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A Response from Documents of American History
to S.J. Res. 15 in the Senate of the United States
April 19, 2005, read twice and referred to the 
Committee on Indian Affairs

by Dr. Catherine Millard
© 2005 Christian Heritage Ministries

     The Joint Resolution reads as follows:

     “To acknowledge a long history of official depredations and ill-conceived policies by the United States Government regarding Indian tribes and offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States.

     Whereas the ancestors of today’s Native Peoples inhabited the land of the present-day United States since time immemorial and for thousands of years before the arrival of peoples of European descent;

     Whereas the Native People have for millennia honored, protected, and stewarded this land we cherish;

     Whereas the Native Peoples are spiritual peoples with a deep and abiding belief in the Creator, and for millennia their peoples have maintained a powerful spiritual connection to this land, as is evidenced by their customs and legends;

     Whereas the arrival of Europeans in North America opened a new chapter in the histories of the Native Peoples;

     Whereas, while establishment of permanent European settlements in North America did stir conflict with nearby Indian tribes, peaceful and mutually beneficial interactions also took place;

     Whereas the foundational English settlements in Jamestown, Virginia, and Plymouth, Massachusetts, owed their survival in large measure to the compassion and aid of the Native Peoples in their vicinities;…

     Whereas many Native Peoples suffered and perished…”

Section 1. Acknowledgment and Apology.

The United States, acting through Congress-

(4) apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native
Peoples by citizens of the United States;…


No apology is owed to the Indian tribes inhabiting the Continent of America, as borne out by the original Documents of American History, which testify to the Gospel being graciously extended to these tribes, during the major landmarks of America’s history, commencing in 1492 – Discovery era, through the Development Period. Contrary to the above-quoted S.J. 15; - they are as follows, cited from Documents of American History:

Christopher Columbus – 1492
“Christ-bearer to Unknown Coastlands”

Christopher Columbus’ son, Ferdinand Columbus, gives the following testimony of his father’s integrity and Christian character in his famed book, History of the Life and Actions of Admiral Christopher Columbus and of his Discovery of the West Indies, called the New World. Written by his own son, Don Ferdinand Columbus:

The Author’s Preface 

     I being the son of the Admiral Christopher Columbus, a person worthy of eternal memory, who discovered the West Indies, and having myself sailed with him some time, it seemed to me but reasonable that among the other things I have writ, one and the chiefest should be his life, and wonderful discovery of the West Indies or New World; because his great and continual sufferings, and the distempers he laboured under, did not allow him time to form his notes and observations into a method fit for history…For this reason I resolved to undergo the labour of this task, thinking it better I should lie under the censure my skill and presumption shall be subject to than to suffer the truth of what relates to so noble a person to lie buried in oblivion…I promise to compose the history of his life of such matter only as I find in his own papers and letters, and of those passages of which I myself was an eye-witness.  The author informs the reader before he enters upon the work, that in it he will find all the reasons which induced the admiral to such an undertaking; he will see how far he proceeded in person upon the discovery in four several voyages he made; how great and honourable the articles were upon which he entered into the discovery, and which were afterwards confirmed to him by those two famous Princes, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel; how basely they were all violated, and he, after such unparalleled services, most inhumanly treated; how far he settled the affairs of the island Hispaniola, what care he took that the Indians should not be oppressed, but rather by good usage and example, prevailed upon to embrace the Christian faith; also the customs and manners of the Indians; their opinions and practice as to religious worship; and, in a word, all that can be expected in a work of this nature, the foundation whereof was laid by so great a man as was the admiral and finished by his own son, who had all the education that could contribute to make him capable of writing so notable a life…

     I believe he was particularly chosen by Almighty God for so great an affair as that which he performed; and because he was to be so truly his apostle as, in effect he proved it was his will he should in this part be like the others, who were called to make known his name from the seas and rivers, and not from courts and palaces, and to imitate himself, whose progenitors being of the blood royal of Jerusalem, yet it pleased him, that his parents should not be much known.  Therefore, as God gave him all the personal qualities for such an undertaking, so he would have his country and origins more hid and obscure…His proper name being Christopher, it might be known he was a member of Christ, by whom salvation was to be conveyed to those people…So the admiral Christopher Columbus, imploring the assistance of Christ in that dangerous passage, went over safe himself and his company, that those Indian nations might become citizens and inhabitants of the church triumphant in heaven; for it is believed that many souls which the devil had expected to make a prey of…were by him made inhabitants and dwellers in the eternal glory of heaven…” 

     Further to this, the following quotation form the Introduction of Christopher Columbus’ Book of Prophecies summarizes not only his deep commitment to the Gospel mandate, but also points to the Bible as the very source of his inspiration:

     “At a very early age I began to sail upon the ocean.  For more than forty years, I have sailed everywhere that people go.  I prayed to the most merciful Lord about my heart’s great desire, and He gave me the spirit and the intelligence for the task:  seafaring, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, skill in drafting spherical maps and placing correctly the cities, rivers, mountains and ports.  I also studied cosmology, history, chronology and philosophy. 

     It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies.  All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me.  There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because he comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures, a strong and clear testimony from the 44 books of the Old Testament, from the four Gospels, and from the 23 Epistles of the blessed Apostles, encouraging me continually to press forward, and without ceasing for a moment they now encourage me to make haste.  

     Our Lord Jesus desired to perform a very obvious miracle in the voyage to the Indies, to comfort me and the whole people of God.  I spent seven years in the royal court, discussing the matter with many persons of great reputation and wisdom in all the arts; and in the end they concluded that it was all foolishness, so they gave it up.  But since things generally came to pass that were predicted by our Saviour Jesus Christ, we should also believe that this particular prophecy will come to pass.  In support of this, I offer the gospel text, Matthew 24:35, in which Jesus said that all things would pass away, but not his marvelous Word.  He also affirmed that it laws necessary that all things be fulfilled that were prophesied by Himself and by the prophets…

     The Holy Scripture testifies in the Old Testament by our Redeemer Jesus Christ, that the world must come to an end.  The signs of when this must happen are given by Matthew, Mark and Luke.  The prophets also predicted many things about it. 

     Our Redeemer Jesus Christ said that before the end of the world, all things must come to pass that had been written by the prophets… 

     For the execution of the journey to the Indies I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps.  It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied.  All this is what I desire to write down for you in this book…

     I said that some of the prophecies remained yet to be fulfilled.  These are great and wonderful things for the earth, and the signs are that the Lord is hastening the end.  The fact that the Gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time – this is what convinces me.” 

     Columbus’ letter to Lord Raphael Sansix, dated May 3, 1493, is entitled, Concerning the Island Lately Discovered, and gives insight, once again, into the soul of this great American hero, and his desire to bring the life-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to these distant shores.  It is hereunder excerpted: 

     “…But great and wonderful is this thing, neither attributable to our merits, but to the holy Christian faith…because what the human understanding was unable to attain, that thing the Divine understanding granted to human creatures.  For God is accustomed to hearken to His servants, and those who love His precepts, even to the accomplishment of impossibilities, as it hath befallen us in the present case, who have accomplished those things, which hitherto the strength of mortals hath not attained.  For if others have written or spoken anything of these Islands, all have done so by quibbles or conjectures, no one affirms that he has seen them.  Whence the whole matter seemed almost a fable… 

     Let us all give things to our Lord Jesus Christ the Saviour, who hath bestowed on us so great a triumph:…Let Christ exult on earth, as He exults in Heaven, foreseeing as He does, that so many souls of people heretofore lost, are now about to be saved…”

     Further to the above-cited evidence of Columbus’ true motivation of bringing the Gospel to the Indian tribes, his Last Will and Testament or Mayorazgo (Testament of Founding Hereditary family Estate), dated Thursday, 22nd February, 1498, contains directions to his son, Don Diego, for maintaining and sustaining a Christian school  he founded on the Island of Espanola:

"Also I order to said Don Diego, my son, or to him who will inherit said Mayorazgo, that he shall help to maintain and sustain on the Island Espanola, four good teachers of the holy theology, with the intention to convert to our holy religion all those people in the Indias,and when it pleases God that the income of the mayorazgo will increase, that then also be increased the number of such devoted persons who will help all these people to become Christians. And may he not worry about the money that it will be necessary to spend for the purpose…”

     In conclusion to this section on Christopher Columbus, I quote again from Columbus’ original Book of Prophecies, as to his motivation and enablement.  As he said, it was simply the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies in the Old Testament: 

     ‘…the fact that the Gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time – this is what convinces me.’”   


