She explained in her text that she took those words to mean Christians should proselytize among their own wayward kind instead of looking to convert practitioners of other religions of the world. She criticized missionaries for wanting to travel to "foreign climes" "at free cost," while "pretend[ing] to be influenced by a desire of doing good to their fellow men." The statement is harsh, but she was angry -- angry about the wasted energy and funds that could have been going to helping people in our own country, especially indigenous and enslaved ones. In 1845, she published Second Part of the Tract on Missions, repeating much of what she had said in the first part. In 1848, she published Remarks on the 'Tour Around Hawaii,' by the Missionaries Messrs. Ellis, Thurston, Bishop, and Goodrich in 1823. "The missionaries observe that they found much difficulty in making the people comprehend the necessity of repentance for sins which they were not conscious of having committed," she wrote in that final book.
To be fair, her pamphlet about the tragedy of our indigenous people, Conversations Principally on the Aborigines of North America, published in 1828, is naive and contains stereotypical characterizations, but it expressed ambivalence about attempting to converting them: ". . . our Aborigines are presented as heathen, who are unable to comprehend the sublime doctrines of Christianity, because they cannot bend their reason to embrace the debasing superstitions which have been presented to them, and bow before the idols we have set up." She went on: " 'We need not search out the dark corners of the earth' to reform abuses, or to overcome superstition, too much is required at home."
Mrs. Sanders (sometimes spelled "Saunders") was the wife of a successful merchant, Thomas Sanders. They lived in a palatial Federal-style brick house (built 1805) on Salem's fashionable Chestnut Street (show above). Their children married well, especially Catherine (1784-1823), whose husband, Dudley Leavitt Pickman (1779-1846), made his first fortune as a supercargo in the East India trade, then invested in business enterprises like water power for the newly founded and industrialized cities of Lowell and Lawrence. What did she really know about the missionaries? How seriously was she taken? She was a Unitarian, so her attitudes are not surprising. Was she influential or was she preaching to the choir? I wish I could find her papers. Pickman's are plentiful. Why shouldn't hers be? She must have written scores of letters in her long lifetime. I can find only one small grouping, written to a grandson, at the Peabody Essex Museum's library, which I'll go look at one of these days soon. Nor can I find an image of her. Surely someone of her status sat for her portrait in oil. It may still be with the family. . .? Family, are you out there? Can you help?