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Divinity 8chool, Class of 185a 

The gift of Mrs. Burr 

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MACMILLAN & CO., Limited 



President of the American Bible Society, 1816 

The Centennial History 

of the 

American Bible Society 



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All rights reterved 

"fflnrflffljQM, Imm 
APR 18 1916 

Pivmrnr School 


Copyright 1916 


Set up and electrotyped. Published, April, 1916 


In dealing with so' serious and significant a subject as the 
effort of a Society to increase the circulation of the Holy 
Scriptures in the world the point of view has been that of an 
humble servant acknowledging that success in the effort can 
proceed only from the guidance and help of Him to whom 
these ancient writings belong. 

The plan of this book has excluded many things which 
may have been expected to appear in a review of labours cov- 
ering a whole century of the world's progress. Its aim was 
to make a book to be read by the people rather than a manual 
of reference for the student. 

It is natural, then, for this Centennial History to seek in 
every chapter the glory of God. The pervasive, living power 
of the word of God is emphasised by the facts of distribu- 
tion in many lands, and these facts suggest praise and thanks- 
giving on the part of all who have shared in the development 
and progress of the Bible cause. 

The author would frankly confess his obligation to the 
Rev. Dr. William I. Haven and the Rev. Dr. John Fox, 
his colleagues as Secretaries of the Society, for kindly criti- 
cism of the manuscript, much to its advantage. 

In publishing this record of the first hundred years of the 
labours of the American Bible Society we would suggest that 
it is only the beginning of a story which, please God, will con- 
tinue until the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as 
the waters cover the sea. The future is impenetrable to the 
vision of the present writer as it was to the men who founded 
the Society a hundred years ago and bravely set forth on un- 
known paths. Many things clearly ought to be done in the 
years immediately before us. In the meantime all may look 
forward with yearning and pray with the beloved disciple, 
that the Lord Jesus Christ may hasten His coming. 




I The Bible the Book of the New World . . . i 
II The Missionary Impulse in America .... 6 

III A Crisis in the* Growth of the Nation ... 14 

FIRST PERIOD 1816-1821 

IV The Organization of the Society 21 

V Finding Its Feet 31 

VI The Auxiliary Theory 40 

SECOND PERIOD 1821-1832 

VII Early Experiments 48 

VIII A Wider Outlook 55 

IX Growth of an Administrative System .... 61 

X Some of the Great Men 69 

XI Latin America Better Known 75 

XII A Notable Advance 83 

XIII The Auxiliary Societies at Work 92 

XIV Go In This Thy Might 102 

THIRD PERIOD 1832-1841 

XV A Most Christian Enthusiasm 11 1 

XVI Responsibilities Following a Great Decision . .119 

XVII Ventures in Languages 128 

XVIII Individualism in Democracy 136 

XIX Agents in Partibus 144 

XX The Financing of the Bible Society . . . .153 

XXI The Gains of Twenty-five Years 162 

FOURTH PERIOD 1841-1861 
XXII Among Destitute Americans 171 

XXIII Other Destitute Americans 182 

XXIV A Vision of Perpetual Growth 191 

XXV A Clearing House for Needs 109 

XXVI Turbulent Europe 208 



XXVII Among the Foreign Agencies — In Latin America 217 

XXVIII Among the Foreign Agencies — The Levant . . 226 

XXIX Light for the Darker Lands 236 

XXX Storm Clouds 246 

FIFTH PERIOD 1861-1871 

XXXI The Blight of Civil War 258 

XXXII Tests of the Society's Efficiency 268 

XXXIII Some Fruits of Christian Federation .... 2jj 

XXXIV The Pulse of Life . ... . . ... . .287 

XXXV The One Talent Hid 297 

XXXVI Peoples Who Know Not God's Law 308 

XXXVII The Jubilee Celebration of 1866 318 

XXXVIII Forget Not All His Benefits 326 

SIXTH PERIOD 1871-1891 

XXXIX Paying the Cost of War 337 

XL Events and Emergencies in the Bible House . . 347 

XLI Making the Bible Speak with Tongues . . . 357 

XLII Distribution in the Home Land 368 

XLI 1 1 The Bible Sent as a Foreign Missionary . . . 379 

XLIV Systematizing the Distribution Abroad . . . 390 

XLV The Call of the Far East 401 

XLVI Japan and Korea x 411 

XLVII Mediating Between Europe and Asia .... 420 

XLVIII Seventy-Five Years of Service 431 


XLIX At the Bible House * . . 440 

L Changes in the Auxiliary System 451 

LI New Methods at Home 460 

LII Latin America 470 

LIII Opening Doors of the Far East 482 

LIV The White Elephant and the Dragon .... 490 

LV America in the Orient 503 

LVI The Bible in Apostolic Fields 512 

LVII The Problem of Means 5 2 * 

LVIII Thy Ordinances Are My Delight 530 

Appendices 538 

Index . ■. 579 


Elias Boudinot, President of the Society, 1816 Frontispiece 


The Bible House, New York 192 

James Wood, President of the Society, 1916 . . . 442 




The beginning of the story of the American Bible Soci- 
ety is found in those providences of God which made the 
Bible the book of the American Colonies. 

Had there been no endeavour in the seventeenth century 
by European kings and rulers violently to control intellects 
and consciences awakened by the Reformation, there might 
have been no American Bible Society. It is not necessary to 
speculate upon this point. There is, however, occasion to 
call to mind, sometimes, the extent to which early settlers of 
the American Colonies now forming part of the United 
States had emigrated from their homes because they were 
lovers of the Bible. The Dutch and Swedes, who settled in 
New York and on the Delaware River, came out of the tur- 
moil of religious wars, and brought their Bibles with them. 
The settlers of New England emigrated in order to secure 
liberty of conscience. They not only brought the Bible over 
on the Mayflower, but in the period from 1620 to 1640 they 
called about them some 20,000 people from the old country, 
who, like themselves, had suffered for the sake of this char- 
ter of their liberty. In 1689 the Friends had well estab- 
lished their " Holy Experiment " in Pennsylvania. To New 
York, Maryland and South Carolina Huguenots fled, Bible 
in hand, from France after the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes. Like them were the German Mennonites and Pala- 
tines, who escaped from religious oppressors in their home 
land, and became rooted in Pennsylvania. The Presby- 
terians from Ulster, who took refuge in the Carolinas and 



in Georgia, were plain God-fearing people, who made the 
Bible the guide not only of their politics, but of their lives. 
The Virginia Colonists of 1607 may have included mere 
gold-seekers; but, under Captain John Smith, Jamestown 
was early provided with a church, and the Bible became a 
source of instruction to many of the settlers. 

So, of almost all of the early immigrants to America, it 
might be said as the Roman Catholic Brunetiere said of the 
Huguenots, when speaking of the paralyzing effect of the 
revocation of the Edict of Nantes upon moral progress in 
France : " It drove into exile the people who called them- 
selves men of the Bible, and who carried their morality, 
faith, and intelligence everywhere. . . . Louis XIV cut the 
nerve of French morality for the metaphysical satisfaction 
of having God praised only in Latin." 

Stephen Charnock, the old Puritan of Cromwell's time, 
noted as a result of his observation that " all God's provi- 
dences are but his touch on the strings of the great instru- 
ment of the world." That these men, the American Colo- 
nists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, had been 
driven from their homes by religious persecution, was griev- 
ous; but, in truth, this emigration was simply a turning of 
the wrath of man to the glory of God. 

These men loved the Bible. It may seem a little singular, 
perhaps, that if we leave out of account Eliot's Version of 
the Bible in the language of the Massachusetts Indians, and 
some Bible portions which Spanish Friars printed in Mexico 
in the end of the sixteenth century, we find the first Bible 
printed in America to be German, published in Philadelphia 
in 1743, by the enterprising Christopher Sauer, in order to 
supply the large German population who demanded the 
Word of God. 

Bibles in English were a monopoly of the king's printers 
in England and Scotland at this time; but the monopoly 
existed to insure the text rather than to give wealth to the 
printers. A small nonpareil Bible, at the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, could be had for a shilling, or at most 
for a shilling and sixpence. With such prices American 
printers could not compete; so American readers depended 
upon the king's printers, too. 


With all the other upheavals which the Revolution 
brought to the colonies it suddenly stopped Bible sales. Con- 
nection had been severed with the London printing houses. 
In 1777 a famine of Bibles was one of the many ills which 
a distracted Congress was called upon promptly to remedy 
at one of the Pennsylvania towns where it was able to meet 
in security. Dr. Allison, one of its chaplains, petitioned 
Congress to order the printing of at least twenty thousand 
Bibles. The lack of suitable paper, and even of sufficient 
type, in all the thirteen States for such a work negatived 
the scheme; but Congress voted by seven States against 
six to import twenty thousand Bibles from Holland, and 
this plan was set in execution. 

Six States voted against the proposition. These were: 
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Dela- 
ware, and New York. The seven States which considered 
scarcity of Bibles a concern of national importance were: 
Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, 
Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Let us note, 
by the way, that the vote of New Jersey in that Congress 
was cast by Elias Boudinot, one of the Trustees of Prince- 
ton University, eminent as a lawyer, who was afterwards 
President of the Congress, and later the first President of 
the American Bible Society. 

About the time that Congress was making its provision 
of Bibles Robert Aitken, of Philadelphia, printed the first 
English Bible which came from an American press. The 
enterprise nearly ruined him, for almost as soon as the book 
was ready, peace with Great Britain was signed. Cheap 
Bibles from England appeared in the bookshops again, and 
the Aitken Philadelphia Bible lay dust-gathering on the 
shelves of the book-sellers. It is worth noting that the 
Bible which fed the soul of Abraham Lincoln in the Ken- 
tucky log cabin of his boyhood, was one of those cheap little 
Bibles imported from London. 

The records of Bible printing in America show that many 
souls were being fed in those days by the wonderful words of 
life. In the later years of the eighteenth century, Bibles 
were printed not only in Philadelphia, New York and Bos- 
ton, but in Trenton, New Jersey ; Worcester, Newburyport, 


and Northampton, Massachusetts ; at New Haven and Hart- 
ford, Connecticut; at Albany, New York; and at Wilming- 
ton, Delaware, etc. The Bible had become the book of the 
New World. 

God's book had become man's book, since need to know 
themselves and their God everywhere impels men to read, 
ponder and absorb its teachings. The book so becomes to 
lovers of the Bible a groundwork for their activities, habits 
and character. In the Bible we all have found high and in- 
spiring ideas of God, answering every yearning of the needy 
soul. There we all have been won over to noble concep- 
tions of right, purity and service, have acquired certainty 
that life is more than meat or raiment; and Bible axioms 
have been taken up so as to become a part of our very na- 
ture. From the Bible the people have gained that enthusi- 
asm for high attainment which ennobles the humblest man 
or woman and brings success, in some degree, to every ef- 
fort permeated by a will to follow the leading of the Divine 
Master. It is this nurture in the Bible which has built up 
in our people a breadth of vision, and a deep consciousness 
of duty sure to show itself in good will to the less favored, 
such as appears in the widespread impulse to aid missionary 
and Bible Societies established for the sake of God. 

Bible distribution among those who have it not used to 
spring from what scoffers called a mere theory ; that is, from 
a belief that the book has the same living power to change 
men of every race which it has shown among those of our 
own race. But the idea is exploded which regards this as 
a theory. The Bible is to-day in the hands of tens of thou- 
sands of people, speaking several hundred different tongues, 
and belonging to all the races of mankind. After one hun- 
dred years of labor, the belief which led men to begin mis- 
sionary enterprises has become absolute certainty. In every 
land those changed through the living and pervasive power 
of the Bible gain, and transmit to their children, some tend- 
ency to a nobler life. Bible readers thus influence perma- 
nently the community, or the nation, or the race, of which 
they are factors. 

In the thirteen American Colonies large groups of choice 
souls were more or less hidden from sight by another sort 


of settler, who cared nothing for the Bible ; had no use for 
any rule or any theory that did not result in some way in 
gaining fields, or harvests, or more precious valuables which 
can be weighed, and counted, and jingled. Nevertheless, 
generally speaking, the influential men and leaders of the 
colonies were apt to be found among the religious sections 
of the people. 

To use the words of an anonymous writer in the old 
Panoplist: * " In no other country that ever existed was 
less restraint put upon men with regard to their religious or 
moral sentiments and behaviour. Here (in America) if a 
man is corrupt in his religious sentiments, there is nothing 
to obstruct his publishing them to others, beyond the re- 
straint which he feels from the opinions and frowns of the 
virtuous, or the superior deference which the truth always 
challenges from falsehood. Here, if anywhere, men speak 
and act for themselves. Yet in no other country did 
Christianity ever command more respect from the people at 
large, or exhibit a greater influence on the minds and con- 
duct of men taken in a mass. . . . Let not the writer be 
understood to mean, by the foregoing remarks, that the 
great body of the people of the United States, or that a ma- 
jority of them, are Christians in the most important sense 
of that term. What he intends is that the proportion of 
such Christians is comparatively large, and that the influ- 
ence of Christian doctrine and example over the great mass 
of the people is such as to warrant all that he has said." 

Dwellers in that half-mastered wilderness noted in their 
midst shining lights, seemingly small and insignificant as the 
firefly flashes of a summer night. But amid the toil and 
murk which were the lot of that people, those little lights 
became beacons for wanderers, because they had been 
kindled from the great light for the feet of men — the Word 
of God. 

*A religious magazine founded by Rev. Dr. Jedidiah Morse and 
published in Boston. 



In each of the American Colonies, before any large ex- 
pansion took place, a policy had to be adopted toward the 
Indians. They were curious, suspicious, and often hostile 
to the pushing white strangers. Even inanimate nature op- 
posed the advances of the Colonists upon its hidden treas- 
uries. The forests resisted the intruder with their silent 
mystery and isolation; with their heavy undergrowth here, 
and tangled ropes of the wild grape there; and now and 
then with a broad abattis of huge trunks, twisted by a cy- 
clone as though intended to bar, by acres of interlaced and 
jagged branches, access to some hidden, great prize. Moun- 
tains hindered any advance, walling in the land beyond with 
steep, rocky heights, or bewildering adventurers by offering 
them dark glens, and deep gulches that led to nothing more 
than another line of walls. Rivers forbade progress, with 
their deep, dark, unfeeling waters that could not be passed. 
And so it was fully a hundred years after the earlier land- 
ings before the colonists made any great advances away 
from the coast. 

Meanwhile the great rivers of the Atlantic coast had be- 
come friendly helpers to those who explored northern New 
York and the broad interior of Pennsylvania. Before the 
Revolutionary War, too, adventurous hunters from Vir- 
ginia and the Carolinas had found passes through the moun- 
tains into Kentucky and Tennessee, and had let the Ken- 
tucky, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers carry them, with 
their families, far westward toward the Mississippi. In 
1792 Kentucky was admitted to the Union as a state, and in 
1796 Tennessee. Pennsylvania was the least thinly popu- 
lated of the states ; and at the end of the eighteenth century 
groups of settlers were scattered in meadow land and along 



river banks as far to the westward and northward as the 
Indians would permit. 

About the same time the breezes brought from England 
to the eastern colonies of America unwonted voices. Where 
doubts and scoffings had filled the air, at the end of the 
eighteenth century stirred by the Wesleyan revival, the call 
to teach all nations rang out clear and positive. The ap- 
peals of William Carey in England had led to the establish- 
ment of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792. His ideas 
had aroused the churches to such an extent that the London 
Missionary Society was formed in 1795, with the aim of 
evangelising those South Sea Islands described to the world 
by Captain Cook; the Church Missionary Society, with an 
eye to reaching Africa, in 1798; the London Religious Tract 
Society in 1799. 

A pleasing circumstance which appears on examining the 
American religious periodicals of the opening years of the 
nineteenth century is the quickness of the healing of the 
wounds left by the Revolutionary War. One ancestry, one 
faith, one language, may permit petty misunderstandings, 
such as might spring up between husband and wife; yet 
such ties are too strong to be permanently broken. Noble 
impulses in one must naturally react upon the other. The 
English religious press was often quoted in those early 
American publications; and there was little or nothing to 
suggest that but a few years earlier friendly relations with 
England constituted a crime. In England there was a So- 
ciety for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 
and a Society for the promotion of Christian Knowledge — 
both formed in the seventeenth century. The Massachu- 
setts Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge 
among the Indians was established in 1803. Following the 
establishment of a Religious Tract Society in London, a 
Connecticut Religious Tract Society was established in New 
Haven in 1807. The Massachusetts Missionary Society 
had already been established in 1800. The New Hamp- 
shire Missionary Society began in 1804 " to oppose that tor- 
rent of errors which threatens to deluge our infant settle- 
ments. ,, The same impulse which had stirred British Chris- 
tians, awakened among the feeble American Colonies quick 


response, as though the command to teach the world had 
now first been spoken. 

In 1803 the purchase of " Louisiana " from the Emperor 
Napoleon added to the American domains an enormous tract 
of wilderness west of the Mississippi River, whose bound- 
aries were then inconceivably distant, since they included 
one-third of the entire area of the present United States. 
This purchase of a wilderness, ridiculed at the time even 
more than Mr. Seward's purchase of Alaska was, gave the 
United States unchallenged ownership of the lower Missis- 
sippi, and had the effect, at the time unexpected, of increas- 
ing among the states of the Union still in the embryo stage, 
with little real solidarity, a broader aspiration and a stronger 
sense of nationality. This was a fitting prelude to the 
strong outburst of feeling among religious people which fol- 
lowed information of the establishment of the British and 
Foreign Bible Society in 1804. 

The suggestion of the Reverend Joseph Hughes, when a 
few men were discussing the formation of a Bible Society 
for the supply of Wales, had the effect of an electric shock 
to quicken men's faculties. At the thought of a Bible .So- 
ciety, Mr. Hughes had remarked : " And if for Wales, why 
not for the whole world ? " No one could nor would any 
one wish to put that question out of mind. It led to the 
founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society; and 
when, a few years later, the latent power in that remark had 
been proved by experience, the same question led to the 
establishment of many Bible Societies in the United States. 

The first was the Philadelphia Bible Society, organised in 
December, 1808. It adopted a constitution differing some- 
what from that of the British and Foreign Bible Society, 
but specifying that the Bibles which the Society should 
publish must be without notes; copies being distributed in 
all languages calculated to be useful, whenever this seems 
to be necessary. Some thought that the Philadelphia So- 
ciety ought to design to serve the whole country. It was, 
however, the feeling of the founders of the Society that this 
would not be wise. A general Society, extending through- 
out the United States, would be unwieldy, they thought, 
and would languish in all places excepting the centre of its 


operations. It appeared to them that if similar societies 
were established in the principal cities of the Union, they 
might, by corresponding with each other, and occasionally 
Uniting their funds, act with more vigour and greater effect 
than the one general Society. " If no similar Society should 
be formed in any part of this country/' the Managers said, 
" then it will be the duty of this Society to extend its arm* 
from Maine to Georgia, and from the Atlantic to the Mis- 

They immediately sent circulars to leading persons in 
the different religious denominations throughout the United 
States urging them to establish Bible Societies on a similar 

The good people in Connecticut next moved to organise a 
Bible Society (in May, 1809). Then came Massachusetts 
with its Bible Society in July of the same year. New York 
followed in November, 1809, and New Jersey in December. 
Within six years time more than one hundred Bible Societies 
had been organised in the United States, with the simple 
purpose of providing Bibles for the poor who had no means 
of supplying themselves. Almost every one of the new So- 
cieties had in its Constitution provision for extending its 
benefactions when possible to heathen lands. 

The British and Foreign Bible Society sent hearty con- 
gratulations to each of these new Societies; and realising 
that such societies would need tangible help in beginning 
their operations, it made grants of from Three Hundred to 
Five Hundred Dollars to each of the state Societies. In 
the masterly history of the first hundred years of the British 
and Foreign Bible Society, Mr. Canton remarks x that by 
the end of 1816 that Society had presented to sixteen 
American Bible Societies 3,122 pounds sterling. 2 

It is not a matter for surprise that those connected with 
the American Societies frequently expressed their affection 

1 Vol. I, p. 248. 

2 The donation of five hundred pounds which it made to the 
American Bible Society upon its organisation is not included in this 
amount; nor is a donation of one hundred and fifty pounds to the 
Bible and Common Prayer-Book Society, which hardly stands in 
the same general category as the interdenominational Bible Socie- 


for the British Society under the title, " Venerable Parent." 
A little later than this, a speaker on the Bible cause in New 
York expressed his feeling in fulsome language, as follows : 
" With the profoundest veneration I bow before the majesty 
of the British and Foreign Bible Society. This illustrious 
, association (its history is recorded in Heaven, and ought to 
be proclaimed on earth) has been instrumental in distributing 
a million and a half of volumes of the Word of Life, and 
has magnanimously expended, in a single year, near four 
hundred thousand dollars for the salvation of man. This 
transcendent institution is the brightest star in the constella- 
tion of modern improvements, and looks down from its 
celestial elevation on the diminished glories of the Grecian 
and Roman men." x 

A true missionary impulse leads Christians who wish to 
tell the glorious facts to those who do not know Jesus 
Christ " to begin at Jerusalem." This is the natural order ; 
but men at home who are stubbornly refractory may not 
bar others from hearing the message of Jesus Christ; so 
the impulse to tell facts to all will not tolerate sitting still 
until the last inhabitant of the home city has surrendered. 

A plain, rather bashful student in Williams College, 
Samuel J. Mills, musing on this subject, felt the need of our 
own frontiersmen. He also pictured the ignorance of the 
wild barbarians beyond, and then questioned whether poor, 
dark Africa must wait until all in America have consented 
to drink of the water of life. In his diary is one sentence, 
which, to him, was the conclusion of the whole matter: 
" Though we are very little beings, we must not rest satis- 
fied until we have made our influence extend to the remotest 
corner of this ruined world." With unfailing persistence 
Mills held that doctrine up to the very end of his short life. 

The first public work to which Mills put his hand was to 
go with some like-minded students in Andover Theological 
Seminary to some of the leading clergymen of his acquaint- 
ance. The students announced to the astonished pastors 
that they* were ready to give their lives to work as foreign 

1 See the address of George Griffin, Esq., at the ratification meet- 
ing held in behalf of the American Bible Society at City Hall, in 
New York, May 13, 1816. 


missionaries; and they wished to know whether Christian 
people would support them in this enterprise. This was 
early in 1810. The quiet earnestness of Mr. Mills' ques- 
tion impressed the good ministers, and they took the matter 
seriously in hand. The formation, in September, 1810, of 
the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mis- 
sions followed. The despatch to India of five of the de- 
voted volunteers as missionaries of the American Board 
was the first step taken by that great Society toward ex- 
tending its influence " to the remotest corner of this world." 

Mills was not one of the five chosen to go abroad. Per- 
haps he was disappointed; but he was soon called to mis- 
sionary work at home which, as we shall see, was destined 
closely to connect him with the organisation of the Ameri- 
can Bible Society. It is a little singular, by the way, that 
the man who drafted the constitution of the British and 
Foreign Bible Society in 1804 wa s also a Samuel Mills, for 
forty-three years a member of the directing " Committee " 
of that Society. The extent of the territory added to the 
United States by the purchase of " Louisiana " was so 
great, and current knowledge of its people so little that the 
Massachusetts Missionary Society in October, 1812, ap- 
pointed Reverend J. M. Schermerhorn as one of its mission- 
aries, in co-operation with the Connecticut Missionary So- 
ciety, to explore the West and Southwest. Mr. Samuel J. 
Mills was selected as a companion to Mr. Schermerhorn on 
this adventurous journey. 

Five months were allotted to the young men for their 
work ; this would be mainly occupied in travel, much of the 
time through pathless forests. It was a happy alleviation 
of the strain of such a journey that the two young mission- 
aries were introduced to General Andrew Jackson at Nash- 
ville, Tennessee, then on the point of starting for Natchez 
with fifteen hundred soldiers; the war with Great Britain 
having just commenced. General Jackson liked the young 
men, and invited them to go as far as Natchez on his 
steamer ; which they were glad enough to do. It was some- 
thing of a descent from this high level of comfort as guests 
of the general commanding the army, when the two men 
engaged passage on a flat-boat from Natchez to New 


Orleans ; preferring this discomfort to an expenditure of six 
times as much money for the sake of going on a steamer. 

The return journey from New Orleans was still more 
painful. The two missionaries were just one month going 
from New Orleans overland to Nashville, a distance of five 
hundred miles through heavy forests, thick canebrakes and 
bridgeless rivers, so remote from human habitation that 
wolves and bears and rattlesnakes were ready to dispute the 
right of way. 

When the explorers returned from this long expedition, 
they made a moving report of the extraordinary situation 
which they had found. Almost as soon as they had passed 
Pittsburg, the story became monotonous; the little settle- 
ments were without religious privileges. Again and again 
they found districts where fifty thousand or more people 
were without opportunity to hear preaching, and almost 
entirely without the Bible for their own comfort or for the 
bringing up of their children. 

Mr. Mills was so moved by the prevailing destitution that 
at every opportunity he gathered people together and in- 
duced them to form a local Bible Society; for there were 
plenty of good people who, when brought together, found 
that they could work with some prospect of success. In 
this way the Ohio State Bible Society, the Indiana Bible 
Society, the Illinois Bible Society and the Nashville, Ten- 
nessee, Bible Society were formed. The Kentucky Bible 
Society at Lexington was reorganised, and stirred with new 
hope. A new Bible Society was established at Natchez, 
Mississippi; and finally, after consulting with the Roman 
Catholic clergy of New Orleans, the New Orleans Bible So- 
ciety was organised ; the Roman Catholic Bishop saying that 
if the books circulated were the translations favoured by the 
Roman Catholic Church, he would contribute to the So- 
ciety's funds. 

The two explorers had been furnished by the New York 
Bible Society and the Philadelphia Bible Society with a 
certain number of Bibles, with which they rejoiced the 
hearts of those responsible for the work of the new Bible 
Societies which they left on their trail. 

In 1814 the Massachusetts Missionary Society appointed 


Mr. Mills to make another tour over practically the same 
ground which he had examined two years before ; this time 
to preach and distribute religious literature, seeking to en- 
courage the different communities to organise for the sup- 
port of pastors at least a part of the year. The Rev. Daniel 
Smith of Georgia was appointed to be Mr. Mills' com- 
panion on this journey. 

After visiting various points from Steubenville to Mari- 
etta, they urged the Missionary Society to establish a river 
mission ; the preacher to go in a boat along the Virginia and 
the Ohio shores, stopping at eight or ten stations, so that 
the people might hear a sermon at least once in a while. 
Meeting a man in Illinois who said that he had been trying 
for ten years to buy a Bible, it was brought home to Mr. 
Mills' heart that this man was one thousand miles from any 
place where a Bible could be printed, and that many of the 
people in that wilderness must remain destitute to the end of 
their lives. 

This second expedition brought Mr. Mills to New Orleans 
in the middle of February, 181 5, a month after General 
Jackson's victory over General Pakenham and the English 
Army. He went about among the hospitals, distributing 
Scriptures to sick and wounded of both armies. He visited 
the prisons, comforting and cheering the British prisoners. 
He distributed in the city three thousand French Testa- 
ments which the Philadelphia Bible Society had sent to New 
Orleans ; Roman Catholics receiving them gladly, and rarely 
objecting. It was to Mills a happy experience. 

Mr. Mills returned directly to Massachusetts on fire 
with the tremendous needs of the West and South. His 
soul was burdened by the problem of awakening the people 
of the Eastern States to an understanding, in the first 
place, of the enormous possibilities of the Western country ; 
and in the second place, of the religious destitution of the 
settlers throughout these new territories. In times when 
prompt and radical action in behalf of the kingdom of Jesus 
Christ is necessary, God commonly thrusts forward a man 
to show the people what should be done. For that critical 
moment the man thus thrust into the work by our divine 
Master was Samuel J. Mills. 



Occupied with strenuous labours for their daily bread 
and with efforts to lay the foundations of their future wel- 
fare, settlers in the West and South had no time to con- 
sider ideals. These sturdy well-meaning people, left with- 
out wise advisers, were carelessly preparing for themselves 
catastrophe, and for the nation humiliation. Many were in- 
clined to say to God, like some of the ancients, " Depart 
from us for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." 
Their fair lands were in danger of becoming strongholds 
of ungodliness. 

The reports of Mr. Samuel J. Mills and his companions 
aroused Christians everywhere to the danger of such a situ- 
ation. Mills' passionate words were not the ravings of 
an alarmist. But he wrote, " There are districts containing 
from twenty to fifty thousand people entirely destitute of 
the Scriptures and of religious privileges. How shall they 
hear without a preacher? Never will the impression be 
erased from our hearts that has been made by beholding 
those scenes of wide-spread desolation. The whole country 
from Lake Erie to the Gulf of Mexico is as the valley of 
the shadow of death. Only here and there a few rays 
of gospel light pierce through the awful gloom. This vast 
expanse of our country contains more than one million in- 
habitants. The number of Bibles sent them by all the So- 
cieties in the United States is by no means as great as the 
yearly increase of the population. The original number 
of people still remains unsupplied. 

" When we entered on this mission we applied in person 
to the oldest and wealthiest of the Bible institutions, but 
we could only obtain a single small donation. The existing 
Societies have not yet been able to supply the demand in 



their own immediate vicinity. Some mightier effort must 
be made. Their scattered and feeble exertions are by no 
means adequate to the accomplishment of the object. It is 
thought by judicious people that half a million of Bibles are 
necessary for the supply of the destitute in the United 
States. It is a foul blot on the national character. Chris- 
tian America must arise and wipe it away. 

" The existing Societies are not able to do this work. 
They want union; they want co-operation; they want re- 
sources. If a National Institution cannot be formed, appli- 
cation ought to be made immediately to the British and For- 
eign Bible Society for aid." * 

All seem to have agreed that Bibles were essential in this 
emergency. Missionaries could do little without them, and 
even where there was no missionary the Bible could awaken 
the conscience. In 1814 many persons thought that since 
there were nearly a hundred Bible Societies in the land, 
with patience, the danger of irreligion becoming rooted in 
the new settlements would be dissipated. This opinion 
sprang from blind ignorance. Referring to the inadequacy 
of the existing system, Mr. Mills said that in order to get 
five thousand copies of the Scriptures in French as a partial 
supply for forty or fifty thousand French Catholics who are 
destitute, " we have to go or send to the several Bible Socie- 
ties from Maine to Georgia, and to wait until we receive in- 
formation from the Directing Committees. Four, five, or 
six months must elapse, and perhaps a year before we are 
able to make a report. And by this time the most favour- 
able opportunity for distributing the Bible may have passed 
by. And although it may be found that we are possessed of 
ability to effect the desired object, yet if we are obliged 
to conduct in this way, we shall be very liable to be defeated, 
and we may have to send to the directors of the British and 
Foreign Bible Society requesting that they would make a 
donation of Bibles for the supply of the destitute within the 
limits of the United States." 2 

Aspirations for some unity of action between the Bible 

1 Life of S. J. Mills by Gardiner Spring, p. 83-86. 
2 Panoplist, October 1813, p. 357. 


Societies appeared occasionally in the religious periodicals, 
but nothing practical resulted. At last, in the autumn of 
1814 the Honorable Elias Boudinot, LL.D., President of 
the New Jersey Bible Society, sent to all the Bible Societies 
in the United States a statement that on the 30th of August, 
1814, the Board of Managers of the New Jersey Bible So- 
ciety adopted the following resolution: 

" Whereas it is the duty of the New Jersey Bible Society 
to use all the means which a kind providence has put into 
their power to promote the great objects of their associa- 
tion ; and whereas the greatest union of Christians, of every 
profession, in so desirable a cause, promises most success to 
the undertaking — On motion it was resolved that a com- 
mittee of three be appointed to take into consideration, and 
report their opinion of the most probable means in the power 
of the society for uniting the people of God, of all denomi- 
nations, in the United States, in carrying on the great work 
of disseminating the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the 
habitable world, making report to the present session of the 
Board of Managers." 