The 1607 Jamestown, Virginia Settlement
and The First Virginia Charter – to bring
the Gospel to the Indians

     Jamestown, Virginia, is indeed a place of beginnings for what was later to become the United States of America.  It was Virginia’s first capital for 92 years.  Originally known as “James Cittie,” it was the site of the first permanent English settlement in America in 1607, and the meeting place of the first representative legislative assembly in 1619.  The true identity of this great nation is indelibly stamped upon the First Charter of Virginia, dated April 10, 1606. It shows clearly the settlers motivation to bring the Gospel to the Indian tribes:

JAMES, by the grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc., whereas our loving and well-disposed subjects…and divers others of our loving subjects, have been humble suitors unto us…We, greatly commending, and graciously accepting of their desires for the furtherance of so noble a work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the glory of His Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian religion to such people, as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God…graciously accept of, and agree to, their humble and well-intended desires…”

     It was thus that the London Company established the first permanent Christian colony in America with 120 settlers leaving England in December, 1606, and planting a colony at Jamestown on May 14, 1607. 

     The church tower is the only remaining original 17th-century structure.  A magnificent Cross, representing that upon which our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was crucified, was erected by the colonists upon their disembarkation on American soil.  A replica of this cross is here, in its place.

     The second act of the colonists was to kneel down and commemorate the Last Supper together.  Presiding over this important celebration was their chaplain, the Reverend Robert Hunt, who became the first minister of the colony. 

     At this very spot stands the handsome Robert Hunt bronze memorial, showing forth these first 1607 settlers kneeling on the ground, receiving the Lord’s Supper from their chaplain.  A sail tied between three or four trees served as their first church.  The communion rail was made of boughs of trees.  In order for the reader to better comprehend the Christian fervor of these 1607 Jamestown settlers, I have chosen to reproduce the colonists’ own testimony, inscribed upon Hunt’s Memorial: 

“1607.  To the glory of God and in memory of the Reverend Robert Hunt, Presbyter, appointed by the Church of England.  Minister of the Colony which established the English Church and English civilization at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.  His people, members of the Colony, left this testimony concerning him.  He was an honest, religious and courageous Divine.  He preferred the service of God in so good a voyage to every thought of ease at home.  He endured every privation, yet none heard him repine.  During his life our factions were ofte healed, and our extremities so comforted that they seemed easy in comparison with what we endured after his memorable death.  We all received from him the Holy Communion together, as a pledge of reconciliation, for we all loved him for his exceeding goodness.  He planted the First Protestant Church in America and laid down his life in the foundation of America.” 

     The above portrays a 1607 Christian foundational settlement in America, devoid of the mercenary thrust which recent “historians” have given it. 

     Of further interest in this vein is a large informative plaque on the inner wall of the original Jamestown church site, stating: 

“To the glory of God and in grateful remembrance of the adventurers in England and Ancient Planters in Virginia who, through evil report loss of fortune, through suffering and death, maintained stout hearts and laid the foundations of our country.”

     Another inscription reads:

“Jamestown, the first permanent colony of the English people and birthplace of Virginia and the United States.”

     And, of importance to the ministries and outreach of this original Christian colony, we read the commemorative plaque recounting the historical annals of a young Indian tribal convert to Christianity, who saved the settlement from a massacre:

“In memory of Chanco, an Indian youth converted to Christianity, who resided in the household of Richard Pace across the river from Jamestown and who, on the eve of the Indian massacre of March 22, 1622, warned Pace of the murderous plot, thus enabling Pace to cross the river in a canoe to alert and save the Jamestown settlement from impending disaster.”

     Immortalized in Jamestown history is the life and conversion to Christianity of Pocahontas, the “Indian Christian Princess.”  She was the favorite daughter of Powhatan, who ruled the Powhatan Confederacy.  She was born about 1595, probably at Woronocomoco, 16 miles from Jamestown.  After accepting Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior at age twelve, she changed her name to “Rebecka.”  Pocahontas saved Captain John Smith’s life twice from being clubbed by her father; Captain Smith being the leader of the Jamestown settlement.* She was baptized in the original church on Jamestown Island in 1613, subsequently marrying Councilman John Rolphe.  Her marriage took place in the same  church in 1614.  Pocahontas visited England with her husband and infant son, Thomas, and was presented to the Royal Court.  Early Virginia historian, Sir William Keith gives this account of Pocahontas’ death in 1617: 

"…she fell sick at Gravesend, as she waited there to embark on her return to Virginia; and after a few days’ illness, died, with all the tokens of piety and religion that became a good Christian; leaving behind her only one son, Thomas Rolfe, whose posterity, in Virginia, at this day, live in very good repute, and inherit lands by descent from her…”

     From the above we see the Pocahontas, whose name meant “Bright Stream between Two Hills,” gained a new name at her conversion to Christianity, that of “Rebecka,” the  name given to Isaac’s wife in the Old Testament Scriptures.  We further understand that Pocahontas left an inheritance of lands to her own descendants.  This fact is quite contrary to modern-day history book accounts which decry the 1607 settlers as having taken land from the Indians by force; misusing and abusing them – even to the point of robbing them of their inheritance and culture!  

     How different is this true historical record of Pocahontas, the Indian Christian Princess, compared to these recent revisionist fables.  Americans can be justly proud of their rich Christian beginnings, stemming from Virginia, “the cradle of the Republic.”

The Religion of the Indians

     Captain John Smith, in his famed Historie of Virginia, gives the following bold testimony of the practice of child sacrifice among the Indian tribes, this being an Abomination to Almighty God.  He relates this fact for posterity:

“…Their solemn sacrifices of children, which they call Blackboyes.”

     Smith continues his narrative on the Indians’ “strange” religion in his Historie of Virginia, thus:

Their god:  …But their chief god they worship is the devil. Him they call Okee, and serve more of ear than love. They say they have conference with him, and fashion themselves as near to his shape as they can imagine…

How the world was made:  …They believe there are many gods, which they call Mantoac, but of different sorts and degrees. Also that there is one chief god that hath been from all eternity, who as they say when he purposed first to make the world, made first other gods of a principle order, to be as instruments to be used in the creation and government to follow: And after the sun, moon and stars, as petty gods; and the instruments of the other order more principal. First (they say) were made waters, out of which by the gods were made all diversity creatures that are visible or invisible.

How man was made:  For mankind they say a woman was made first, which by the working of one of the gods conceived and brought forth children; and so they had their beginnings, but how many years or ages since they know not; having no records but only tradition from father to son. 

How they use their gods:  They think that all the gods are of human shape, and therefore represent them by images in the forms of men; which they call Kewasowok: one alone is called Kewasa; them they place in their temples, where worship, pray, sing, and make many offerings. The common sort think them also gods…

The subtlety of their priests:  What subtlety soever be in the Werowances, and priests: this opinion worketh so much in the common sort, that they have great respect to governors; and as great care to avoid torment after death, and to enjoy bliss. Yet they have divers sorts of punishments according to the offense, according to the greatness of the fact. And this is the sum of their religion, which I learned by having special familiarity with their priests, wherein they were not so sure grounded, nor gave such credit, but, through conversing with us, they were brought into great doubts their own, and no small admiration of ours: of which many desired to learn more than we had means for want of utterance in their language to express…

Their consultations:  When they intend any wars, the Werowances usually have the advice of their priests and conjurers, and their allies and ancient friends, but chiefly the priests determine their resolution. Every Werowance, or some lusty fellow, they appoint Captain over every nation. They seldom make war for lands or goods, but for women and children, and principally for revenge.

Their enemies:  They have many enemies, namely, all their westerly countries beyond the mountains, and the heads of the rivers…

Their charms to cure:  They have many professed physicians, who, with their charms and rattles, with an infernal rout of words and actions, will seem to suck their inward grief from their navals, or their grieved places…”

     Smith then quotes this phrase to show the powerlessness of their charms:

“But ‘tis not always in physician’s skill, to heal the patient that is sick and ill; For sometimes sickness on the patient’s part, proves stronger far than all physician’s art.”

