—Van Wyck Brooks, The Flowering of New England (1936)
The Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, a British missionary organization, was founded in 1709 to establish schools and promote the faith in "uncivilized" parts of the Scottish Highlands and among the indigenous peoples of America. In addition to sending their own here, the organization hired missionaries in the colonies, including one David Brainerd (1718-1747) of Haddam, Connecticut, after he was expelled from Yale in his third year for sympathizing with the George Whitefield revival and for having been overheard remarking that a certain college tutor, a Mr. Whittelsey, had "no more grace than this chair.”  In December 1742, he began working on Long Island. He later worked in Pennsylvania and along the Massachusetts-New York border. But his time among the New Jersey Delawares was, by his own account, his most successful.
His ministry lasted only five years, however. At age twenty-nine, he died of tuberculosis in Jonathan Edwards’s home, in Northampton. Two years later, Edwards published An Account of the Life of the Late Rev. David Brainerd, a memoir of a sort, based on Brainerd’s private diary (as opposed to his public journal), but heavily annotated and edited, and in the end, mostly the work of Edwards, whose byline it bore. Today it is the most frequently reprinted of Edwards's books, but the work didn't circulate widely until the early nineteenth century, when it became recommended reading at the Andover Theological Seminary. From then on, it became a major influence on the domestic and foreign missionary movements, and must have given comfort to seminarians who were feeling doubtful about their suitability for life out in the field. “My spiritual conflicts to-day were unspeakably dreadful,” Brainard wrote on January 14, 1743, “heavier than the mountains and overflowing floods.” On January 23, he confessed: “I saw I was not worthy of a place among the Indians…” The book must also have inspired those who were suffering physically, since he had probably contracted tuberculosis years before his death and yet soldiered on, riding miles on horseback and often sleeping outside.
In 1817, within the first decade of the Andover Theological Seminary's existence, the A.B.C.F.M. established a mission on the southern border of Tennessee, close to the Georgia line, near present-day Chattanooga. It was designed to cater to Cherokees, and Cyrus Kingsbury (A.T.S., class of 1815) was put in charge of it. The board defined as it goal: making the Cherokees "English in their language, civilized in their habits, and Christian in their religion."  They named it Brainerd. The founding of Brainerd had been preceded by a scouting trip undertaken by John F. Schermerhorn and Samuel J. Mills (A.T.S., class of 1812) in parts of the midwest, south, and southwest. When the pair returned, they published a fifty-page pamphlet, A Correct View of That Part of the United States Which Lies West of the Allegany Mountains, with Regard to Religion and Morals. “It would be highly desirable," they wrote,"... to find a tribe uncontaminated by the vices of the whites, and where the iniquitous trade by his treachery has never learnt the Indian to deceive or by his persuasion to get drunk.”  Missionaries from other denominations -- Methodists, Baptists, New Lights, Halcyons, and Catholics -- were likewise deplored, as were their proselytizing methods. Of some Ohio counties, where earthquakes had been felt, they acknowledged that a "wild enthusiasm" had "raged."  Eye witnesses, however, gave them "great reason to believe, that it was principally terror and fear which induced members to join those societies; for this work began and ended with the earthquakes.” Granted, some real conversions had taken place, but “many, who joined their societies during the earthquakes, have already left them.” 
Cyrus Kingbury’s mission to the Cherokees included the founding of a school where children were to be taught academic subjects as well as skills common to New England. For example, the board promised that as soon as a "female teacher [had] been engaged, capable of teaching [girls] to spin, weave, and sew," he would be sent "a loom and a half a dozen spinning wheels.”  It was 130 years later when Van Wyck Brooks (1886-1963) published The Times of Melville and Whitman, but he read it right from that distance:. “The South became, so to speak, officially Calvinist just at the moment when New England ceased to be.”  Noting the South's "rising puritanism," he declared, “The New England schoolmistress was abroad in the land…” 
In New England: Indian Summer: 1865-1915, Brooks wrote directly of Andover: "One had to look far afield… for the more essential Yankee traits, for the roots and springs and sources of New England," but "one found them at Andover, where the old religion flourished as nowhere else. Then, in times past, had gone forth the missionaries who made New England a power all over the world, the five apostles of 1812 who planned the Christianization of Asia and sowed the seeds of a modern China and Turkey; the founders of schools in the seven cities addressed in the Book of Revelations, in Antioch, Tarsus, Smyrna and Ur of the Chaldees, the colporteurs who had scattered the Bible up and down the Nile, the scholars who had set up printing-presses — the first in Bulgaria, the first on the island of Malta, — and translated the scriptures into Tamil, into Mandarin, Burmese, Armenian, Turkish and the tongues of the Marshall and Gilbert islands. If Andover was not the mother of all these feats of the old religion, the theological seminary … symbolized the impulse that lay behind them, the last great wave of the Puritan faith, its final crusade to redeem the world.”  Meanwhile, Andover's "little boys played 'preacher'"  in the same spirit in which boys elsewhere played at being cops, robbers, cowboys, and "Indians."
1. Jonathan Edwards, The Life of David Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians, (Edinburgh: Johnstone and Hunter, 1853), 19, 78.
2. Arthur Schlesinger Jr., "The Missionary Enterprise and Theories of Imperialism," in The Missionary Enterprise in China and America, edited by John K. Fairbank (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974), 348.
3. Quoted in Thomas C. Richards, Samuel J. Mills: Missionary Pathfinder, Pioneer and Promoter (Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1906), 122.
3. John F. Schermerhorn and Samuel J. Mills, A Correct View of That Part of the United States Which Lies West of the Allegany Mountains, with Regard to Religion and Morals (Hartford: Peter B. Gleason & Co., 1814), 16.
4. Ibid., 17.
5. History of the American Missions to the Heathen, from their Commencement to the Present Time (Worcester: Spooner & Howland, 1840), 62.
7. Van Wyck Brooks, The Times of Melville and Whitman (new York: E.P. Dutton, 1947), 49.
8. Ibid., 58, 82.
9. Van Wyck Brooks, New England: Indian Summer 1865-1915 (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1940), 79-80.
10. Ibid., 80.