Dr. Boudinot, and the Rev. Drs. Wharton and Wood- 
hull were appointed a committee to consider and report on 
the foregoing, who, after duly considering the same, re- 
ported these resolutions, which, having been laid before the 
society, were approved and included in the circular to the 
Bible Societies. The substance of these resolutions was: 
First, that it would greatly promote the accomplishment of 
the important purposes for which the Bible Societies in the 
United States have associated, if a union of them all could 
be obtained, by an annual or biennial meeting of delegates, 
to be appointed by the societies in each state, at some central 
place to be agreed on, to conduct the common interests of 
the whole respecting the distribution of the Sacred Scrip- 
tures beyond the limits of particular states, or where a so- 
ciety in a state cannot furnish so many copies as are wanted. 
Second, that each Bible Society be requested to appoint at 
least two delegates to meet at Philadelphia on the Monday 
preceding the third Wednesday in the following May with 
full power to form a plan for a well organised and consti- 
tuted body or society, to be called the " General Association 


of the Bible Societies in the United States," or such other 
name or title as may then be agreed on, for the purpose of 
disseminating the Scriptures of the Old and New Testa- 
ment, according to the present approved version, without 
note or comment. Third, that the president of the New 
Jersey Bible Society, whenever he shall receive notice of 
the appointment of delegates from twenty societies, is em- 
powered to give public notice thereof in the newspapers, and 
that the meeting of the said delegates will be had accord- 

In the fall of 1814 Mr. Mills had explained in a leading 
religious periodical his idea of a General Bible Society which 
would meet the need of the country. Possibly this proposal 
of Mr. Mills had won favour. However this may be, as 
the months went by and answers to the suggestion of the 
New Jersey Bible Society for a General Association of 
Bible Societies were received, not even twenty of them ap- 
proved the plan. A year had passed since the report of 
Schermerhorn and Mills had first called attention to the 
dangers threatening the nation, but nothing had been done ! 

The objections to the plan of the New Jersey Society were 
stated positively by the New York, and in most detail by the 
Philadelphia Bible Society. They were that the proposal 
was unseasonable ; that it was without precedent ; that such 
an association would be useless ; that it might prove injurious 
and that the plan in any case was impracticable. In short 
a rooted antipathy was felt in some quarters for such an as- 
sociation of the independent Bible Societies. 

Dr. Boudinot inherited Huguenot devotion. from his father 
and Welsh tenacity from his mother. He was the sort of 
man that does not easily perceive defeat. He afterwards 
stated that he had determined in case of failure in another 
attempt " to commence the great business, at all events, with 
the aid of a few laymen who had testified their willingness to 
go all lengths with me." x For the moment he answered 
the Philadelphia Society by a " thick pamphlet." Thereby 
he won the support of the Connecticut Bible Society at its 
annual meeting of May, 181 5. Correspondence with other 

1 First Annual Report of the American Bible Society, p. 46. 


Bible Societies followed, and although difficulties of com- 
munication made it hard to know when the last word had 
been said, the New Jersey Bible Society made a new pro- 
posal, which was favourably received. On the 31st of Janu- 
ary, 1816, Dr. Boudinot was at last able to call a convention 
of representatives of the Bible Societies to^meet in New 
York. This first act in the formation of the American Bible 
Society was as follows : 

"To the members of the several Bible Societies in the United 

States : 
" Brethren : 

" It is with peculiar pleasure that I once more address 
you on the interesting subject of extending the Redeemer's 
kingdom by an unlimited and gratuitous circulation of the 
Holy Scriptures. 

" From the most correct information that has lately been 
received, it has become evident that the demand for Bibles 
in the remote and frontier settlements of our country, is 
far beyond the resources of the several Bible Societies now 
existing in the United States. 

" An institution, founded on a more extensive plan, that 
will concentrate and direct the efforts of our numerous and 
increasing Bible Associations seems at present to be the 
general wish of the friends of revealed Truth. Such an in- 
stitution has a powerful claim to the liberal support of the 
Christian public. This plan, which originated with the New 
Jersey Bible Society, has, within the last year, engaged the 
attention of the Board of Managers of the New York Bible 

" Their resolutions, inserted below, contain the result of 
their deliberations on this important subject. A brighter 
day appears now to have dawned on our Western Hemi- 

" That the present effort may be rendered an efficient 
means of salvation to many thousands of destitute poor in 
our own, and more distant lands, should be the wish and 
prayer of every sincere Christian. 

" And may the blessing of Him who is ' able to do for us 
abundantly more than we can either ask or think* give it 


complete success — " unto whom be glory in the church 
of Jesus Christ, throughout all ages — world without end. 

" These are the resolutions of the Board of Managers 
of the New York' Bible Society: 

" '1st, Resolved, that it is highly desirable to obtain upon as 
large a scale as possible, a co-operation of the efforts of the 
Christian community throughout the United States, for the 
efficient distribution of the Holy Scriptures. 

" ' 2nd, That, as a mean for the attainment of this end, it 
will be expedient to have a convention of delegates from such 
Bible Societies, as shall be disposed to concur in this measure, 

to meet on the day of next, for the purpose of 

considering whether such a co-operation may be effected in 
a better manner than by the correspondence of the different 
societies as now established; and if so, that they prepare 
the draft of a plan for such co-operation to be submitted 
to the different societies for their decision. 

" ' 3d, That the Secretary transmit the above resolutions 
to the President of the New Jersey Bible Society, as ex- 
pressive of the opinion of this Board on the measures therein 
contained, at the same time signifying the. wish of this 
Board, that he would exercise his own discretion in bringing 
the subject before the public.' 

" In pursuance of the foregoing resolutions requesting 
me to designate the time and place at which the proposed 
meeting of delegates from the different Bible Societies of 
the United States shall take place; after mature delibera- 
tion, and consulting with judicious friends on this impor- 
tant subject, I am decidedly of opinion that the most suit- 
able place for the proposed meeting is the city of New 
York — and the most convenient time the second Wednes- 
day of May next — and I do appoint and recommend the 
said meeting to be held at that time and place. 

" Should it please a merciful God to raise me from the 
bed of sickness to which I am now confined, it will afford 
me the highest satisfaction to attend at that time, and con- 
tribute all in my power towards the establishment and 
organisation of a Society which, with blessing of God, I 
have not the least doubt will, in time, in point of usefulness, 
be second only to the parent institution (the British and 


Foreign Bible Society), will shed an unfading lustre on 
our Christian community, and will prove a blessing to our 
country and the world. 

(signed) " Elias Boudinot, 

" President of the New Jersey Bible Society/' 
" Burlington, January 31, 1816." 

Dr. Boudinot had rendered distinguished services 
to his country during the Revolutionary War ; as President 
of the National Congress, at the close of that war he had 
signed the treaty of peace with Great Britain; and now it 
was his high privilege to sign a document which, in his 
hope, would stand for much in the history of his country 
saved to permanent loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ. That 
the call for a convention of Bible Societies was signed on 
his sick bed detracted but little from his satisfaction. 

FIRST PERIOD 1816-1821 


The Garden Street Dutch Reformed Church, of which 
Rev. Dr. Matthews was pastor, in 1816 was a plain, unpre- 
tentious building of old New York. Long ago it gave place, 
with all of the residences about it, to the demands for 
space made by the money-getters. The very street on 
which it fronted is now hidden under the name of Exchange 

On the 8th of May, 1816, the Consistory Room of this 
church was opened to a meeting of clergy and laymen in- 
terested in the question whether the new West could be led 
to learn God's ways in nation-building. The struggle be- 
tween good and evil was in the thoughts of all the dele- 
gates. In one sense that struggle was transferred from 
the frontiers in the valley of the great river to this city 
Meeting House. Here, God willing, the great question was 
to touch decision. 

For this was the gathering which the president of the 
New Jersey Bible Society had called to choose some prac- 
ticable method of carrying God's word westward to the 
thousands fast settling into content with irreligion. Dr. 
Boudinot was not able to be present at this memorable 
gathering; but behind the visitors, far back in the room, 
sat Samuel J. Mills the ardent believer in Bible Societies 
as missionary agencies. He had come there full of hope; 
but his heart was weighed down with fear when he realised 
that the gathering would be composed of representatives of 
different sects. Many of the most polemical theologians of 
the different denominations had been brought together there 
with the notion that they could agree on common ground 
of action. 



v Mr. Joshua M. Wallace, of Burlington, New Jersey, an 
Episcopalian and a leading member of the New Jersey Bible 
Society, was chosen chairman of the Convention. Rev. Dr. 
John B. Romeyn, delegate from the New York Bible So- 
ciety, pastor of the Cedar Street Reformed Church; and 
Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher, the father of " all the Beechers," a 
young man who as pastor of the Congregational Church at 
Litchfield, Connecticut, had already fought well as a cham- 
pion of temperance among the clergy, were appointed secre- 
taries of the Convention. 

The Convention was composed of men who were all dis- 
tinguished in some direction. There was John Griscom 
of the Society of Friends, organiser of the common school 
system of New Jersey ; a philosopher, as well as a professor 
of Chemistry. Another man of note was Rev. Dr. 
Nathaniel W. Taylor, pastor of the First Congregational 
Church at New Haven, delegate of the Connecticut Bible 
Society. He was a very eloquent preacher, but was re- 
garded by some of his contemporaries as a heretic. An- 
other member was Rev. Gardiner Spring, pastor of the 
Brick Presbyterian Church in New York, then located 
in Beekman Street. His ministry was remarkable for 
its length and its power. He was pastor of the Brick 
Church for sixty-three years. Mr. Spring had often crossed 
swords with Dr. Taylor of New Haven, in a sharp con- 
troversy upon freedom of the will. Another battle-scarred 
controversialist was Rev. Dr. Jedidiah Morse, pastor of the 
First Congregational Church at Charlestown, Massachu- 
setts. It was only a few years after this Convention that 
Dr. Morse, broken in health by brooding over the violence 
off his theological opponents, had to resign his pastorate. 

/Next to him we may note Rev. Mr. Henshaw, a rising young 
Episcopal minister, who afterwards became Bishop of 
Rhode Island. Another man of distinction was Mr. Joseph 
C. Hornblower of Newark, who later became Chief Justice 
of New Jersey. Then there was Valentine Mott, the dis- 
tinguished surgeon, of whom Sir Astley Cooper said later 
on, " He has performed more great operations than any 
man living or who ever did live." He, too, represented the 
Society of Friends. ^James Fenimore Cooper, the novelist, 


was there as one. of the delegates from Otsego County Bible 
Society. He was notable on account of his participation in 
the work of that day, even if he had not afterwards gained 
admiration as a teller of entrancing American stories. An- 
other delegate was a printer and publisher of Utica, New 
York — Mr. William Williams, whose son, S. Wells Wil- 
liams, gained renown as a missionary, as a master of 
Chinese, as a statesman, and later as President of the 
American Bible Society. The originator of Sunday schools . 
in the state of New Jersey was there — Rev. Dr. John Mac-^ 
Dowell, then pastor at Elizabethtown, New Jersey. The 
delegate of the Westchester County Bible Society was Wil- ^ 
liam Jay, Esq., son of the great statesman, John Jay, a 
schoolmate and warm friend of James Fenimore Cooper, 
and an eminent conchologist as well as statesman, who was 
moved by his benevolent spirit to elaborate the first detailed 
scheme for the arbitration of difficulties between nations. 
Several of the Virginia Societies united in sending as their 
delegate to the Convention the Rev. John H. Rice, a fervent 
and powerful preacher, who three years later became 
moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly, and after- 
wards President of the Union Theological Seminary at 
Hampden-Sidney. Another eminent educator in the great 
Convention was the President of Union College, New York, 
Rev. Dr. Eliphalet Nott, distinguished as pulpit orator, and 
a most genial disciplinarian whose students always delighted 
to tell of their encounters with his keen wit. But this list 
must serve as a sample of the material making up this Con- 
vention. The names of all the members of the Convention 
are given in another place, for, as Bishop Eastburn of 
Massachusetts said, some years later, " Let us not lose from 
memory the instruments chosen by the Almighty for bless- 
ing in this work the land and the world." 

Rev. Dr. Eliphalet Nott, President of Union College, was 
called upon to offer prayer. In that earnest petition for the 
guidance of the Holy Spirit were expressed the solemnity 
of the moment and the yearnings of every heart in that 
room. The solemn silence in the Convention was hardly 
disturbed by the quiet questions and answers as the list of 
delegates was made, and letters from other Bible Societies 


not represented by delegates were read, expressing approval 
of the general design of the meeting. 

When the roll of delegates had been made up, the object 
of the meeting was presented and freely discussed, not with- 
out divergences of view. Dr. Lyman Beecher wrote of the 
Convention many years later : " There was one moment 
in our proceedings when things seemed to tangle and some 
feeling began to rise. At that moment Dr. Mason rose 
hastily and said : ' Mr. President, the Lord Jesus never 
built a church but what the devil built a chapel close to it; 
and he is here now, this moment, in this room, with his 
finger in the ink-horn not to write your constitution but to 
blot it out/ " The laughter caused by this sally dispelled 
the storm, and the clear sun appeared again. To the 
amazement of all present, these champions of denomina- 
tional competition stood at one point of view. In the after- 
noon when a resolution was presented that " it is expedient 
to establish without delay a general Bible institution for the 
circulation of the Holy Scriptures without note or com- 
ment/' it was adopted without a dissenting vote. 

The chairman of the Convention, Joshua M. Wallace of 
New Jersey, could not control his emotion. His eyes filled 
with tears, and he said, " Thank God ! Thank God ! " * Al- 
most hidden behind the crowd in the rear of the room sat 
Samuel J. Mills, the man who had concentrated upon se- 
curing the organisation of a National Bible Society his great 
executive power in exciting and combining minds for benev- 
olent work. When he saw that the day was won, a look of 
heavenly delight spread over his countenance. 2 

The smiles exchanged between the members of the Con- 
vention showed that this unanimous action had drawn them 
all closer together, like the members of an exploring party 
when from some Pisgah they have gained their first view 
of a Promised Land. One thought was in every mind: 
"It is the work of God!" 

These sixty men for the Master's sake set aside strong 
personal preferences. Under divine guidance at a crisis in 

1 Rev. Dr. Blythe of Kentucky at the 10th Anniversary of the 
American Bible Society. 

2 Life of S. J. Mills by Rev. Gardiner Spring. 


the national growth they had called into being an institu- 
tion suited to the emergency, which would provide the na- 
tion with Scriptures and make many souls glad forever. 

Having appointed a committee to prepare a draft of a 
constitution, and also an address to the public, the Conven- 
tion adjourned to Friday, May 10, at 11 a. m. ; and its mem- 
bers joyfully congratulated each other, giving glory to God 
like the man who received his sight at the word of Jesus. 

When the Convention met on the 10th, according to ad- 
journment, the Committee, composed of Rev. Dr. Eliphalet 
Nott of Union College, Samuel Bayard of Princeton, New 
Jersey, Rev. Dr. John M. Mason of New York, Rev. Simon 
Wilmer of New Jersey, Rev. David Jones of Pennsylvania, 
Rev. Lyman Beecher of Connecticut, Charles Wright, Esq., 
of Long Island, Rev. John H. Rice of Virginia, Rev. Dr. 
Jedidiah Morse of Massachusetts, William Jay, Esq., of 
Westchester County, New York, and Rev. Dr. James Blythe 
of Kentucky, presented its draft of a constitution. This 
was read, discussed, considered paragraph by paragraph, and 
unanimously adopted. It was a well-considered document 
which has served its purpose (with some amendment, see 
Appendix) as the years have gone by. It is here given in its 
original form: 

" 1. This Society shall be known by the name of The 
American Bible Society, of which the sole object shall be 
to encourage a wider circulation of the Holy Scriptures 
without note or comment. The only copies in the English 
language to be circulated by the Society shall be of the ver- 
sion now in common use. 

"2. This Society shall add its endeavours to those em- 
ployed by other Societies, for circulating the Scriptures 
throughout the United States and their territories; and 
shall furnish them with stereotype plates, or such other as- 
sistance as circumstances may require. This Society shall, 
also, accoaaligguto its ability, extend its influence to other 
countrie^,^wfiether Christian, Mohammedan, or Pagan. 

" 3. All Bible Societies shall be allowed to purchase at 
cost from this Society, Bibles for distribution within their 
own districts. The members of all such Bible Societies as 


shall agree to place their surplus revenue, after supplying 
their own districts with Bibles, at the disposal of this So- 
ciety, shall be entitled to vote in all meetings of the Society ; 
and the officers of such Societies shall be ex officio directors 
of this. 

iC 4. Each subscriber of three dollars annually shall be a 

" 5. Each subscriber of thirty dollars at one time shall be 
a member for life. 

" 6. Each subscriber of fifteen dollars annually shall be a 
Director. 1 

"7. Each subscriber of one hundred and fifty dollars at 
one time, or who shall, by one additional payment, increase 
his original subscription to one hundred and fifty dollars 
shall be a Director for life. 

" 8. Directors shall be entitled to attend and vote at all 
meetings of the Board of Managers. 

" 9. A Board of Managers shall be appointed to conduct 
the business of the Society, consisting of thirty-six laymen, 
of whom twenty-four shall reside in the city of New York 
or its vicinity. One-fourth part of the whole number shall 
go out of office at the expiration of each year, but shall be 

" Every Minister of the Gospel, who is a member of the 
Society, shall be entitled to meet and vote with the Board of 
Managers, and be possessed of the same powers as a Man- 
ager himself. 

" The Managers shall appoint all officers and call special 
meetings, and fill such vacancies as may occur by death or 
otherwise, in their own Board. 

" 10. Each member of the Society shall be entitled, under 
the direction of the Board of Managers, to purchase Bibles 
and Testaments, at the Society's prices, which shall be as low 
as possible. 

"11. The Annual Meetings of the Society shall be held 
at New York or Philadelphia, at the option of the Society, 
on the second Thursday of May in each year, when the 

1 This article was rescinded in 1827, and the numbers of the re- 
maining Articles changed accordingly. 


Managers shall be chosen, the accounts presented, and the 
proceedings of the foregoing year reported. 

" 12. The President, Vice-Presidents, Treasurer and Sec- 
retaries for the time being, shall be considered, ex officio, 
members of the Board of Managers. 

" 13. At the general meetings of the Society and the meet- 
ings of the Managers, the President, or in his absence the 
Vice-President first on the list then present ; and in the ab- 
sence of all the Vice-Presidents, such members as shall be 
appointed for that purpose shall preside at the meeting. 

" 14. The Managers shall meet on the first Wednesday 
in each month, or oftener, if necessary, at such place in the 
city of New York as they shall from time to time ad- 
journ to. 

" 15. The Managers shall have the power of appointing 
such persons as have rendered essential services to the So- 
ciety, either Members for life, or Directors for life. 

" 16. The whole minutes of every meeting shall be signed 
by the Chairman. 

" 17. No alteration shall be made to this Constitution, ex- 
cept by the Society at an annual meeting, on the recom- 
mendation of the Board of Managers." 

The Committee also reported an address to the people of 
the United States, which was approved by the Convention. 
This was written by Rev. Dr. John Mitchell Mason, minister 
of the Associate Reformed Church, and at the time of this 
Convention provost of Columbia College ; an eminent leader 
in all that related to education of the ministry, a notable 
preacher, and an able orator on national occasions. In 
this address Dr. Mason spoke of the extraordinary reaction 
against a false philosophy widely taught in the eighteenth 
century, and pointed out the wide-spread feeling of desire 
on the part of American Christians to aid all that is holy 
against all that is profane; the purest interest of the com- 
munity and the individual; against a conspiracy of darkness 
and disaster; and the eagerness felt in many quarters to 
claim a place in an age of Bibles to help the work of Chris- 
tian charity. 

" Under such impressions," he said, " and with such views, 


fathers, brothers, fellow-citizens, the American Bible Society 
has been formed. Local feelings, party prejudices, sectarian 
jealousies are excluded by its very nature. It is leagued in 
that, and in that alone, which calls up every hallowed and 
puts down every unhallowed principle : the dissemination of 
the Scriptures in the received versions where they exist, and 
in the most faithful where they may be required. In such a 
work whatever is dignified, kind, venerable, true, has ample 
scope; while sectarian littleness and rivalries can find no 
avenue of admission." 

After pointing out the great possibilities both at home and 
abroad of a National Bible Society, the address urged the 
people of the United States to take part in an enterprise of 
such grandeur and glory, since it is not becoming that 
Americans should hang back while the rest of Christendom 
was awake and alert. He closed with the following stirring 
appeal : 

" Be it impressed on your souls that a contribution, saved 
from even a cheap indulgence, may send a Bible to a deso- 
late family ; may become a radiating point of ' grace and 
truth ' to a neighbourhood of error and vice ; and that a 
number of such contributions, made at really no expense, 
may illumine a large tract of country, and successive genera- 
tions of immortals, in that celestial knowledge which shall 
secure their present and their future felicity. 

" But whatever be the proportion between expectation 
and experience, thus much is certain : We shall satisfy our 
conviction of duty — we shall have the praise of high en- 
deavours — we shall minister to the blessedness of thou- 
sands, and tens of thousands, of whom we may never see 
the faces, nor hear the names. We shall set forward a sys- 
tem of happiness which will go on with accelerated motion 
and augmented vigour, after we shall have finished our 
career; and confer upon our children, and our children's 
children, the delight of seeing the wilderness turned into a 
fruitful field, by the blessing of God upon that seed which 
their fathers sowed, and themselves watered. In fine, we 
shall do our part toward that expansion and intensity of 
light divine which shall visit, in its progress, the palaces of 
the great and the hamlets of the small until the whole ' earth 


be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the 
sea ! 

After having adopted the Constitution the Convention 
chose thirty-six managers in conformity with its Ninth Ar- 
ticle. It then adjourned to meet May nth, sending notice 
to the newly elected members of the Board that they had 
been chosen to be Managers of the American Bible So- 
ciety. 1 

The managers met in the City Hall on May nth and pro- 
ceeded to choose officers of the Society, as follows : 

president : 
Hon. Elias Boudinot of New Jersey 


Hon. John Jay of New York 
Matthew Clarkson, Esq., of New York 
Hon. Smith Thompson of New York 
Hon. John Langdon of New Hampshire 
Hon. Caleb Strong of Massachusetts 
Hon. William Gray of Massachusetts 
Hon. John C. Smith of Connecticut 
Hon. Jonas Galusha of Vermont 
Hon. William Jones of Rhode Island 
Hon. Isaac Shelby of Kentucky 
George Madison, Esq., of Kentucky 
Hon. William Tilghman of Pennsylvania 
Hon. Bushrod Washington of Virginia 

iThe names of those chosen for the first Board of Managers 
are as follows : 

Henry Rutgers John R. B. Rodgers Rufus King 

John Bingham Dr. Peter Wilson Thomas Stokes 

Richard Varick Jeremiah Evarts Joshus Sands 

Thomas Farmer John Watts, M.D. George Warner 

Stephen Van Rensselaer Thomas Eddy De Witt Clinton 

Samuel Boyd William Johnson John Warder 

George Suckley Ebenezer Burrill Samuel Bayard 

Divie Bethune Andrew Gifford Duncan P. Campbell 

William Bayard George Gosman John Aspinwall 

Peter McCarty Thomas Carpenter Charles Wright 

Thomas Shields John Cauldwell' Cornelius Heyar 

Robert Ralston Leonard Bleecker John Murray, Jr. 


Hon. Charles C. Pinckney of South Carolina 

Hon. William Gaston of North Carolina 

Hon. Thomas Worthington of Ohio 

Hon. Thomas Posey of Indiana 

Hon. James Brown of Louisiana 

John Bolton, Esq., of Georgia 

Hon. Felix Grundy of Tennessee 

Robert Oliver, Esq., of Maryland 

Joseph Nourse,, Esq., of the District of Columbia 


Rev. Dr. John M. Mason 


Rev. J. B. Romeyn, D.D., 


Richard Varick, Esq. 

A committee of the managers communicated information of 
this choice to the Convention. 

The Convention, having received notification that the or- 
ganisation of the new Society was now complete, adopted 
a resolution by which the city of New York was fixed as the 
place in which the first annual meeting of the American 
Bible Society should be held. The business being now 
accomplished, the meeting was closed with prayer by Rev. 
Mr. Wilmer, and the Convention was dissolved. 

On Monday, the 13th of May, a ratification meeting was 
held in the City Hall, the Mayor of the city of New York 
presiding. After addresses by George Griffin, Esq., Wil- 
liam Jay, Esq., and Rev. Dr. Nott of Union College, a large 
and enthusiastic audience adopted resolutions pledging sup- 
port to the Bible Society thus auspiciously set on its way. 



When the Lord distinctly calls a man to His work, an 
impression of unfitness and inability is the first response to 
the call. Moses in Midian said unto the Lord, " Who am I 
that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth 
the children of Israel out of Egypt ? " Gideon, when told to 
save Israel from the Midianites, said, " O Lord, wherewith 
shall I save Israel ? Behold my family is poor in Manasseh, 
and I am the least in my father's house." Yet, when con- 
vinced that the call was really from God Himself, each of 
these men went in the might of faith in God, and accom- 
plished the work assigned to him. 

Something of the same experience fell to the lot of the 
officers and managers of the American Bible Society when 
the Convention had dissolved and left them to do their best. 
They had no doubt that the work assigned to them was 
appointed by God Himself. The Convention had defined 
the work, and chosen them to put it into execution. There 
was no question at all of the greatness of the undertaking 
committed to them. They must plan to supply the destitute 
in a broad land with the written Word, and they must do it 
without delay. The plan before the Convention con- 
templated results alone ; methods and instruments of action 
had to be found or invented. The Managers of the new 
Society must furnish Bibles to clamorous ministers, needy 
Sunday Schools, and destitute families in the distant wilder- 
ness ; but they had neither printing press, money nor men to 
carry books to the West. They were to offer the Bible to 
French and Spanish among our own people ; but the gift of 
tongues was not theirs. 

When we look at the quality of the men upon whom 
these heavy burdens were cast, we must acknowledge that 



they were well chosen for the work. The two secretaries, 
Mason and Romeyn, were both pastors of great influence in 
the city of New York, and both of them had served — one 
as President, the other as Secretary — in the New York 
Bible Society. Of the Board of Managers, ten had been 
Managers of the New York Bible Society. It almost looked 
as if the older Society had become merged in the new. The 
Board of Managers of the American Bible Society included 
Mr. Robert Ralston, one of the founders and later Presi- 
dent of the Philadelphia Bible Society, and Mr. Jeremiah 
Evarts, Treasurer and afterwards Secretary of the Ameri- 
can Board of Missions. Richard Varick, chosen member 
of the Board of Managers, but elected Treasurer of the 
Society by the Managers at their first meeting, was one of 
the Staff Officers and private secretary of General Washing- 
ton, acquainted with the hardships of the battle-field ; a man 
of great business ability, warm heart, and earnest devo- 
tion to the advancement of piety. De Witt Clinton, a leader 
in many great works in New York, was chosen Governor of 
New York State while still a Manager of the Bible Society. 
Divie Bethune, a life-long philanthropist, might be said to 
be the first tract society of New York, since he had printed 
and circulated at his own expense many thousands of tracts. 
Henry Rutgers was another of the men of the Revolutionary 
War, notable as a man of wealth ready to help every chari- 
table object. General Stephen Van Rensselaer commanded 
the attack on Queenstown in 181 2, was a member of the 
New York Legislature in 1816, later was Chancellor of New 
York University, and founder of the Rensselaer Polytechnic 
Institute at Troy. These names are enough to show the 
kind of men deemed necessary for the management of a So- 
ciety so high and so broad in aim as the American Bible 

Nevertheless these men felt almost like the apostles to 
whom Jesus Christ left the work of teaching all nations. 
They were like a forlorn hope chosen for the last desperate 
assault upon the stronghold of a mighty enemy. Diffi- 
culty was almost the only known feature of the duty which 
was laid upon them. Their circumstances as they took up 


the work could hardly be more hopeless. Yet these men 
were men of living piety ; they had one assurance of power : 
He who directed that all people should be taught to observe 
the things which He had commanded had said, " Lo, I am 
with you alway." That promise was eternally valid. 

The many expressions of enthusiastic good-will which 
welcomed the new organisation were an encouragement. 
The mere fact that an American Bible Society had been 
organised was a surprise and a joy to the churches ; a sur- 
prise, because federation of denominations for religious 
work was unheard of save in some obscure corners of the 
land; and a joy because such a federation seemed equal to 
solving the problem of combatting irreligion in the newly 
settled areas. It promised concentration of forces, system- 
atic and effective, for the salvation of America. The cor- 
respondence of the idea of such an enterprise with the 
eternal purpose of God for the race makes the story of the 
Bible Society hardly more than a study of the form by 
which the divine will and purpose here expressed itself. 

Everywhere the American Bible Society was hailed as 
marking the commencement of a glorious era in the history 
of the United States. The General Assembly of the Pres- 
byterian Church made immediate note of its appreciation 
and good-will. 1 The General Convention of the Baptist 
Church before the year had passed away voted its approval 
of the plan. During that first year also forty-three of the 
local Bible Societies which were in existence before the Na- 
tional Society was organised, connected themselves with it 
as Auxiliaries. More than forty Bible Societies were or- 
ganised as Auxiliaries of the American Bible Society dur- 
ing the same year. The New York Bible Society and the 
Auxiliary New York Bible Society immediately became 
Auxiliaries of the national Society, and emphasised that 
relationship by presenting the American Bible Society with; 
stereotype plates of the English Bible which they jointly 
owned, and with a thousand sets of sheets of the Bible in 
French. Bible Societies in a number of different states had 

1 Report on the state of religion approved by the Presbyterian 
General Assembly, May, 181 6. 


contributed to the cost of the plates and of the French 
Bibles, so that there was a sort of propriety in these ma- 
terials being handed over to the National Society at once. 
The Mayor of the city of New York, the Governors of the 
New York Hospital, and later the New York Historical 
Society became the hosts of the Board of Managers when 
they sought a place in which to hold their meetings. Even 
printers in the city offered to print free of charge any 
circulars which the American Bible Society might wish to 
send out in collecting money. 

Inspiriting as was the welcome in the United States to 
the new Bible Society, from Russia and from Germany 
came similar expressions of good-will which thrilled like 
miraculous messages from the unknown. Prince Galitzin, 
President of the Russian Bible Society, wrote to Judge Wal- 
lace of New Jersey as President of the organising Conven- 
tion : " Notwithstanding the distance which separates us, 
being approximated by the same spirit of unity and action, 
we unanimously engage to exert ourselves for the same 
cause of benevolence. ,, The Secretaries of the Hamburg 
and Altona Bible Society wrote to Bishop White of Penn- 
sylvania, President of the Philadelphia Bible Society (prob- 
ably supposing that the Philadelphia Society was merged in 
the National Society) : " We have learned with great 
satisfaction from the publications which have reached us, 
that the loud voice of the friends of the Bible in America 
has demanded and produced a union of the interests of all 
the provincial Societies by the establishment of a national 
Bible Society. However great the distance at which we 
live from each other, we feel ourselves associated with you 
in the blessed vocation of presenting those revered docu- 
ments upon which the faith of all Christians rests to such 
of the children of men as do not possess them." 