The Indian's Desire of Salvation

     Under the sub-title, Their Desire of Salvation, Smith relates that even the natives were in awe and admiration of the colonists’ Christian lives, that is, their life of prayer, obedience to the Lord, longsuffering and forgiveness; all of which drew them to the true God of the Bible and Jesus Christ His Son:

"…The King Wingina where we dwelt would oft be with us at prayer.  Twice he was exceeding sick and like to die.  And doubting of any help from his priests, thinking he was in such danger for offending us and our God, sent for some of us to pray, and be a means to our God, he might live with Him after death.  And so did many other in like case.  One other strange accident (leaving others) will I mention before I end, which moved the whole country that either knew or heard of us, to have us in wonderful admiration.  There was no town where they had practiced any villainy against us (we leaving it unpunished, because we sought by all possible means to win them by gentleness) but within a few days after our departure, they began to die; in some towns twenty, in some forty, in some sixty, and in one a hundred and twenty, which was very many in respect to their numbers.  And this happened in no place (we could learn) where we had been, but where they had used some practice to betray us.  And this disease was so strange, they neither knew what it was, nor how to cure it; ;nor had they known the like time out of mind; a thing specially observed by us, as also by themselves, in so much that some of them who were our friends, especially Wingina, had observed such effects in four or five towns, that they were persuaded it was the work of God through our means: and that we by Him might kill and slay whom we would, without weapons, and not come near them.  And thereupon, when they had any understanding, that any of their enemies abused us in our journeys, they would entreat us, we would be a means to our God, that they, as the others that had dealt ill with us, might die in like sort:  although we showed them their requests were ungodly and that our God would not subject Himself to any such requests of men, but all things as He pleased came to pass:  and that we, to show ourselves His true servants, ought rather to pray for the contrary.  Yet because the effect fell out so suddenly after, according to their desires, they thought it came to pass by our means, and would come give jus thanks in their manner, that though we satisfied them not in words, yet in deeds we had fulfilled their desires…”

     The above accounts point out the contrast between Christianity as embraced by the 1607 settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, and the false religions practiced by Indian tribes such as the Werowances.  Once again, we find that these original documents of early Virginia history dispel the modern mythological textbook and history book accounts of the “noble savage;”  indoctrinated, exploited and massacred by the colonists. 

*see Frieze painting and sculpture in the Main Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.           


William Bradford and the 1620 Plymouth Settlement
“For the Furtherance of the Christian Faith…”

       The 1620 Pilgrims arrived at Capt Cod, Massachusetts, on November 11, 1620.  Ocean storms had blown them off course.  Thus, they arrived in Massachusetts rather than their originally intended Virginia destination, King James having granted a charter to the Virginia Company for it incorporation. (See First Charter of Virginia, April 10, 1606). 

     Subsequently finding themselves about to arrive upon land with no established form of government as it would have been, had they landed in Virginia, they saw the necessity to establish some type of governmental order among themselves before landing.  The result was the Mayflower Compact, a charter which they drew up and signed, electing their own officers, and binding themselves to work together for their common Christian faith and their common good.  From this simple mutual agreement, took form the first American Commonwealth, the beginning “of government of the people, by the people, for the people.”  This document, establishing the Pilgrims’ priorities, reads as follows:


In the Name of God, Amen.  We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord King James, by the grace of God, of of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, defender of the faith, etc., having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do, by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.  In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11 of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James of England, France, and Ireland and the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Dom. 1620.

     It had been a difficult journey.  Bradford tells us that, of the 103 Mayflower Pilgrim disembarking passengers, 51 of these died during the first New England winter.  However, this stalwart band of settlers who had braved the dangerous seas and inhospitable New England shores, to live their lives in harmony with God’s Holy Scriptures, persevered in prayer, obedience and praise to Almighty God. 

     William Bradford’s overriding theme throughout his moving history, Of Plimoth Plantation, is that of God’s immeasurable grace and His guiding hand upon the lives and endeavors of the Pilgrim settlers. The original Of Plimoth Plantation is hereunder quoted:

…What could now sustain them but ye spirite of God and His grace?  May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say:  “Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean and were ready to perish in this wilderness; (Deut. 26:5,7) but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voice, and looked on their adversitie, etc.  Let them therefore praise ye Lord, because He is good, and his mercies endure forever (107 Psalm v. l,2,4,5,8).”  Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord show how he hath delivered them from ye hand of ye oppressour.  When they wandered in ye desert wilderness out of ye way, and found no citie to dwell in, both hungrie and thirstie, their sowle was overwhelmed in them.  Let them confess before ye Lord his loving kindnes and his wonderfull works before ye sons of men…


…Thus it pleased God to vanquish their enemies and give them deliverance; and by his spetiall providence, so to dispose that not any one of them were either hurte, or hitt, though their arrows came close by them, and on every side of them, and sundry of their coats, which hunge up in ye barricade, were shot throw and throw.  Afterwards they gave God sollamne thanks and praise for their deliverance…


…and thus they found ye Lord to be with them in all their ways and to bless their outgoings and their incomings for which let his holy name have ye praise for ever to all posteritie…

     Further to these original documents on the mind-set and value-system of the 1620 Pilgrims at Plimoth Plantation, what does the term “Pilgrim fathers” really mean?  Who were these people whose lives and deeds so thoroughly influenced and permeated the entire course of America’s history?  Quoting from a publication of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, reprinted under the title The Term Pilgrim Fathers, we read that President Roosevelt, in his August 20, 1907 address commemorating the landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims, said:

“The coming hither of the Pilgrims 300 years ago, followed in far larger numbers by their sterner kinsmen, the Puritans, shaped the destinies of this Continent, and therefore profoundly affected the destiny of the whole world…”           


Roger Williams (1603-1683) – Friend of the Indians
Rhode Island’s Greatest Hero in the 
U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Fame

       Roger Williams was chosen by the citizens of Rhode Island as their great hero in the U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Fame.  His marble statue depicts him holding a Bible in his right hand. 

     He was born in Wales in 1603.  After graduating from Oxford, he ministered through the Church of England, but, upon preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he was labeled “a Puritan” and became an outcast of the established Anglican Church. 

     Embarking on a ship for America, considered “the haven for persecuted Christians,” he and his wife Mary arrived on February 5, 1631 in this country.  Two months later, he became a teaching elder of the Church at Salem.  Being, once again, offensive to the Governor and Assistants of Massachusetts Bay, he left for Plymouth, and assisted Reverend Ralph Smith of the church there.  His preaching on Freedom of Religion and biblical truth caused some of his parishioners to be offended.  He thus returned to Salem, settling there with his family.  Roger Williams gained the reputation, both in America and England of “a godly man and a zealous preacher.”  He boldly preached against violation of the Indians’ rights, through the land patent, which the King of England had placed in the hands of the government.  He also preached that the magistrate had no right “to deal in mattes of conscience and religion.” 

     He was ordered to leave the colony in the Fall of 1635, the time being extended to Spring 1636.  However, “the people being much taken with the apprehension of his godliness,” in January following, the Governor and Assistants sent an officer to take him to a ship bound for England.  Roger thus moved to Rehoboth, prior to the officer’s arrival. 

     In 1636, he founded the Providence settlement, after which he joined the Baptists.  In March, 1639, Williams was baptized by Ezekiel Halliman at Providence. 

     In 1643, Roger Williams returned to England, representing the colonies of Providence, Rhode Island and Warwick; in order to seek a Charter of Incorporation.  He finally procured one, signed on March 14, 1644 by the Earl of Warwick, then both Governor and Admiral of the English settlement. 

     Roger Williams was a man of moral excellence and integrity.  He was an injured, persecuted man.  However, he made the best of every opportunity to befriend and expose the neighboring Indian tribes to the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He continually performed acts of kindness to his persecutors, helping the poor and miserable, and offering an asylum to the persecuted.

Williams’ Outreach to the Indians – “A Key into the Language of America”          

     Leaving an indelible mark on posterity, Williams’ A Key into the Language of America was composed in 1643.  This work presents the character of the Indians, admirably calculated to facilitate communication with them, necessary to peaceful cohabitation.  Of this famous work, Williams writes:

“To my dear and well-beloved friends and countrymen, in Old and New England:  I present you with a Key; I have not heard of the life, yet framed, since it pleased God to bring that mighty Continent of America to light; others of my countrymen, have often and excellently, and lately written of the country (and none that I know beyond the goodness and worth of of it).  This Key, respects the native language of it, and happily may unlock some rarities concerning the natives themselves, not yet discovered… There is a mixture of this language North and South, from the place of my abode, about six hundred miles; yet within the 200 miles (aforementioned) their dialects do exceedingly differ; yet not so, but (within that compasse) a man may be this help, converse with the thousands of natives all over the country:  and by such converse it may please the Father of Mercies to spread civility (and in His own most holy season) Christianity; for one candle will light ten thousand, and it may please God to bless a little leaven to season the mighty lump of those peoples and territories…”

     Ever focused upon bringing the Word of god to lost souls, Williams prefaces his translation of the Genesis account of Creation, excerpted as follows:

…I shall propose some proper expressions concerning the Creation of the world, and man’s estate, and in particular theirs also, which from myself many hundreds of times, great numbers of them have heard with great delight, and great convictions: which, who knows (in God’s holy season) may rise to the exalting of the Lord Jesus Christ in their conversion and salvation?

