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But it cannot be said that reasonable and intelligent ex-
pectations have been disappointed. Experience has
taught much as to the best conduct of such missions.
The gift of a fund of a million dollars by the late John F.
Slater, of Norwich, has through wise management con-
duced to this end. It has encouraged in the foremost
institutions the combination of training to skilled produc-
tive labor with education in literature and science.

The inauguration of these systems of religious education
at the South was the most conspicuously important of the
immediate sequels of the Civil War. But this time was a
time of great expansion of the activities of the church in
all directions. The influx of immigration, temporarily
checked by the hard times of 1857 and by the five years
of war, came in again in such floods as never before.^

1 The immigration is thus given by decades, with an illustrative diagram,
Ijy Dr. Dorchester, " Christianity in the United States," p. 759:

1825-35 330,737

1835-45 707,770

'845-55 2,944,833

1855-65 1,578,483

1865-75 3,234,090

1875-85 4,061,278


The foreign immigration is always attended by a westward
movement of tlie already settled population. The field of
home missions became greater and more exacting than
ever. The zeal of the church, educated during the war to
higher ideas of self-sacrifice, rose to the occasion. The
average yearly receipts of the various Protestant home
missionary societies, which in the decade 1850-59 had
been $808,000, rose in the next decade to more than
$2,000,000, in the next to nearly $3,000,000, and for the
seven years 1881-87 to $4,000,000.^

In the perils of abounding wealth by which the church
after the war was beset, it was divine fatherly kindness
that opened before it new and enlarged facilities of service
to the kingdom of heaven among foreign nations. From
the first feeble beginnings of foreign missions from America
in India and in the Sandwich Islands, they had been
attended by the manifest favor of God, When the con-
vulsion of the Civil War came on, with prostrations of
business houses, and enormous burdens of public obliga-
tion, and private beneficence drawn down, as it seemed, to
its " bottom dollar " for new calls of patriotism and charity,
and especially when the dollar in a man's pocket shrank
to a half or a third of its value in the world's currency, it
seemed as if the work of foreign missions would have to
be turned over to Christians in lands less burdened with
accumulated disadvantages. But here again the grandeur
of the burden gave an inspiration of strength to the bur-
den-bearer. From 1840 to 1849 the average yearly
receipts of the various foreign missionary societies of the

1 Ibid., p. 714. We have quoted in round numbers. The figures do not
include the large sums expended annually in the colportage work of Bible and
tract societies, in .Sunday school missions, and in the building of churches and
parsonages. In the accounts of the last-named most effective enterprise the
small amounts received and appropriated to aid in building would represent
manifold more gathered and expended by the pioneer churches on the ground.


Protestant churches of the country had been a little more
than a half-million. . In the decade 1850-59 they had
risen to $850,000; for the years of distress, 1860-69, they
exceeded $1,300,000; for the eleven years 1870-80 the
annual receipts in this behalf were $2,200,000; and in the
seven years 1881-87 they were $3,000,000.^

We have seen how, only forty years before the return
of peace, in the days of a humble equality in moderate
estates, ardent souls exulted together in the inauguration
of the era of democracy in beneficence, when every hum-
blest giver might, through association and organization,
have part in magnificent enterprises of Christian charity
such as had theretofore been possible " only to princes or
to men of princely possessions.""^ But with the return of
civil peace we began to recognize that among ourselves
was growing up a class of " men of princely possessions "
— a class such as the American Republic never before had
known. -^ Among those whose fortunes were reckoned by
many millions or many tens of millions were men of sor-
did nature, whose wealth, ignobly won, was selfishly
hoarded, and to whose names, as to that of the late Jay
Gould, there is attached in the mind of the people a dis-
tinct note of infamy. But this was not in general the
character of the American millionaire. There were those
of nobler strain who felt a responsibility commensurate
with the great power conferred by great riches, and held
their wealth as in trust for mankind. Through the fidelity

1 Dorchester, op. cit., p. 709. 2 Above, pp. 259, 260.

' A pamphlet published at the office of the New York " Sun," away back
in tlie early thirties, was formerly in my possession, whicii undertook to give,
under the title " The Rich Men of New York," the name of every person in
that city who was worth more than one hundred thous.ind dollars— and it was
not a large pamphlet, either. .\s nearly as I remember, there were less than
a half-dozen names credited with more tlian a million, and one solitary name,
that of John Jacob Astor, was reported as good for the enormous and almost
incredible sum of ten millions.


of men of this sort it has come to pass that the era of great
fortunes in America has become conspicuous in the history
of the w.hole world as the era of magnificent donations to
benevolent ends. Within a few months of each other,
from the little State of Connecticut, came the fund of a
milHon given by John F. Slater in his lifetime for the
benefit of the freedmen, the gift of a like sum for the like
purpose from Daniel Hand, and the legacy of a million
and a half for foreign missions from Deacon Otis of New
London. Great gifts like these were frequently directed
to objects which could not easily have been attained by
the painful process of accumulating small donations. It
was a period not only of splendid gifts to existing insti-
tutions, but of foundations for new universities, libraries,
hospitals, and other institutions of the highest pubHc ser-
vice, foundations without parallel in human history for
large munificence. To this period belong the beginnings
of the Johns Hopkins University and Hospital at Balti-
more, the University of Chicago, the Clarke University at
Worcester, the Vanderbilt University at Nashville, the
Leland Stanford, Jr., University of California, the Pea-
body and Enoch Pratt Libraries at Baltimore, the Lenox
Library at New York, the great endowed libraries of Chi-
cago, the Drexel Institute at Philadelphia, and the Armour
Institute at Chicago. These are some of the names that
most readily occur of foundations due mainly to individual
liberality, set down at the risk of omitting others with
equal claim for mention. Not all of these are to be re-
ferred to a rehgious spirit in the founders, but none of
them can fail of a Christian influence and result. They
prepare a foothold for such a forward stride of Christian
civilization as our continent has never before known.

The sum of these gifts of millions, added to the great
aggregates of contribution to the national missionary


boards and societies, falls far short of ihe total contribu-
tions expended in cities, towns, and villages for the build-
ing of churches and the maintenance of the countless
charities that cluster around them. The era following the
war was preeminently a " building era." Every one
knows that religious devotion is only one of the mingled
motives that work together in such an enterprise as the
building of a church; but, after all deductions, the volun-
tary gifts of Christian people for Christ's sake in the pro-
motion of such works, when added to the grand totals
already referred to, would make an amount that would
overtax the ordinary imagination to conceive.

And yet it is not certain that this period of immense
gifts of money is really a period of increased liberality in
the church from the time, thirty or forty years before,
when a millionaire was a rarity to be pointed out on the
streets, and the possession of a hundred thousand dollars
gave one a place among "The Rich Men of New York."
In 1850 the total wealth of the United States was reported
in the census as seven billions of dollars. In 1870, after
twenty years, it had more than fourfolded, rising to thirty
billions. Ten years later, according to the census, it had
sixfolded, rising to forty-three billions.^ From the point
of view of One " sitting over against the treasury " it is not
likely that any subsequent period has equaled in its gifts
that early day when in New England the people " were
wont to build a fine church as soon as they had houses
for themselves," - and when the messengers went from
cabin to cabin to gather the gifts of " the college corn."

The greatest addition to the forces of the church in the
period since the war has come from deploying into the

1 Dorchester, " Christianity in the United States," p. 715.

2 See above, p. 70.


field hitherto unused resources of personal service. The
methods under which the personal activity of private
Christians has formerly been organized for service have
increased and multiplied, and old agencies have taken on
new forms.

The earliest and to this day the most extensive of the
organizations for utilizing the non-professional ministry in
systematic religious labors is the Sunday-school. The
considerable development of this instrumentality begins to
be recognized after the Second Awakening in the early
years of the present century. The prevailing character-
istic of the American Sunday-school as distinguished from
its British congener is that it is commonly a part of the
equipment of the local church for the instruction of its
own children, and incidentally one of the most important
resources for its attractive work toward those that are
without. But it is also recognized as one of the most
flexible and adaptable " arms of the service " for aggres-
sive work, whether in great cities or on the frontier. It
was about the 3- ear 1825 that this work began to be
organized on a rational scale. But it is since the war
that it has sprung into vastly greater efficiency. The
agreement upon uniform courses of biblical study, to be
followed simultaneously by many millions of pupils over
the entire continent, has given a unity and coherence
before unknown to the Sunday-school system ; and it has
resulted in extraordinary enterprise and activity on the
part of competent editors and publishers to provide ap-
paratus for the thorough study of the text, which bids fair
in time to take away the reproach of the term " Sunday-
schoolish " as applied to superficial, ignorant, or merely
sentimental expositions of the Scriptures. The work of
the " Sunday-school Times," in bringing within the reach
of teachers all over the land the fruits of the world's best



scholarship, is a signal fact in history — the most conspicu-
ous of a series of like facts. The tendency, slow, of
course, and partial, but powerful, is toward serious, faith-
ful study and teaching, in which " the mind of the Spirit "
is sought in the sacred text, with strenuous efforts of the
teachable mind, with all the aids that can be brought from
whatever quarter. The Sunday-school system, coexten-
sive with Protestant Christianity in America, and often
the forerunner of church and ministry, and, to a less ex-
tent and under more scrupulous control of clergy, adopted
into the Catholic Church, has become one of the distinc-
tive features of American Christianity.

An outgrowth of the Sunday-school system, which,
under the conduct of a man of genius for organization,
Dr. John H. Vincent, now a bishop of the Methodist
Church, has expanded to magnificent dimensions, is that
which is suggested by the name "Chautauqua." Beginning
in the summer of 1874 with a fortnight's meeting in a
grove beside Chautauqua Lake for the study of the
methods of Sunday-school teaching, it led to the questions,
how to connect the Sunday-school more intimately with
other departments of the church and with other agencies
in society ; how to control in the interest of religious cul-
ture the forces, social, commercial, industrial, and educa-
tional, which, for good or evil, are affecting the Sunday-
school pupils every day of the week. Striking root at
other centers of assembly, east, west, and south, and
combining its summer lectures with an organized system of
home studies extending through the year, subject to written
examinations, " Chautauqua," by the comprehensive scope
of its studies and by the great multitude of its students, is
entitled to be called, in no ignoble sense of the word, a
university.^ A weighty and unimpeachable testimony to

1 Bishop Vincent, in " Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia," p. 441. The number


the power and influence of the institution has been the
recent organization of a Catholic Chautauqua, under the
conduct of leading scholars and ecclesiastics of the Roman

Another organization of the unpaid service of private
Christians is the Young Men's Christian Association.
Beginning in London in 1844, it had so far demonstrated
its usefulness in 1851 as to attract favorable attention
from visitors to the first of the World's Fairs. In the end
of that year the Association in Boston was formed, and
this was rapidly followed by others in the principal cities.
It met a growing exigency in American society. In the
organization of commerce and manufacture in larger es-
tablishments than formerly, the apprenticeship system had
necessarily lapsed, and nothing had taken its place. Of
old, young men put to the learning of any business were
" articled " or " indentured " as apprentices to the head of
the concern, who was placed in loco parentis, being in-
vested both with the authority and with the responsibility
of a father. Often the apprentices were received into the
house of the master as their home, and according to
legend and romance it was in order for the industrious and
virtuous apprentice to marry the old man's daughter and
succeed to the business. After the employees of a store
came to be numbered by scores and the employees of a
factory by hundreds, the word " apprentice " became
obsolete in the American language. The employee was
only a " hand," and there was danger that employers
would forget that he was also a heart and a soul. This
was the exigency that the Young Men's Christian Asso-
ciation came to supply. Men of conscience among em-

of students in the "Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle" already in
1891 exceeded twenty-five thousand.


ployers and corporations recognized their opportunity and
their duty. The new societies did not lack encouragement
and financial aid from those to whom the character of the
young men was not only a matter of Christian concern,
but also a matter of business interest. In every consider-
able town the Association organized itself, and the work
of equipment, and soon of building, went on apace. In
1887 the Association buildings in the United States and
Canada were valued at three and a half millions. In
1896 there were in North America 1429 Associations,
with about a quarter of a million of members, employing
1 25 1 paid officers, and holding buildings and other real
estate to the amount of nearly $20,000,000.

The work has not been- without its vicissitudes. The
wonderful revival of 1857, preeminently a laymen's move-
ment, in many instances found its nidus in the rooms of
the Associations; and their work was expanded and in-
vigorated as a result of the revival. In 1861 came on the
war. It broke up for the time the continental confederacy
of Associations. Many of the local Associations were dis-
solved by the enlistment of their members. But out of
the inspiring exigencies of the time grew up in the heart
of the Associations the organization and work of the Chris-
tian Commission, cooperating with the Sanitary Commis-
sion for the bodily and spiritual comfort of the armies in
the field. The two organizations expended upward of
eleven millions of dollars, the free gift of the people at
home. After the war the survivors of those who had
enlisted from the Associations came back to their home
duties, in most cases, better men for all good service in
consequence of their experience of military discipline.

A natural sequel to the organization and success of the
Young Men's Christian Association is the institution of


the Young Women's Christian Association, having like
objects and methods in its proper sphere. This institu-
tion, too, owes the reason of its existence to changed
social conditions. The plausible arguments of some ear-
nest reformers in favor of opening careers of independent
self-support to women, and the unquestionable and pathetic
instances by which these arguments are enforced, are
liable to some most serious and weighty offsets. Doubt-
less many and many a case of hardship has been relieved
by the general introduction of this reform. But the re-
sult has been the gathering in large towns of populations
of unmarried, self-supporting young women, severed from
home duties and influences, and, out of business hours,
under no effective restraints of rule. There is a rush
from the country into the city of applicants for employ-
ment, and wages sink to less than a living rate. We are
confronted with an artificial and perilous condition for
the church to deal with, especially in the largest cities.
And of the various instrumentalities to this end, the
Young Women's Christian Association is one of the most

The development of organized activity among women
has been a conspicuous characteristic of this period. From
the beginning of our churches the charitable sewing-circle
or " Dorcas Society " has been known as a center both of
prayer and of labor. But in this period the organization
of women for charitable service has been on a continental

In 1874, in an outburst of zeal, "women's crusades"
were undertaken, especially in some western towns, in
which bands of singing and praying women went in per-
son to tippling-houses and even worse resorts, to assail
them, visibly and audibly, with these spiritual weapons.


The crusades, so long as they were a novelty, were not
without result. Spectacular prayers, offered with one eye
on the heavens and the other eye watching the impressions
made on the human auditor, are not in vain ; they have
their reward. But the really important result of the
" crusades " was the organization of the " Women's Chris-
tian Temperance Union," which has extended in all direc-
tions to the utmost bounds of the country, and has
accomplished work of undoubted value, while attempting
other work the value of which is open to debate.

The separate organization of women for the support and
management of missions began on an extensive scale, in
1868, with the Women's Board of Missions, instituted in
alliance with the American Board of Commissioners for
Foreign Missions of the Congregationalist churches. The
example at once commended itself to the imitation of all,
so that all the principal mission boards of the Protestant
churches are in alliance with actively working women's

The training acquired in these and other organizations
by many women of exceptional taste and talent for the
conduct of large affairs has tended still further to widen
the field of their activity. The ends of the earth, as well
as the dark places nearer home, have felt the salutary
results of it.^

In this brief and most incomplete sketch of the origin
of one of the distinguishing features of contemporary
Christianity — the application of the systematized activity
of private Christians — no mention has been made of the
corps of " colporteurs," or book-peddlers, employed by

^ Among the titles omitted from this list are the various " Lend-a-Hand
Clubs," and " 10 x i = 10 Clubs," and circles of "King's Daughters," and
like coteries, that have been inspired by the tales and the "four mottoes"
of Edward Everett Hale.


religious publication societies, nor of the vastly useful
work of laymen employed as city missionaries, nor of the
houses and orders of sisters wholly devoted to pious and
charitable work. Such work, though the ceremony of
ordination may have been omitted, is rather clerical or pro-
fessional than laical. It is on this account the better
suited to the genius of the Catholic Church, whose ages of
experience in the conduct of such organizations, and
whose fine examples of economy and efficiency in the use
of them, have put all American Christendom under obU-
gation. Among Protestant sects the Lutherans, the
Episcopalians, and the Methodists have (after the Moravi-
ans) shown themselves readiest to profit by the example.
But a far more widely beneficent service than that of all
the nursing " orders " together, both Catholic and Protes-
tant, and one not less Christian, while it is characteristi-
cally American in its method, is that of the annually
increasing army of faithful women professionally educated
to the work of nursing, at a hundred hospitals, and fulfill-
ing their vocation individually and on business principles.
The education of nurses is a sequel of the war and one
of the beneficent fruits of it.

Not the least important item in the organization of lay
activity is the marvelously rapid growth of the " Young
People's Society of Christian Endeavor." In February,
1 88 1, a pastor in Portland, Me., the Rev. Francis E. Clark,
organized into an association within his church a number
of young people pledged to certain rules of regular at-
tendance and participation in the association meetings and
of cooperation in useful service. There seems to have
been no particular originality in the plan, but through
some felicity in arrangement and opportuneness in the
time it caught like a forest fire, and in an amazingly short


time ran through the country and around the world. One
wise precaution was taken in the basis of the organization :
it was provided that it should not interfere with any
member's fidelity to his church or his sect, but rather pro-
mote it. Doubtless jealousy of its influence was thus in
some measure forestalled and averted. But in the rapid
spread of the Society those who were on guard for the
interests of the several sects recognized a danger in too
free affiliations outside of sectarian lines, and soon there
were instituted, in like forms of rule, " Epworth Leagues "
for Methodists," Westminster Leagues " for Presbyterians,
" Luther Leagues " for Lutherans, " St. Andrew's Broth-
erhoods " for Episcopalians, " The Baptist Young People's
Union," and yet others for yet other sects. According to
the latest reports, the total pledged membership of this
order of associated young disciples, in these various rami-
fications, is about 4,500,000^ — this in the United States
alone. Of the Christian Endeavor Societies still adhering
to the old name and constitution, there are in all the world
47,009, of which 1 1,1 19 are "Junior Endeavor Societies."
The total membership is 2,820,540.2

Contemporary currents of theological thought, setting
away from the excessive individualism which has charac-
terized the churches of the Great Awakening, confirm the
tendency of the Christian life toward a vigorous and even
absorbing external activity. The duty of the church to
human society is made a part of the required curriculum
of study in preparation for the ministry, in fully equipped
theological seminaries. If ever it has been a just reproach
of the church that its frequenters were so absorbed^ in the
saving of their own souls that they forgot the multitude
about them, that reproach is fast passing away. " The In-

1 Dr. H. K. Carroll, in " The Independent," April i, 1897.

2 " Congregationalist Handbook for 1897," p. 35.


stitutional Church," as the clumsy phrase goes, cares for
soul and body, for family and municipal and national life.
Its saving sacraments are neither two nor seven, but sev-

Online LibraryLeonard Woolsey BaconA history of American Christianity → online text (page 29 of 34)