used to stamp out
every vestige of the old religion were put into use against the new.

The cause of Catholic Christianity in New Mexico never recovered from
this stunning blow. After twenty years the Spanish power, taking
advantage of the anarchy and depopulation of the province, had
reoccupied its former posts by military force, the missionaries were
brought back under armed protection, the practice of the ancient
religion was suppressed by the strong hand, and efforts, too often
unsuccessful, were made to win back the apostate tribes to something
more than a sullen submission to the government and the religion of
their conquerors. The later history of Spanish Christianity in New
Mexico is a history of decline and decay, enlivened by the usual
contentions between the "regular" clergy and the episcopal government.
The white population increased, the Indian population dwindled. Religion
as set forth by an exotic clergy became an object of indifference when
it was not an object of hatred. In 1845 the Bishop of Durango, visiting
the province, found an Indian population of twenty thousand in a total
of eighty thousand. The clergy numbered only seventeen priests. Three
years later the province became part of the United States.

To complete the story of the planting of Spanish Christianity within the
present boundaries of the United States, it is necessary to depart from
the merely chronological order of American church history; for, although
the immense adventurousness of Spanish explorers by sea and land had,
early in the sixteenth century, made known to Christendom the coasts and
harbors of the Californias, the beginnings of settlement and missions on
that Pacific coast date from so late as 1769. At this period the method
of such work had become settled into a system. The organization was
threefold, including (1) the garrison town, (2) the Spanish settlement,
and (3) the mission, at which the Indian neophytes were gathered under
the tutelage and strict government of the convent of Franciscan friars.
The whole system was sustained by the authority and the lavish
subventions of the Spanish government, and herein lay its strength and,
as the event speedily proved, its fatal weakness. The inert and feeble
character of the Indians of that region offered little excuse for the
atrocious cruelties that had elsewhere marked the Spanish occupation;
but the paternal kindness of the stronger race was hardly less hurtful.
The natives were easily persuaded to become by thousands the dependents
and servants of the missions. Conversion went on apace. At the end of
sixty-five years from the founding of the missions their twenty-one
stations numbered a Christian native population of more than thirty
thousand, and were possessed of magnificent wealth, agricultural and
commercial. In that very year (1834) the long-intended purpose of the
government to release the Indians from their almost slavery under the
missions, and to distribute the vast property in severalty, was put in
force. In eight years the more than thirty thousand Catholic Indians had
dwindled to less than five thousand; the enormous estates of the
missions were dissipated; the converts lapsed into savagery and

Meanwhile the Spanish population had gone on slowly increasing. In the
year 1840, seventy years from the Spanish occupancy, it had risen to
nearly six thousand; but it was a population the spiritual character of
which gave little occasion of boasting to the Spanish church. Tardy and
feeble efforts had been instituted to provide it with an organized
parish ministry, when the supreme and exclusive control of that country
ceased from the hands that so long had held it. "The vineyard was taken
away, and given to other husbandmen." In the year 1848 California was
annexed to the United States.

This condensed story of Spanish Christianity within the present
boundaries of the United States is absurdly brief compared with the vast
extent of space, the three centuries of time, and what seemed at one
time the grandeur of results involved in it. But in truth it has
strangely little connection with the extant Christianity of our country.
It is almost as completely severed from historical relation with the
church of the present day as the missions of the Greenlanders in the
centuries before Columbus. If we distinguish justly between the
Christian work and its unchristian and almost satanic admixtures, we can
join without reserve both in the eulogy and in the lament with which the
Catholic historian sums up his review: "It was a glorious work, and the
recital of it impresses us by the vastness and success of the toil. Yet,
as we look around to-day, we can find nothing of it that remains. Names
of saints in melodious Spanish stand out from maps in all that section
where the Spanish monk trod, toiled, and died. A few thousand Christian
Indians, descendants of those they converted and civilized, still
survive in New Mexico and Arizona, and that is all."[15:1]


[7:1] Helps, "Spanish Conquest in America," vol. i., p. 234, American

[8:1] Helps, "Spanish Conquest in America," vol. i., p. 235; also p.
355, where the grotesquely horrible document is given in full.

In the practical prosecution of this scheme of evangelization, it was
found necessary to the due training of the Indians in the holy faith
that they should be enslaved, whether or no. It was on this religious
consideration, clearly laid down in a report of the king's chaplains,
that the atrocious system of _encomiendas_ was founded.

[15:1] "The Roman Catholic Church in the United States," by Professor
Thomas O'Gorman (vol.

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