“Friend, I will aske you a question.
Speak on.
What thinke you?
Who made the Heavens?
The Earth, the Sea. 
The World.”

Some will answer “Tatta,” I cannot tell, some will answer “Manittowock,” the gods.

“How many gods bee there?
Many, great many.
Friend, no so.
There is onely one God.
You are mistaken.
You are out of the way.”

     A phrase which much pleaseth them, being proper for their wandering in the woods, and similitudes greatly please them. 

“I will tell you newes.
One Onely God made the
Heavens etc.
Five thousand years agoe, and upwards.
He alone made all things.
Out of nothing.
In six days He made all things.
The first day Hee made the light.
The second day Hee made the firmament.
The third day Hee made the earth and sea.
The fourth day He made the sun and the moon.
Two great lights.
And all the stares.
The fifth day Hee made all the fowle.
In the ayre or heavens
And all the fish in the sea.
The sixth day Hee made all the beasts
Of the field.
Last of all He made one man.
Of red earth.
And call’d him Adam, or red earth.
And the afterward, while
Adam or red earth slept.
God tooke a rib from Adam, or red earth.
And of that rib He made one woman.
And brought her to Adam…”

     His Key into the Language of America finishes with a poem, prefaced by this eternal truth, as found in the Bible: 

O, how terrible is the look, the speedy and serious thought of death to all the sons of men.  Thrice happy those who are dead and risen with the Son of God, for they are past from death to life, and shall not see death (a heavenly sweet paradox or riddle), as the Son of God hath promised them.

     More particular:

“The Indians say their bodies die,
Their souls they do not die;
Worse are then Indians such, as hold the soul’s mortality
Our hopeless body rots, say they,
Is gone eternally.
English hope better, yet some’s hope
Proves endless misery
Two worlds of men shall rise and stand
‘Fore Christ’s most dreadful bar;
Indians and English naked too,
That now most gallant are.
True Christ most glorious then shall made
New earth, and heavens new,
False Christs, false Christians then shall quake,
O blessed then the true.”

     A prayer to Almighty God concludes his masterful translation of their Indian language: 

“Now, to the most high and most holy, immortal, invisible, and the only wise God, who alone is Alpha and Omega, and beginning and the ending, the first and the last, who was, and is, and is to come; fro whom, and to whom are all things; by whose gracious assistance and wonderful supportment in so many varieties of hardship and outward miseries,…by honor, glory, power, riches, wisdom, goodness and dominion ascribed by all His in Jesus Christ to eternity, Amen.”

Williams’ love of the Indians 

     Roger Williams shows his deep love of the Indians in his statement that “God was pleased to give me a painful, patient Spirit to lodge with them, in their filthy, smoky holes (even while I lived in Plymouth and Salem) to gain their tongue.” 


William Penn’s Bible -
His August 18, 1681 Letter to the Indians
and 1682 Treaty with the Indians

      William Penn was an English nobleman whose father, Admiral Penn, aspired to a great military career for his son.  At age 22 however, Penn was converted from Atheism to Christianity after hearing Thomas Loe’s famous sermon: “The Sandy Foundation Shaken.”  Young William joined the friends Society of Quakers, and found himself imprisoned three times for preaching the Gospel.  While serving a nine-month term in the Tower of London, Penn dreamed of starting a colony in the new world, where biblical truth could be sought, free from persecution.  In 1681, he arrived with his followers on board the ship “Welcome,” founding shortly thereafter “Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love.”  His leather-bound Bible and Psalter, accompanied him.  On the title page to his Book of Psalms, Penn had written:

“Set forth and allowed to be sung in all churches, of all the people together, before and after morning and evening prayer, and moreover in private houses for their godly solace and comfort, laying apart all ungodly songs and ballads: which tend only to the nourishing of vice and corrupting of youth.”

     It is interesting to note that in his Bible, the section which is the most underlined is the Book of Exodus, which tells about the Israelites’ escape from Egypt.  This is a point of significance, in view of the English Quaker exodus to Pennsylvania, likening their removal to America with that of the Israelites’ deliverance from bondage and slavery.  Penn’s desire for freedom extended to all persons, as is shown in this letter he sent ahead to the Indians in the area.  It reads: 

Penn’s Letter to the Indians

My Friends:
There is one great God and Power that hath made the world
and all things therein, to whom you and I and all people owe their being and well-being, and to whom you and I must one day give an account, for all that we doe in the world;  This great God hath written His law in our hearts by which we are taught and commanded to love and help and doe good to one another and not to doe harm and mischief one unto another…I shall shortly come to you myself at which time we may more freely and largely confer and discourse of these matters.  Receive those presents and tokens which I have sent to you as a testimony to my goodwill to you and my resolution to live justly, peaceably and friendly with you. I am, your loving friend, William Penn.

     The world-renowned painting by Quaker Benjamin West, Penn’s Treaty With the Indians, which is on permanent exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, celebrates Penn’s excellent relationship with the Indians, which was never marred by war during his reign as governor of Pennsylvania. 

     William Penn’s father, Admiral Penn, had transferred to his son the tract of land now known as Pennsylvania (Penn’s Woods) in America, which had been given to him by the Crown of England.  This was in return for exemplary service to His Majesty the King.  William Penn’s Christian caliber and integrity, however, caused him to buy the land from the Indians, rather than take it.  His famous 1682 Treaty with the Indians sealed the agreement.  It is graphically memorialized in sculpture and in a frieze painting within the main rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, showing William Penn’s biblical approach to life.


The College of William and Mary and the Indian School
And the Indian School, 1697

      Of primary significance in the heart of Williamsburg is The College of William and Mary, established in 1693 by the Crown of England. A plaque prominently displayed on the inside wall of the Christopher Wren Building, first edifice of what is now a vast College campus, quotes from its original Charter, specifying that the purpose for the school is the training of ministers of the gospel for the propagation of the Christian faith amongst the Western Indians.

Charter granted by King William and Queen Mary, for the 
founding of William and Mary College in Virginia.

William and Mary, by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, King and Queen, Defenders of the Faith, to all whom these our present Letters shall come, greeting. forasmuch as our well-beloved and trusty subjects, constituting the General Assembly of our Colony of Virginia, have had it in their minds, and have proposed to themselves, to the end that the Church of Virginia may be furnished with a Seminary of Ministers of the Gospel, and that the Youth may be piously educated in Good Letters and Manners, and that the Christian faith may be propagated amongst the Western Indians, to the glory of God…

     The College of William and Mary holds preeminence as the nation’s oldest college (Harvard being the oldest university).  Three United States presidents (Tyer, Monroe and Jefferson) attended this college, George Washington being its first chancellor.  At its establishment in 1693, the college comprised three schools:  The Grammar, Philosophy and Divinity schools.  Among the textbooks studied were, Buchanan’s Paraphrase of the Psalms, the Latin Bible, the Greek New Testament and Greek and Latin editions of the Book of Common Prayer. 

The Indian School - 1697

     In 1697 an Indian School was added, its stated purpose being to prepare Indian boys so that they could go back to their tribes as Christian evangelists to teach and preach the Word of God.   

     Member of the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence, George Wythe, for whom the law college is named, was legal mentor to Thomas Jefferson, Peyton Randolph, John Marshall and many early Americans. 

     Great American patriots such as John Marshall, star pupil of George Wythe, and fourth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; Peyton Randolph, first president of the Continental Congress, along with 16 members of that body; and four signers of the Declaration of Independence, proceeded from this school. 

     As Edmund Randolph, attorney general under George Washington observed: “until the Revolution, most of the leading men were alumni of William and Mary.” 

     It was here, too, that George Washington received his surveyor’s commission in 1749, Benjamin Franklin the honorary degree of Master of Arts in 1756, and the Chevalier de Chastellux and Thomas Jefferson in 1782, the degree of Doctor of Civil Law. 

     Its presidents, until 1814, and most of its faculty until the American Revolution were ministers.  Six of its presidents have jointly held the position of Rector of Bruton Parish Episcopal Church, which served founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and others.


 Jonathan Trumbull (1710-1785) Connecticut’s
Greatest Hero in the U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Fame 
and the Indian School – alias Dartmouth College

      Jonathan Trumbull was chosen as Connecticut’s greatest hero in the U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Fame.  A close friend of George Washington, he was Governor of Connecticut during the Revolutionary War. 