The British and Foreign Bible Society, the recognised 
model and exemplar of the American Bible Society, outdid 
these friends from the continent of Europe. It sent not 
only a letter full of fraternal sentiments, but the promise 
of a gift of twenty-two hundred dollars (five hundred 
pounds), which was doubly acceptable at this juncture; espe- 


daily when it was arranged by correspondence that a part 
of this donation should take the form of Bibles in French. 

The letter which brought tidings of this generous gift was 
an ideal exhibit of Christian brotherhood. Let it not be 
forgotten that the correspondence was between men recently 
opposed to each other in a national wrangle of exception- 
ally bitter partisanship. Commending the founders of the 
American Bible Society for taking up a charitable scheme 
the moment that peace had been signed, the Briton hails the 
American as a true yokefellow, among the instruments ef- 
fectively to be used by our Lord Jesus Christ. The letter 
was addressed to Dr. Boudinot, because the fulness of joy 
had led him to write of the organisation of the American 
Bible Society before the Secretary had time to prepare the 
official notification. To Dr. Boudinot Mr. Owen wrote as 
follows : 

" My dear Sir: 

"The Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Soci- 
ety have instructed me to offer you their warmest congratu- 
lations on the event of the formation of the American Bible 
Society; an event which they consider as truly auspicious, 
and pregnant with consequences most advantageous to the 
promotion of that great work in which the American Breth- 
ren and themselves are mutually engaged. 

"To these congratulations, our Committee have added 
a grant of five hundred pounds; and they trust that both 
will be acceptable as indications and pledges of that friendly 
disposition which it is their desire to cultivate and manifest 
towards every class and description of their transatlantic 

" The crisis at which the American Bible Society has been 
formed, and the cordial unanimity which has reigned 
throughout all the proceedings which led to its establish- 
ment, encourage the most sanguine hopes of its proving, in 
the hand of God, a powerful auxiliary in the confederate 
warfare which is now carrying on against ignorance and 
sin. May those hopes be realised, and many new trophies 
be added, through its instrumentality, to those triumphs 


which have already been reaped by the arms of our common 

" I am, my dear Sir, 

" Very faithfully yours, 

"John Owen, 
" Secretary of the British and 
Foreign Bible Society. 
" Dr. Boudinot, 

" President of the American Bible Society." 

Pleasing expressions of admiration in this world of ours 
are not rarely offset by unpleasing expressions of disap- 
proval. Great plans like those of the American Bible Soci- 
ety could hardly be viewed from all points with equal sat- 
isfaction. During the first five years Watchmen of Liberty 
sprang up to denounce such a Society. " An institution," 
said they, "having hundreds of auxiliaries to extend its 
grasp over the whole land must become a menace to free 
government." The Conservator of Sects turned up with a 
shrill outcry because, for holy uses like the publishing of 
Scriptures, tainted money was being accepted from those 
whom he could not regard as Christians. And then the 
Supervisor of Public Morals added his protest against 
shortsightedness which proposes to give to uneducated peo- 
ple a book like the Holy Bible, without note or comment. 
Good Bishop Hobart of Albany had already drawn the 
keen weapons of controversy more than once against Sec- 
retary John Mitchell Mason, upon the question of the Epis- 
copacy. It was hardly a surprise, therefore, when upon 
the publication of Dr. Mason's address to the people, he 
took opportunity by a letter to the New York Herald (May 
13, 1816), in a dignified though voluble manner to announce 
his disapproval of a partnership of Episcopalians with other 
denominations in religious work, and especially in dissem- 
ination of the Bible, which he regarded as a prerogative of 
his church and clergy. He used arguments which in Eng- 
land had already been turned against the British and For- 
eign Bible Society : There was no necessity for 'the Soci- 
ety ; the idea of maintaining a National Society was vision- 
ary; there was no perfect accord among the existing Bible 


Societies in favour of the new one, etc., etc. It so happened 
that Bishop White of Pennsylvania, President of the Phila- 
delphia Bible Society, was committed to the very interde- 
nominational principle attacked by Bishop Hobart. Indeed, 
in an address at Philadelphia, he had praised what Bishop 
Hobart condemned. " It has been thought," he said, " an 
incidental advantage arising from Bible Societies that by 
combining persons of different religious denominations, they 
have the effect of promoting unity of affection under irre- 
concilable differences of opinion. The British and For- 
eign Bible Society set off on the fundamental principle of 
avoiding whatever could bring such diversity into view. 
They professed to deliver the book of God without note or 
comment. The Societies instituted in America have trod- 
den in their steps. While this plan shall be pursued, there 
can be no dissatisfaction on account of interfering opinions 
or modes of worship. Is it possible that such a course can 
be persevered in without contributing to all the charities of 

Other men of his own church connected with the admin- 
istration of the American Bible Society made answer to 
Bishop Hobart, but pamphlet succeeded pamphlet with no 
harm and some advantage to the new Society. William 
Jay said in 1817: " The Society must engage in no con- 
troversy. She must knew no enemy; her sphere is one of 
love and harmony. She ought not even to ask her friends 
to defend her cause. Let her distribute her Constitution and 
the Report of her proceedings and let these be her only 
answers to the calumnies and falsehoods of her ene- 
mies. ... To answer would begin a long controversy. No 
middle course can be taken." 1 

If any one would now read the documents of this dis- 
cussion he must needs force himself through material 
enough to fill a volume of considerable size. More impor- 
tant matters have prior demands upon the space allotted to 
this story of the Society. 

Strong men of affairs, like the Board of Managers — 
men whose abilities had weighed in the making of the Re- 

1 Letter of May 1, 1817, in archives of the American Bible Society. 


public ; men by vote of the people now connected with great 
enterprises of National development, whose business apti- 
tude was already building up a commerce between the con- 
tinents; men soberly resolved that the new Bible Society, 
without delay, should do effective work, were not disturbed 
by the criticisms of suspicion or ignorance. The well- 
known proverb of the Arabs, " The dog barks, but the cara- 
van goes on," makes the stately march of camels over the 
sands a type of any enterprise so great that it can be care- 
less of small obstacles. The desk of the Domestic Secre- 
tary was quickly clogged with proposals, advice, demands, 
and entreaties. A policy must be framed for securing and 
well utilising a steady .supply of Bibles ; for gaining the 
support of Auxiliaries wholly devoted like themselves ; and 
for filling the empty treasure-chest. Managers and Execu- 
tive Officers must proceed almost like the blind man who 
feels with his staff before he plants his foot ; yet they must 

The bearing of these men during those years harmonised 
entirely with that of President Boudinot, as he formally 
accepted the office of President of the Bible Society. His 
acceptance addressed to Secretary Romeyn was a letter of 
which the spirit is revealed in the following extract : 

" I am not ashamed to confess that I accept of the ap- 
pointment of President of the American Bible Society as 
the greatest honour that could have been conferred on me 
this side of the grave. 

" I am so convinced that the whole of this business is the 
work of God Himself, by His Holy Spirit, that even hoping 
against hope, I am encouraged to press on through gojd 
report and evil report, to accomplish His will on earth as it 
is in Heaven. 

" So apparent is the hand of God in thus disposing the 
hearts of so many men, so diversified in their sentiments as 
to religious matters of minor importance, and uniting them 
as a band of brothers in this grand object; that even Infi- 
dels are compelled to say, it is the work of the Lord, and it 
is wonderful in our eyes ! — In vain is the opposition of 
man : as well might he attempt to arrest ' the arm of Om- 
nipotence, or fix a barrier around the throne of God.' Hav- 


ing this confidence, let us go on and we shall prosper." * 
This hearty assurance of a noble future for the Society Dr. 
Boudinot emphasised by a splendid donation of $10,000. 

1 Letter of Boudinot, June 5, 1816, in the first report of the 
American Bible Society, p. 38. 



The American Bible Society when formed was given a 
free hand and thrown as fully upon its own initiative as is 
a missionary landing on a foreign and forbidding coast. On 
coming into practical touch with the details of the enter- 
prise placed in their hands the Board of Managers hastily 
looked about for helpers. The undertaking was vast; the 
burden of responsibility for it was immeasurable. From 
Canada to the Gulf the eyes of the Board must see the 
needy. From the midst of nine million people those with- 
out Bibles must be sought out if these destitute ones were 
to be supplied with the Book which teaches discrimination 
between the bitter and the sweet plan of life. The leader 
of a military campaign of equal magnitude has but to com- 
mand in order to mass his forces. The Managers of the 
Bible Society could do no more than plead for helpers. 

The plan of the Board for finding and supplying the des- 
titute in twenty States was to raise up Auxiliary Bible Soci- 
eties in every part of the country. The foundation of the 
financial scheme of the Society, also, was the theory of 
Auxiliary Societies. These would collect contributions in 
pennies from those who deal in pennies, and in gold from 
those whose hoard is gold. Such Auxiliary Societies in 
every county with branches in every township could con- 
centrate upon support of this noble, inspiring enterprise the 
attention of individuals everywhere with their interest, their 
prayers and their gifts. 

The theory of Auxiliary Societies rooted among the peo- 
ple, having a near view of their needs, distributing Scrip- 
tures with deliberate judgment, and winning the support of 
rich and poor, came from the British and Foreign Bible 
Society. The system as developed in Great Britain did not 



originate with the Bible Society. In fact it had become a 
success before the British Society took much notice of it. 
The enterprise of supplying the poor with Scriptures was 
so sensible and yet so novel that Christians in widely sepa- 
rated districts took up the work. Bibles and Testaments 
were gladly supplied to the poor of their immediate vicinity 
by local groups or associations of Christians. The members 
of these associations contributed what they could and col- 
lected from others money with which to buy Bibles from 
the British and Foreign Bible Society. A notable feature 
of the plan grew out of the wish to participate in the grand 
work of the British Society in foreign lands. One-half of 
the money collected in various ways was sent to the British 
and Foreign Bible Society as a donation for its general 
work ; the other half being used for the purchase of Scrip- 
tures and any local expenses of the association. Scriptures 
were given gratuitously to the very poor; but in order to 
make the funds of the association go as far as possible, both 
Bibles and Testaments were often sold on the instalment 
plan. For the Bibles which they wished to have even the 
very poor were asked to pay each week, until the price was 
paid up, a few pence. 

This Auxiliary plan in Great Britain grew up of itself, 
we might say, like any herb of the field. Warm Christian 
love was the sun which nourished it and its fruit was so at- 
tractive that the Committee of the British and Foreign 
Bible Society took steps to encourage the formation of such 
Auxiliary Societies. The local Bible Associations counted 
it a high honour to be recognised as Auxiliaries in so great 
a work. They naturally had no control over the affairs of 
the great Bible Society, while that Society exercised an in- 
fluence amounting to control over all the Auxiliaries. In 
a snug little territory like the British Islands it was easy to 
sustain the interest of members of the local Societies by 
printed notes from the wonderful story of the great Society 
and by visits, meetings, and stirring appeals from delegations 
sent out. For years this Auxiliary system has been one 
of the largest single sources of income for the British So- 

A very different basis had the Auxiliary system as trans- 


planted to the United States. In the first place the point 
of view taken by the Auxiliaries toward the general Soci- 
ety was different. Since the local Bible Societies regarded 
the American Bible Society as their creation, in the man- 
agement of the national Society, by vote of their officers 
in the Annual Meetings, all Auxiliaries had a certain meas- 
ure of control while the national Society had no control 
whatever over the Auxiliaries. The Board of Managers 
recognised in the Auxiliary system a telling instrument for 
collecting money, but no plan of systematic collections had 
been worked out, and no fixed proportion of the money col- 
lected was insured to the national Society. Auxiliaries 
were to pay to it whatever was left from their revenues 
after supplying the needs of their own fields. The Auxil- 
iary Societies would profit by the aid of the general Society 
in the work of distribution, and whatever they might or 
might not contribute as donations, they could always buy 
books at the mere cost of production. At the same time 
there were reasons which might deter the existing Bible 
Societies from becoming Auxiliaries to the American Bible 
Society. Their situation wa§ somewhat like that of promi- 
nent social leaders who havS been instrumental in the es- 
tablishment of a college in a country town, but who find 
that the great institution of learning must sooner or later 
outrank in prominence and power the generous notables who 
encouraged its establishment. 

The Board of Managers vigorously urged the formation 
of Auxiliary Bible Societies in all parts of the country. 
Not only did it show that an Auxiliary was necessary in 
every county; it asked that branches might be formed in 
all the townships. Women were reminded that the British 
Society received considerable sums from Women's Associa- 
tions which collected a penny or two here, and sixpence 
there. They could do the same effective work if they would 
only organise Bible Associations. 

One point of difficulty very soon came to light. "The 
mails brought to the Secretaries of the Society letters from 
different local Bible Societies in rapid succession announc- 
ing their purpose to be Auxiliaries of the American Bible 
Society; some sending donations and some asking grants 


to supply pressing needs. It was quite evident that many 
good people confused the idea. of co-operating with the Na- 
tional Society by sympathy and good will, with that of sys- 
tematically labouring as helpers to extend its great work. 
They supposed that a vote of the local Society was all that 
was required to establish the Auxiliary relation. The point 
of view of the Board of Managers, however, was far from 
this. It became necessary in October, 1818, to issue a note 
explaining that no Bible Society can become Auxiliary to 
the American Bible Society without a special vote of recog- 
nition on the part of the Board of Managers. In this con- 
nection the Board gave its interpretation of the third article 
of the Constitution ; the essential part of the statement being 
that no Society can be recognised as an Auxiliary to the 
American Bible Society until it shall have officially com- 
municated to the Board that its sole object is to promote 
the circulation of the Holy Scriptures without note or com- 
ment, and that it will place its surplus revenue, after sup- 
plying its own district with Scriptures, at the disposal of 
the American Bible Society as long as it shall remain thus 
connected with it. 

A lesser point of the duties of Auxiliaries had already 
been decided by the Board in 1817 when the Kentutky Bible 
Society made application for a set of stereotype plates, ex- 
plaining that they wished to print Scriptures for all the 
Western States. The Board then notified Auxiliaries in a 
general statement that an Auxiliary Society cannot, at its 
own expense, distribute Bibles beyond the limits of its own 
district. Otherwise the local Society will lose its character 
as a helper of the national Society, since it will never have 
any surplus funds to transmit to the general treasury ; trans- 
mission of such surplus funds being an essential part of the 
duties of an Auxiliary. Lest the constitutional limitations 
of the Auxiliary's activities should in this case limit the use 
made of the plates loaned to the Kentucky Bible Society, 
the Managers stated that the American Bible Society might, 
if necessary, have books for other States printed at its ex- 
pense at the Kentucky press. 

These conditions of the Auxiliary relationship had al- 
ready been explained to many Societies in private cor- 


respondence; and to remove all doubts about the sympa- 
thies of the Board of Managers, in 1817 it announced to all 
Bible Societies that, of course, they were at liberty to with- 
draw from the Auxiliary relationship if they chose to do 
so. When the matter became thoroughly understood there 
was no longer question as to the intent of the Constitution. 
The line was clearly marked between Auxiliary Bible Socie- 
ties who are recognised helpers of the national Society and 
other Bible Societies, which, like that in Philadelphia, vol- 
untarily co-operated with the national Society although not 
organically connected with it. 

An utterance of the Auxiliary New York Bible Society 
in its third Annual Report (1816) showed its hearty ac- 
ceptance of this early interpretation of the Auxiliary rela- 
tionship. " There are cases where it is more honourable 
as well as more dutiful to pay tribute than it is to claim 
the sceptre. . . . Feeling as we do upon this subject (the 
organisation of the American Bible Society) we cannot, at 
a time like the present, suppress the emotions of our joy 
and congratulations. ... To that Society you have become 
tributary by profession. Let not your Auxiliary character 
be confined to the name. Subordinate duties are as certain 
and as urgent as those of a higher order which depend upon 
them." 1 

Another difficulty appeared when some of the Auxiliary 
Societies were unable to understand why, when they bought 
and paid for books, they were not helpers of the National 
Society. Why should they be asked to send other money 
for the general work? It had to be explained quite often 
and at some length that buying books from the general de- 
pository is merely replenishing a continually exhausted 
stock. The money received from sales simply restored the 
Treasury to the position in which it was before the books 
were sold. Only by gifts dedicated to the general work of 
the Society could an Auxiliary be a helper and not a mere 
dependent. A reservoir must be fed by streams larger than 

1 This Society was announcing its new condition as auxiliary to 
the A. B. S. See Third Annual Report of Auxiliary New York 
Bible Society quoted in the first Annual Report of the American 
Bible Society, p. 54. 


those flowing from it, if it is to collect water for other dis- 

In 1819 while the Board was urgently calling upon the 
people all over the country to form Auxiliary Bible Socie- 
ties, it received an impression from a friendly letter that 
the Philadelphia Bible Society might at last consent to be- 
come Auxiliary to the national Society. Realising that the 
oldest society in the United States must naturally value 
highly its independent existence, the Society had adopted an 
addition to the Constitution (19th Article), permitting the 
Board to make special terms of recognition as Auxiliaries 
for any Society formed earlier which had commenced pub- 
lishing Scriptures before the American Bible Society was 

A statement of the Board issued at this time shows its 
views : " The Managers are anxious to see an entire union 
of the Bible interest in this country; believing that such a 
union would do honour to the pious and the benevolent in 
our land; that it would prevent all injurious interference in 
the great work; that it would secure a larger amount of 
gifts in aid of that work ; that the exertions, which all might 
make together, would be greater, more economical, and 
more vigorous, than can be made in a separate state; and 
that the consequence of combined efforts would be a meas- 
ure of success, probably much larger, and certainly much 
more striking and impressive, than that which would at- 
tend disunited labours. With these views and opinions, 
measures have been adopted by the Managers. They wait 
patiently for the result. Should it be favourable, the Man- 
agers will be highly gratified, and will rejoice in the ac- 
complishment of an object so desirable as a complete con- 
federacy of the Bible cause in our country. Yet should the 
Societies to which the nineteenth article of the Constitution 
applies, and the other Societies in the United States which 
are not Auxiliaries, deem it expedient for them to remain 
unconnected with the national Society, the Managers will 
continue to regard them not with jealousy, but with love, 
and will always be anxious for their prosperity and their 
widespread usefulness." x 

1 Report of the A. B. S., 1820. 


The hope of the Managers respecting the willingness of the 
Philadelphia Society to come into a closer relationship was 
dashed. The Philadelphia Bible Society expressed in the 
kindest terms its inability to consider it conducive to the 
general interests of the Bible cause to be at present so con- 
nected with the American Bible Society as to become an 
Auxiliary. At the same time its Board expressed its will- 
ingness to co-operate with their brethren of the American 
Bible Society in any plans which may be considered useful 
to the advance of the object for which both were labouring. 
These expressions of good will were not empty words. The 
Philadelphia Society rendered financial and other aid to the 
national Society repeatedly during the next twenty years. 
In 1840 it took the step of formally becoming Auxiliary to 
the American Bible Society. 

The Auxiliary system which worked so well in Great 
Britain encountered many difficulties due to the wide ex- 
panses of the United States territory. These Societies must 
be left very much to their independent initiative since the 
interminable American distances and the hardships of travel 
would make frequent visits from Secretaries or other dele- 
gates of the national Society difficult, and in some cases 

During the first five experimental years many Auxiliaries 
were a constant source of anxiety to the Board of Man- 
agers. Numbers of local Societies entered the ranks as 
formal helpers without a chance of maintaining work in 
their own fields. Their calls for help were unceasing and 
embarrassing. Money for the general work contributed by 
strong and active Auxiliaries was absorbed in keeping alive 
the anaemic ones. At times, it is true, sparseness of the 
population was a cause of these disappointing results. 
Sometimes it was the depression of the local currency, some- 
times small calamities peculiar to a new country, or some- 
times even the appearance of other schemes of missionary 
benevolence. Yet in those early days the Board had to ad- 
mit many times that some Auxiliaries were constitutionally 
inactive and some deliberately chose to be dependent. It 
early became clear that the conditions of a truly helpful 
Auxiliary system are not easy to fulfil. If Auxiliaries es- 


tablished in the first heat of enthusiasm should maintain the 
passion to win souls, and if such Societies should never be- 
come physically too feeble for active life, the Auxiliary sys- 
tem would not be a drag upon the national Society, but 
would prove permanently as efficient as it was praiseworthy. 

At the end of the fifth year of the Society, three hundred 
and one Auxiliaries were in existence. They had paid into 
the Treasury of the Society $39,360.90 as donations, be- 
sides what they paid for books. 

Great sums have since been paid into the Treasury for 
the worldwide work by Auxiliary Societies. Many thou- 
sand volumes of Scripture have been taken by them to the 
destitute. Thousands of our people owe their religious 
awakening to their efforts. Some of the most important 
and fruitful measures adopted by the American Bible So- 
ciety originated with a suggestion from one or another Aux- 
iliary Society. Yet, as will be seen later on, a territory as 
vast and as sparsely inhabited as that of the United States 
in the first half of the nineteenth century was not quite 
suited to the success of the Auxiliary idea so hopefully im- 
ported from England. 

SECOND PERIOD 1821-1832 


A large movement of population marked for Americans 
the close of the second decade of the nineteenth century. 
Thousands of settlers moved into the country west of the 
Alleghanies. During the first five years of the existence of 
the American Bible Society immigrants from Europe ar- 
rived at the average rate of ten thousand each year. In- 
diana, Mississippi, Illinois, Maine, and Missouri were ad- 
mitted to the Union as States. Florida was given up to 
the United States by Spain, and a quiet feeling of well- 
being prevailed throughout the land. In South America the 
establishment of independent republics which had com- 
menced during the Napoleonic Wars, continued with more 
or less resistance from Spaniards and others interested in 
the monarchical system. Mexico was in continual unrest. 
In our land the war with the Seminole Indians blazed out 
and died away, only to flare up again; questions of tariff 
disturbed different sections of the country, and the debates 
concerning slavery foreshadowed their growth in bitterness ; 
but on the whole there was throughout the country a feel- 
ing of steady prosperity. 

Astonishment at the growth of the population was ex- 
pressed on every hand. John C. Calhoun, writing in 18 16, 
said : " We are great and rapidly, I had almost said fear- 
fully, growing. Good roads and canals will do much to 
unite us." With this growth in the population throbbing 
like a pulse which all could feel, it might seem shocking that 
the Society formed to evangelise with Bibles the Western 
regions of the country, almost as its first act, told applicants 
that at present it would not supply any Bibles. The Amer- 
ican Bible Society was hardly a week old when disconcert- 
ing orders for books began to come in, many of them ac- 



companied by money in payment. The Board, which was 
hardly organised for business, had to fix a policy. Its per- 
plexity was like that of a man seeking a place to lodge who 
has word that friends are coming to stay with him. It de- 
cided that the first use to which money contributions should 
be applied was the acquirement of stereotype plates of the 
Bible. Therefore it informed those who ordered Bibles 
that money which came with orders for books would be sent 
back to the donors, or handed over to one of the local Bible 
Societies which had Bibles on hand. 

A Bible Society without Bibles was as ineffective as a 
railway without rolling stock; to purchase Bibles in the 
market would merely delay ownership of stereotype plates. 
Offers of plates or for the making of them were hurriedly 
presented by various firms, and after close scrutiny of such 
proposals the Board ordered a contract to be made at ad- 
vantageous terms for six sets of stereotype plates of the 
Bible; three in octavo, and three in duodecimo, to be cast 
as soon as possible. The plates would not be ready before 
the spring of 1817. Meantime the importunate local Bible 
Societies must do without Scriptures. 

It was at this fateful moment that the New York Bible 
Society and its Auxiliary, loyally ready to serve their new 
leader in the common cause, came forward with their timely 
gift of a complete set of stereotype plates in minion type. 
In November, 1816, by the generosity of these Societies, 
the American Bible Society was able to put forth its first 
issue of ten thousand copies of the English Bible. In the 
minds of the founders of the Society the plan of distribut- 
ing sets of stereotype plates among Auxiliary Societies 
bulked largely. Probably it was suggested by the difficulty 
of communication and transportation in 1816. In 1817 a 
single set of plates was accordingly loaned to the Kentucky 
Bible Society. An unexpected defect in the scheme star- 
tled the Board when Rev. Dr. Blythe of that Society in- 
quired whether a printing press would be sent with the 
plates. Perhaps, too, no one had remembered that the 
books, after being printed, would have to be bound. At all 
events, after many vexatious delays, the Kentucky Bible 
Society early in 1819 printed at Lexington two thousand 


Bibles. The edition was disappointing as to paper, print- 
ing, binding and cost. No one was to blame. That coun- 
try was too young to undertake book publication. The 
American Bible Society could supply Lexington well printed 
and bound books from New York and pay the freight for 
less than the cost of poor books printed there. After one 
or two further trials the hope was given up of supplying the 
West with Bibles by sending stereotype plates to Auxiliary 

Only by such an experience could all parties learn how 
great a saving of cost is effected by printing very large edi- 
tions. The motive underlying the plan of supplying Auxil- 
iary Societies with stereotype plates was desire to relieve 
them from the heavy cost of composition or of the purchase 
of plates in cases where the local Society wished to print 
Bibles for its own use. This benevolent purpose was not 
lost to sight, although the earliest plan for accomplishing it 
missed the mark. The Board of Managers, regarding the 
cost of plates as an expense which the Constitution expects 
the general Society to bear, left that element entirely out 
of account in computing the price of books. It decided 
that the cost of press work, paper and binding should make 
up the selling price of Scriptures, adding, however, five per 
cent to cover interest, insurance and the wear and tear of 
plates. Bibles would be sold to Auxiliaries at cost, deduct- 
ing the five per cent, added for interest and wear and tear. 
Through this decision Auxiliary Societies have not only 
profited by the reduction of cost gained by printing very 
large editions, but they have received their books during a 
hundred years at a price considerably less than the actual 
cost of producing them. 

By the end of the first five years the Board had decided 
that the cheaper forms of binding only would be used for 
free grants of Scriptures. This plan was received with 
murmurs to the effect that the Holy Bible ought to be nobly 
bound, since otherwise the common people would think it 
of little value. The decision was like the poor man's choice 
to build his house of wood since he cannot afford stone, and 
the policy of making cheap books for the supply of those 


unable to pay much commended itself to the judgment of 
the majority and later became the rule of the Society. 

The most beneficent feature of Bible Societies was at 
first universally assumed to be their power to make the 
Word of God free to all. Under the then prevailing theory 
an enterprise that asks money from beneficiaries is not 
beneficent. But the human propensity to hold out the hand, 
whenever benevolent gifts are in sight, was another of the 
early discoveries of the Board. So one further step of cau- 
tious progress was the decision of the Board to discourage 
indiscriminate free distribution of Scriptures. Much argu- 
ment was needed to convince contributors and beneficiaries 
of the necessity for asking pay for Bibles from those who 
could pay if they would. The rule, however, was main- 
tained without at all diminishing free grants to the really 
needy, and resulted in profit, on the whole, to the self re- 
spect and the sincerity of those who received books from 
the Society. 

The path of the Board of Managers would sometime 
open into a region where the relations of things could be 
clearly seen. As yet it was as full of mysteries as the route 
traced among the stars by a beginner in astronomy. It led 
to the unforeseen at every step. Only after actually finding 
strange tongues naturalised in several districts did it become 
clear that Bibles in foreign languages must be provided for 
the United States. The Board ordered from the British 
and Foreign Bible Society plates of the French Bible in 
1816; and it ordered Scriptures in German and in Gaelic 
from London a year later, thereby causing an outburst of 
joy from homesick Scottish emigrants. As early as the 
end of 1817 it ordered a set of plates of the New Testament 
in Spanish. 

The Board had not yet contemplated beginning labours 
in the foreign field when a Moravian missionary named 
Dencke sent to it a manuscript translation of the Epistles 
of St. John into the Delaware language. It was a perturb- 
ing as well as an awe-inspiring object. After laborious 
discovery of guarantees that the translation was accurate, 
the Board gladly undertook to print an edition of these 


Epistles for the use of Indians speaking the Delaware. 
This formed the first of a series of benefits derived by the 
men of the forests from the organisation of a National So- 

The example of the British and Foreign Bible Society 
daily helped the new Society to stand upon its feet. The 
Board of Managers concluded its first report by observing 
that " God has been pleased to make the people of Great 
Britain the instrument of forming, maturing, cherishing, 
and constantly and substantially aiding these {Bible) Soci- 
eties not only within their own territories, but throughout 
the world. Greater honour has never been conferred upon 
any people since the sceptre departed from Judah, and the 
law giver from between His feet." * Britain was the 
mother of most of the old Colonies. The British and For- 
eign Bible Society was a " Revered Parent " and it was also 
an " Exemplar." It had explored many rough places in the 
ways of Bible Society progress, and through this experience 
it had fixed upon many well chosen methods. 

The Committee to whom the New York Convention gave 
the duty of drawing up a Constitution for the American 
Bible Society used that of the British and Foreign Bible 
Society as a guide, modifying it to suit American condi- 
tions. The form of administration chosen for the Amer- 
ican Society closely followed the model in London. The 
British Society had found that Auxiliary Societies could 
canvass their fields, keep in close touch with the people, 
supply needs, and also collect money in amounts that were 
surprising. In fact such Societies already furnished a tan- 
gible part of the support of the British Society. The Amer- 
ican Bible Society from its first active day counted as its 
" auxiliaries " all Societies which agreed to place their sur- 
plus funds at its disposal. The British model was followed 
again in th$ method adopted to furnish information to 
friends of the American Bible Society. It issued for its 
subscribers and the general public a little sheet called " Ex- 
tracts from Correspondence." Its Secretaries suggested 
that the republication in America of these " Extracts " 

1 Report of A. B. S. for 181 7, p. 24. 


might be interesting to the people. Thereupon the Board 
decided to issue a sheet of information called " Quarterly 
Extracts." The idea and even the name of the Library 
which was shortly established for the benefit of the literary 
department of the Society was copied from that of the Brit- 
ish Society, which had early founded a " Biblical Library " 
for the collection of versions of the Bible in various lan- 
guages, and of books useful to translators or interpreters 
of the Bible. In debate an argument offered to the Board 
as conclusive was often " The British Society has " or " has 
not " done so and so. 

There was no mere slavish imitation in this conformity 
to the usages of that great and experienced pioneer; the 
ways of wisdom are for universal use. Reasons for each 
decision were carefully considered by the Board. When 
the value of the various measures found practical by the 
British and Foreign Society was clearly seen, their wisdom 
was entitled to the homage of imitation by the new Society. 
The Board, however, took no step that might impair the 
independence of the American Bible Society. Within a 
year or two occasion arose which might have caused mis- 
understanding in this respect. 

The donation of twenty-two hundred dollars with which 
the British and Foreign Bible Society emphasised its pleas- 
ure at the birth of the American Bible Society was in the 
form of a credit in London to be drawn upon from New 
York. Instead of drawing the money the Board ordered 
books and stereotype plates from the British Society which 
amounted altogether to thirty-five hundred and fifty dollars, 
and it finally remitted thirteen hundred and fifty dollars to 
London to close this account. In 1819 the British Society 
made a free grant of five hundred German Bibles to the 
American Bible Society and also sent out five hundred Span- 
ish Testaments designated for free distribution in Latin 
America. At the same time its Directing Committee again 
authorised the American Bible Society to draw upon its 
Treasury for five hundred pounds as a donation. The 
Treasury of the American Bible Society was not as empty 
as the acceptance of the gift would imply. The Board felt 
refusal to be unavoidable, but softened it by its gratitude for 

54 EARLY EXPERIMENTS [1821-1832 

the solicitude shown by the generous offer. The incident 
was closed by a second letter from London assuring the 
Board that notwithstanding its having declined the dona- 
tion, friendly feeling in that quarter was unchanged. 

The Managers of the American Bible Society believed 
with their whole heart that study of the Bible and obedience 
to it would mean the building up of the nation ; while neglect 
of this privilege by America would certainly lead to its 
ruin. By the year 1821 the Board felt no longer hampered 
by scarcity of books. It granted for the use of sailors in 
the United States Navy thirty-five hundred Bibles in 1820, 
upon the request of the Secretary of the Navy. It was 
ready to entertain every request from indigent Bible Socie- 
ties, or from destitute districts where no Bible Society had 
yet been formed, for grants of Scriptures. This was really 
a remarkable progress within five years for men who had to 
feel their way step by step. But the members of the Board 
did not dream that they had done any great thing. The 
crossing of Jordan had been accomplished through glad 
obedience to the command Go Forward. So much of suc- 
cess was an earnest and manifestation of the divine guidance 
that was to be theirs throughout the perplexities and strug- 
gles involved in the occupation of the Promised Land. 



Several state societies were engaged in home missionary 
work before the formation of the American Bible Society, 
but these were of small resources and they worked with 
little systematic co-operation. In a general sense it may be 
said that until the Erie Canal was opened in 1825 there 
were no very efficient home missionary societies in the 
United States. Before the development of great Home 
Missionary Societies, the American Bible Society during sev- 
eral years had been engaged in its appointed task of win- 
ning men to Christ. It was putting the written word into 
the hands of the blind that they might see, of the deaf that 
they might hear and of the poor that they might know the 
gospel, East, West, North and South, throughout the United 
States. It, therefore, may be regarded as our first general 
home missionary society. 

Home and foreign missions, however, are among the 
things which God has joined and man may not put asunder. 
The strictly home missionary vision of the Bible Society al- 
most at the first moment revealed need of Scriptures in five 
or six foreign languages within the limits of the United 
States. The Society that was formed for the purpose of 
increasing the circulation of the Bible wherever its arms 
could reach, having obtained Scriptures in six languages 
could not limit its sphere of vision by the boundaries of the 
United States. French Scriptures, for instance, must be 
sent not only to Louisiana but to poor neglected Canada, 
and Spanish Scriptures not to the lower Mississippi alone 
but over the border to Texas, then a part of New Spain 
(Mexico), and even to the great South American Continent. 

The reasons for undertaking Bible distribution in Latin 
America were very well put in a letter on the subject pub- 


56 A WIDER OUTLOOK [1821- 

lished in Boston in June, 1816. 1 In this letter occurs the 
following passage: "That it is the duty of Americans 
to supply their neighbours with the Bible no arguments are 
necessary to prove; and that New Spain (Mexico) and even 
a part of South America have claims on our bounty is 
equally clear." The writer then takes note of the fact that 
many people say all such wants should be supplied by the 
British and Foreign Bible Society, although that Society 
has already an enormous burden in the supply of Europe 
and Asia. He then continues : " Under these circum- 
stances shall we look to England to furnish even the in- 
habitants of South America with the Bible, much less any 
part of North America ?" 

As early as August, 1816, the Board of Managers took 
under consideration the purchase of plates for printing 
the New Testament in Spanish ; but it was not until a year 
later that a commencement of the work was made by order- 
ing the stereotyped plates, which copied the best edition 
published by the British and Foreign Bible Society. It was 
about the same time that the Managers had before them 
a report of the Louisiana Auxiliary Bible Society calling 
attention to the situation : " The population of the Spanish 
provinces, commencing at the Isthmus of Darien and com- 
ing up to the United States, is not much short of ten mil- 
lions. Yet among this great multitude of professed Chris- 
tians a Spanish Bible could not probably be found after a 
search of years." Five hundred Spanish. Testaments sent 
over by the British and Foreign Bible Society helped to 
begin the supply of this need. 

A surprising variety of channels were found for send- 
ing Spanish Scriptures into South America. The different 
peoples in that continent had thrown off the Spanish yoke. 
In Europe these peoples were still regarded as " Spanish 
Colonies " but in America they were felt to be near kin 
because the form of government set up in each case was re- 
publican. The Board assigned to a committee the duty 
of discovering merchants or well-disposed sea captains go- 
ing to South America who would take with them Spanish 

1 Panoplist, March, 1816, p. 123. 


Scriptures. One of the grants made in 1819 was five hun- 
dred Spanish Testaments with special designation for use 
in the public schools of Buenos Aires. They were gladly 
received by the municipal officials who ordered them dis- 
tributed among the primary schools of the city. 

Letters began to come frequently to the Society asking 
for Spanish Scriptures. One of these from a merchant in 
the Island of St. Croix spoke of the likelihood that the 
New Testament would find ready circulation in Porto Rico, 
and some Scriptures were sent to him in 1820. Some of 
the books, at least, reached the Island and were gladly pur- 
chased. This was the earliest venture of the American 
Bible Society in Porto Rico, where now the Bible is in the 
hands of thousands. 

A touching letter came to the Managers in New York 
from a Spanish gentleman in one of the West Indies Islands. 
He wrote : " A few days ago, being on board of an Ameri- 
can ship, I saw a Testament in the Spanish language. My 
eagerness to obtain it led me to ask it of the supercargo. 
It was the only one at his disposal and he could not part 
with it. The Bible Society had presented it to him. I am 
not certain whether you are a member of the Society or not, 
but your general acquaintance may put you in possession of 
some of these books which I beg you will send me. There 
are none at all to be obtained here, and I know many who 
would be proud to have one." Books were sent to this 
gentleman, who wrote joyfully: "In three days all the 
books were disposed of without the least effort of publicity, 
and numerous applications have been made since by Span- 
iards and foreigners requesting the favour to send for 

The Secretaries soon had correspondents in different parts 
of Latin America willing to undertake the distribution of 
Scriptures. The American Consul in Valparaiso expressed 
his willingness to aid in circulating Bibles. One of those 
who asked and received grants was Mr. James Thomson, 
Agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society. The Brit- 
ish and Foreign Bible Society wrote in 1821 : " We are 
glad to see you desirous of working with us in South 
America." This was pleasant but lacked perception, per- 

58 A WIDER OUTLOOK [1821- 

haps, of the aim of the American Bible Society to supply 
the untouched fields in that continent. One of its early 
grants of money for Bible translation was five hundred 
dollars to help the translation of the Scriptures into Quechua, 
the language of the proud Incas of Peru. 

In the course of the summer of 1816 a member of the 
Board of Managers, Mr. Jeremiah Evarts of Boston, who 
was also an officer of the American Board of Missions, 
wrote to beg aid for the Rev. Ferdinand Leo, a German re- 
siding in Paris, who was trying to bring out an edition of 
the whole Bible according to the version of De Sacy. A 
grant of five hundred dollars to Mr. Leo was the first ex- 
penditure for work in foreign lands. The money was sent 
to Mr. S. V. S. Wilder, the well-known New York mer- 
chant then living in Paris, and was received with great joy 
by Mr. Leo. Mr. Wilder, in acknowledging receipt of this 
donation, in the courtly phrases of the day wrote to Dr. 
Mason: " Never, Sir, perhaps, was the hand of God more 
conspicuous than in this act of the American Bible Society ; 
and generations yet unborn will undoubtedly profit by their 

Later some Americans residing in Paris called the at- 
tention of the Board to the newly formed Protestant Bible 
Society of Paris with which Mr. S. V. S. Wilder was con- 
nected. This Society was formed in 1818 for the supply of 
destitute Protestants. The Board gave it a cordial welcome, 
and fraternal correspondence continued during several 
years. After the revolution of 1830 had introduced some 
religious liberty into France, the French and Foreign Bible 
Society * was formed, in aid of which the Board granted 
$2,000 in 1833. 

At this time American missionaries were taking up work 
abroad. A universal movement of enthusiasm followed the 
appointent of foreign missionaries, both because of the en- 
lightenment which they would carry to pagan countries, and 
because of the notable heroism involved in their going forth, 
unable to imagine what was before them, to work for their 
Master among races inhabiting the ends of the earth. The 

1 Now called the Bible Society of France. 


departure of a band of missionaries for the Sandwich Is- 
lands in 1 81 9 may be noted as causing a principle to emerge 
whose logic has always ruled the Society; namely, that 
American missions everywhere have a right to claim help 
from the American Bible Society. 

In case of the missionaries for the Sandwich Islands the 
Board of Managers sent to the American Board in Boston 
" splendid " Bibles to be presented to the Kings of Owhyee 
(Hawaii), and of one of the neighbouring Islands. Some 
Sandwich Islanders who had been studying at a training 
school in Connecticut were each furnished with a handsome 
copy of the Bible and the American Board was presented 
with two hundred Bibles and two hundred Testaments to be 
distributed by the missionaries among Americans and Eu- 
ropeans drawn by commerce to the 1'slands. Ability to make 
such gifts gladdened the hearts of the members of the 
Board of Managers; for missionaries who would sail half 
around the world would use these books to make known- the 
name of Jesus Christ to the Islanders now first receiving 
worthy influences from Christian lands. 

The American Board had a mission in the northern part 
of the Island of Ceylon and, it having been represented 
that the American missionaries could make good use of Eng- 
lish Scriptures in their schools and otherwise, the Board 
made a grant of two hundred Bibles and two hundred Tes- 
taments for distribution by American missionaries, in Cey- 
lon. The enterprise of the American Colonisation Society 
which cost Samuel J. Mills his life in 1818, was carried for- 
ward by others. The first body of American colonists 
sailed for the coast of Africa in February, 1820. They 
received a grant of Bibles for presentation to various func- 
tionaries in Sierra Leone who could use them, and two hun- 
red and fifty volumes of Scripture, of which some were 
Spanish and some French but the main portion English for 
the use of the coloured colonists. 

The Managers of the Society received letters of appeal 
from Messrs. Carey, Marshman and Ward in Serampore, 
begging for help in uie great work of printing which thfe 
press in that place had undertaken. The New York Bible 
Society a year or two before had sent a donation to these 

60 A WIDER OUTLOOK [1821-1832 

gentlemen in order to help them over the difficulties in which 
they found themselves after the burning of the Serampore 
press. The Board passed a vote expressing sympathy and 
interest in the work of these missionaries, and sent each of 
them a finely bound English Bible as a token of good will. 
Later a thousand dollars was sent to Mr. Carey and his as- 
sociates to lighten their expenditures for translating and 
printing the Scriptures in the various languages of India. 
These little incidents are notable because from them 
sprang most important results. They saved the Managers 
of the American Bible Society from any nearsightedness due 
to lack of exercise in long vision. When once the habit is 
formed of seeing in some detail features of this world of 
ours, their penetrating appeal, always in the minor key, is 
sure to move the hearts of Christians. Through glimpses 
of conditions abroad gained in its first five years the Ameri- 
can Bible Society imperceptibly became committed to the 
principle that its work is American in origin but not in 
limit. By such short steps impelled by faith and trust in 
God many different denominations in different lands have 
become engrossed in world evangelisation so that the knowl- 
edge of God may cover the earth. 



The warmth of President Boudinot's interest in the Bible 
Society persisted notwithstanding physical weakness. But 
his residence was in Burlington, New Jersey. In 1816 the 
ordinary way for him to reach New York would be by pri- 
vate carriage or post-chaise. It was a ride of eight or nine 
hours, which for a feeble man of seventy-seven was a seri- 
ous matter. So Dr. Boudinot presided at Annual Meetings 
of the Society in 1818 and the three following years only; 
his last public appearance being in 1821, the year of his 
death. He did not share in the discussions about practical 
difficulties in those early years. But his heart was with the 
Board in this work. In July, 18 16, he wrote to Dr. Romeyn 
as follows : " We are extremeiy anxious to know how far 
the glorious work in which we are engaged progresses to- 
ward maturity. . . . The time is short — we have delayed 
until late in the eleventh hour — we have need of double 
diligence. ... I hope you will not mistake my desires as 
if I wished to proceed in this arduous business per saltern. 
No; I hope we shall, like wise master-builders directed by 
the Spirit of God, go on steadily and firmly, laying a solid 
foundation for this glorious superstructure to the praise 
and glory of His Grace." 

The Board of Managers needed all the counsel and sym- 
pathy which such a man could give. The members of the 
Board had seen their duty as simple though difficult. They 
had to raise money, to provide books, and to find helpers for 
both lines of effort. But from their very first meeting they 
began to perceive that these three simple duties dragged in 
their train unforeseen complications and new problems. 

One of these problems sprang from the quality of the 
membership of the Board. Denominational sensitiveness 



had to be considered at every step. In the absence of 
President Boudinot the presiding officer at Board meetings 
was General Clarkson, a member of the Episcopal Church 
and a Vice-President of the Society. At the outset one of 
the Secretaries was a Presbyterian and the other a minister 
of the Reformed Dutch Church. Other denominations were 
also present. If prayer, whether liturgical or extemporane- 
ous, were offered in a Board meeting some present could 
not say "Amen." 

When a committee prepared by-laws in August, 1816, the 
first of these was as follows : " The business of the Board 
shall be commenced by reading such portion of the Scrip- 
tures as the presiding officer may direct." The delicacy of 
the question of having prayers or other religious exercises 
at Board meetings appeared in the report of the Westchester 
County Auxiliary Bible Society the next year. A remark 
on its own experience illumines the situation : " This union 
(of Protestants) so consonant with that spirit of brotherly 
love by which our Saviour declared his disciples should be 
distinguished from others, has probably been strengthened 
by the determination of the Society to discontinue the exer- 
cises of prayer and preaching at their meetings, and thereby 
to avoid all interference with the various opinions of its 
members respecting the forms of religious worship." Many 
members of the Board felt that in the Lord's own work 
prayer for guidance ought to be the first act in every meet- 
ing. The question came up in the Board again some years 
later, when the Board of Managers formally reasserted the 
principle of this first by-law ; namely, that there should be 
no religious exercise besides the reading of a portion of 
Scripture at the opening of a meeting of the Board of Man- 

In the meantime the same question had been raised from 
a slightly different point of view in the Committee of the 
British and Foreign Bible Society, and so much heat had 
been generated that for a moment it seemed as if the prin- 
ciple of denominational federation were at stake. The 
question was settled in England in the same way that it was 
settled in America ; that is to say by adopting the rule that 
no prayer should be offered at these meetings. 


Another unexpected perplexity arose on hearing of people 
who cannot read. Friends of the Bible expected their dif- 
ficulties to lie in the direction of providing Bibles. But in 
Michigan Territory three-fourths of the French population 
could not read, and they composed two-thirds of the whole 
population of the region of Detroit. The Vermont Bible 
Society pitied the French on the Canadian border and tried 
to help them with Bibles. They found that very few of the 
French Canadians of the border could read. Similar re- 
ports were sent in respecting the Spaniards of Louisiana. 
The priest would let them read the Scio version of the Bible, 
but few able to read could be found. What shall a Bible So- 
ciety do in such a < case? 

Reports of destitution flowed in from all quarters to the 
Board of Managers. For instance, a man was troubled by 
destitution in Maryland and threw off his burden for the 
Managers to take up. Within five or six miles of a thriving 
town he found thirteen families without the Bible. In all 
the families there were one or more who could read. In 
one place a father said that he had eight children all living 
at home and no one of them could read. There was no 
school to which they could go; he himself could not read 
nor could his parents. The man's wife, however, could 
read. She said it would be her greatest comfort to read the 
Bible and she was sure that her husband and children would 
be glad to hear a chapter read every night and morning. 
This family was said to be typical of hundreds of families 
in that region. To supply one such family, the applicant 
said, would be worth the expense and trouble of his whole 

One reason for the failure of Auxiliaries to collect sup- 
port, as well as a hint of the customs of the people, is seen 
in an appeal sent out in 1820 by an Auxiliary Bible Society. 
" No man should ever say," declared the appeal, " that he 
cannot contribute to Bible work who uses spirituous liquor. 
The price of even a pint a week, of the cheapest kind, would 
enable you to be a member of a Bible, Missionary and Edu- 
cation Society and to have something left for Sunday 
School." * 

1 Annual Report, A. B. S., 1821, p. 122. 


Of course these discouraging reports formed but a small 
part of the many small matters brought to the attention 
of the Board. In Virginia an essembly in an open field was 
talking of forming a Bible Society. Six poorly dressed 
women from the mountains came to the group with fruit 
for sale. All of them said they would like to have Bibles, 
but they could not buy for lack of money. The need of these 
poor women thus brought actually before the eyes of those 
lovers of the Bible led to instant action. A subscription 
paper was passed around. Then and there they raised 
money to send thirty or forty Bibles into the mountains 
whence these women had come, so as to supply as many 
poor families as possible. From one place in New Jersey 
was reported interest among the women, who had formed 
a little association to provide the poor with Bibles. A 
widow with five children was advised not to subscribe to 
the Association since she needed every cent she could earn. 
" Indeed I shall," she answered, " I have got much com- 
fort from the Bible the Society gave me and I am going 
to spend something to take it to others." 

Other problems sprang like warriors fully armed from 
the office desks. When the Hamburg-Altona Bible Society 
wrote its congratulations upon the formation of the Ameri- 
can Bible Society, its Secretary sent the letter, enclosing some 
printed matter, to Bishop White, President of the Philadel- 
phia Bible Society. The Bishop had to pay for this letter 
from Hamburg $2.49 postage. Not long afterward the 
Board petitioned Congress to exempt the correspondence 
of the Society from payment of postage The fate of the 
petition was to lie in a Congressional Committee's pigeon- 
hole until at a convenient season some one might call it up. 

Before many months of 1816 had passed the Board of 
Managers saw that whether the matters presented were 
grave or trivial they could not sit continuously to read the 
letters which poured in a stream into the hands of the Sec- 
retaries. It appointed a " Standing Committee " to act for 
the Board during the intervals between its sessions. This 
Committee settled a multitude of small matters quickly and 
so secured for the Board time to study the large affairs. 

But in the growth of any great undertaking the record 


of minute details which seems often drudgery is an essential 
part of its story. The Rev. William Goodell, D.D., a trans- 
lator of the Bible into Turkish, once comforted a brother 
missionary burdened by a multitude of such small affairs 
by saying, " The disciples who went after that donkey at 
Bethphage have become a part of the world's history be- 
cause the Lord had need of just that service." 

Already the Secretary for Domestic Correspondence, Rev. 
Dr. J. B. Romeyn, was at the point of being smothered un- 
der an avalanche of letters. He was pastor of an important 
church whose interests might well occupy all his time. But 
the Board of Managers claimed his strength for its inter- 
ests. A short experience revealed to members of the Board 
the load which was being laid upon the Domestic Secretary 
and at last a clerk was hired to do the more mechanical 
part of the work. The sum of four hundred dollars a year 
was given for this service. It was the first salary paid by 
the American Bible Society to any one. 

As the multitude of details increased the Board found it 
necessary to help the Treasurer as well as the Secretary by 
appointing a Recording Secretary and Accountant. Mr. 
John Pintard was chosen for this office. A Huguenot in 
origin, during the Revolutionary War he had care of British 
prisoners under his kinsman, Dr. Boudinot. Later he had 
an important influence in the purchase of " Louisiana " 
from Napoleon. He was a man of considerable promi- 
nence in New York life, the first Sagamore of the Tammany 
Society, the " father of Historical Societies," the treasurer 
of the Sailors' Snug Harbour on Staten Island, and the au- 
thor, it is said, of the plan of streets and avenues in upper 
New York City. Mr. Pintard was a man of earnest piety. 
He was a member of the French Episcopal Church, for the 
use of which he translated the Book of Common Prayer 
into French. 

Dr. Romeyn manfully struggled with his two lines of 
duty which dragged at his heart and his nervous system. 
In the third year of his self-sacrifice he resigned his office 
as Secretary of Domestic Correspondence, explaining that 
he must give his time wholly to his people. The Rev. James 
Milnor, D.D., was then elected Secretary for Domestic Cor- 


respondence. He had been educated for the law, had prac- 
tised his profession in Pennsylvania for some years, and had 
represented his district in Congress in 1810. Afterwards 
he felt called to enter the ministry. At the time of his 
election as Secretary he was rector of St. George's Protes- 
tant Episcopal Church in New York, continuing in that posi- 
tion until his death. During twenty years he was a Sec- 
retary of the Bible Society. His grasp of the essentials of 
any problem and his resource in difficult situations made 
his services of great value to the young Society. 

Rev. Dr. J. M. Mason, the Secretary for Foreign Cor- 
respondence, in 1820 was ordered away by his physician. 
He therefore resigned his office. The Board of Managers 
were sorry to lose his wise counsels, for in the Committee 
room as well as in the Secretary's office Dr. Mason's serv- 
ices had been greatly valued. Upon this Dr. Milnor was 
given the foreign correspondence in Dr. Mason's room, and 
the Rev. S. S. Woodhull, a well-known and influential min- 
ister of the Dutch Reformed Church in Brooklyn, succeeded 
to the post of Secretary of Domestic Correspondence. He 
administered his office to the satisfaction of the Board of 
Managers until 1825, when he became Professor of Pastoral 
Theology at the Reformed Dutch Seminary at New Bruns- 
wick, New Jersey. He died in 1826. 

Colonel Richard Varick, the Treasurer of the Society, like 
Elias Boudinot and John Jay, was one of General Wash- 
ington's able men. His commanding presence and courtly 
manners made him a striking figure in public gatherings. 
He brought to his office great business ability. The choice 
of Colonel Varick as Treasurer guaranteed the proper use 
and the security of all the money placed in his care. His 
tested efficiency and high character was a better protection 
than bolts and bars for the cash of the American Bible So- 
ciety. In 1820, after four years of most careful service, 
he resigned. He was succeeded as Treasurer by Mr. W. 
W. Woolsey, an active and influential member of the Board 
of Managers. Colonel Varick was then elected a Vice- 
President and later became President of the Society. 

After the presses began to furnish Bibles the Board dis- 
covered that a General Agent was needed to care for the 


books, supervise printers and binders, look to the provision 
of paper, and see to the safety of stereotype plates and 
other property of the American Bible Society. Mr. John 
E. Caldwell was chosen General Agent of the Society in 
February, 1818, and took a heavy burden from the Managers. 
Mr. Caldwell had been Corresponding Secretary of the 
New York Bible Society until he was chosen member of 
the Board of Managers of the American Bible Society. 
Since the General Agent would be required to give his whole 
time to the work of the Bible Society, it was natural that 
he should receive a salary and he was allowed twelve hun- 
dred dollars a year. Mr. Caldwell occupied this office for 
a short time only. He died in 1820 and was succeeded by 
Mr. John Nitchie. 

The American Bible Society all this time had led a no- 
madic existence. It held its annual meetings commonly at 
the City Hotel on Broadway near Thames Street. Its Sec- 
retaries were housed wherever they could find place. The 
depository was a seven by nine room in Cedar Street ; then 
a larger place on Cliff Street and later a room in Han- 
over Street. After careful consideration a site was bought, 
plans were made and it was agreed that none of the money 
contributed for Bible circulation should be used for build- 
ing the Society's house. In the spring of 1822, with ela- 
tion and with special gratitude to God, the friends of the 
Bible Society attended the ceremony of laying the corner- 
stone, and in the following year the Managers were able to 
hold their first meeting in their new quarters. 

The Society's house was at number 115 Nassau Street, 
between Ann and Beekman Streets. It had a front of 
fifty feet on Nassau Street, and extended westward a little 
more than one hundred feet, narrowing to about thirty feet 
at the rear. The house was three stories high and had 
a commodious basement. The Managers' Room was forty- 
eight feet long and thirty wide. The depository contained 
space for about one hundred thousand Bibles. The printer 
with eleven hand presses, and the binder, both doing work 
by contract for the Society, were given rooms for their 
machinery. There was abundant storage room for paper 
and materials purchased by the Society, as well as for keep- 


ing the printed sheets ; and with the offices and the rooms 
assigned to the committees, the American Bible Society was 
at last housed under one roof in a place easily accessible, 
to which public attention would be constantly drawn by the 
name on the sign. 

The Managers felt that the new depository furnished 
facilities for a large business of manufacture of Scriptures. 
They made known the fact, and at the same time called 
upon friends of the Society to help by special contributions 
to pay the cost of the house. This amounted to twenty-two 
thousand, five hundred dollars, and the Board stated once 
more that not one cent would be diverted from the purpose 
for which it was given to the Society, so that money given 
for Bible distribution should be wholly devoted to that ob- 
ject. About ten thousand dollars had been received for the 
Building Fund before the house was occupied, and in 1826 
the debt was paid off. The Society was thus left in pos- 
session of an establishment which in itself would be a means 
of forwarding the circulation of Bibles. 

Possession of a house gives to a young man who is com- 
mencing a new order of life an entirely new bearing and 
outlook. He holds his head up. His thoughts become filled 
with hope ; he almost feels that with such a point on which 
he can stand he can conquer the whole world. Perhaps 
something of this optimism took possession of the Managers 
of the Bible Society. At all events in humble trust that 
God had work for them to do, from this day in 1823 they 
foresaw extension for the Society far beyond their early 



Influence is not a quality which one may pick up like a 
dropped gem in the highway. In its most worthy sense it 
is a result of noble character which comes to a man or 
woman unawares and unsought. God has so constituted 
his truth that when made concrete in any human life it be- 
comes a seed which lodges in the consciousness of others; 
germinates, grows, yields fruit many fold. 

None may call it accident that the American Bible Society 
has had the support and collaboration of great, famous and 
intellectual men — servants of God who seemed to be di- 
vinely thrust into this service. The first President of the 
Society, the Hon. Elias Boudinot, belonged to this class. 
On the twenty-first of October, 1821, Dr. Boudinot passed 
from this life. Mr. Samuel Bayard says that he was at 
the deathbed and was perhaps the last to converse with him. 
He reminded Dr. Boudinot of the amount and variety of 
good which he had been able to effect during his life. 
" The dying philanthropist at once turned from this view ; 
his hopes rested on Jesus Christ alone. But when his agency 
in establishing the American Bible Society, and its probable 
benefit to the country and the world were brought to his 
recollection he was silent but afterwards admitted the con- 
solation given him by this thought. It was soon after this 
that raising his eyes to heaven he exclaimed : ' Lord Jesus 
receive my spirit/ and passed away." x 

He was notable for his services during the Revolutionary 
War in close intimacy with General Washington. He was 
great in Congress where he helped to knit together the 
separate elements, of the young nation. He was honoured 
as President of Congress, and he was sincere as a child in 

1 Report of the 10th Anniversary of the A. B. S., 1826. 



his devotion to Jesus Christ and his passionate desire to 
ensure the use of the Bible by all the people for their worthy 

Dr. Boudinot was always thoughtful of need, and un- 
ostentatious in benevolences. In his will was a legacy of 
two hundred dollars left to the New Jersey Bible Society, 
the interest of which was to be devoted to supplying spec- 
tacles to the elderly poor, that they might not be deprived 
of the comfort of Bible reading in their latter days. His 
munificent gift of ten thousand dollars to the American 
Bible Society on its formation has already been mentioned. 
He gave one thousand dollars also to the special fund for 
building the Society's house, and in his will he left four 
thousand five hundred acres of land in Pennsylvania to be 
held by trustees until sold, the proceeds to go to the Ameri- 
can Bible Society. 

When Dr. Boudinot was requested by the Board of Man- 
agers to sit for his portrait, his natural shrinking from noisy 
publicity showed itself in his letter of acceptance. " It 
would be inconsistent," he wrote, "with that candour that 
should strongly mark all my conduct, and a mere affectation 
of humility not to confess the great pleasure afforded me 
from so lively and delicate a manifestation of their unmer- 
ited respect and attention to me by such an impressive tes- 
timony of their liberal and generous construction of my 
conduct. That I may not, therefore, appear callous to some 
of the finest feelings of the human mind, I know not how 
to refuse the request of your Board. To live in the mem- 
ory of those with whom I stand associated in a godlike work 
must be a gratifying reflection, and ill would it become me 
to withhold my concurrence to this effect ; although I must 
acknowledge that I feel some reluctance to a measure that 
may prevent the circulation of a single copy of the Scrip- 

During ninety-five years the portrait referred to, a fine 
work by Sully, has hung at the head of the Managers' room, 
during more than sixty years in the present Bible House. 

The Board of Managers in mentioning the evidence from 
all parts of the country and even from other countries of 
the high estimate placed on the character of Dr. Boudinot, 


adds : " The monument in his honour more durable than 
brass is the American Bible Society ; and instead of merely 
some friends and strangers reading his epitaph on his tomb- 
stone and thus learning or retaining the remembrance of his 
name and his worth, there will be thousands on thousands 
in successive ages blessing his memory and blessing God 
on his account while they witness the usefulness, or experi- 
ence the benefits of the National institution. ,, 

In December, 1821, the Hon. John Jay, Vice-President, 
was elected President of the American Bible Society; a 
worthy successor of Dr. Boudinot. Like him, Mr. Jay was 
of Huguenot descent. His mother was a daughter of 
Jacobus Van Cortlandt, so that two choice strains of blood 
ran in his veins. He was an intimate friend of General 
Washington and may be called very properly one of the 
founders of the Republic. As a creator and moulder of 
public opinion during the Revolution, as a patriot and a 
statesman he is often classed as next to Washington. He 
was President of Congress, which sent him to Europe to 
take part in negotiating the treaty with Great Britain at 
the end of the Revolutionary War. Dr. Boudinot suc- 
ceeded him as President of Congress and signed the treaty. 
By General Washington's appointment he became Chief 
Justice of the United States, and though he withdrew from 
that high office before long, during twenty-eight years he 
served his country in many notable emergencies, and his 
state as Chief Justice and Governor. The purity and eleva- 
tion of his principles of conduct made him eminent among 
men. He had a very high sense of justice and of the 
rights of others, and his religious feelings were deep. The 
Bible he constantly studied. When informed in May, 18 16, 
of his election as Vice-President of the American Bible 
Society he expressed great satisfaction and remarked in his 
letter of acceptance, " The events and circumstances under 
which such Societies have been established and multiplied, 
in my opinion indicate an origin which makes it the duty 
of all Christians to unite in giving them decided patronage 
and zealous support." At this time he had been for some 
years President of the Westchester County (New York) 
Bible Society, thus living up to his principles. 


Six years later in the written address to the Annual Meet- 
ing of the Society after his election as President, Mr. Jay 
returns to the thought of the divine origin of the" Bible 
Society movement. The following extract shows the 
warmth of his feeling: 

" Whence has it come to pass that Christian nations, who 
for ages had regarded the welfare of heathens with indif- 
ference, and whose intercourse with them had uniformly 
been regulated by the results of political, military and com- 
mercial calculations, have recently felt such new and un- 
precedented concern for the salvation of their souls, and 
have simultaneously concurred in means and measures for 
that purpose? Whence has it come to pass that so many 
individuals of every profession and occupation, who in the 
ordinary course of human affairs, confine their speculations, 
resources and energies to the acquisition of temporal pros- 
perity for themselves and families, have become so ready 
and solicitous to supply idolatrous strangers in remote re- 
gions, with the means of obtaining eternal felicity? Who 
has ' opened their hearts to attend ' to such things ? 

" It will be acknowledged that worldly wisdom is little 
conversant with the transcendent affairs of that kingdom 
which is not of this world; and has neither ability to com- 
prehend, nor inclination to further them. To what ade- 
quate cause, therefore, can these extraordinary events be 
attributed, but the wisdom that cometh, from above?" 

Mr. Jay was a confirmed invalid and was. not able to 
come from Bedford to preside at any meeting of the Society. 
Being opposed to any nominal office-holding, he resigned 
in 1827, after his physicians had told him that there was 
no hope of his being able to rise from his bed. He died in 

Colonel Richard Varick was elected President of the So- 
ciety upon the resignation of Mr. Jay. At the time of this 
election he was well past the proverbial three score years 
and ten. He was strong and healthy, warm in his service 
of the Bible Society of which during the four first critical 
years he had been Treasurer. On retiring from this rather 
arduous office he was elected a Vice-President of the So- 
ciety and presided at its meetings and those of the Board of 


Managers with grace and dignity. Colonel Varick like his 
two predecessors in the Presidential office was an intimate 
friend of General Washington ; in fact he was a member of 
Washington's military family. His energy of mind and his 
military habit of punctuality made him a valuable officer. 
He loved the work and the Society and he contributed fif- 
teen hundred dollars to the building of the Society's House. 
His donations to the Society at various times amounted 
to twice that sum. In civil life and in religious circles* of 
New York Colonel Varick held a high rank. He served 
as President until his death in 183 1. 

At the meetings of the Standing Committee and other 
Committees of the Board Samuel J. Mills was often seen. 
He was a Life Member of the Society and took pleasure in 
its meetings. When he thought that the Managers were 
not keen enough about providing Scriptures in Spanish, 
suppressing himself in his usual fashion, he persuaded a 
distinguished minister in the city to write urging an im- 
mediate provision of Spanish Scriptures. In July, 18 16, 
seeing the small success of the Board's strenuous efforts 
to collect money, Mr. Mills offered to take up that work 
for the Society, and in November he was appointed to col- 
lect funds and to organise Auxiliary Societies during six 
months in all the Southern States. In 181 7 Mr. Mills was 
interested with the author of " The Star Spangled Banner," 
Francis S. Key, who was a Vice-Presient of the American 
Bible Society, in organising the American Colonisation So- 
ciety and the formation of a colony of freed slaves on the 
African coast. They supposed as everybody did that blacks 
were all one people. Mr. Mills was sent to Africa by that 
Society to select a suitable region for a colony. After com- 
pleting this mission he embarked for home in 18 18 while ill 
with a fever contracted in the African jungles. A few 
days later he died and his body was buried in the great 
ocean. In this untimely fashion came to an end the ardent 
life of Mills which had promised so much. 

Mills was on fire with love for Christ and the Kingdom, 
as though his lips had been touched with a live coal from 
the altar of God. Dr. Boudinot, as a Christian, in his own 
person made concrete the abstract idea of the Christian duty 

74 SOME OF THE GREAT MEN [1821-1832 

of combination to pass on the Bible to all who have it not. 
Jay, renowned in the political world as one of the founders 
of the Republic, gave weight to every statement or appeal 
of the Society through his own love for the Bible and 
eagerness to popularise its use. Varick differed from his 
two predecessors in the office of President. He had not a 
record of achievement to be compared with either. But as 
having been a member of General Washington's staff this 
plain, bluff soldier had influence also. In sheer amazement 
at the combination of military renown and love for Jesus 
Christ and His gospel many would stop and think and yield 
to the Bible cause the homage of their support. 

Either of these three Presidents, even had they not ren- 
dered precious services in the process of organising its work, 
should be rated as of the highest value to the Bible Society 
at this period because each commanded attention to what- 
ever enterprise he might support with his esteem and his 
subscriptions. " Their sanction was a passport to public ap- 

In the Managers' room at the Bible House in New York 
over the President's chair hangs the fine portrait of Dr. 
Boudinot of which we have already spoken. On the right 
of Dr. Boudinot as he sits at his table is another large oil 
painting, an almost life size portrait of the intellectual giant 
and master of expression, John Jay. Opposite Mr. Jay's 
portrait, on the left of that of Dr. Boudinot, is a very fine 
painting of Colonel Varick, erect, commanding, noble. 
Among all the paintings which in that room bring to mind 
the great men who have served God in this Society, the first 
three were friends who stood together in the day of small 
things. These seem to represent* the time of special struggle 
and the whole group of grand men who in the first quarter 
of the ninteenth century, by the help of God, laid the foun- 
dations of the great work of the American Bible Society. 



In the steps by which the Bible became newly known in 
the great continent, which with its adjacent islands is some- 
times called Latin America, eagerness of the people to read 
the Scriptures weighed with the Board, leading it from in- 
terest to experiment and from experiment to a fixed policy. 
In the first quarter of the nineteenth century Latin America 
from the point of view of our own nation was a vast re- 
gion whose attractions were offset by many repulsive fea- 
tures. The mass of the people were illiterate ; political dis- 
turbances were not uncommon; and, in any case, difficulties 
of travel repelled those who would fain visit the interior 
of any of the countries upon whose seaboard they had 

Counteracting somewhat this feeling of repulsion was a 
Christian sympathy with the Latin-American people ex- 
pressed by Rev. Dr. James Blythe of Lexington, at the tenth 
Anniversary of the American Bible Society. He said: 
" The American Bible Society stands connected in a peculiar 
manner with South America. God has begun to do that im- 
mense country good of which the heart of every man in 
this commonwealth is glad. Liberty now sheds her bless- 
ings where despotism forged her chains. It is especially 
committed to this Society to be instrumental in giving that 
long oppressed people those sacred writings which shall 
enable them to perpetuate their new civil liberties and make 
them, too, the freemen of the Lord." * 

The sympathy thus expressed was accompanied by no 
desire whatever to propagate a sect or interfere with re- 
ligious beliefs; in the hearts of the members of the Bible 

1 " Extracts from the Correspondence of the American Bible 
Society," No. 47, August, 1826. 



Society it stirred a simple, earnest purpose to give these 
people information through the Bible. In the words of 
William Maxwell of Norfolk, Virginia, " God has chosen 
this book to be the very wand of His power and wisdom; 
to work all His mightiest and most moving miracles withal. 
It is by this that He wakes the dead and brings them back 
from the gates of the prison house; and it is by this that 
He feeds the life which he has given, and cheers and 
strengthens and consoles saints and wafts them away in the 
spirit into paradise again." * 

As we have seen, the Society very early began to send 
Scriptures in Spanish and later in Portuguese to different 
parts of Latin America. No American missionaries had 
yet undertaken to establish themselves in the southern con- 
tinent. As commercial correspondence with South Ameri- 
can countries increased, a number of persons were brought 
to light in various seaports who' were willing to help circu- 
late the Scriptures. In 1822 and 1823 letters from people 
living in Buenos Aires, Chile and Peru brought news to the 
Bible House of the readiness with which Scriptures could be 
sold in those places. In Lima, Peru, a Mr. Lynch having 
received from London five hundred Spanish Bibles and five 
hundred Testaments in two days sold the whole of the 
Bibles at three dollars apiece. 

In Colombia and what is now Venezuela by 1827 the 
Colombia Bible Society had been organised at Bogota ; the 
Caracas Bible Society had been organised; both had put 
themselves in communication with the British and Foreign 
Bible Society and the American Bible Society; eight hun- 
dred Spanish Bibles had been sent by the American Society 
to Colombia; Spanish Scriptures had been furnished mer- 
chants at Carthagena and Maracaibo which were readily 

In Peru Mr. James Thomson, who was exploring the 
country for the British and Foreign Bible Society, asked 
and received from the American Bible Society a grant of 
five hundred dollars to aid in translation work for the bene- 
fit of the Quechua Indians in Peru ; and in 1825, when Rev. 

1 Report of the 10th Anniversary of the A, B. S. in " Extracts," 
No. 47, August, 1826. 


John C. Brigham exploring the country on behalf of the 
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions 
reached Lima, Peru, he found some boxes of Scriptures 
from the American Society which had been left unopened 
in that city by Mr. James Thomson. Mr. Brigham immedi- 
ately put the books in circulation and sent the Society 
$195.75, proceeds of copies sold. 

The correspondents of the Society at Valparaiso distrib- 
uted Scriptures from that centre to Arica, Coquimbo, Con- 
cepcion, and other towns. In -Mexico as early as 1824 the 
Board of Managers considered the wisdom of opening an 
agency ; Mr. J. C. Brigham, however, wrote frequent letters 
and served the Society almost as a regular Agent. In 1826 
Messrs. Parrot and Wilson were selling Spanish Bibles in 
Mexico City at two dollars and fifty cents and Testaments 
at fifty cents apiece. Mr. Pearse at Metamoras wrote to 
the Bible Society for a grant of Spanish Scriptures, saying 
that there was a serious demand; and the next year hav- 
ing received a grant he sold the whole consignment im- 
mediately for three hundred dollars. In 1827 Messrs. Par- 
rot and Wilson of Mexico City remitted $396.87 as the pro- 
ceeds of sales in Mexico City and the surrounding region. 
In 1827 the British and Foreign Bible Society sent an agent 
to reside in Mexico City, but this did not diminish the work 
of the American Society in other parts of that region. 

In the West Indies Scriptures were sent as opportunity 
offered to many of the islands. In 1825 a shipment was 
sent to some of the Roman Catholic clergy connected with 
the Archbishop of Havana, Cuba. Shortly, afterwards a 
secretary of the Archdiocese, Don Justo Valez, acknowl- 
edged with thanks this gift from the Society and sent to the 
Biblical Library in New York a gift of twenty-six volumes 
of the writings of the Church Fathers. Upon this Don 
Justo was made Life Director of the Society. In a cour- 
teous letter he responded that he could not accept the posi- 
tion of Life Director of the American Bible Society, but 
that he would be very glad indeed to accept 'another con- 
signment of Scriptures for sale; and in 1827 he sent three 
hundred dollars, proceeds of sales, to the Treasurer of the 


These experiences seemed to justify a statement of Mr. 
Brigham that the people of the southern continent "are 
ready to receive the Scriptures not only by hundreds and 
by thousands, but by millions. I never yet met an indi- 
vidual, of any rank, in those countries who would not re- 
ceive one of these books with gratitude and often was will- 
ing to pay even a high price for it." x This statement was 
confirmed by the fact that Spanish Bibles purchased at the 
Depository in New York for a dollar fifty were sold by 
merchants in the City of Mexico for five dollars each at 
wholesale, or eight fifty at retail. 

The whole number of books sent into Latin America 
in the year 1826 was only 3,967 volumes; but since they 
were scattered extensively throughout the continent and on 
the islands, the important possibilities of the work thus 
begun are easily realised. The craving to lend a kindly 
hand to the people who had cast off the Spanish rule grew 
with knowledge of their wish to read the Bible. Every 
possible channel of communication was used. American 
Consuls, Naval officers, and merchants were appealed to 
for help in taking the Bible to the different countries. Even 
Mr. J. H. Poinsett, the South Carolinian whose long sojourn 
in Mexico immortalised his name through the decorative 
poinsettia of our greenhouses, was appealed to concerning 
methods of Bible distribution in the country which he knew 
so well. 

Before long, however, the Board began to perceive that 
this method of sending Bibles to Latin America by well- 
meaning merchants and others left much to be desired. 
The men volunteered service in Bible distribution in perfect 
good faith, but they found it hard to press their own busi- 
ness and the business of the American Bible Society at the 
same time. Priests could not understand why any man 
should wish to distribute the Bible among the common peo- 
ple unless he had an ulterior purpose akin to proselyting. 
Merchants who found themselves looked upon with sus- 
picion might easily reach the point of diminishing activity 
in Bible circulation. 

1 Report of the 10th Anniversary of the American Bible Society, 
* Extracts," No. 47, August, 1826. 


It was at this time that the Board of Managers realised 
the wisdom, energy and devotion of the Rev. J. C. Brigham, 
already mentioned as having rendered services to the Bible 
Society in different parts of South America, where with 
Mr. Parvin he was making explorations, for the A. B. C. 
F. M. Mr. Brigham graduated from Andover Theological 
Seminary in 1822. Both in college and in the seminary he 
had taken high honours. He was classmate and intimate 
friend of Rev. Dr. Ruf us Anderson of the American Board, 
and of Rev. Dr. Hallock of the American Tract Society. 
Almost as soon as Mr. Brigham graduated from the semi- 
nary he was sent to South America by the American Board 
on an exploring expedition. The thoroughness of his pro- 
cedure is shown by the fact that his first step was to sit 
down and learn the Spanish language. This once acquired 
he pressed forward the purpose of his mission, journey- 
ing from Buenos Aires through the heart of the continent 
to the Pacific coast in Chile, and returning to the United 
States by way of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Mex- 

Mr. Brigham's correspondence with the Secretaries of the 
Society had so revealed his acquirements that within a 
week after his return to Boston in 1826, he was asked to 
deliver an address at the Society's tenth Annual Meeting. 
In this address he pointecj out the effects of the colonial 
servitude from which the people of South America had suf- 
fered. " Of the means of information/' he said, " they 
were in great measure deprived. Some of the most valu- 
able books, particularly those of mental philosophy and 
political science, were wholly kept from them. The Sacred 
Scriptures were furnished in but small quantities and these 
in the Latin tongue and confined to the clergy. Every 
means which could be was employed by their tyrannical 
masters to continue them in their state of vassalage. . . . 
And what do we behold calculated to interest this noble 
Society? We behold fifteen millions of human beings, be- 
ings professedly Christians, believing in revelation, baptised 
in the name of the Trinity, and yet almost entirely without 
the Bible. By the efforts of this Society and that of Eng- 
land they have, it is true, within a few years received seven 


or eight thousand copies of this Holy Book; but what are 
these among so great a multitude? 

" Throughout the long road from Buenos Aires to Chile 
excepting a very few in Mendoza, not a solitary book of 
God was found and I more than once presented copies to 
aged priests tottering over the grave who told me they had 
never before seen it in their native tongue. Coming down 
the coast of Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Mexico a few copies 
were met with in the large towns on the Pacific and were 
useful; but the great mass of the people are yet destitute 
and generally in the interior they never saw, and in some 
instances told me they never before knew that the Scrip- 
tures existed in their own language. Even in the capital of 
Mexico, a city more populous and in some respects more 
magnificent than this great metropolis (New York), I have 
reason to believe there is not one Bible to two hundred fam- 
ilies; and that the other great cities of that Republic are 
still more destitute." 

Mr. Brigham's address made a profound impression upon 
his hearers. The Board of Managers at that time were 
seeking an Assistant Secretary for the Society. A few 
weeks before this an Assistant Secretary had been chosen, 
Rev. Mr. Crane, missionary to the Tuscarora Indians, who 
died a week after his appointment. To fill this vacancy 
Mr. Brigham seemed to be exactly suited, and in the month 
of July he received and accepted an appointment of As- 
sistant Secretary of the Bible Society ; only stipulating that 
he should not be required to take up his duties until Sep- 

Mr. Brigham remained in service as Secretary of the So- 
ciety thirty-six years, until his death in 1862. In 1828 the 
office of Assistant Secretary was abolished, and Mr. Brig- 
ham was elected Secretary for Domestic Correspondence. 
Five years later when the duties of the Secretary for 
Foreign Correspondence had greatly increased, the distinc- 
tive titles of the Secretaries were suppressed and the four 
Secretaries of the Society were thereafter styled Corre- 
sponding Secretaries. 

When summoned to service in the Bible Society Mr. Brig- 
ham was its youngest officer, being in his thirty-third year. 


At Andover Theological Seminary when he was studying 
there the fire of missionary devotion was at white heat. 
Perhaps the effects of this experience, and certainly a con- 
trolling feature of his character, showed itself in 1828 when 
he declared the salary of fifteen hundred dollars assigned 
to him to be too large for his needs and persuaded the 
Board of Managers to reduce it to twelve hundred. Energy 
and resolute persistence were traits natural to his character 
which had been developed by his experiences as an explorer 
in his thousand mile journey across South America from 
the Atlantic to the Pacific. Moreover, his four years' so- 
journ in the southern continent had given him mastery 
of the Spanish language, knowledge of the needs of the 
people, and personal acquaintance with many Americans and 
others friendly to the Bible cause. The object and the 
policy of the Bible Society toward Latin America would be 
advanced by a man with such qualifications. In fact his 
appearance on the scene at this moment seemed providential. 
His after history, too, made his appointment worthy to be 
listed among the occurrences which seemed to show that 
the very hand of God was leading the Society. 

About this time two gentlemen of rank from Colombia 
visited New York and became interested in the Bible So- 
ciety. Of these two men Don Joaquin Mosquera was an ex- 
president of Colombia, and General F. B. Santander an offi- 
cer of distinction. In 1832 each of these gentlemen ac- 
cepted office as Vice-Presidents of the Bible Society. The 
appearance of their names in the roster of officers of the 
Society foreshadowed the more cosmopolitan character 
which, in the good providence of God, that Society was to 

In those early days suspicion showed itself in the bear- 
ing of the Roman Catholic clergy toward distributors of the 
Bible in Latin America. When the Society in 1820 sent 
its first shipment of Scriptures to Buenos Aires the Secre- 
tary of the British and Foreign Bible Society, after gently 
hinting that steps had already been taken by its committee 
to do what was needed for that continent, gave a cordial 
approval to the fraternal purpose of the American Bible 
Society to assist. At the same time the Secretary remarked 


that no Scriptures could be circulated in Latin America 
except Roman Catholic versions such as that of Father Scio 
in Spanish. This suggestion was sufficient to lead the 
Board to order as early as 1822 a set of plates of the whole 
Bible in Spanish made from the Roman Catholic edition 
of Father Scio. The suspicions of the priests were gener- 
ally dissipated when they found that the people were being 
offered a Roman Catholic version only. This Scio version 
was used by the Society until 1841, when by direction of 
the Board the plates were removed from the printing house, 
after some twenty thousand volumes had been printed. 
The cause of the tragic end of the Society's Scio version 
will appear later in this story. 



Men called of God to work for Him are often driven to 
do what they shrink from doing, and deem contrary to sound 
reason. Jonah is an example often repeated in the history 
of the Church, where a good man hangs back because the 
call of duty seems a crazy impulse to court disaster. By 
way of some such experience as this the men of the Society 
were led to realise that God willed the great advance which 
they now had to make, although it seemed impossible of 
accomplishment. Before long they surrendered themselves 
to God's leading in a new sense, received new vision and a 
new energy, and did wonders. 

At the end of five years the Society had secured about 
three hundred Auxiliary Societies to study destitutions and 
supply them, had received two hundred and -sixteen thou- 
sand dollars for the work, and had issued about one hun- 
dred and forty thousand volumes of Scripture. This was 
progress unexpected; it was a wonderful growth from a 
small seed. But tales of destitution kept pouring in from 
the visible East and the invisible and immeasurable West. 
The theory as to the share of Auxiliary Societies in the work 
was that the initiative in cases of destitution belonged to 
them. They would raise the money, obtain the books and 
take them to the needy in their fields. The national Society 
would print the books, aid where necessary by gratuitous 
supplies of books, and do what it could for regions where 
Auxiliaries had not yet been organised. This theory did not 
justify itself in practice. 

The Board of Managers sent out repeated appeals to the 
Auxiliary Societies asking them diligently to supply the peo- 
ple with, whom they were in touch in their own fields. 
Some of the Societies bent to the work with vigour and 



sturdy perseverance. But discovery of the tremendous 
needs of the country was so startling that it led some of the 
Auxiliary Societies to fall helplessly on the ground, with- 
drawing from the sacred toil. 

In the Western States six years after the Society's or- 
ganisation the most careful estimates showed that at least 
one-third of the population was without either Bibles or 
Testaments. Within twenty years the population would be 
doubled. Where could means be found to supply such a 
population ? The prospect seemed appalling. " Unless 
greater exertions are employed, ,, said the Managers in their 
report, " to give these people the Bible, there must ere long 
exist in our country many millions of civilised human be- 
ings unenlightened by the oracles of God." 

Reports of destitution came to the Board like voices 
warning them of the tremendous responsibility placed upon 
them. The population of the United States was increasing 
at the rate of four hundred thousand persons every year. 
Yet these facts led to more urgent appeals to the Auxili- 
aries, and an increase of the output of books, but to little 
other action. In 1827 the Society, with all its efforts, was 
unable to issue more than seventy-two thousand volumes of 
Scripture. The Board of Managers commanded a printing 
plant on Nassau Street consisting of eleven hand presses. 
With such an equipment what could be done for the evan- 
gelisation of the population grouped along the coast, or 
straggling out westward along a wide network of rivers and 
small streams? 

The Board now allowed the work of the bindery to be 
carried on in their meeting room in the Society's house, and 
so space was made for nine hand presses to be added to the 
/equipment. Finally in 1831 the Society's House on Nassau 
(Street was enlarged to receive eight power presses worked 
I by a steam engine in the basement. Twenty hand presses 
on the floors above completed the plant which was able to 
I send out three hundred thousand volumes a year^ two hun- 
dred persons being employed on the premises. 

Meantime the hour had come for a revolution in the ex- 
isting system. This system made direct action by the na- 
tional Society in the field of an Auxiliary seem interference 


even for the relief of destitution which the Auxiliary was 
too torpid to deal with. The change came about naturally 
enough. It sprang from the vigorous initiative of really 
living local Bible Societies. 

In 1824 the Bible Society in Monroe County, New York, 
adopted the Board's suggestion that Auxiliaries should de- 
termine the exact needs of their fields. It sent agents into 
every school district, who came back with accurate statis- 
tics. Then a public meeting was called in Rochester at- 
tended by Christians of all denominations. The story of 
local destitution was read to this audience and proved ex- 
ceedingly moving. The meeting unanimously agreed that 
every destitute family in the county must be supplied. 
Money was raised; an order for twenty-three hundred 
Bibles and Testaments valued at eleven hundred dollars 
astonished the depository in New York; and the County 
Society supplied every destitute family that would buy or 
accept the Bible. 

In 1827 the Philadelphia Bible Society carried the policy 
a step farther. It decided to supply within three years 
every destitute family in the state of Pennsylvania. This 
was a glorious advance upon former plans for the supply of 
the destitute. Nothing had been done with a specified time 
limit or on so large a scale as the supply undertaken by the 
Philadelphia Society. The supply of Pennsylvania was 
completed in 1830, about forty thousand volumes having 
been distributed among the destitute; three thousand of 
them being in the German language. 

In February, 1829, the Bible Society of Washington 
County, N. Y., sent a formal memorial to New York 
requesting the American Bible Society to undertake " at its 
Thirteenth Anniversary to supply within two years " Scrip- 
tures to every destitute family within the limits of the 
United States. If the national Society would agree to do 
this the Washington County Auxiliary pledged five thou- 
sand dollars as a donation in aid of the undertaking. 

The population of the United States at this time was about 
thirteen million. The number of destitute families through- 
out the country could not very well be estimated ; how the 
destitute could be supplied could not readily be seen, but 


the Board of Managers concurred in the opinion of Rev. 
Dr. Proudfit, President of the Washington County Auxili- 
ary, who wrote : " The question now agitated, for giving 
the Bible to all the destitute of our great and growing na- 
tion is, in my opinion, equal in the importance of its results 
to any that ever has involved or can involve the delibera- 
tions and decisions of the American Bible Society." 1 

Because of three pertinent, persistent and unanswered 
questions the Board of Managers hesitated about assenting 
to this proposal. First, was it possible to provide the neces- 
sary number of Scriptures ? Second, could money to meet 
the expense of this great undertaking be found? Third, 
could agents be set to work in sufficient number to canvass 
the country? A farmer contentedly living on ten acres of 
land might possibly dare to undertake the cultivation of a 
quarter section. But the proposal of the Washington 
County Society implied a far greater increase of activities. 
Men take up great enterprises for God only when they be- 
lieve that if God wishes them to do it He will teach them 
how to find the means. 

Accordingly at the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the 
American Bible Society on the 14th day of May, 1829, 
Secretary Milnor on behalf of the Board of Managers pre- 
sented resolutions which were seconded by Rev. Dr. Lyman 
Beecher and adopted, as follows : 

" I, Resolved, that this Society feel deeply thankful to 
Almighty God, that He has excited in the hearts of so many 
of the conductors of its Auxiliaries the generous determina- 
tion to explore the wants of the destitute within their sev- 
eral regions of operation, and to supply them. 

" II, Resolved, That this Society, with humble reliance 
on Divine aid, will endeavour to supply all the destitute 
families in the United States with the Holy Scriptures, that 
may be willing to purchase or receive them, within the 
space of two years, provided sufficient means be furnished 
by its Auxiliaries and benevolent individuals in season to 
enable its Board of Managers to carry this resolution into 

1 Letters from the Washington County Bible Society, A. B. S. 
Report, 1829, p. 77-7& 

1832] "HERE AM I; SEND ME!" 87 

"III, Resolved, That with the full purpose of accom- 
plishing, by the blessing of God, this most necessary and 
important work, it be earnestly recommended to ministers 
of the gospel and laymen of every denomination, in places 
where no Auxiliary Societies have yet been formed, or 
where they have relaxed their efforts, to take immediate 
measures for carrying into effect the general distribution 
of the Scriptures in their respective neighbourhoods." x 

This action took the American Bible Society out of its 
original position as a sort of clearing house for co-ordinat- 
ing the surplus energies of a body of local Bible Societies. 
If any Auxiliary became inactive the national Society 
would now be answerable for the souls so left to starve. 
Henceforth the supply of the destitute in the United States, 
whether within or without the fields of Auxiliary Societies, 
was a responsibility resting upon the Bible Society. The 
Board immediately shouldered the responsibility. Through 
a committee specially appointed, it appealed to churches, 
individuals and local Bible Societies for help in the great 
undertaking. At this time there were five hundred and 
sixty-eight Bible Societies, of which three hundred and 
seventy-eight were within and one hundred and ninety with- 
out the original thirteen states. All of these Auxiliaries 
were urged to use the thoroughness shown by the Societies 
in Pennsylvania and in counties where a complete supply 
of the destitute had already been completed. The appeal 
was heard with good will; many answered as to a divine 
call, " Here am I ; send me!" 

In North Carolina a Bible Convention was called to meet 
in the Legislative Hall at Raleigh. The Governor of the 
state was in the chair. Many important men addressed the 
meeting with the result that the convention pledged itself 
to supply every destitute family in the state with a copy of 
the Scriptures. Upon hearing of this the Board of Mana- 
gers voted a grant for the state of North Carolina of eight 
thousand Bibles valued at five thousand dollars. Great en- 
thusiasm was shown in other states. The purchases of 
Scriptures by Auxiliaries amounted to one hundred and 

1 See Report of A. B. S., 1829, p. vi. 


forty-seven thousand, five hundred dollars in three years. 
Some of the Bible Societies which had recently supplied the 
destitute in their own fields sent, generally at great self- 
sacrifice, considerable donations of money to the national 
Society. For instance the Philadelphia Bible Society, still 
feeling the stress of its labours in supply of its own state, 
setat to the American Society a donation of $1,000 in 1829 
anld $500 in 1830 in aid of the general supply. Other Soci- 
eties besides the one in Washington County already men- 
tioned N made large pledges of aid. The New Hampshire 
Bible Society pledged $12,000, the Vermont Bible Society 
$10,000, the Connecticut Bible Society $10,000, and so 
forth. During the next three years ( for the work was not 
finished in two), churches and individuals sent special gifts 
designated for the General Supply amounting to $119,000. 
This tangible and hearty support of the undertaking was 
to the Board and its staff like a direct word of approval 
from the Most High. 

During 1830 twenty thousand New Testaments were com- 
mitted to the American Sunday School Union with special 
reference to the supply of Sunday School children. These 
Testaments cost twelve cents apiece and the Board author- 
ised a discount of twenty per cent, where the books were 
paid for as a part of the equipment of a Sunday School 

The activity of the Auxiliary Societies led the Board of 
Managers to take a very optimistic view of the effect of 
the effort to supply every destitute family in the United 
States. It hoped that the effect would be a permanent 
strengthening of all the Auxiliary Societies. 

During the two stated years of this general supply the 
books issued by the Society amounted to 480,766 volumes. 
The work was not completely finished within the two years 
and at the end of the third year further issues amounted to 
115,802 volumes. The people at the Society's house in 
New York were kept very busy printing, binding and send- 
ing out Scriptures; and the volumes which they furnished 
in these years formed a very much greater number than 
they had expected the Society's plant ever to produce. 

One curious result of this effort to supply every destitute 


family in the land was the discovery that in a growing popu- 
lation a general supply must be renewed again and again. 
This means, of course, that there is no such thing as a per- 
manent supply of all willing to use the Bible in such a coun- 
try as the United States. Immigrants arrive from abroad; 
children grow up and form new households; and settlers 
move into newly opened regions with more or less loss of 
books in the process. Like an army on an enemy's soil the 
Bible Society's duty is perpetual vigilance, and its work is 
never done. 

It is always an interesting question whether simple Bible 
distribution produces results among the people justifying 
the labour and the expense. The country gains by such 
efforts because, as in this case, a great number of persons 
are brought under the influence of the Word of God who 
had not paid attention to it before. This general supply 
added to the number of copies of the Scriptures in exist- 
ence several hundreds of thousands. By the distribution 
of these precious volumes among the people in different 
parts of the country the lamp of life was lighted in innu- 
merable huts and houses along our northern and western 
and southern frontiers- — houses which before this time had 
been without a wax taper to show the way out from moral 
darkness. Numbers who wished the Bible but knew not 
where to get one were discovered ; in this case the General 
Supply brought cheer to many a weary pilgrim in his jour- 
ney through the world. These results for the benefit of 
the country at large were not limited to regions near the 
centres of American civilisation. Great numbers of Bibles 
were sent to parts of the country where no Auxiliary had 
ever been formed and to settlements of which the Society 
had never before heard. 

It is sometimes said by those who are asked to contribute 
to Bible dissemination that " all who wish for the Bible 
can readily obtain one without the officious mediation of 
Bible Societies." One of the great facts of Bible distribu- 
tion is that multitudes of people who have never read the 
Bible and who have no wish for it are every year persuaded 
by the colporteurs of Bible Societies to read the Book and 
so are led little by little to yield to its influence for good. 


This fact disposes of that objection which commonly arises 
from lack of knowledge and from the wish to excuse re- 
fusal of contributions. An incident of this General Sup- 
ply in the state of Kentucky is a further illustration. The 
Bible Agent called at a house where the head of a family 
said that during the larger part of the last fourteen years 
he had been a member of the church, but he had never had 
a Bible in his house. His wife and even his children had 
often begged him when he went to town to bring back a 
Bible, but whenever he reached the town he found other 
uses for his money. He said that during all of this time 
had a Bible been offered to him at his house he would have 
bought it gladly, but that he would not ever have possessed 
a Bible had it not been brought to his house by an agent of 
the Bible Society. 

Numbers of incidents coming to light during the two 
years of this supply show how this wonderful book changes 
the atmosphere of a home and a village where it is read. 
One old man in Maryland was apparently past hope of re- 
form even though his allotted years had nearly come to an 
end. He was a bad man and a hard drinker. A Bible 
Agent offered him the Bible and urged him to take it and 
read it. Passing that way the next year he found this same 
man sober and leading an orderly life, happy because he 
had taken up the reading of the Bible. The influence of 
the work spreads slowly from neighbour to neighbour and 
from house to house. One of the local Bible Societies 
tells joyfully of a case where their agent had persuaded a 
woman that she needed to read the Bible. She read it and 
saw that she ought to lead a higher and nobler life. She 
cast in her lot with the church, and little by little through 
her influence her husband, a dissipated and worthless man, 
had his eyes opened and he also came into connection with 
the church. Because the Bible makes a silent but power- 
ful appeal to conscience, men and women in many a town 
and village who have been corrupters of society have been 
changed into supporters of all good ; their influence becom- 
ing an uplift in the whole neighbourhood. Such facts 
brought to light during this first general supply are not 


surprising, for Bible lovers know that such improvement of 
the race is what the Bible is for. But they confirm faith, 
and so prepare the servants of God for doing "greater 
things than these." 



Underlying all the activities of Bible Societies one sin- 
cere desire is the force which controls. This is the earnest 
wish to awaken men through the Bible to realisation of 
their utter dependence upon God. As we look back over 
the sixteen years of the Society's story, from 1816 to 1832, 
it becomes clear that this controlling wish gave life to the 
Auxiliaries, called out money for support of the work, took 
away from losses or changes among members of the staff 
any irreparable quality, and gave to the whole organisation 
a clearer view of its responsibilities both toward the supply 
of the people and toward the Book which was being sent 

At the end of the period of which the story has occupied 
) us thus far, the band of eighty-four Auxiliary Societies in 
1816 had become in 1832 a host of over seven hundred. In 
the general supply of the destitute in the United States, 
and in the decision to take up work abroad these Auxiliaries 
took an immense interest. Without their aid the American 
Bible Society could not have found its feet, could not have 
hopefully begun its great work, and could not have aroused 
the country to the need of a General Supply. The reports 
and other publications of Auxiliary Societies instructed as 
well as informed the people, even in so obvious and simple 
a truth as that subscribing to a Bible Society is virtually a 
new undertaking; an undertaking to labour in our Lord's 
vineyard. 1 

In New York City there were in 1832 three Auxiliary 
Bible Societies : the New York Female Bible Society formed 

1 See Seventh Report of the Virginia Bible Society, quoted in 
American Bible Society's Report, 1820, p. 105. 



in 1816, the New York Marine Bible Society formed in 
1817, and the Young Men's New York Bible Society formed 
in 1823. The New York Female Bible Society has, at the 
time of this writing, been active in its chosen field for al- 
most 100 years. During its first sixteen years and within 
the period over which we may now look back it made dona- 
tions in money to the American Bible Society amounting to 
about six thousand dollars. The New York Marine Bible 
Society was active in providing with Scriptures the sailors 
on ships in the harbour. During this early part of its serv- 
ice one tour of its Secretary along the coast eastward from 
New York to Maine resulted in the formation of twenty- 
three Marine Bible Societies at the various centres of ship- 
ping, in order that a friendly hand might be extended to 
the sailors frequenting these ports. 

As we have already mentioned, the New York Bible 
Society founded in 1809 was practically merged in the 
American Bible Society in 1816. Four of its officers and 
ten of its Managers were called to the direction of the new 
Society. The New York Bible Society continued a formal 
existence as an Auxiliary until November, 1819. Then it 
coalesced with the Auxiliary New York Bible Society 
founded in 1813 and formed a new Society which asked 
and received from the American Bible Society in 1820 
recognition as an Auxiliary under the name New York 
Bible Society. In September, 1823, this (second) New 
York Bible Society recognised as Auxiliary to itself a new 
Society formed of ardent young men under thirty years of 
age and called the Young Men's New York Bible Society. 
In 1827 the various ward Bible Societies which had been 
planted by the second New York Bible Society were all 
that remained of that institution, and in the spring of 1828 
the Young Men's New York Bible Society having stated 
to the American Bible Society that it wished to become 
Auxiliary to it because of the dissolution of its parent Soci- 
ety, the Managers of the American Bible Society granted 
the privileges of an Auxiliary to the Young Men's Society 
(together with an outfit of two hundred Bibles and five 
hundred Testaments) until it could formally change its 
relations. In March, 1829, the constitution of the Young 


Men's Society was formally modified to meet the Auxiliary 
requirements and this new member was received into the 
family of Auxiliaries of the American Bible Society. The 
Young Men's Bible Society was keenly interested in all 
city work. In 1831 the New York Marine Bible Society 
was absorbed by the Young Men's Society, which divided 
with the American Bible Society the considerable liabilities 
of the Marine Society. 

The Young Men's Society now entered enthusiastically 
upon work in the city and harbour, with liberal aid in the 
form of grants of books from the American Bible Society. 
In 1839, having modified its constitution to remove the age 
limit of its members, it struck the words " Young Men's " 
from its name and so became the New York Bible Society, 
being the third Society of that name. It is still active in 
work for its old field in the Borough of Manhattan and 
what is now the Bronx ; it has a worthy history ; and many 
of its members have rendered invaluable services as Mana- 
gers and officers to the American Bible Society. The only 
other Auxiliary now (1915) labouring in that field is the 
New York Female Bible Society, one of that small group 
of strong and active Societies whose Auxiliary connection 
dates from the very first year of the American Bible Soci- 

The total of the donations from Auxiliary Bible Soci- 
eties to the Treasury of the American Bible Society during 
sixteen years, up to 1832, was $226,192. There were seven 
hundred and ten Bible Societies on the list of Auxiliaries 
at this time but three hundred and sixty-eight Societies 
only were givers ; three hundred and thirty-two Societies not 
yet having acquired that grace. These contributions from 
Auxiliaries constituted about twenty-two per cent, of the 
whole receipts of the American Bible Society during the 
sixteen years. The total receipts, of course, included the 
proceeds of sales of books and amounted to $1,031,261. It 
is a matter of curious interest that only nine Societies in 
the whole Auxiliary list each contributed, during the six- 
teen years an aggregate of five thousand dollars or more 
in donations for the work of the national Society. Eight 


of these were organised before the American Bible Society, 
and the ninth was the New York Female Bible Society 
which came into existence in 1816. 

Much anxiety was felt by the Board of Managers because 
many Auxiliary Societies did not immediately answer the 
expectations formed in the minds of the Managers. From 
the first implicit confidence was felt in their honour, and 
whenever an accident or & shipwreck was reported by one 
of them as having caused the loss of books, the national 
Society like a kind parent made good their loss. The Board 
of Managers in their report of 1828 testified that while 
credit for books purchased had been given on request to 
Auxiliary Societies in every part of the Union without fur- 
ther security than that which springs from religious prin- 
ciple, scarcely a dollar had ever been lost to the Treasury. 
The Societies paid their debts sooner or later without legal 
obligation. This fact is a commentary on the principles of 
the Book which the Societies circulate. 

It is right to make sure that the obstacles encountered 
by these local Bible Societies are recognised. The Aux- 
iliary Bible Societies in some of the Western states had a 
path to travel which was strewn with rocks and thorns 
compared with that of workers in the older parts of the 
country. An agent in Missouri, explaining in December, 
1832, the long delays in finishing the General Supply of 
the destitute, pointed out that Missouri was divided into 
thirty-three counties; some of which were equal in area to 
the whole state of Connecticut, the most of the counties 
being larger than Rhode Island. For an agent to visit 
every county would require of him about two thousand 
miles of travel; but to watch over the men visiting single 
houses in all this area of sixty-three thousand square miles, 
the agent must face a task beyond the ability of any human 

Besides these natural difficulties besetting many of the 
Auxiliary Societies there were other causes of weakness 
among them. Some finding it difficult to remit funds to 
New York, hoarded them instead of sending in their sur- 
plus ; some invested such funds with the idea of increasing 


their donation, but through errors of judgment or the un- 
settled state of the finances of the country, they lost the 
whole amount. 

The financial condition of some of the states is illustrated 
by the circumstance that Auxiliaries from one district west 
of the Mississippi wrote to the Board inquiring whether it 
would receive shipments of corn and wheat in lieu of money ; 
it being difficult to get drafts on New York. 

Travelling Agents rendered effective aid to Auxiliaries 
during the special effort to supply the destitute in the 
United States ; and later, in view of the growing Bible work 
abroad, did good service in focussing the enthusiasm of the 
people upon the duty of giving money for the Bible Cause. 
The members of the Board were cheered by receiving con- 
tributions like that from a minister in New York State, the 
Rev. L. H. Halsey, who sent a little more than seventeen 
dollars as a collection taken among the people on the 
Fourth of July ; he thinking that such a contribution to the 
American Bible Society would be the most sure application 
of patriotism. The Agents reported many similar illustra- 
tions of a widespread popular feeling. A little girl in Vir- 
ginia proposed to eat no butter for a month so that she 
might get the twenty-five cents necessary to make her an 
annual member of a Female Bible Society. One of the 
Agents was speaking on the needs of the world in one of 
the upper counties in Virginia when a poor woman in the 
audience whispered to her husband : " I have fifty cents 
saved to buy coffee with; it is hid in the blue pitcher on 
the shelf in the cupboard. Go home and get it, and make 
haste back lest the good man be gone. I will do without 
coffee a little while longer until these people get the Gospel 
among them." Rev. Dr. Plummer of Virginia in telling 
this story, pointed out a great truth. " The treasury of 
the Lord," he said, " is the hearts of his people. Get them 
rightly affected and to a good object they will give all, if 
necessary." With such a spirit abroad in many parts of 
the country it is not surprising that the receipts of the 
Bible Society during the years 1829 to 1832 when the Gen- 
eral Supply was in progress, amounted to more than three 


hundred and sixty thousand dollars; the average of the 
annual receipts being more than double those in any year 
previous to 1827. 

It was during these years that the Society was gradually 
increasing its somewhat haphazard shipments of Scriptures 
abroad. Besides grants of Bibles for South America and 
the Islands of the West Indies including Porto Rico, some- 
thing was done for Indians in Canada and in Surinam ; and 
one package of Spanish Scriptures was sent to the Philip- 
pine Islands by a gentleman engaged in the South Ameri- 
can trade who was going to that almost unknown part of 
the world. The languages of the books which the Society 
printed or otherwise provided for labourers among aliens 
at home or abroad in the first sixteen years of its effort 
numbered twenty. 

When the Emperor of Russia dies the sad event is no 
sooner certain than the crowds in the streets may be heard 
shouting " Long Live the Emperor ! " with every manifes- 
tation of joy. The feeling of the populace is not neces- 
sarily careless as to the death of the Emperor. It is merely 
signifying in its own way the fact that the empire is not 
dead, but is strong and capable as ever. Something of the 
same conditions obtain in a Society that outlives the genera- 
tion in which it is formed. President Boudinot, President 
John Jay had passed away, and now in July, 1831, President 
Richard Varick reached the end of his allotted years. His 
career had been useful as well as picturesque. In the early 
years of his life he had thrown his soul into his duties as 
a soldier. After serving with credit throughout the Revo- 
lutionary War, he became a most energetic Attorney Gen- 
eral of New York State and in 1787 he was elected Mayor 
of New York City. Later he became prominent in a num- 
ber of works of benevolence. During the time of his con- 
nection with the American Bible Society he was one of the 
parishioners of Rev. Dr. J. B. Romeyn, and he served the 
Society as Treasurer, Vice-President, and then for four 
years as President. 

In December of the same year the Hon. John Cotton 
Smith of Sharon, Connecticut, a Vice-President of the 


Society, was elected President. Mr. Smith's father during 
fifty years was pastor of the Congregational Church at 
Sharon; and he himself had served his state as member of 
the Legislature, Judge of the Supreme Court, Lieutenant 
Governor, and Governor. He was the first President of 
the Connecticut Bible Society, and was President of the A. 
B. C. F. M. for several years while serving the American 
Bible Society in the same capacity. 

In looking over the list of changes in the staff of the 
Society during its first sixteen years one is surprised at 
their number. In 1825 the Hon. John Quincy Adams, a 
Vice-President of the Society, became President of the 
United States. This did not diminish his interest in the 
Society which was shown in the letter accepting office as 
Vice-President in 1817, when he was Secretary of State. 
He then wrote : " In accepting the appointment I am duly 
sensible to the honour conferred upon me by this invita- 
tion to join the assembly of those whose voices in unison 
with the heavenly host at the birth of the Saviour, proclaim 
good tidings of great joy to all people." While President 
of the United States his duties in Washington prevented 
his attending the Annual Meetings of the Society, but he 
was careful to write his regrets with his own hand, and a 
number of these interesting autographs are among the 
archives of the Society to-day. 

In 1827 Vice-Presidents Thomas Worthington of Ohio, 
William Tilghman, Chief Justice of the state of Pennsyl- 
vania, William Phillips, a well-known educational philan- 
thropist and a warm friend and supporter of the American 
Bible Society from the very first day of its existence, 
passed away. In 1828 Governor Dewitt Clinton died. 
Governor Clinton as Vice-President of the Society was a 
familiar figure in the Board room and in the Annual Meet- 
ings, as while Governor of the State he frequently came to 
New York to preside at these meetings. On the front of 
the Chamber of Commerce in New York one may see Gov- 
ernor Clinton's statue, with Alexander Hamilton on his 
right, and on his left John Jay, the second President of the 
Bible Society, whose love for the Bible was the key to his 
successful public life. In 1829 Vice-President Bushrod 


Washington of Virginia, a nephew of General George Wash- 
ington, a soldier of the Revolution, and a Justice of the 
Supreme Court of the United States, came to the end of 
his life. The same year General Matthew Clarkson passed 
away, profoundly respected for good works wherever he 
was known, and most faithful to his duties as Vice-Presi- 
dent of the Bible Society by presiding at almost all of the 
Board meetings up to the time of his death. In 1830 Vice- 
President Andrew Kirkpatrick of New Jersey died, and in 
1832 Colonel Robert Troup of New York finished his long 
and useful life. The vacancies caused by death among the 
Vice-Presidents were filled by the choice of W. W. Wool- 
sey, for eight years Treasurer of the Society; of John 
Pintard, the sturdy Huguenot who was the Society's first 
Recording Secretary ; and worthily to fill the place of Bush- 
rod Washington, the Honourable John Marshall, Chief Jus- 
tice of the United States, who was removed by death in 


Two of the Managers passed away during this period. 
Mr. Divie Bethune died in 1824 full of good works and 
remembered by all charitable institutions in the city; and 
Dr. John Watts, who died in 1830. The Recording Secre- 
tary, John Pintard, resigned in 1832 and was succeeded by 
Mr. R. F. Winslow. In 1825 the Rev. S. S. Woodhull re- 
signed his office as Secretary for Domestic Correspondence 
on the 7th of April. On the same day he was re-elected 
with two others, the Rev. Thomas McAuley, D.D., LL.D., 
Professor of Mathematics in Union College, a man of 
varied scholarship and an eloquent preacher, together with 
Rev. Chas. Sommers, preacher of the South Baptist Church 
in New York City ; the understanding being that they might 
work collectively or separately in different departments of 
the work. It is well enough, perhaps, to repeat the cir- 
cumstance that the Secretaries were men occupied by their 
own professional duties who received no remuneration 
from the American Bible Society. The Treasurer of the 
Society, W. W. Woolsey, after eight years of faithful 
service for which he received no remuneration, resigned 
in 1827. Mr. Woolsey was elected a Vice-President of the 
Society. Mr. John Adams, a member of the Board of 


Managers, was elected Treasurer, but resigned on finding 
the work too heavy. Mr. Garrat N. Bleecker, also a mem- 
ber of the Board of Managers, was then chosen to be 
Treasurer with a salary of one thousand dollars a year; 
but he too found the work too engrossing and resigned after 
three months, being followed in this office by Mr. Hubert 
Van Wagenen, also a member of the Board of Managers. 

In the latter half of this period the Board of Managers 
had to meet the question of issuing Bibles containing the 
Apocrypha. Quite early in the history of the British and 
Foreign Bible Society the Societies which it had promoted 
in various parts of Europe and aided by grants in money, 
printed Bibles in various languages which contained the 
books of the Apocrypha either grouped together at the end 
of the canonical books, or scattered among those books as 
in the Septuagint. When Scriptures printed in England 
were sent to the Societies on the continent, they met strong 
objections because they did not contain the books of the 
Apocrypha. As early as 181 2 these objections were made 
in louder tones because the British and Foreign Bible Soci- 
ety asked the European Societies to omit the Apocrypha in 
printing Scriptures with the money of the British Society. 
Protests arose and finally the British Society decided that 
it would not object to the use of the Apocrypha provided 
the expense of printing it was not paid by the grants from 
England. This satisfied the Continental Societies since they 
could get the Scriptures from England in sheets and bind 
them with the Apocrypha printed elsewhere. Upon this a 
storm arose among the people at home which was not easily 
quieted. In 1827 the British and Foreign Bible Society 
decided not to grant Scriptures in sheets and unbound, and 
later, in accordance with the wish of the majority in Great 
Britain, it made drastic rules to the effect that its money 
must never be used in any way to circulate Scriptures with 
the Apocrypha. The Scottish Auxiliary Societies consid- 
ered this action as proof that the Committee of the Brit- 
ish and Foreign Bible Society up to this time had not acted 
sincerely and demanded that all members of the Committee 
be removed from office to make way for more trustworthy 
men. Very naturally, this demand was not granted and 


nearly all the Scottish Auxiliaries withdrew from the sup- 
port of the British and Foreign Bible Society and later 
formed the Scottish National Bible Society. 

It was impossible that so much heat could be generated 
by this discussion in England without warming feelings in 
America. To make a long story short, in 1827 the Board 
of Managers voted that thereafter no books containing the 
Apocrypha might be sent out from the depository of the 
Society. It was the presence of the Apocrypha in the 
Bibles circulated in South America (in the version of 
Father Scio) that gave those Bibles free circulation among 
the very suspicious Roman Catholic clergy. Under the 
vote of the Board respecting the Apocrypha the plates con- 
taining the Apocrypha were removed from the Society's 
set and all editions ^of the Scio version printed after this 
edict were without the Apocrypha. This caused, for some 
little time, an interruption of sales in Latin America; but 
since the books contained the canonical books according to 
the Scio version, the Bibles of the Society were not entirely 
proscribed, while the Testaments were circulated as usual. 



An incident of the year 1823 was the arrival at the Bible 
House in New York of a copy of the Holy Bible in Chinese 
translated by Rev. Dr. Morrison of the London Missionary 
Society, assisted by Rev. Dr. Milne. This book, a dona- 
tion to the Biblical Library, was a sort of revelation to the 
warm-hearted lovers of the Bible who directed the affairs 
of the American Bible Society. The Holy Bible actually 
translated and printed in the language of the vast, hostile, 
self-complacent Chinese Empire seemed a modern miracle 
and a concrete illustration of the gift of tongues. Looking 
at that book one would call to mind its character as a mis- 
sionary's enterprise; the tremendous labour involved; the 
long, intense study; the struggles to overcome prejudice on 
the part of helpers; the great learning which enabled the 
translator to use the Hebrew and Greek originals for a 
text ; the utter forgetf ulness of self ; the sturdy determina- 
tion and faith which persisted through all those years of 
the translation work. This was indeed an illustration of 
devotion to the Saviour, wherein the servant gives himself 
up hoping that something of his work may help to com- 
plete that which his Master began upon earth. The sight 
of this book representing for the Chinese a new era, and 
for the Christian church an evidence that the martyr spirit 
yet exists, must have had influence in impelling the men 
of the Bible House to meditate upon what great things for 
God they could undertake. 

Even while the great effort to supply all the destitute in 
the United States was in progress, the Bible Society looked 
abroad. Missionaries of the American Board in Ceylon 
and in the Sandwich Islands had asked and received grants 
in aid of printing and distributing the Scriptures, in the 



one case in Tamil, and in the other in Hawaiian. Because 
Americans residing in Paris asked support for the Protes- 
tant Bible Society of Paris, through them the Board had 
made grants for France. 

In 1827 the various influences inclining the Board to ex- 
tend its effort to foreign lands as suggested by the Second 
Article of the Constitution acquired force. From India 
came a little suggestion which penetrated even careless minds 
and bore fruit. It was the simple question, ought not the 
American Bible Society to supply Bibles needed by Amer- 
ican Missions? The question answered itself. The need 
of Bibles in American Missions abroad, other things being 
equal, can best be supplied with Scriptures from the home 
source. In the case of translations, rules of interpretation 
should control which are usual with the missionaries who 
are to distribute the books. In so small things as printing 
and binding, questions of taste can best be decided by canons 
common to all educated Americans. 

The Bible is as essential to the missionary as education 
or as clothing. Parents do not let their children beg for 
food or clothes even from respected and beloved neighbours. 
When rightly viewed the missionary's need of the Bible is 
the need of the churches who support him. American en- 
terprises in the service of God should be sustained in all 
of their departments by American benevolence. Culture in 
giving for God's sake comes to naught if other nations are 
called upon to pay any serious part of the cost of the mis- 
sions which our churches claim as their own. It became 
quite clear, in an instant as it were, that American churches 
have as their privilege and their birthright the supply of 
their missions by the American Bible Society; not for its 
sake, but for their own. 

This little suggestion from India was put into the minds 
of the Secretaries in New York by learning that American 
missionaries among the Mahrattas near Bombay had ap- 
plied to the British and Foreign Bible Society for aid in 
printing the Scriptures which they had translated for their 
own mission work. About the same time the Greeks were 
attracting attention by their determined struggle for inde- 
pendence. In 1827 their independence had been secured by 

104 "GO IN THIS THY MIGHT" [1821- 

the coalition of European Powers which annihilated the 
Turkish fleet at Navarino. Rev. Jonas King, a missionary 
of the American Board in Syria, immediately went to 
Greece to see what could be done in the way of Christian 
comfort for the Grecian warriors. It was not long before 
he was appealing for modern Greek Testaments to dis- 
tribute, for the common people cannot understand the an- 
cient tongue. The Board granted him $500, and in 1828 
$1,000 more to buy Testaments in Modern Greek from the 
British and Foreign Bible Society; and thus the Board ad- 
vanced in the direction of adopting the rule to supply Amer- 
ican Missions with the Scriptures which they needed. In 
1830 the Rev. Dr. Rufus Anderson of the American Board, 
writing on the need of a better version of the New Testa- 
ment in Modern Greek which he wished that the American 
Bible Society would prepare, said to Secretary Brigham: 
" My dear brother, this is a work worthy of your Society 
and I feel extremely anxious that your Society should do it. 
It will bring blessings upon us from many ready to perish 
in that country. Let us have a memorial in Greece ! " * 

About the same time one of the American missionaries 
in Ceylon speaking about the need of more Tamil Scrip- 
tures than they could get, wrote to the Secretaries in New 
York : " The people are within the limits of the grant made 
by the King of Zion and as a channel of communication be- 
tween them and you is widely open they are become your 
neighbours. Living waters from your Society may .flow in 
a direct course to this distant land and here by the mission- 
aries upon the spot those waters will, permit me to assure 
you, be guided to the very plants which we believe are des- 
tined to become trees of righteousness." 2 

We have already spoken of the decision of the Board to 
send an Agent to South America. This action did not com- 
mit the Society to a definite commencement of work in for- 
eign lands. Latin America was barely beyond the home 
limits ; a field for which responsibility could not be denied. 
Moreover, the habit of adopting policies approved by the 
British and Foreign Bible Society doubtless weighed for 

1 Report of the American Bible Society, 1830, p. 73. 

2 Report of the American Bible Society, 1828, p. 55. 


something in the decision to send a man to South America 
just as that Society had done. But the decision was an- 
other step in the direction of a recognised policy of foreign 
work for the Society. The new path diverged only a little 
from the one already trodden, although when followed it 
led far afield. 

Another force which influenced the American Bible So- 
ciety at this time, curiously enough, sprang from the en- 
thusiasm aroused by the General Supply at home. There 
was in the hearts of Christians a deep yearning to see the in- 
fluence of the Bible widely felt to the glory of God. When 
the plan to supply all the destitute in the United States was 
successfully carried through, it was a revelation of possi- 
bilities to all warm-hearted Christians. Like any discovery 
in physical science, once made known it led many persons to 
make new applications of the principle. People now thought 
of Bible work abroad as something which might be under- 
taken; therefore it must be done. 

In July, 1 83 1, the Rev. Josiah Brewer, missionary of the 
American Board at Smyrna, Turkey (father of the late 
Justice D. J. Brewer of the United States Supreme Court, 
a Vice-President of the Society), wrote a letter from the 
island of Patmos in which he said : that here where St. John 
saw the visions of the Apocalypse the thought had come into 
his mind, since the work of supplying every family in the 
United States was so nearly accomplished " foreign parts 
may justly claim a larger share of the attention of the Soci- 
ety. Why should you not then, as the next great work, 
undertake to furnish with a copy of the word of God every 
family dwelling where were the churches mentioned in the 
New Testament and those especially to whom its holy Epis- 
tles were addressed ? " 

Mr. Brewer saw the difficulties in the way of such a 
scheme but leaving out of account the Muslims, the Jews, 
the bigoted and the illiterate, there would still remain some 
tens of thousands who have succeeded to the soil, the sky, 
and the oppressions which belonged to the first Christians, 
while they have a very imperfect knowledge of the divine 
guidance which the early Christians enjoyed. 

Great interest was always aroused among the people in 

106 " GO IN THIS THY MIGHT " [1821- 

the United States by reference to missionary work in pagan 
lands. One agent wrote : " The topic of sending Bibles to 
the heathen almost invariably arrests the attention of the 
audience and creates a deathlike silence in the building/' 
Something of this effect was the result of the publication of 
Mr. Brewer's suggestion. Like a cry from those ancient 
churches it stirred the hearts and touched the consciences 
of the people. In planning for benevolent work Christians 
throughout the land would find a sacred joy in reaching out 
their arms afar to embrace destitute nations. 

A little later the missionaries of the American Board in 
the Sandwich Islands needed for printing on their own press 
an edition of twenty thousand Hawaiian New Testaments 
about five thousand dollars. The mission in Ceylon needed 
about five thousand dollars to bring out a new edition of 
the Tamil Bible. The missionaries among the Mahrattas 
in the region of Bombay, India, needed a new edition of the 
Marathi Bible that would cost about five thousand dollars; 
the first edition having been printed at the expense of the 
British and Foreign Bible Society. About the same time 
the Rev. E. C. Bridgman, missionary of the American Board 
at Canton, China, wrote to Dr. Milnor urging help from the 
American Bible Society for printing the Bible for China, 
whose enormous population comprises about one-third part 
of the human race. " Probably," he said, " no one enterprise 
of equal extent and importance can ever engage the attention 
of the American or any other Bible Society." * Then a 
letter from Russia showed that Bible circulation in the great 
empire promised great results. At the same time mission- 
aries among the American Indians (then still classed as for- 
eign nations), begged for the publication of Scriptures in 
the Ojibwa and Mohawk languages. 

These appeals placed the Board of Managers in a some- 
what serious dilemma. The Society was in debt and that 
debt must be extinguished by economy and, if possible, by 
an increase of income. General Supply of the destitute 
families in the United States was not yet finished. In Ala- 
bama and Missouri, and the territories of Arkansas and 

1 Report of the American Bible Society, 1832, p. 58. 


Florida less than half of the destitute had yet been reached. 
Moreover the promise must be fulfilled to supply Sunday 
School children with Bibles or Testaments; in itself no 
small undertaking. 

The first of the items just named seemed to bar progress. 
That is to say, the Society being in debt could not spend 
money upon new enterprises until the debt was paid off. 
These calls for help from the ends of the earth would move 
hearts of stone, but the common sense of business men pro- 
tested against appropriation of money while people had de- 
liberately left the Treasury empty. There were those whose 
missionary zeal thought that to refuse these appeals showed 
lack of faith. If some urged the danger of beginning a new 
enterprise without visible means of completing it, others 
insisted on the danger of weak faith. The situation of the 
Board of Managers so far as means were concerned was 
something like that of the officers of a steamer whose coal 
bunkers have been emptied and swept out when five hun- 
dred miles from the shore. 

The Board was, in fact, beginning to feel the burden 
which continually hampers Managers of every missionary 
enterprise. Mr. Brigham, the youngest of the Secretaries, 
had been a missionary of the American Board. Naturally 
his sympathies were closely connected with the needs of 
that Society. Moreover, having travelled among people 
abroad who knew nothing of the Bible, he knew both the 
grievous quality of their needs and the precious fruits of 
Bible distribution among them. Nevertheless, with all his 
faith and his enthusiasm he, too, felt restricted by inability 
to see the way out of a maze. Yet, in the words of Rev. 
G. W. Bethune of Albany at this time, " The bread of the 
soul ought to be as common as the bread of the body." 

To the Bible Society, in short, its sixteenth year was a 
year of crisis. It had already distributed Scriptures in 
foreign lands; in 1831, however, duty to aliens presented 
itself to the Board and to the friends of the Bible in Amer- 
ica with an appeal to conscience as irresistible as that which 
the vision on the Jaffa housetop left with St. Peter. The 
Managers in their report say, " The voice of Providence is 
now speaking on this subject in a manner so striking and 

108 "GO IN THIS THY MIGHT" [1821- 

distinct that few can but hear and regard it. The Society 
seems to have reached an interesting crisis; a point from 
which its charities must take a wider range and flow in a 
deeper and broader stream." * 

The difficulties of the Managers did not arise from any 
attempt to carry on a work too large for the country to 
bear. They were like men among flinty rocks containing 
nuggets of gold, who have no hammer that can break the 
rocks. There is a certain advantage in such experiences. 
By means of such difficulties Christian workers are held 
back from the folly of self-confidence. Enthusiastic mis- 
sionaries may often feel that self-sacrificing energy is the 
principal thing ; but our Lord places prayer before this when 
He exhorts men to pray and not to faint. It is true that 
Christian workers must take risks, and perhaps their Mas- 
ter expects them to encounter the risk of failure in order 
that they may be led more constantly to remember their 
dependence upon Him. However this may be, through 
such experiences of inability on account of lack of means 
to do what ought to be done men learn the axiom that in 
work ordained of God no check can be a permanent check. 

Little by little light came to the perplexed Board of Man- 
agers. In the very beginning of 1831 the Massachusetts 
Auxiliary sent a donation of five hundred dollars to the 
Treasury, signified its approval of any efforts which the 
Society might take to raise money within the field of the 
Massachusetts Society ; and more than this, deposited $5,000 
in the Treasury as a loan, the interest on which should be 
five per cent., payable in books. After Mr. Brewer's pro- 
posal from the island of Patmos had time to become known 
and be thoroughly grasped, the New Jersey Bible Society, 
by an entirely undesigned coincidence which fitted in very 
happily with the wishes of the Board, wrote to say that it 
had decided to raise in New Jersey during the year $5,000 
for printing the New Testament in Hawaii. Toward the 
end of the year the Philadelphia Bible Society (not Aux- 
iliary) announced a decision to raise $10,000 for print- 
ing Bibles in foreign lands ; either in the Sandwich Islands 

1 Annual Report, 1832, p. 34. 


or in any other needy region which its Board of Man- 
agers might select. A little later the Washington County, 
N. Y., Bible Society pledged to the American Bible So- 
ciety $1,000 for foreign work. These good people, with- 
out consultation, all seemed to be moved by the sentiment 
expressed by Robert Denniston of the Orange County, 
N. Y., Auxiliary, when he said : " Because of the silent 
but incalculable control of the Bible over public opinion, all 
American citizens should support the American Bible So- 
ciety." x 

And so it came to pass that when a committee of which 
Dr. Milnor was chairman reported upon the general situa- 
tion, it called attention to these facts: that the supply of 
Scriptures for foreign lands was no new thing — the Soci- 
ety had expended during fifteen years $23,133 for this pur- 
pose ; that the General Supply at home would probably make 
no further great demands upon the Treasury ; while the in- 
terest in foreign missions was sufficient to ensure liberal 
contribution^ for work abroad. The Board thereupon 
adopted resolutions to the effect that, relying upon Divine 
favour and upon the good-will of Auxiliaries and friends 
of the Society to furnish adequate means, it would en- 
deavour during the next year to send $15,000 to the Missions 
of the American Board in Bombay, Ceylon and Sandwich 
Islands; that it would print as soon as possible for use in 
Greece twenty thousand Testaments in Modern Greek ; and 
that, within the year, it would appropriate and pay to the 
Baptist Missionary Convention $5,000 toward printing Dr. 
Judson's version of the Bible in Burmese. 

Following this brave utterance the Society, at its six- 
teenth Anniversary, May 10th, 1832, formally declared that 
" it is the imperious duty of those connected with this So- 
ciety and its Auxiliaries to furnish liberal contributions for 
the purpose of promoting Bible distribution abroad as Di- 
vine Providence opens the way." 

This momentous decision would not bear fruit which 
many of those who united in it could live to see, but their 
faith was sound that through this action deliverance would 

1 Monthly Extracts, July, 1832. 

no "GO IN THIS THY MIGHT" [1821-1832 

gladden thousands now hopelessly enslaved by the powers 
of evil. Like Gideon when trusting God he led his little 
band against the hosts of Midian, the Society had heard the 
voice of God saying, as it waited on Him, " Go in this thy 

THIRD PERIOD 1832-1841 


During the year 1832 the Board was surprised and de- 
lighted to find that the debt of $22,000 with which it com- 
menced the year was gradually being paid off. It received 
$4,190 from legacies, and $41,800 in donations for the gen- 
eral work or for special enterprises abroad. 

One of the donations is worthy of special notice. It was 
a contribution of four hundred and fifty dollars from a 
Protestant Episcopal clergyman of Yonkers, New York, 
who during four years had given to the American Bible 
Society one thousand and twenty dollars. These generous 
gifts were taken from a benevolent fund for which the donor 
had set apart one-tenth of his salary and portions of any 
fees which he received for various services ; the incident il- 
lustrating a fact which our people sometimes forget, namely, 
that by setting apart a fixed proportion of their income at 
the time when it is received, they offer their Lord regularly 
the worship which they owe. Then the decision as to ap- 
portioning their gifts of benevolence, having relation to a 
fund that is already the Lord's is made without pain or an- 
xiety. The Board of Managers, as a token of unfeigned 
respect for this generous donor, constituted him a Director 
for Life of the American Bible Society. 

The home usages of the people of the United States were 
still very simple at this time in matters of dress, food and 
amusements ; in fact, the home life of professing Christians 
very largely centred about the Church and its interests. 
The decision to take up work abroad in a serious manner 
appealed directly to the eagerness of the Christian people 
for the advance of the Kingdom. 

Lands ruled by paganism and Mohammedanism were 
known as blighted by systematic oppression of the poor. 



Religious superstition seemed to have united with selfish 
greed to grind the faces of the poor, whom ignorance made 
helpless. The missionary impulse to aid people in such 
straits now resembled the great surges of a reformation. 
Wherever the appeal was heard the people were deeply 
stirred and they were in haste to see the whole world profiting 
by the gospel of Christ. 

Meantime manifold activities at the Bible House contin- 
ued. The Bible Society laid its hand upon the shores of 
the Pacific by sending a grant of books to a colony at the 
mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. It engaged in 
" foreign " work among the Cherokee Indians. It sent 
Scriptures to Java to be used by the American Board's mis- 
sionaries, Lyman and Munson, who, however, had been 
killed by the natives before the books reached their destina- 
tion. It sent a small grant of Scriptures to Labrador where 
good Archdeacon Wix was looking after the spiritual wel- 
fare of the fishermen dear to Dr. Grenfell's heart to-day. 
In Texas an Auxiliary Bible Society had been formed and 
received recognition and grants. Correspondence with for- 
eign missionaries brought many calls for large, if not lavish, 
grants of money. Dr. Gutzlaff writing from China about 
this time, gave this warning : " You may rest assured that 
we will drain your funds, for we have a large nation before 
us and if only the hundredth Chinaman was to get a Bible 
from you, a ten years' income of your Society would not 
be sufficient to defray expenses." Such a sentence must 
have brought a cold chill to the veins of many who looked 
for a quick triumphal march of the Kingdom through the 

Many persons felt that the decision of the Society to aid 
American Missions abroad while a real advance, was not 
adequate. It was a cautious step rather than a swinging 
stride toward a fixed goal. Thousands in pagan lands trem- 
bled on the edge of the grave from which the Bible could 
show them a way of escape. The Society had supplied 
every family in the United States within two years' time; 
why should it not be an instrument for the prompt delivery 
of the ignorant and terror-stricken everywhere? Mr. 
Brewer's proposal to accomplish in a definite time the sup- 


ply of all families in the Seven Churches of Asia seemed 
reasonable enough, and the adoption of that proposal would 
be a wise beginning. The Rev. Dr. William S. Plummer 
of Virginia voiced a general opinion by suggesting that it 
would be possible to supply all destitute families in the world 
in twenty years, if a Christian enthusiasm in all Western 
lands could be aroused to move all Bible Societies in the 
world in pursuit of the one noble object. 

The Board of Managers saw difficulties in the way of an 
undertaking to supply all the world in twenty years; but 
on the other hand it was not willing to do anything that 
might diminish the enthusiasm of Auxiliary Societies like 
that of Petersburg with which Dr. Plummer was connected 
or that of Virginia which heartily supported his proposal. 
An Auxiliary without an object to call out its energy is 
sure to lose efficiency. So it set about preparing resolutions 
which would engage the Society in world-wide Bible dis- 
tribution. It invited Dr. Plummer to visit New York for 
conference respecting the resolutions to be offered to the 
Society in May, 1833. Dr. Plummer brought to the Board 
a draft of a resolution which definitely committed the Amer- 
ican Bible Society to an effort to supply all the destitute in 
the world within twenty years. Letters from distinguished 
men like Dr. Cauldwell, President of the University of 
North Carolina, Dr. Baxter, President of Union Theolog- 
ical Seminary of Virginia, Bishop Moore, President of the 
Virginia Bible Society, and from distinguished clergymen 
in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Princeton, New Jersey, 
urged the adoption of the twenty years' limit for the supply 
of the whole world. 

As a result of somewhat long discussions in a Special 
Committee and in the Board, Dr. Plummer's definite limita- 
tion to twenty years of the supply of the world was, with 
his consent, taken out of the resolution to be proposed to 
the Society. At the Annual Meeting, May 9, 1833, after 
addresses which insisted on the enlargement of the foreign 
operations of the Society, Secretary McAuley presented a 
series of resolutions in which was concentrated the essence 
of the feeling so generally prevalent; namely, that just as 
is done when any much needed public work is to be con- 


structed, a time limit ought to be fixed within which all 
the destitute in the world shall be supplied with the Bible. 
To this end the resolutions instructed the Board of Man- 
agers to confer with other Bible Societies and friends of the 
Bible cause, engaging them to co-operate in an attempt to 
supply the Bible to all destitute inhabitants of the globe 
within a definite period. 

The emotion caused by these resolutions as adopted can 
hardly be imagined. Few of the leaders in the discussion 
had deeply considered the difficulties in the way of such a 
supply of the whole world. But these resolutions took the 
Bible Society far beyond the position of helper to American 
Missions abroad, pledging it to independent responsibility 
for the distribution of Scriptures wherever destitution ex- 

The Board now sent out a pamphlet containing the reso- 
lutions adopted by the Society with the letters and ad- 
dresses which supported them. The pamphlet was hardly 
so concrete as the appeal sent to Israel by Saul in behalf of 
Jabesh, but it had a similar effect. It was given the widest 
distribution through the religious press, the educational in- 
stitutions, the Life Directors and Life Members of the 
Bible Society, and the Auxiliary Societies all over the coun- 
try. The Virginia Bible Society issued once more a mov- 
ing appeal telling its supporters that " all these things stir 
men to action. The deputation of Flathead Indians fifteen 
hundred miles to St. Louis to ask for the Book of Life is 
a command as truly as the cry of the man from Mace- 
donia." The Methodist Episcopal Conferences in several 
places responded with confidence and enthusiasm. Many 
denominations were thrilled as in a great revival. Replies 
came to the Board of Managers from fifteen ecclesiastical 
bodies and thirty-five Auxiliary Societies insisting upon the 
supply of the whole world within twenty years. The one 
feeling in every quarter seemed to be readiness to face any 
sacrifice, because when God calls for service great sacrifice 
alone can satisfy the demands of conscience. 

The missionary idea was rooted in the hearts of the peo- 
ple; its execution seemed to them to demand haste. This 
was the meaning of the persistent cry for finishing the work 


in twenty years, which cynics of our day might class with 
a baby's cry with outstretched hands for the moon. Rev. 
Dr. Plummer wrote in December, 1833, to the Board of 
Managers a new appeal for the claim that every family in 
the world can certainly be supplied with Bibles in twenty 
years. The greatest difficulty, if not the only difficulty, 
seemed to be that of providing the necessary money; but 
his enthusiasm was at a high tide and carried him over even 
this difficulty. " Shall such noble causes as your own," 
he asked, " be forever compelled to add up a few scores of 
thousands per annum and no more, while one single horse 
race in the United States gets three hundred thousand dol- 
lars?" Dr. Plummer estimated the population of the 
world at eight hundred million, and the total of families to 
be supplied at one hundred and thirty million. This would 
mean a cost of one hundred and thirty million dollars in 
twenty years, or six and a half cents apiece each year to 
raise six and a half million dollars per year. But, he stated, 
the cost would be less than this. Many Bibles would be 
paid for by those who received them. Moreover, some 
families would entirely refuse the Bible, so they should be 
left out of account. Furthermore, commercial publishers 
sell a great many Bibles at such a time, for experience shows 
that every Bible distribution increases the sales of those who 
print the Bible for profit. There could be no difficulty in 
raising the money save cupidity, selfishness and sloth so 
glaring as to make the Christian world blush with shame. 

This appeal seemed to many Christians in America to 
spring from facts quite incontrovertible. Just as every 
family in the United States was supplied in two or three 
years by the American Bible Society alone, so every family 
in the world might be supplied in twenty years by all the 
Bible Societies in concerted effort. The weakness of the 
people swayed by such a proposal was their inability to see 
beyond the limits of their own country. To the masses 
English was the only intelligible language of the world. 
The people knew very little indeed of the vast expanses to 
be travelled ; of the strange sounds encountered in the speech 
of every country reached; of the illiteracy which prevents 
the masses in pagan lands from reading their own languages. 


It was quite impossible for people in the United States to 
realise that a Christian Bible Agent entering a purely Mo- 
hammedan country at that time, might easily suffer death 
merely because of a religious animosity. Nor could they 
imagine that a stranger going into some countries without 
knowledge of the local language would be killed as being, of 
course, an enemy. Moreover, no one outside of the highest 
institutions of learning could challenge Dr. Plummer's fig- 
ures. When his vigorous imagination interpreted his 
declaration that " the estimates of faith are the only basis 
on which we are justified in acting in the affairs of our royal 
Master, Jesus Christ/' there was no more to be said. 

The Board could not disregard the almost unanimous feel- 
ing of its impatient supporters; yet under the restraint of 
its own calm judgment it quietly waited for the opinion of 
the other Bible Societies. Meanwhile various influences 
acting upon the business world suggested delay and delibera- 
tion. The nullification trouble in South Carolina took place 
in 1832. The Compromise Tariff was already causing some 
disturbance among commercial houses, and President Jack- 
son's removal of government deposits from the banks in dif- 
ferent parts of the country threw a warning shadow over 
financial circles. 

The answers from the British and Foreign Bible So- 
ciety and the French and Foreign Bible Society were de- 
cisive. The last named Society warmly approved the spirit 
of the proposal sent out by the American Society and 
heartily favoured a general appeal for funds to press on the 
work ; but its cautious conclusion was that it should not com- 
mit itself to complete the work in a fixed time. The Com- 
mittee of the British and Foreign Bible Society was also 
fraternally kind in its treatment of a proposal which it must 
have regarded almost as due to the zeal of youth and inex- 
perience. It pointed out several points which should be 
considered. People now accessible may become otherwise 
at any moment. Calculation as to the number of versions 
of Scripture which will be necessary, or of the time that 
will be required for making them was, as yet, quite im- 
possible. To supply every family throughout the world 
would involve a gratuitous distribution exceeding the ability 


of all the Bible Societies ; and this opinion was based upon 
years of experience among the half-clad natives of the Far 
East. For these reasons the Committee of the British So- 
ciety decided that the multiplication of agents to distribute 
the Bible is not a duty so long as the prospects of their work 
are entirely undefined. 

The plan to supply Bibles to all the destitute families in 
the world within twenty years had disappeared like a fog 
before a gale. Dr. Plummer was invited to come to New 
York, and under the circumstances readily agreed that the 
time limit for the supply of the world must be given up. 
The matter necessarily came before the Annual Meeting. 
There one of the Secretaries, Rev. Dr. S. H. Cone, moved, 
Rev. Dr. Plummer seconded, and Rev. Mr. Winslow of the 
American Board's Mission in India supported a resolution 
to the effect that the Society ought to aim to supply the desti- 
tute in all the world in the shortest possible time, and that 
all other Bible Societies should be invited to strive for the 
same object. 

More than a year after this decision contributions were 
received from different parts of the country for Bible dis- 
tribution abroad, conditioned upon the union of all Bible 
Societies to supply the whole world in twenty years. The 
hearts of the people had been moved. They saw the duty 
of giving to others the Book which they found precious 
themselves. Even the self-seeking, hearing the discussion 
of motives for doing this work without delay, had some 
appreciation of the value of noble self-sacrifice in such a 
cause and joined their contributions with those of their 
neighbours. The principle that America is bound to do its 
share in supplying Bibles to the world had pervaded the 
churches as the sweet perfume of lilies pervades a house. 
It was with much difficulty that the Board of Managers could 
make people believe that the work could not be finished in 
twenty years, and it is to the credit of those who sent dona- 
tions limited by that condition that in general they did not 
recall their gifts on being told that the condition could not be 

This Christian enthusiasm persisted although directed into 
more practical channels, for it was rooted in love for Christ 


and devotion to His work. The sending out of the Book 
in different languages could proceed with more certainty 
when freed from limitations of haste and hurry. The great 
object of the Society and of its warm-hearted supporters 
was to increase the circulation of the Bible. What that 
means David Abeel, the American missionary, had ex- 
plained at the Anniversary of the British and Foreign Bible 
Society. He said, in effect, " There is a missionary who 
can go where I cannot ; who can do what I cannot. He is 
not a Churchman ; he is not a Dissenter. He is not a Cal- 
vinist ; he is not an Armenian. He is not an American, nor 
an Englishman, nor a Scotchman, nor a Hollander. He 
seems to hate sects and many of the most prominent sects he 
never even mentions. That great missionary is the Bible ! " 



Devotion to God's service is an essential to progress, as 
simple and as sweeping in its demands as loyalty to military 
service. In history, as commonly written, the sword and 
more complicated instruments of slaughter outrank many 
other forces. The arrest of attention and the control of 
men by the still, small voice of God when the overturnings 
of the warrior have come to an end receive scant attention. 
We must bear in mind, however, that in the period of which 
we write that voice was heard. It was a period teeming 
with events, mysteriously related, whose importance becomes 
more clear as the world grows older. 

In England the year 1832 brought the Reform Bill with 
its vindication of the right of franchise, and 1833 saw the 
abolition of slavery in the colonies; an event which later 
became a solid ground for moral pressure upon the United 
States during the long struggle over the slavery question. 
In 1837 Queen Victoria, that true and noble woman, came 
to the throne. In Spain, 1833 saw the beginning of the 
Carlist War, and thus in 1834 was brought about the aboli- 
tion of the Spanish Inquisition, a revolution whose effect 
upon liberty of conscience was felt throughout the world. 
In 1840 there was war between Great Britain and China. It 
was a war of which the motives cannot, perhaps, bear much 
investigation, but which began to rend the rock of Chinese 
ignorance and prejudice; so giving opportunity for Christi- 
anity to find a foothold in the vast empire. 

In the United States in 1832 New England echoed the 
appeals of Wilberforce and his associates by establishing the 
first anti-slavery society ; and during this same period, when 
churches throughout the country were giving freely to re- 
ligious enterprises, friends of science outside of the churches 
were also moved to give, and in 1833 Girard College was 



endowed, and in 1835 the Smithsonian Institution. In 1836 
Mexico, the heir of great Spanish lands, had to yield a part 
when Texas gained independence, and vainly begged admis- 
sion to the Union. It was in this same period that one of 
the greatest steps toward a closer relation between nations 
was gained by the invention of Morse's electric telegraph in 


With the decision for extension abroad which the Ameri- 
can Bible Society adopted in this same period, are associated 
not only improvements, advantages and progress, but unex- 
pected troubles. The Society had become a power for good 
in the home land. It was noted as a successful maker of 
books. It was known as energetic in seeking to supply the 
destitute, and it won a liberal degree of support which at- 
tracted attention and even led some to declare that charitable 
institutions were sucking the blood of the nation. To the 
Society success gave a wider vision, and the fruit of such 
success is normally new impulses toward helpfulness of 
others. The successful benevolent society naturally tends 
to attract congenial minds so that many become occupied in 
fixing in permanent form those principles upon which it is 
based. The plan of the cathedral is the work of one man, 
but the erection of the noble structure represents the labour 
and the sweat and skill of hundreds. 

The period from 1832 to 1841 with the Bible Society 
was a time for consolidation of its organization. There 
were a number of changes in the home office. In 1832 the 
Rev. S. H. Cone, D.D., Pastor of the First Baptist Church 
in New York, became one of the Corresponding Secretaries. 
He was a very able man, a successful and eloquent preacher, 
and rendered good service to the Society during the three 
years of his connection with it. He was an active member 
of the Committee on Distribution and served with honour 
on several special committees. In intellectual power he 
was, perhaps, second only to Dr. Milnor, the Senior Secre- 
tary of the Society. 

Mr. Hubert Van Wagenen, the Treasurer, resigned his 
office in 1835; an< ^ the General Agent, Mr. John Nitchie, 
who had admirably conducted the work of his department 
since 1819, was elected Treasurer in place of Mr. Van 


Wagenen, retaining the care of orders for books on the gen- 
eral depository. Mr. Robert Winslow, after four years of 
service as Recording Secretary and Accountant, resigned 
his position; and the duties of the Accountant were passed 
over to the Treasurer, while those connected with the print- 
ing and shipping of Scriptures, care of plates, etc., were 
brought together again under charge of Mr. Joseph Hyde, 
chosen to be General Agent. 

A little later (1840) the Rev. E. S. Janes, D.D., an emi- 
ment Methodist Episcopal minister, was appointed Financial 
Secretary ; this new office involving extensive travels among 
the churches to present the Bible cause and its needs more 
thoroughly than had been done by Auxiliary Bible Societies. 
Dr. Janes proved very efficient in this work, which he con- 
tinued until his election as a bishop of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church. 

Several occurrences outside of the usual sphere of action 
of the Bible Society tended greatly to strengthen its power 
of forceful action. Denominational questions had not, up 
to this time, threatened much difficulty to the Board, but in 
1834 one of the Auxiliary Societies felt difficulty in making 
a free grant for Methodist Sunday Schools, that denomina- 
tion possessing a Bible Society of its own. The grant was 
made but out of this incident sprang a discussion respecting 
a possible union of the two Bible Societies. A year later, 
in 1836, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church recommended that the Methodist Bible and Tract 
Society be dissolved. It was an act of noble self-abnega- 
tion for the benefit of the American Bible Society and its 
Auxiliaries, like that of a physician who gives over his pa- 
tients to a skilful specialist. 

Another element of strength was added to the National 
Society by the decision of the Pennsylvania Bible Society in 
1840 to adopt the Auxiliary relationship. The Pennsyl- 
vania Society, formerly the Philadelphia Society, was or- 
ganised in 1808 and had done a noble work in the state of 
Pennsylvania. It had also made liberal donations to the 
American Bible Society, not feeling, however, that the 
Auxiliary relationship would add anything to its power for 
effective service. Under such circumstances this strong and 


active Society received a warm welcome when formally de- 
clared a helper of the national Society. 

Incorporation of the Society had been suggested by Dr. 
Boudinot years before, but the suggestion had not been 
adopted. Now, the Society was the owner of real estate in 
New York City and elsewhere. To this it held title through 
trustees whose names appeared in the title deeds as the 
owners. Changes in the laws of New York state made 
such tenure of real property quite uncertain ; and after some 
difficulty the legislature of the state of New York finally 
passed an act in 1841 incorporating the American Bible 

A good deal of enthusiasm was aroused in the Board, 
after the decision to take up foreign work, by expressions of 
satisfaction with which the decision was received. Rev. 
Mr. Patton, travelling for the Society in the Southern 
States, wrote from Alabama in 1832 : " So far as I have 
gone I have found friends everywhere prepared to see the 
American Bible Society stretch her arms all around the 
earth." And Rev. Mr. Winslow, of the American Board's 
Mission in South India, wrote : " It is a noble thought, we 
might almost say a divine thought, to give the Bible to every 
family under heaven." 

Yet the Board of Managers very soon found that expan- 
sion multiplies anxieties ; that is to say, the larger the field 
the more demands are made upon sympathy, intelligence and 
activity. As soon as it became noised abroad that the So- 
ciety was prepared to aid the American missions, the most 
moving appeals came from India, China, the Sandwich Is- 
lands, as well as from South America. It soon appeared 
that the destitute to be supplied were increased immeasur- 
ably by this decision. In China it was known that at least 
one- fourth of the population of the globe had no Bibles ; that 
in India there were nearly or quite three hundred million 
pagans destitute of the Scriptures ; that the vast continent of 
Africa, utterly unknown at that time, contained another mass 
of destitution fearful to contemplate. 

In such circumstances there was little satisfaction in lay- 
ing plans. They must be tentative ; difficulties, unexpected 
objections would multiply; the world's inheritance from the 


tower of Babel barred access to multitudes of people. In 
short the Society found itself in the position of a man who 
has inherited a vast estate which must be cultivated and 
kept up because he is responsible for it. 

One of the greatest anxieties was the condition of some 
of the helper Societies. If the helper does not help, it be- 
comes a millstone about the neck of the one who has en- 
couraged it to live. Of course a considerable number of 
these Societies were models in the matter of efficient and 
untiring labour; but one-half or more were in a state de- 
manding constant attention. Many of them came into ex- 
istence during the period of the General Supply of the desti- 
tute, after 1829. When this effort was commenced almost 
every Auxiliary Society received a new and powerful im- 
pulse. Many individuals in different communities waked 
up to a sense of the value of the effort to distribute the Bible. 
One man attracted by the work done by Auxiliary Societies 
in his vicinity, calculated in dollars and cents how much the 
Bible had been to him throughout his life; and he imme- 
diately contributed five thousand dollars to the fund for sup- 
plying all the destitute, as being arrears of his dues on ac- 
count of gains. 

On the other hand one of the evil results of this great ef- 
fort was that the lavish distribution of Scriptures among 
the destitute, and the abundant aid given to weak Auxiliary 
Societies for this work cultivated a love for the luxury of 
dependence. Errors of judgment on the part of those who 
would engage in Bible work caused great annoyance, and the 
blame of such mistakes reacted upon the Board. Sometimes 
an Auxiliary announced in its field that it would supply all 
the destitute, and began the work without making sure of a 
supply of books large enough to complete it. Or a society 
ordered books for the supply and after they arrived dis- 
covered that it had no one who could possibly attend to the 
work of distribution. Such occurrences led to repetitions of 
the common sense suggestion that Auxiliary Societies have 
a care to appoint efficient officers for their work. Later a 
Committee on Agencies was appointed by the Board of 
Managers especially to see to the efficient operation of the 
Auxiliary Bible Societies. 


It should not be understood that what has been said 
diminishes in any sense the value of the work of active 
Auxiliary Bible Societies in the United States. Instances 
of most valuable work even by small Auxiliaries abound. 
In 1833 the use of the Erie Canal was proving it a main 
artery for commerce and travel. The Oneida County, New 
York, Bible Society, finding some fifteen hundred canal boats 
passing and repassing Utica, and conveying during one year 
from one hundred and fifty thousand to one hundred and 
seventy-five thousand passengers, chiefly immigrants going 
to the West, turned its energies upon supplying New Testa- 
ments or Bibles to the people on the canal boats, including 
the eight thousand or more men regularly employed in this 
traffic. Another little Auxiliary Society at Strafford, New 
Hampshire, in five years spent nearly three thousand dollars 
in distributing Scriptures among more than two thousand 
families in the county and supplying some six thousand chil- 
dren with the New Testament. • 

The Young Men's New York Bible Society, as soon as the 
decision was made to take up work abroad, sent word to 
the Board of Managers that it would undertake to raise ten 
thousand dollars in New York City to be used for supplying 
Chinese Scriptures to Dr. Charles Gutzlaff. The Board, in 
thanking the Society for this offer, suggested that the special 
designation to Dr. Gutzlaff might prove to be a hampering 
limitation. It informed the Young Men's Society, how- 
ever, that if the limitation was removed so that the money 
could be used where most needed, in China or elsewhere, the 
Board of Managers would certainly use in China from the 
money thus contributed the amount necessary to fill up the 
appropriation for Chinese Scriptures just decided upon; and 
that it would relinquish its intention of making a special ap- 
peal in New York for the support of foreign distribution in 
that year ; and furthermore would use its endeavours to aid 
the Young Men's Society in raising the ten thousand dollars 

The Young Men's Society then requested the Board of 
Managers to pass a formal resolution covering this state- 
ment. The Board therefore adopted the following resolu- 
tion : " Resolved : that, confiding in the exertions of the 


Young Men's New York Bible Society, this Board will re- 
linquish the city of New York to them for the purpose of 
raising funds during the current year for the distribution of 
the Bible in foreign fields; and do hereby commend the 
Young Men's Society in their undertaking in this behalf to 
the friends of the Bible in that city." * 

Nevertheless the Society deemed it necessary at its An- 
nual Meeting, May 14, 1835, to censure careless Auxiliaries, 
saying that while some of them had done good work during 
the year in Bible distribution, it was evident that other Socie- 
ties had "greatly neglected this important duty," and it 
earnestly requested such Societies to procure Scriptures 
without delay and see that every dwelling in their fields was 
furnished with a copy. 

One of the measures adopted for the purpose of ani- 
mating inactive Societies was the appointment of Travelling 
Agents assigned to the work of encouraging and stirring up 
the Auxiliaries in different districts. In 1840 there had 
been for ten years from ten to fifteen agents engaged in the 
specific work of keeping Auxiliary Societies alert and ef- 
ficient. The Board of Managers had many times considered 
the question whether this large expense was justified. 
There was a distinct tendency to diminish the number of 
agents in the hope that the enthusiasm of the new undertak- 
ings in Bible distribution at home and abroad would furnish 
all the necessary incitement to the Auxiliaries. 

The question was frequently asked, however, in the midst 
of these perplexities, why should the Society not dispense 
with the Auxiliaries entirely? It was felt by the members 
of the Board, however, that, as Dr. Brigham expressed it in 
the Annual Report for 1836, this idea is a great mistake. 
The national Society has no funds for its undertaking; nor 
has it the agents, if the wants of the country are to be met, 
to perform a thousandth part of the labour requisite for the 
collection of funds and the distribution of books. This 
work must be done by local Societies, and mostly by the un- 
paid exertions of their devoted members. The Managers 
in the midst of forebodings that the Auxiliary system was 

1 Managers Minutes, Volume 5, p. 1 16. 


more or less of a failure, had to admit that no other system 
had yet been devised so well calculated as that of Auxiliary 
Societies for the supply of Scriptures to the needy. 

Anxieties concerning the Bible distribution at home be- 
came more pressing as the number of immigrants increased 
from year to year. The Society took pains to supply Auxil- 
iary Societies at the points of landing of the immigrants, 
and also at several points along the lines of travel to the 
westward, as in the case of Utica just mentioned, and at 
Pittsburg in Pennsylvania, and Wheeling in Virginia, and 
Natchez and New Orleans on the Mississippi. In 1835 
grants made to sixteen different Auxiliaries at points where 
foreigners first touch the United States amounted to two 
thousand, three hundred and seventy-five Bibles and four 
thousand Testaments. Five hundred dollars was sent to the 
French and Foreign Bible Society to enable it* to supply 
emigrants sailing from Havre. 

The question of languages for the immigrants soon became 
a serious one. Scriptures in the European languages were 
commonly purchased from the British and Foreign Bible 
Society ; German and Spanish Scriptures being printed, how- 
ever, in New York. In 1836, Scriptures for immigrants 
were ordered from Europe in Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, 
Danish, Dutch and Welsh. In 1837 the Society, at its An- 
nual Meeting, passed a resolution stating the great impor- 
tance to the country of supplying immigrants with the Scrip- 
tures since "the rapid influx of these foreigners, mostly 
without the Bible, will make them a danger to the country 
while in this condition." From this point began a syste- 
matic work for the immigrants on the part of the Society 
which has taken on enormous proportions, and has placed 
the Society in the position of carrying on foreign mis- 
sion work in the home land as well as abroad. 

More and more urgent appeals for aid in supplying the 
destitute throughout the United States poured in as the 
years passed. At the twenty-third Annual Meeting of the 
Society in May, 1839, on motion of Rev. Sylvester Holmes 
of New Bedford, Massachusetts, seconded by the Hon. Wil- 
liam H. Seward, it was resolved to recommend to the Auxil- 
iaries to commence a second General Supply and prosecute 


it with vigour. Governor Seward, in supporting this mo- 
tion, made the pertinent remark that he knew not how long 
a republican government could flourish among the people 
who had not the Bible. The experiment had never been 
tried, but this he did know ; that the existing government of 
the United States could never have had existence but for 
the Bible, and further, he did in his conscience believe that 
" if at every decade of years a copy of the Bible should be 
found in every family of the land, its republican institutions 
would be perpetuated." 

The choice of the Bible Society to extend its field indefi- 
nitely abroad, while weighed down by the burdens of the 
great field of the United States, set before it a future most 
strenuous in its demands for determination, perseverance, 
and uninterrupted prayer-life. By undertaking to serve all 
American evangelistic efforts, by aiming to circulate the 
Bible in all languages abroad as well as at home as soon as 
need or opportunity appears, the Society had been follow- 
ing the path trodden by the Master. Like Him the So- 
ciety would meet opposition, fatigue, demands upon its 
strength, physical, mental and spiritual; but like Him it 
would be fed as well as feed others through doing the 
will of God for the benefit of thousands and tens of thou- 



It is said that the people in some of the islands of the 
New Hebrides are divided into separate and often hostile 
groups by different languages, so that the villagers on one 
side of a mountain are not able to understand the people 
in villages on the other side of the mountain. The result is 
that the two mountain sides are often at war with each 
other. Among uncivilised tribes in different parts of the 
world difference in languages fosters suspicion and encour- 
ages enmity. The Germans and the Slavs are commonly 
spoken of as opposed to one another. In looking back over 
their history it seems probable that difference of language 
has had much to do with this opposition. The name ap- 
plied of old by Slavs to Germans is " Niemtzi," which is 
equivalent to calling them " dummies " because they could 
not speak Slavic. Since men look askance at those who 
speak an unknown language, Babel is a bar to Missions. 

On the other hand missionaries can make Babel serve God. 
Knowledge of the language of the people to whom they are 
sent is in some degree a key to the gates which Babel 
guards. How far this is true appears in a little incident re- 
ported a few years ago by a Bible Agent in California. He 
saw a Hindu working in a field by the roadside and shouted 
a salutation to him in Hindustani. The Hindu immediately 
dropped his hoe and ran towards the stranger who could 
speak his home language. His employer called to him to 
come back and go on with his work. The Hindu called 
back : " I can't work, my brother has come." He had 
never seen the missionary before, whose use of Hindustani 
made him seem like a brother. The mastery of an alien 
language by a missionary attracts attention, opens doors, 
levels false distinctions and cultivates friendship. If the 


Master has sent the missionary as His ambassador the chief 
duty of the messenger is to speak, and when he speaks in the 
language of the country it is only a step further to make 
him a voice crying in the wilderness, " Prepare ye the way 
of the Lord ! " So that if Babel is a bar to missions, the 
languages of Babel clear a way by which the truth of Christi- 
anity finds its target. The Zulus in South Africa are often 
known to buy the Bible in Zulu for the sole reason that it is a 
book, and in their own language. A great truth is hidden in 
that sentence of Lloyd : " Speech was made to open man to 

One great principle guided and compelled the action of 
the Bible Society in the matter of its ventures in foreign 
languages. This principle was that it is impossible to train 
any community in virtue without the Bible. Had the Board 
wished to hold back from extensive work in different lan- 
guages abroad, the pressure at home would have compelled it 
to reconsider the situation. Immigrants speaking many 
diverse tongues were flowing into the country, and by 1835 
the Society found itself obliged to supply for immigrants 
alone Scriptures in almost a dozen different languages. As 
has already been noted the existence of people speaking 
Spanish and French in the United States was one of the 
influences which led the Society to work abroad. 

But as soon as the Society began to print in French and in 
Spanish it found the people asking for a Roman Catholic 
Version of the Bible, thus raising a serious difficulty. The 
Roman Catholic Versions not only contain the Apocrypha, 
which can be separated from the Canonical books, but they 
are all based upon the Vulgate Version and not upon the 
originals. The translation of St. Jerome contains no inten- 
tional divergencies from the Hebrew and the Greek. For 
this reason the Board of Managers saw little objection to its 
use, while the fact that Roman Catholics would use the 
Vulgate versions was a strong argument in favour of their 
publication by the Bible Society. The Board had to choose 
between two roads ; one blocked, or at least obstructed and 
the other leading smoothly straight to the objective of Bible 
circulation in Latin America. In the first quarter of the 
nineteenth century, so far as Roman Catholic nations were 


concerned, it would be necessary to give them the Vulgate 
Bible or to leave them entirely without the Bible. 

The story of the issue of the Scio Spanish Version by the 
Society has appeared in an earlier chapter. As late as the 
year 1839 a question of the propriety of using Vulgate ver- 
sions having been brought before the Board of Managers, a 
decision was reached that these versions could be tolerated. 
When it was proposed, however, to publish the Douay Ver- 
sion in English for the use of English speaking Roman 
Catholics in the United States, the question took an en- 
tirely different form. The constitution of the Society says 
definitely that its publications in the English language shall 
conform to the version in common use ; that is, the Author- 
ised Version. And when it was decided that the Douay 
Version in English could not be printed by the Society, the 
propriety was questioned of printing any version that could 
not be classed among the most accurate. The Society was 
attacked in the press and on the platform for violating its 
constitution. It was shown that the circulation of the Bible 
among Roman Catholics had not been by any means limited 
to the circulation of editions that follow the Vulgate. 
Finally in 1841 the Board of Managers retraced its steps 
and decided that no versions from the Vulgate may be 
printed by the Society. The existing plates of the Scio 
Spanish Version were finally melted down and sold as type 
metal. The place of the Scio version was taken by the 
Valera version, a Spanish translation made in 1602 from 
the original tongues ; and it is this version, with various re- 
visions of style, which has been the principal version cir- 
culated in Spanish-speaking countries by the Society. After 
1885 ah alternative version known as the " Version Mod- 
erna " was issued, being prepared by Rev. H. B. Pratt, D.D. 

In 1835, after the decision had proved wise to aid Ameri- 
can Missions abroad, the Board sent a circular to foreign 
mission stations informing American missionaries of the 
different denominations that whenever the Old Testament or 
the New Testament or any entire Gospel or other book of 
the Bible is correctly translated into any foreign language 
and ready to be printed, missionaries, on giving intelligence 
of this to the Bible Society, may expect to receive the aid 


requisite for its publication; and any information com- 
municated by the missionaries concerning. Bible transla- 
tion or the best mode of receiving Scriptures in their vicin- 
ity, or any suggestion whatsoever in the interests of the 
Bible cause would be carefully considered by the Board. 

Later the Board announced the class of expenditures 
connected with the preparation and distribution of the Scrip- 
tures in foreign languages which the Society could con- 
sistently defray. These expenditures included first, the cost 
of printing approved versions of the Scriptures, comprising 
the cost of paper, of superintendence and correction, and of 
binding; second, the cost of purchasing Scriptures for dis- 
tribution, where versions have already been published ; third, 
the cost of newly translating and revising the Scriptures in 
cases where these undertakings seem to be expedient; and 
fourth, the cost of transporting and distributing the Scrip- 
tures under the direction of missionaries or Bible Society 
Agents. It need not be said that the agents would, of 
course, be supported entirely by the Bible Society. 

These decisions of the Board, simple and natural though 
they were, committed the Society to a great and important 
work in many different languages. 

Up to this time the Bible had been translated into about 
one hundred and eighty languages. Out of these the Ameri- 
can Bible Society had printed or circulated about twenty. 
And now there came, as if in answer to an announcement by 
a benevolent millionaire, urgent appeals from over the seas 
for help in printing or in translating the Scriptures. From 
the Sandwich Islands, Dr. Green wrote: "The isles wait 
for His law ! " From India Mr. Scudder wrote that in the 
region immediately about him were five hundred thousand 
families whose language he could speak, but who had no 
Bibles. " Will not the American Bible Society supply these 
five hundred thousand families," he asked, " with the New 
Testament or at least with one Gospel each in the space of 
the next two or three years ? " Mr. Winslow, writing from 
an adjacent field in South India, let his thoughts carry him 
back to the days of the wandering Israelites when a pesti- 
lence was abroad in the camp punishing the people for their 
sins, and Aaron ran in to stay the plague. " The Mission- 


aries," he said, " have been placed under the responsibility 
of standing between dying men and Him with whom they 
have to do. So we feel constrained to call upon you to fill 
the censers which are in our hands with the fire and incense 
that we may run quickly unto the people and stay the plague 
which is abroad among them ! " Mr. Bridgman, writing 
from China, repeatedly and vigorously urged the Bible So- 
ciety to take up the supply of Scriptures for the Chinese, 
because no other one question of equal gravity could pos- 
sibly come before the Board. Then, as if to hasten the de- 
cision of the Society, careful estimates were sent on, com- 
paring the different methods of printing in Chinese ; whether 
by wood cut blocks or by lithography, or by metal type. In 
either case the cost at that time would be enormous, because 
the Chinese Government would not allow the printing by 
foreigners in China of anything in the Chinese language, and 
all apparatus, together with the skilled workmen required, 
would have to be transferred to Singapore, out of the reach 
of the old Chinese conservatives. 

One call from abroad which particularly moved the 
American public was that already mentioned for a New 
Testament in Modern Greek to be used in the newly estab- 
lished kingdom of Greece. This was urged by the Secre- 
taries of the A. Bi C. F. M. who pointed out that the British 
and Foreign Bible Society was printing the Old Testament 
in Modern Greek ; that the version then existing of the New 
Testament was not satisfactory; that the American Bible 
Society might safely take in hand the making of a new ver- 
sion in this language, printing a tentative edition, and after 
the test had been made and corrections attended to, the 
stereotype plates could be quickly prepared. This Greek 
Testament was finished in 1833. During the next fifteen 
years it was sent out in large numbers to Dr. King of the A. 
B. C. F. M., and Dr. Robertson of the Protestant Episcopal 
Mission in Greece, and to Mr. Brewer of the A. B. C. F. M. 
at Smyrna in Turkey. The use of these plates was then dis- 

Up to the end of its fifteenth year the Society had granted 
to American Missions abroad for printing and circulation of 
Scriptures in foreign languages eighteen hundred dollars. 


At the end of its twentieth year one hundred and four thou- 
sand, four hundred dollars had been added to this amount. 
The grants to American Missions abroad for printing and 
distributing Scriptures in ten languages at the end of the 
twenty-fifth year had reached a total of one hundred and 
eighty-eight thousand, nine hundred and fifty dollars. 

The provision of Scriptures in foreign languages is of 
greatest importance in the eyes of a Bible Society. Skilled 
translators have to be found, and arrangements made for 
properly printing and binding the Scriptures when they are 
translated. It is always necessary to remember when look- 
ing at Bible work in foreign lands that nothing whatever can 
be done until the Bible is translated into the tongue of the 
people. This implies very slow progress but the delay, like 
that in building a temple, must not dampen ardour since time 
is needed for laying foundations for the future. 

This work in foreign languages is not only of great impor- 
tance but of the most solemn responsibility. Typographical 
errors may corrupt the text while in the hands of the 
printers. It is conceivable that conflicting opinions of trans- 
lators might colour the version ; or that a too sensitive criti- 
cism might mutilate a translation which is to be sent forth 
in a foreign language. In all questions of the accuracy and 
propriety of versions the Bible Society must satisfy itself, 
for it will be held responsible for whatever goes forth pub- 
lished in its name. For this reason all who receive aid 
from the Bible Society in the work of translation are 
warned against following individual preference as to ex- 
pression lest this add to or take from the originals. The re- 
sponsibility of the Bible Society for the English version is 
everywhere understood. As President J. Cotton Smith re- 
marked in his address at the Annual Meeting of the Society 
in 1836: "The Society is charged with the preservation, 
not only of the truths of the English Bible but of its precise 
language." An interdenominational Society only can prop- 
erly secure the text against alteration ; it being a body trusted 
by all denominations, it watches over the inviolability of the 
text. A copy bearing the imprint of such a Society is of 
guaranteed authenticity. 

The text of the English Version is now, therefore, safer 


than for centuries before the organisation of the British and 
Foreign Bible Society. The first English Bible, that of 
Coverdale printed in Zurich in 1536, had no protection ex- 
cepting the good intention of those who printed its different 
editions, against error or purposeful change. The King 
James Version, issued in 161 1, was printed and reprinted 
during two hundred years before any general and thor- 
oughly effective system protected it from mistakes and vari- 
ations. Only after Bible Societies became established could 
one feel that an authoritative control guaranteed the new 
editions as they came from the press. 

The Bible Society has, besides the function of watching 
over the accuracy of the text of the Bible, the opportunity 
of improving and ennobling the languages in which it pub- 
lishes the Bible. Language is the dress of thought, Dr. 
Johnson used to say. One of the great services to the 
world performed by Bible translators and Bible distributors 
is their taking a language which is the dress of miserable, 
impoverished and perhaps vile thought, and putting into it 
the noble, pure and inspiring thought that fills the Bible. 
The work of the translator is necessarily slow. He finds 
difficulties in himself, in his own scholarship which has to 
be carried to a very high point in order justly to carry 
through the work which he undertakes. He finds the work 
a heavy responsibility for he is dealing not with his own 
words, but with words whose truths, relations and sugges- 
tions must be accurately carried over into the language into 
which he translates them. This part of the process is that 
suggested by Horace when he describes a skilful writer 
" whose dexterous setting makes an old word new." The 
work of the translator frequently becomes a work of purify- 
ing a language by filling words with new meaning and un- 
wonted beauty, just as the slow drudgery of the diamond 
cutter brings out the full splendour of a gem which was 
hardly more than a pebble. 

Aiding the missions along the lines marked out at the 
beginning, now making a new version possible by money 
support to a translator, now paying for new editions issued 
by a mission printing press, by the end of its twenty-fifth 
year the Society had fostered Bible versions not only in the 


Mohawk, the Ojibwa, the Cherokee, Seneca, Delaware and 
Choctaw for the American Indians, but it had authorised 
printing at its expense in Turkish, Armenian, Hebrew-Span- 
ish, Siamese, Chinese, Hindustani, Tamil, Telugu, Uriye, 
Grebo (West Africa) and Hawaiian. The Society had thus 
rounded out the sphere of its activities as seen afar in the 
vision of its founders. For a Bible Society by printing the 
Scriptures in many different tongues wields a God-given 
power, and brings nearer the time when every considerable 
race of men will rejoice to read in their own tongue wherein 
they were born, the wonderful works of God. 



The general expectation of Europe respecting the Repub- 
lic of the United States in its early days was that individual 
convictions too strongly rooted to be subordinated to the 
good of the nation would some day set aside the principle 
of decision by majority vote. This would rend the Union so 
that all semblance of cohesion between its parts must dis- 

Curiously enough by the time the Society had reached 
its twentieth year a similar test of cohesion had been ap- 
plied, in a small way^ to its management. Had not the 
purpose of the Society been grand enough to hold control 
over the personal views of its members, keeping them loyal 
to the federation; had not some members for the sake of 
this loyalty, sacrificed personal convictions, it is quite pos- 
sible that this story would not have been written, and the 
views of European monarchists about democracy would have 
been justified so far as permanence of the federation in the 
Bible Society was concerned. 

During this period the question of slavery more and 
more occupied the minds of men. It was gradually becom- 
ing a test of the ability of good men patiently to set aside 
their personal views for the sake of the future of the na- 
tion. Little by little the question became a question of con- 
science. In the Northern States the influence of the sup- 
pression of slavery in the colonies of Great Britain, and 
the arguments of Wilberforce which led up to this result 
had great influence in awakening the consciences of the peo- 
ple. Of course the same literature was in the hands of the 
people of the Southern States, but their whole system of 
agriculture and thus their general interests depended upon 
the continuance of slavery. 


1832-1841] THE SOCIETY'S PROPOSAL 137 

With the Missouri Compromise a divergence between the 
North and the South was acknowledged and a system adopted 
for preserving between the two sections a balance of power. 
Possibly the issue might have been different had there been 
intercourse between the Northern and Southern States, but 
the means of travel were few. People of the masses dis- 
cussed this matter at a distance, as if each had been seated 
on the top of a high mountain shouting across the interval 
instead of getting together in the valley good-humouredly to 
arrange their differences. 

The man of one idea on both sides now came to the front 
of the crowd — the man who knows that the fragment of 
truth which he has grasped is of supreme importance to 
the world ; who resents every proffer of direction or advice, 
but claims the right to advise and direct authoritatively all 
of his opponents. He is the man whom the European mon- 
archists had in mind when they prophesied the failure of 
American democracy. It was his influence in either of the 
two hotly disputing parties which finally led to the announce- 
ment of the doctrine that men who are disappointed by the 
result of the ballot may bodily withdraw from the National 
union and execute by themselves the plans defeated at the 

With the terrible Civil War which years later washed out 
in blood this doctrine we have nothing here to do. What 
concerns us is the strain upon the principle of democracy 
in the management of the American Bible Society which 
reached the danger point in this period of our present 
narrative. In 1834, just in the warmest part of the excite- 
ment in New York concerning abolitionists and their sup- 
pression, a delegation from the American Anti-Slavery So- 
ciety appeared before the Board of Managers with a proposal 
to raise five thousand dollars if the Bible Society would set 
apart twenty thousand dollars for putting a Bible into every 
coloured family in the United States in two years' time from 
July 4th, 1834. 

A natural desire existed among members of the Board 
and Christians everywhere to have the Bible opened before 
the slaves. The Book has a message of manliness for all 
who read it. But on the other hand the members of this 


delegation must have known that an attempt by the Bible 
Society to send agents to every negro hut in the South would 
be violently opposed; and even if the Bible agents reached 
the slave's quarters, hardly two per cent, of the coloured 
people could read the book set before them. 

The Board of Managers were in a dilemma. The propo- 
sal, like a handful of sand thrown into the lubricating oil of 
a steam engine, might cause a wreck. The Society has 
no right to interfere with any man's politics or religious 
belief, but any refusal on this ground to send Scriptures 
to the slaves when money was offered for the purpose would 
be called proof by some that the Board was without feeling. 
If, however, the offer of the Anti-Slavery Society should 
be accepted, the two hundred or more Auxiliaries of the So- 
ciety in the Southern States, deeply offended at such an 
interference, might resist the action of the Board. 

It was perfectly clear, moreover, that there was no escape 
from dissension within the Board, if this specific proposal 
were to call for ayes and nays. Mr. Arthur Tappan, the 
president of the Anti-Slavery Society, had been a member 
of the Board, and was highly respected by his old associates 
there. The welfare of the whole enterprise of the Bible 
Society at this point depended upon the discovery of a 
general principle upon which all could unite and which would, 
by itself, settle the question proposed by the Anti-Slavery 

The case before the Board was like the question of build- 
ing a new schoolhouse before a town meeting. The project 
winning the majority of votes must be a final decision, 
whether all liked it or not. It is a misfortune, of course, 
for the man of one idea not to convince his associates; but 
whoever imagines that he has a monopoly of truth finds 
himself in a lonely path. The rule of such a compact as 
that of this interdenominational Society must include self- 
abnegation for the sake of achieving the one object of the 

After considerable discussion the Board of Managers 
found the principle governing this case. It adopted the two 
following resolutions: 

" Resolved that the Managers of this Society, pursuing 


the great Catholic object which they have ever had in view, 
viz., the circulation of the Holy Scriptures without note or 
comment among their destitute fellow men of every name 
and nation wherever they can be reached, will thankfully 
receive the contributions of all societies and individuals 
who may be disposed to co-operate with them in their benevo- 
lent undertaking. 

" Resolved that while Bibles and Testaments will always 
be furnished at the lowest prices to Auxiliary Societies for 
distribution and even furnished gratuitously when necessary 
for the supply of the needy, yet the direct labour of the 
distribution of these books as well as the responsibility of 
selecting the proper families and individuals within their 
respective limits who are to receive them, must, heretofore, 
be left wholly to the wisdom and piety of those who compose 
these local associations in the different States and Terri- 

This action was unimpeachable and peace remained with 
the Board, which, being composed of diverse elements united 
in a great common purpose, did not enter into controversy 
concerning details governed by the rule. A year later the 
Anti-Slavery Society made an offer again of five thousand 
dollars which it would give to the American Bible Society 
in order to foster distribution of Scriptures among the slaves 
in the South. The Board of Managers, however, had no 
different answer to make than the one previously given; 
but in the most friendly manner they showed the reports of 
the Auxiliaries in the South pointing out what they had done 
and Were steadily attempting to do. 

From what has been said it will be obvious that the Board 
of Managers has had to decide questions of magnitude be- 
yond the competence of any individual member. In the dis- 
cussion of delicate and divisive questions its only safety is 
in following the rule just illustrated. 

Another question, which proved controversial and occu- 
pied the Board during more than six months, came up the 
next year ( 1835) . It grew out of a very simple and innocent 
proposal. The Rev. Mr. Pearse, a missionary in Calcutta, 
asked aid from the Society for printing the Scriptures in 
the Bengali language. In order to ensure favourable ac- 


tion by the Board, Mr. Pearse added that the British and 
Foreign Bible Society had advised him to apply to the Amer- 
ican Society which would probably grant his request. Mr. 
Pearse stated, however, that the British Society would not 
grant his request for aid because in translating the New 
Testament he had rendered the Greek word baptizo by a 
Bengali word meaning " immerse." The Board of Man- 
agers followed its usual method in referring the application 
to the Committee on Distribution, and passed on to other 

The Committee on Distribution reported in due time, ad- 
vising that aid could not be granted since the translation 
did not seem to agree with the usual practice of the Society. 
Some objection was made to the views of the Distribution 
Committee, and the Board, with due respect for those who 
raised the objection, referred the report to a special commit- 
tee composed of one member from each of the seven de- 
nominations then represented in the Board of Managers. 
This Committee considered the question with prudent de- 
liberation, and finally brought in a report confirming the 
decision of the Committee on Distribution that aid should 
not be granted for the publication of the Bengali Testament 
translated by Mr. Pearse. This decision had the support 
of six of the seyen members of the Special Committee ; Sec- 
retary S. H. Cone, the Baptist member, offering a written 
expression of entire dissent from the action. 

In ordinary cases a report presenting the view of so large 
a majority of a committee would be adopted by the Board 
without much discussion ; but this report was laid on the table 
for consideration at the next meeting. Meanwhile a num- 
ber of letters came to the Board, some warmly favouring 
and others equally warmly protesting against the adoption 
of the Committee's report. Among others Rev. Dr. Francis 
Wayland of Brown University, a Life Member and one of 
the warm friends of the American Bible Society, wrote to 
Secretary Brigham urging that a principle be laid down which 
would apply not to an application from one denomination 
only, but to all applications for aid. With such a principle 
established a detail like Mr. Pease's application would settle 


This wise suggestion was timely. Secretary Milnor, who 
was eminently capable of analysing and clearly setting forth 
principles, wrote and offered to the Board, Nov. 19, 1835, 
such a resolution, as follows : 

" Resolved, that in appropriating money for the translat- 
ing, printing or distributing of the Sacred Scriptures in for- 
eign languages the Managers feel at liberty to encourage 
only such versions as in the principle of their translation 
conform to the common English version, at least so far that 
all the religious denominations represented in this Society 
can consistently use and circulate said versions in their sev- 
eral schools and communities. ,, 

This resolution, having the cordial approval of distin- 
guished Baptist friends of the Society, was considered by the 
Board and brought to a vote on the 17th of February, 1836. 
A number of ministers who as Life Members were entitled 
to vote in the Board were present and the resolution was 
adopted by a vote of thirty yeas and fourteen nays. This 
principle has been followed ever since by the American Bible 
Society in making its appropriations for Bible translation. 

The Board of Managers now sent the resolution adopted 
on the 17th of February to all of the missionary societies ac- 
customed to look for aid to the American Bible Society, ac- 
companying it by an official notice that applications for aid 
for translating or printing Scriptures should carry with them 
a statement that the principle of this resolution will be ob- 
served. The resolution was agreed to by all of the societies 
addressed excepting the Baptist Missionary Society; and 
money which had been granted by the Board for the use of 
Baptist missions in Burma was declined as not acceptable on 
the condition which had been laid down by the Board. The 
Board very naturally regretted extremely the feeling which 
had been called up in connection with its decision ; but clearly 
the question really was: can the American Bible Society 
publish Bibles varying from the standard, according to the 
peculiar views of Methodists, or Presbyterians, or Episco- 
palians, or Baptists ? It is clear that decision by the Board 
to print a Bible which one denomination alone could use 
must ultimately overthrow this interdenominational Society. 

The Baptist Board of Missions at the same time (April, 


1836) adopted the following resolution setting forth the 
principles that should guide its translation of Scripture into 
foreign languages : " Resolved, that the missionaries of the 
Board who are or who shall be engaged in translating the 
Scriptures be instructed to endeavour by earnest prayer and 
diligent study to ascertain the exact meaning of the original 
text; to express that meaning as exactly as the nature of 
the language into which they shall translate the Bible will 
permit and to transfer no words which are capable of being 
literally translated." 

This resolution might be said to agree in principle with 
the views of the American Bible Society. The only point 
of difference concerns the question as to whether a word 
is or is not capable of literal translation. The Board pre- 
fers, however, to commit such a sacred work, whenever 
possible, to a committee rather than to a single individual. 
In cases of difference of opinion its rule follows the principle 
of democracy, considering the vote of a majority decisive in 
cases where good men hold divergent views as to rendering 
any passage in the original language. 

Early in May, 1836, the Rev. Dr. Cone resigned his posi- 
tion as Corresponding Secretary of the American Bible So- 
ciety and the same week became President of the " American 
and Foreign Bible Society," a new organism established 
to carry out the ideas which the American Bible Society 
could not. Of this Society the Corresponding Secretary 
was the Rev. C. G. Sommers, who had been for some years 
Secretary for Domestic Correspondence of the American 
Bible Society. 

Deeply as the members of the Board regretted this dis- 
cord, they rejoiced in the sympathy of a considerable num- 
ber of their Baptist friends. Baptists then and ever since 
have worked fraternally with the Auxiliary Societies and 
have taken part in the management of the national Society as 
members of the Board. A number of years later Rev. Dr. 
Francis Wayland published in the Christian Watchman and 
Reflector 1 a review of this whole affair so far as he was 
connected with it ; and he closed his article with the declara- 

1 August 10, 1866. 


tion : " I cannot perceive how, consistently with the prin- 
ciples of its constitution, the Bible Society could have adopted 
any other rule. It is equally required by the dictates of 
justice and common sense, and it breathes the spirit of 
fraternal equality and Christian courtesy. It has, therefore, 
my cheerful and unwavering support." Some years later 
definite charges of unfairness were made in Baptist news- 
papers against the Managers of the Bible Society. These 
charges were fully discussed and refuted in a paper published 
with the Annual Report of 1841 (page 109) and this mention 
must suffice in this place. 1 

1 It is only proper to add that since these incidents the American 
Bible Society has been glad, as ever, to make grants of money or of 
Scriptures to Baptist Societies, missions and congregations. 



A capitalist in New York who invests in a gold-mining 
enterprise in Australia or even in Colorado will feel uneasy 
if the success of his venture depends in any degree upon a 
prospectus. The Board of Managers of the Society had now 
reached a point in its ventures abroad where it needed to be 
in closer touch with foreign affairs. The formal adoption 
of the fields of American missionaries in India, China, Tur- 
key, and other lands piled responsibility high upon the shoul- 
ders of the Managers. As the central missionary idea of 
a Bible Society finds fuller expression, the idea itself grows 
like a living thing. 

In the foreign field hitherto the action of the Bible Society 
had been more or less sporadic and its results had not been 
reported in much detail. In 1834 the Board reported that 
during the year just passed it had sent Scriptures into 
Canada, Mexico, different parts of South America, to France, 
Russia and Greece, to India, Ceylon, Burma, Java and China, 
to Africa and to the Sandwich Islands. About the same 
time another letter from Archdeacon Wix at St. Johns, New- 
foundland, set forth the needs of the fishermen of Labra- 
dor, a grant was promptly made to him. Rev. E. Stally- 
brass, a missionary of the London Missionary Society, was 
printing an Old Testament in the Mongolian of Lake Baikal. 
He asked aid and the Board sent him one thousand dollars. 
So every now and then Spanish Scriptures were sent to 
Havana, to Mexico City and to Colombia. Each shipment 
was made in conscientious solicitude ; but every one of those 
parcels of books was like a bullet fired at a venture. It was 
very hard to guess whether the mark was hit. 

The Board of Managers was a gpod deal in the position of 
men making preparations for a journey to a far country. 


1832-1841] ACTIVITIES ABROAD 145 

There was need for study of the lands and their people, of 
economic methods, and of measures for securing steady 
progress. Equipment, resources and helpers must be 
looked after. The people among whom it was going to 
work, their environment and the conditions of life must be 
known ; and then the Board found itself in the predicament 
of the wise man who said, "It is easier to be wise for others 
than for oneself." In fact the members of the Board were 
in appalling ignorance of the actual requirements of the 
task which had been given them. But they had faith, and 
in such a case wisdom comes " like waters that refresh the 
earth, some bursting forth from below but the best and 
purest coming down from heaven." 

The reports of the missionaries which led to the decision 
to participate in foreign work gave a thrilling interest to this 
undertaking of the Society. Calls kept coming from 
regions entirely beyond reach for aid which would commit 
the Society to large expense, forecasts of which must largely 
rest on faith rather than on discretion. Money was to be 
furnished the missions for the distribution of Scriptures. 
Somebody must pick the men who would be sent out with 
Bibles to distribute. Somebody must be sure that men of 
a single purpose were selected so that no mingling of acts 
with mere good intentions should confuse the purpose of 
their lives. Distribution is a word easily said. In real ac- 
tion that word covers opposition and even violence from 
men who know not the Bible, together with triumphant 
conquest over self on the part of the workers and unspeak- 
able weariness which faith alone restrains from the Slough 
of Despond. 

Then again the Board of Managers must be assured, in 
giving money for translation, that those who are to translate 
the Bible are fit. It must be fully guaranteed against their 
having mistaken their calling through " being stung by the 
splendour of a thought" Life in man cannot be measured 
or defined ; it is a wonder beyond analysis. So, beyond all 
analysis is the life pulsing in the words of the Bible ; words 
transferred, still pulsing, from language to language when 
the translator is filled with his Bible and taught by the Holy 
Spirit, but motionless and shrivelled, like a cell of the body 


that has worn itself out, if any man goes at the work 
equipped solely with a grammar and a dictionary. 

Even the mechanical work of printing Scriptures in a for- 
eign land rested as a responsibility upon the Board in New 
York. Abroad there was then no such skill of printers that 
general instructions could end anxiety about the result. 
Carrying forward the work at home was like travelling on a 
smooth, well built highway as compared with the obstacles 
met in foreign lands while the missionary or Bible Agent 
hews his path through the tangled underbrush at every 

A reason for the confidence of the Board was the thorough 
organisation of the forces at home. The Auxiliary system 
with its co-operative corps of travelling Agents, formed a 
frame work, a skeleton, if you please, upon which the organs 
of activity could find support and which insures some co- 
ordinate action. Through the Auxiliaries the spirit and 
purpose of the national Society was known throughout the 
land. The Auxiliaries served the Board of Managers as 
eyes to report needs and dangers, and as hands to apply the 
remedy instantly needed. The question now before the 
Board was, How can the Society have eyes abroad, going 
to and fro through all the different lands seeing needs, and 
hands abroad to provide the service of fellowship with all 
the different denominations, and to yield trusty reports of 
things done and even of things vainly tried? 

The answer to this question was that carefully chosen 
agents sent to the different fields would serve the Board of 
Managers as eyes and hands. The agent must be ever on 
hand to follow into minutest details the execution of the 
plans made in New York. He must be a lover of God and 
of mankind; a man of penetration, of great prudence, of 
experience in dealing with his fellowmen. With fine polish 
of this sort an agent can effectively act for the Society. For 
as Richter says, " Men, like bullets, go farthest when they 
are smoothest." 

The first agent sent out by the American Bible Society for 
this direct oversight of the distribution of Scriptures was the 
Rev. Isaac W. Wheelwright, appointed to the Pacific Coast 
of South America. Mr. Wheelwright sailed from New 


York for Valparaiso, Chile, in November, 1833. His in- 
structions were to make a determined effort to put the 
Spanish Scriptures into circulation in Chile and in fact in 
all the coast regions as far north as the western slopes of 
Mexico. In each place which he visited he was to sell as 
many books as possible. Only after supplying those willing 
to buy was he to give gratuitously to schools or to individ- 

Mr. Wheelwright was a man of thoughtful habit, judicious 
in his choice of methods, simple and economical in his 
tastes, and endowed with the virtue of perseverance. He 
took with him two hundred Spanish Bibles, twelve hundred 
New Testaments, besides five thousand copies of the Gospel 
of St. