The nineteenth century has been described as the "Great Century" of Protestant missions, when the Gospel was sent to more peoples than ever before. The Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America was an active participant in this phenomenal expansion. After its founding in 1837 it brought the Christian civilization to peoples on four continents and, for the first fifty-six years of its existence, to the Indians of the United States.
The men and women of the board served a variety of tribes. Their letters, intended to be reports from the field, are far more than dry discussions of mission business. Ranging in length from single fragments to reports of over twenty pages, they describe the Indian peoples and cultures, tribal factionalism, relations with the U.S. government, and the many problems and achievements of the work. The letters often become personal and even anguished, as the writers disclose their fears, worries, and hopes.
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