     At the age of thirteen Trumbull entered Harvard College, a Divinity School in those days.  His studies comprised Greek, Hebrew and Latin; later extending to physics, ethics, geography, geometry and forensics.  He greatly promoted the practice of Christian virtues, values and morals on campus.  Graduating from Harvard at 17, Jonathan pursued studies in Theology with a minister/tutor for two and a half years, in order to become a Minister of Gospel.  Trumbull was a member of the Congregational Church in Colchester and preached sermons. 

     However, upon the untimely death of his older brother, he was obliged to leave the full-time ministry in order to assist his father in his business; and eventually succeeded him. 

     Trumbull was elected to the Colonial Assembly at 23.  He also served as Governor’s Assistant for 22 years, opposing the Stamp Act passed by Parliament, which he deemed unconstitutional.  

The Indian School 

    In the years preceding the American Revolution, he helped to found an Indian School, which was later moved to Hanover, New Hampshire, becoming Dartmouth College

     Washington wrote to Trumbull from Army Headquarters in Valley Forge, that the American Army would cease to exist if food did not arrive speedily.  Within five days, Trumbull dispatched 300 beef cattle to Washington in Valley Forge.  Twenty-one regiments of soldiers were sent, and 252 ships fitted out from Connecticut, which Washington called “The Supply State.” 

     Throughout his life Jonathan Trumbull maintained a personal relationship with his Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  “The Lord Reigneth!” was his oft-repeated response in times of crisis.  After the Revolutionary war had been won, George Washington wrote to his friend Trumbull, “It is my wish that the mutual friendship…which has been fostered in the tumult of public life, may not wither in the serenity of retirement.”


George Washington’s letter to the Society of the United Brethren
for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians

“To the Directors of the Society of the United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen.

July, 1789


     I receive with satisfaction the congratulations of your society, and of the Brethren’s congregations in the United States of America.  For you may be persuaded, that the approbation and good wishes of such a peaceable and virtuous community cannot be indifferent to me.

     You will also be please to accept my thanks for the treatise* you presented; and be assured of my patronage in your laudable undertakings.

     In proportion as the general government of the United States shall acquire strength by duration, it is probable they may have it in their power to extend a salutary influence to the aborigines in the extremities of their territory.  In the mean time, it will be a desirable thing, for the protection of the Union, to co-operate, as far as the circumstances may conveniently admit, with the disinterested endeavours of your Society to civilize the christianize the Indians of the wilderness.

     Under these impressions, I pray Almighty God to have you always in his holy keeping.

                                                                                       GEORGE WASHINGTON”

 ‘An Account of the Manner in which the Protestant Church of the Unitas Fratrum, or Untied Brethren, preach the Gospel and carry on their Mission among the Heathen.’


Lewis Cass (1782-1866) –  known by the Indians
as “the Great White Father”  

     Lewis Cass was chosen by the citizens of Michigan as their greatest hero in the U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Fame.  He was governor of Michigan Territory for eighteen years.  This Territory comprised the unmapped areas of Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, stretching out to the Mississippi River. 

     President James Madison had appointed Cass at age 31 to this task.  The population at the time is estimated at 3,000 pioneers.  Indians of the Sioux, Winnebago, Ottawa and Chippewa Tribes were present. 

     During his long and able leadership, there were no Indian wars.  Similar to William Penn in Pennsylvania, Roger Williams in Rhode Island and the Calverts in Maryland, Cass shared the reputation of fair dealing with the Indians, but on a wider scale.  He studied their character and maintained fair and honest dealings with them.  He kept his promises and ensured their understanding and upholding of their contracts, winning respect and confidence. 

     Cass was known by the Indians as “the Great White Father” in Detroit, being more significant to them than the U.S. President in Washington.  Twenty-one solemn treaties were made by Cass with the Indians, by which most of them migrated beyond the Mississippi River, leaving the greater part of the domain – the great Northwest – to the pioneers, without conflict.   

     Lewis Cass was elected to the U.S. Senate, a post which he maintained for twelve years.  He believed that a good education, extended to all the people, was the primary safeguard of a democratic republic.


Bethel Mission, one of 13 Choctaw Missions
in Mississippi 

     An historic plaque on the Natchez Trace (the old road between Jackson and Tupelo) states the following concerning the missions to the Indians: 

Bethel Mission

      Bethel, meaning House of God, was opened in 1822 as one of thirteen Choctaw mission station. Missionaries, Indians and squaws laboured hard during four weeks, “frequently till 10 o’clock at night, by the light of the moon or large fires” to clear the forest and erect buildings.  The missionaries who took the Gospel to the wilderness also taught farming, carpentry, weaving and housekeeping as well as reading, writing and arithmetic to Choctaw children.  In 1826, people moved from the trace to new roads and Bethel was closed.


Site of the Brainerd Mission to the Cherokee Indians
Chattanooga, Tennessee 

     Plaques and memorials to distinguished missionaries and educators, who laboured tirelessly among the Cherokee Indians at the Brainerd Mission read as follows: 

The Reverend Stephen Foreman

“He laboured with the Cherokees and walked with God”  Born October 22, 18O7, in the Cherokee Nation near the present site of Rome, Georgia, of Scotch-Cherokee parentage.  Died December 8, 1881, at Part Hill Indian Territory and is buried at the Stephen Foreman Cemetery there.  A gentleman of the Old Southern type, a scholar of much culture and learning, a writer of prominence.  Educated College of Richmond, Virginia and Princeton Theological Seminary.  Licensed to preach September 23, 1835 by Union Presbytery, Tennessee.  Served “old nation” as associate editor of the Cherokee Phoenix.  Translated into Cherokee the New Testament, and part of the Old, also many tracts and hymns.  Worked with the missionaries at Brainerd and preached for 46 years among his people.  Had charge of Train of Wagons at the removal of Cherokees 1838.  Organized Cherokee National Public School System and was first Superintendent of Education west of the Mississippi River.  Elected to Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation October 11, 1884.  Executive Councillor 1847-1855 and held many other places of trust and honor.  Established First Presbyterian Church at Tah Lequah.  In memory of this great Cherokee who did so much for his people along the lines of Religion, education and good fellowship, this tablet is lovingly dedicated by his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  September 21, 1938.” 

“Here upon a small clearing in the wilderness in 1817, Brainerd Mission was founded among the Cherokee Indians by the American Board of Foreign Missions.  First called Chickamaugah.  Changed to Brainerd in 1818.  Maintained with aid of the United States Government until 1838.  Here 40 buildings were erected and hundreds of Indians were christianized and educated.  The Mission was visited in 1819 by President Monroe.

Its work was successfully carried on by Eastern Missionaries among whom were Reverend Ard Hoyt, first Superintendent, and Samuel Austin Worcester, who inspired the use of Sequoyah’s syllabary in printing.  Scientific agriculture, trades and domestic arts were taught to several hundred children, and through their influence, Christianity was spread throughout the Cherokee nation.  

Brainerd Missionaries (1817-1838)
Friends and Students of Brainerd Mission: 

     Prominent among the friends and students at Brainerd Mission were:  Charles A. Hicks, Assistant Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, the most powerful man of his time among the tribe.  Charles Reece, second member of the Brainerd Church and interpreter for the missionaries: David Brown (A-Wih).  Brilliant students, interpreter, orator and translator.  Elias Boudinot (Kill-Kee-Nah), students, prominent in Cherokee National Affairs, editor of Cherokee Phoenix.  Stephen Foreman, Minister, employed by the American Board.  John Huss, distinguished warrior who studied here and became a minister.  Lydia Lavery, student, wrote the first Cherokee hymn, married Milo Hoyt.  David Carter (T-Wah), student, Judge of the Cherokee Supreme Court, editor of the Cherokee Advocate.  Thomas Basil (Tools-oo-Wan), students and interpreter.  Elijah Hicks, interpreter and editor of the Cherokee Phoenix

     The Mission played an important part in the educational development and christianizing of the Cherokee.  Brainerd Cemetery contains graves of whites and Indians who died at the Mission.”


Early Missions among the Objibways
and Dahkotahs of Minnesota 

     An 1881 Library of Congress book entitled, Minnesota Explorers and Pioneers from A.D. 1659 to A.D. 1858, by a distinguished member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, gives the following historic account: 

     …In the month of June, 1820, the Rev. Dr. Morse, father of the distinguished inventor of the telegraph, visited and preached at Mackinaw, and in consequence of statements published by him, upon his return, a Presbyterian Missionary Society in the State of New York sent a graduate of Union College, the rev. W.M. Ferry, father of the present United States Senator from Michigan, to explore the field.  In 1823 he had established a large boarding school composed of children of various tribes, and here some were educated who became wives of men of intelligence and influence at the capital of Minnesota.  After a few years, it was determined by the Mission Board to modify its plans, and in the place of a great central station, to send missionaries among the several tribes to teach and to preach… 

                                   Missions among the Sioux, A.D. 1835 

     About this period, a native of South Carolina, a graduate of Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, the Rev. T.S. Williamson, M.D., who previous to his ordination, had been a respectable physician in Ohio, was appointed by the American Board of Foreign Missions to visit the Dahkotahs with the view of ascertaining what could be done to introduce Christian instruction.  Having made inquiries at Prairie du Chien and Fort Snelling, he reported the field was favorable. 

     The Presbyterian and Congregational Churches, through their joint Missionary Society, appointed the following persons to labor in Minnesota; Rev. Thomas S. Williamson, M.D., missionary and physician; Rev. J.D. Stevens, missionary; Alexander Huggins, farmer; and their wives; Miss Sarah Poage, and Lucy Stevens, teachers; who were prevented during the 1834, by the state of navigation, from entering upon their work. 

     As there had never been a chaplain at Fort Snelling, the Rev. J.D. Stevens, the missionary at Lake Harriet, preached on Sundays to the Presbyterian church there, recently organized.      

The Mission to the Indians 

     Writing on January twenty-seventh, 1836, he says, in relation to his field of labor:

      “Yesterday a portion of this band of Indians, who had been some time absent from this village, returned.  One of the number (a woman) was informed that a brother of ehrs had died during her absence.  He was not at this village, but with another band, and the information had just reached here.  In the evening they set up a most piteous crying, or rather wailing, which continued, with some little cessations, during the night.  The sister of the deceased brother would repeat, times without number, words which may be thus translated into English:  ‘Come, my brother, I shall see you no more for ever.’  The night was extremely cold, the thermometer standing from ten to twenty below zero.  About sunrise, next morning, preparation was made for performing the ceremony of cutting their flesh, in order to give relief to their grief of mind.  The snow was removed from the frozen ground over about as large a space as would be required to place a small Indian lodge or wigwam.  In the centre a very small fire was kindled up, not to give warmth, apparently, but to cause a smoke.  The sister of the deceased, who was the chief mourner, came out of hr lodge followed by three other women, who repaired to the place prepared.  They were all barefooted, and nearly naked.  Here they set up a most bitter lamentation and crying, mingling their wailings with the words mentioned.  The principal mourner commenced gashing or cutting her ankles and legs up to the knees with a sharp stone, until her legs were covered with gore and flowing blood; then in like manner her arms, shoulders, and breast.  The others cut themselves in the same way, but not so severely.  On this poor infatuated woman I presume there were more than a hundred long deep gashes in the flesh.  I saw the operation, and the blood instantly followed the instrument, and flowed down upon the flesh.  She appeared frantic with grief.  Through the pain of her wounds, the loss of blood, exhaustion of strength by fasting, loud and long-continued and bitter groans, or the extreme cold upon her almost naked and lacerated body, she soon sank upon the frozen ground, shaking as with a violent fit of the ague, and writhing in apparent agony.  ‘Surely,’ I exclaimed, as I beheld the bloody scene, ‘the tender mercies of the heathen are cruelty!’ 

     The little church at the fort begins to manifest something of a missionary spirit.  Their contributions are considerable for so small a number.  I hope they will not only be willing to contribute liberally of their substance, but will give themselves, at least some of them, to the missionary work. 

     The surgeon of the military post, Dr. Jarvis, has been very assiduous in his attentions to us in our sickness, and has very generously made a donation to our board of twenty-five dollars, being the amount of his medical services in our family…” 

                                        Chippeway missions at Pokeguma 

     Pokeguma is one of the “Mille Lacs,” or thousand beautiful lakes for which Minnesota is remarkable.  It is about four or five miles in extent, and a mile or more in width. 

     This lake is situated on Snake River, about twenty miles above the junction of that stream with the St. Croix.

     In the year 1836, missionaries came to reside among the Ojibways and Pokeguma, to promote their temporal and spiritual welfare.  Their mission house was built on the east side of the lake; but the Indian village was on an island not far from the shore. 

     In a letter written in 1837, we find the following results of the missions:  “The young women and girls now make, mend, wash and iron.  The men have learned to build log houses, plough, hoe, and handle an axe with some skill in cutting trees…” 


Dr. Joseph Ward, Missionary to the
the Indians in the Dakotas and South
Dakota’s Greatest Hero in the U.S.
Capitol’s Hall of Fame 

     Dr. Joseph Ward  (1838-1889) was chosen by the citizens of South Dakota as their greatest hero in the U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Fame. 

     Ward’s father, Dr. Jabez Ward, was the country doctor and beloved physician of Perry Centre, a town in Western New York State.  Dr. Ward ministered to both the body and soul of those who sought his help.  His account books revealed extremely hard work for sparse compensation.  He not only prescribed medicines, but also prepared them for his patients, receiving meager returns.  Ward’s sister wrote this account of Perry Centre, “…the strict keeping of Saturday night as the beginning of Holy Time, the nightly ringing of the curfew, the tolling of the bell on the death of anyone in the parish – all these were more conscientiously observed than in many Massachusetts towns.”  Most of all, the community loved and worshipped the Lord in church; prayer, praise and Bible Study being a way of life.” 

     When Joseph was five years old, his father died of pneumonia, having left his sick bed to assist the birth of a child.  His widowed mothers, although an invalid, displayed Christian character and integrity, molding her son’s future, a she patiently resigned her soul into the hands of her blessed Redeemer.  Her incurable disease caused increasing pain and helplessness. 

     It was thus that Ward’s magnificent character was developed, attending dialing to his mother’s needs with tenderness, gentleness, and faithfulness, until the age of fifteen.  The constant watchfulness at her bedside and the though of impending death wrought in him a clear perception of immortality through Christ’s atonement.  He also acquired a taste for reading good books while attending his mother’s ;needs.  Joseph had already devoured Josephus’ History of Israel, Milton’s Paradise Lost and other great works at eight years of age.  It is said that Ward possessed a remarkable memory, later becoming a Latin scholar.  Blackstone’s Commentaries also interested him. 

     Ward’s preparation for the ministry began at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where he became the foremost Latin scholar.  He spent eleven years in academy, college and seminary.  After graduation from Phillips Academy in 1861, he matriculated at Providence, Rhode Island’s Brown University.  Teaching at the Sunday School of the church which his sister’s husband, Reverend Stewart Sheldon, pastured, Ward fell in love with Sarah Wood, daughter of the Sunday School Superintendent, the Honorable Joseph Wood. 

     In 1865, Ward entered Andover Theological Seminary, which was then infused with missionary zeal.  He became a great champion of missions, being described by Dr. C.F.P. Bancroft: 

“As a Theological student he showed the same traits which made him subsequently the effective home missionary, the faithful pastor, the enterprising and sagacious college president.  There was the same candor of judgment, the same frankness and openness of expression, quickness of sympathy, abounding good humor, fertility of resources, the same turn for practical business, the same integrity and solidarity of character and robust but gracious piety.”

Dr. Joseph Ward – Missionary to the Indians in Dakota Territory 

     He was married to Sarah Frances Wood in Rhode Island in 1868, shortly after graduating from Andover.  The couple soon accepted a call to missionary service to the Indians in Yankton, the capital of Dakota Territory, which was at that time a village comprising a few hundred residents. 

     Through his leadership a Congregational Association in Dakota was formed encompassing the above churches, as well as churches which had spring up at Canton, Sioux Falls, Dell Rapids, Vermillian, Springfield on the Missouri; and the Indian Mission at Santee, Nebraska.  It was thus that Joseph Ward gained the reputation of “father of Congregationalism in Dakota,” being the pioneer-minister and organizer of the earliest churches, together with the work of Dakota Indian Missions.  Being greatly interested in the Indian Missions, he became the champion of the Indians’ welfare

     In 1872 he organized the Yankton Academy, forerunner of Yankton College.  It was the foremost academic institution of Dakota Territory and continued in its academic excellence. 

     The motto Dr. Ward chose for the College was, “Christ for the World” and the widely known and sung hymn from which the phrase originated became the College Hymn.  The College bell then had a verse from this hymn inscribed upon it: 

At morn, at noon, at twilight dim,
My voice shall sound, the earth around,
Christ for the world, the world for Him.

      Ward’s sudden death from blood poisoning was no doubt hastened by his steadfast, loyal and unrelenting hard labour in the mission of Dakota.  During the last hours of his life, he delivered a special message of love and encouragement to each family member as well as each faculty member of Yankton College.  His last message to the Trustees of the College as: “Do not stop anything for me.  The work must go on no matter what becomes of the workers.”

     On September 27, 1963, a welcome and statement of greeting was given by the Honorable John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, at the unveiling of Joseph Ward’s statue in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.  This was followed by a reading of the poem, “Ward of Dakota.”

Ward of Dakota

The winds sang welcome on the waiting prairie
When Joseph Ward came journeying to Dakota;
Not he the hunter, armed and predatory.
Not he the seeker of a gilded future.
Compassion was his guide, and love his mission.

Out of the east he came, a knight un-knighted,
Clad in invisible armor, God-directed:
And where his journey ceased, his hands created,
With sweat and toil, a citadel of learning,
A nursery of thought, a spring of knowledge;
Whose broad far-reaching gains are yet uncounted.

To him as builder, leader, youth-inspirer,
To him as seer and prophet of high vision,
To him as never-wearying burden-bearer,
To him as seeker of new paths, and opener
Of blinded eyes, with courage never flagging
Waging a war to banish wrong and evil
Wherever found, by letting light and truth in;
Homage is due, and love, and long remembrance.

- Mabel Frederick, Sioux Falls


Senator Dennis Chavez (1888-1962) 
Friend of the Navajo Indians  -
New Mexico’s greatest hero in the
U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Fame 

     Dennis Chavez was selected by the people of New Mexico to represent them as their Greatest hero in the U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Fame. 

     Senate Document No. 128, 89th Congress, 2nd Session, on the Acceptance of the statue of Dennis Chavez, presented by the State of New Mexico, describes in detail the proceedings in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, on March 31, 1966.  Among the numerous commendatory speeches given by distinguished leaders and statesmen, the following are quoted: 

Remarks by the Honourable Robert L. Bennett
Acting Commissioner of Indian Affairs

     It is an honor for me to represent the Indian people of this Nation here today as we honor the memory of Senator Dennis Chavez.  Most of us who were on the Navajo Reservation when he was in the Senate know of his devotion to the service of the Indian people.  The mark of this man was in the fact that notwithstanding his grandfather’s death at the hands of the Navajo and Apache Indians, he extended the hand of friendship to them.  They, in turn, grasped it and came to love him as he loved them.  It is no wonder then that at his passing they cried out the words inscribed in Navajo on his statue:  “We have lost our voice.”


Jason Lee (1803-1845)
Missionary to the Flat Head Indians and
Oregon’s Greatest Hero in the U.S. Capitol’s
Hall of Fame

     Jason Lee, chosen by the citizens of Oregon as their greatest hero in the U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Fame, was the first missionary to Oregon Territory.  His handsome bronze statue depicts Lee holding a Bible in his left hand. 

     Jason Lee came from sturdy New England ancestry.  His grandfather, John Lee, left England for America in 1734, becoming one of the early settlers near Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Jason’s father, Daniel Lee, enlisted in the Wadsworth Brigade, reinforcing General Washington in and around New York City, and taking part in the battle of White Plains in 1776. 

     Daniel and Sarah Lee’s log house in Stanstead, Vermont, saw the birth of their son, Jason, on June 28, 1803.  He was the youngest of 15 children.  Jason’s father died when he was 3 years old, and this necessitated his becoming self-supporting at age 13. 

     Lee accepted Jesus Christ a his Lord and Savior through a Wesleyan missionary in 1826, relating his conversion in his diary with this entry, “I saw, I believed, I repented.”

Lee continued working with his hands until 1829, when he entered Wilbraham Academy, a Methodist institution Wilbraham, Massachusetts.  The following is a character sketch left for us by one of his classmates, Bishop Osman C. Baker.  It shows his moral excellence, righteousness, and compassion as well as his perseverance in prayer, and sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit: 

     Jason Lee was a large, athletic young man, six feet and three inches in height, with a fully developed frame and a constitution like iron.  His piety was deep and uniform, and his life, in a very uncommon degree, pure and exemplary.  In those days of extensive and powerful revivals, I used to observe, with what confidence and satisfaction, seekers of religion would place themselves under his instruction.  They regarded him as a righteous man whose prayers availed much; and when there were indications that the Holy Spirit was moving in the heart of the sinner within the circle of his acquaintance, his warm Christian heart would incite him to constant labour until deliverance would be proclaimed to the captive.” 

     After graduation at Wilbraham in 1830, Jason served as a teacher in the Stanstead Academy, preaching in the neighboring towns until time came for him to go to Oregon as missionary to the Flat Head Indians.  He planned to join a certain Captain Nathaniel Wyeth, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, leaving Independence, Missouri in April of 1834.  Lee, accompanied by two Indian boys from Oregon, preached throughout New England until his departure.  Great crowds listened to him deliver the Gospel.  One of these meetings was held at Lynn, Massachusetts.  The Zion Herald published the following excerpted account of this meeting: 

     “Last Sabbath evening there was…an address by Reverend Jason Lee, missionary to the Flat Heads.  It was one of the most pleasant meetings ever held in Lynn, of a missionary character.  Long before the time appointed to commence, the house was thronged to overflowing, and the audience hung upon the lips of the speaker with such an interest that it could not be mistaken.  The collection did honor to Lynn; it amounted to $l00.00.” 

     On Monday, April 28, 1834, the missionary expedition to Oregon, led by Nathaniel Wyeth, set out from St. Louis, Missouri.  Lee was accompanied by four missionaries.  He preached “the first formal Protestant religious observance to be held in the vast interior west of the Rocky Mountains at Fort Hill, on July 27, 1834.”  Lee and his companions continued to Fort Boise, escorted by Thomas McKay and his Hudson’s Bay Brigade.  From there they continued alone to Fort Walla Walla, where they arrived on September 15, 1834, being warmly welcomed by Dr. John McLoughlin.  With the latter’s help, they established their mission on the east bank of the Willamette River, just north of Salem. 

     As a result of Jason Lee’s preaching, and his work with the Flat Head Indians, 51 missionaries were sent out by the Missionary Society, arriving in Vancouver on June l, 1840.

      Jason Lee’s character and accomplishments were eulogized by Thomas A. McBride, Justice of  the Oregon State Supreme Court, at the unveiling of his portrait: 

“The precious jewel of a Commonwealth; the one thing above all others which it would treasure, and the memory of those grand and self-sacrificing men and women who laid the foundations of its greatness and prosperity.  One of these treasured memories, is the life and work of Jason Lee, the founder of American civilization in Oregon…Lee combined the fervor of a missionary, the foresight of a seer, and the patriotism of a loyal citizen.”

     Governor of Oregon, Ben Olcott, accepted the portrait for the people of his people, with these stirring words: 

“Unhesitatingly I say that Jason Lee was Oregon’s most heroic figure.  By every right of achievement, this portrait of Jason Lee should adorn the halls of the Capitol building in our state, as long as those Capitol buildings stand.”


Marcus Whitman, M.D., (1802-1847) First
Missionary to the Nez Perce and Flat Head
Indians in Washington Territory -
Washington’s Greatest hero in the U.S.
Capitol’s Hall of Fame

     Marcus Whitman was chosen by the citizens of Washington State as their greatest hero in the U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Fame.  His statue depicts him in his pioneer outfit, striding to the great Northwest, his Bible under one arm, his medical equipment in the other. 

     Few Americans are familiar with the story of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, two great American heroes, and their work for the cause of the gospel.  Marcus made a valiant cross-country ride to save Oregon from falling to the Hudson Bay Company – and hence to the British. 

     As all believers know, every revival is preceded by prayer and fasting.  In Kentucky in 1797, a young pastor by the name of James McGready and others entered into a solemn covenant: 

“Therefore, we bind ourselves to observe the third Saturday of each month for one year as a day of fasting and prayer for the conversion of sinners in Logan County and throughout the world.  We also engage to spend one half hour every Saturday evening, beginning at the setting of the sun, and one half hour every Sabbath morning at the rising of the sun in pleading with God to revive His work.”

     Their prayers were answered.  Revival took hold of the Kentucky wilderness and spread southward to the Carolinas and north across the mountains to the cities and churches of the East and New England. 

     Dr. Marcus Whitman and Narcissa Prentiss, who later became his bride, were both deeply touched by the revival – so much so that each had committed to the single lifestyle in order to better serve the Lord.  But due to a mutual friend and divine providence, they married and committed their lives to evangelizing the Indians of the Northwest.  The cross-country trip was made by means of sleigh, steamboat, stage, ox cart, horseback and on foot, all the way from the State of New York.  Theirs was the first wagon to cross the Rocky Mountains. 

     In 1836, when Marcus and Narcissa Whitman crossed the mountains into Old Oregon as missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, they were being carried along by the current of that blessed stream which began to flow throughout the land when the Great Revival broke out at the beginning of the century. 

     In addition, unbeknownst to the Whitmans, they were a providential answer to a foiled attempt by a declining Indian tribe in Oregon to find the one, true, triune God.  In 1831, four Nez Perce and Flat Head Indians came to St. Louis seeking to learn the secret of the white man’s success, convinced that the white man’s God was more potent than their own.  These Indians were: Black Eagle, Rabbit Skin Leggings, No Horns on His Head and Man of the Morning.  Their request was that missionaries be sent among them to tell them of the white man’s God.  The portraits of Rabbit Skin Leggings and No Horns on His Head are in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.D., painted by the Indian authority and painter, George Catlin. 

     In 1866 there appeared in a lecture by missionary Henry Spalding, an account of the sorrowful appeal of one of these Indians to General Clark when they were leaving to go back to their own people.  Said the Indian: 

“I come to you over a trail of many moons from the setting sun.  I came with one eye partly open, for more light for my people who sit in darkness.  I go back with both eyes closed. How can I go back blind to my people?  I made my way to you with strong arms through many enemies and strange lands.  I go back with both arms broken and empty.  My people sent me to get the white man’s Book from Heaven.  You took me where you allow your women to dance, as we do not ours, and the Book was not there. you took me where they worship the great Spirit with candles, and the Book was not there.  You showed me the images of good spirits and pictures of the good land beyond.  But the Book was not among them.  I am going back the long, sad trail to my people of the dark land.  You make my feet heavy with burdens of gifts, and my moccasins will grow old in carrying them.  But the Book is not among them.  When I tell my poor, blind people after one more snow in the big Council that I did not bring the Book, no word will be spoken by our old men or by our young braves. one by one they will rise up and go out in silence.  My people will die in darkness, and they will go on the long path to other hunting grounds.  No white man will go with them, and no white man’s Book, to make the way plain.  I have no more words.”

     No woman ever made such a journey as they made by Narcissa Whitman.  In her fascinating journal for July 27, Narcissa, after speaking of some of her hardships, writes: “Do not think I regret coming.  No, far from it.  I would not go back for the world.  I am contented and happy.  Notwithstanding, I sometimes get very hungry and weary.  Have six weeks’ steady journey before us.  Will the Lord give me patience to endure it?” 

     On August 29, when from the summit of the Blue Mountains Narcissa saw the Columbia River and Mount Hood, the goal of their journey, far off in the distance, two biblical promises came to her mind: “As thy days, so shall thy strength be,” and “Lo, I am with you always.” 

     The Whitmans established themselves at Waiilatpu, in a rude cabin, among the Cayuse Indians. 

     What was the gospel of the Oregon Trail?  What was the gospel that compelled Marcus and Narcissa Whitman to thrust on through the dangers and hazards of the great Northwest?  What made them faithful unto martyrdom, perishing at the hands of those to whom they brought the good news of eternal life?  What was the gospel which erected the first Protestant church west of the Rockies? What was the gospel that transformed the Indians, causing them to discard their tomahawks and scalping knives; replacing them with the resounding hymns of redemption each morning and evening – filling the mission with praises to Jehovah God?  It was the magnificent gospel of Christ the Redeemer, the gospel of salvation from sin through the shed blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  This was the gospel of the Oregon Trail. 

     The British, who had established posts in Oregon through the Hudson Bay Company’s fur trading, had intended to colonize the territory.  Marcus Whitman undertook the arduous journey to Washington, D.C., to make his appeal for Oregon.  The fascinating story was related by none less than President Warren G. Harding in 1923 in a speech on “The Oregon Trail at Meacham, Oregon.  Here are excerpts: 

My Countrymen:
As I stand here in the shadow of the great hills, my mind reverts to the placid  banks of the broad Potomac. There, as here, to an American proud of his country and revering her traditions, there is much of patriotic interest, and between these rugged mountains and those fertile lowlands, I find much in common.  Living history records many indissoluble links, to one of which it seems fitting that I should direct your attention today.  Of the many rooms in the White House, which possess the peculiar charm of association with epochal happenings, the one most fascinating to me is that which formerly comprised the Cabinet Room and the President’s study…Before my mind’s eye as I stood in that heroic chamber a few days ago appeared the vivid picture.  I beheld seated at his desk, immaculately attired, the embodiment of dignity and courtliness, John Tyler, 10th President of The United States.  Facing him, from a chair constructed for a massive frame, his powerful spirit gleaming through his cavernous eyes, was the lion-visaged Daniel Webster, Secretary of State.  The door opened and there appeared before The amazed statesmen a strange and astonishing figure.  It was that of a man of medium height and sturdy build, deep chested, broad shouldered, yet lithe in movement and soft in step.  He was clad in a coarse fur coat, buckskin breeches, fur leggings, and boot moccasins, looking much the worse for wear.  But it was the countenance of the visitor, as he stood for an instant in the doorway, that riveted the perception of the two Chiefs of State.  It was that of a religious enthusiast, tenaciously earnest yet revealing no suggestion of fanaticism, bronzed from exposure to pitiless elements and seamed with deep lines of physical suffering, a rare combination of determination and gentleness – obviously a man of God, but no less a man among men.

Such was Marcus Whitman, the pioneer missionary hero of the vast, unsettled, unexplored Oregon country…It was more than a desperate and perilous trip that Marcus Whitman undertook.  It was a race against time.  Public opinion was rapidly crystallizing into a judgment that the Oregon country was not worth claiming, much less worth fighting for; that even though it could be acquired against the insistence of Great Britain, it would prove to be a liability. and he did not hesitate to speak plainly as one who knew, even like the prophet Daniel.  “Mr. Secretary,” he declared, “you would better give all New England for the cod and mackerel fisheries of Newfoundland than to barter away Oregon.”

Then, turning to the President in conclusion, he added quietly by beseechingly:

“All I ask is that you will not barter away Oregon or allow English interference until I can lead a band of stalwart American settlers across the plains. For this I shall try to do!”

The manly appeal was irresistible.  He sought only the privilege of proving his faith.  The just and considerate Tyler could not refuse. 

“Dr. Whitman,” he rejoined sympathetically, “your long ride and frozen limbs testify to your courage and your patriotism.  Your credentials establish your character.  Your request is granted!”

…Never in the history of the world has there been a finer example of civilization following Christianity.  The missionaries led under the banner of the cross, and the settlers moved close behind under the star-spangled banner of the Nation.  Among all the records of the evangelizing effort as the forerunner of human advancement, there is none so impressive as this of the early Oregon mission and its marvelous consequences.  To the men and women of that early day whose first thought was to carry the gospel to the Indians – to the Lees, the Spauldings, the Grays, the Walkers, the Leslies, and to all the others of that glorious company who found that in serving God they were also serving their country and their fellowmen – to them we pay today our tribute; to them we owe a debt of gratitude, which we can never pay, save partially through recognition such as you have accorded it today…I rejoice particularly in the opportunity afforded me of voicing my appreciation bth as President of the United States and as one who honestly tries to be a Christian soldier, of the signal service of the martyred Whitman.  And finally, as just a human being, I wish I could find words to tell you how glad I am to see you all, and reflecting as you do, from untroubled eyes, and happiness of spirit breathed by our own best song:

“There are no new worlds to conquer
Gone is the last frontier,
And the steady grind of the wagon-train,
Of the sturdy pioneer.
But their memories live like a thing divine,
Treasured in Heaven above,
For the Trail that led to the storied West,
Was the wonderful trail of Love.”

Warren Gamaliel Harding
President of the United States

     Tragically, Whitman, his wife and 12 others were massacred in a sudden uprising of the Indians.  They had been incited to violence by a man from Maine named Jo Lewis, who had circulated the tale that Dr. Whitman was poisoning the Indians. 

     The tragedy put an end to the organized work of the American Board of Missions among the Indians in Oregon.  But the seed that these devoted missionaries had sown did not return unto God void (Isaiah 55:10-11).  It still bears fruit in the Christian churches and Christian faith of the Nez Perce and Cayuse Indians.  One of the Indians said at their departure:

“You are leaving us forever, and my people, O my people will see no more light.  My children will live only in a night that will have no morning.  When we reach Walla Walla I shall look upon your face for the last time in this world.  But this Book in which your hands have written and caused me to write the words of God, I shall carry in my bosom ‘til I lie down in the grave.”


Editor’s Note:  For further information, see The Rewriting of America’s History, © 1991 by Catherine Millard.

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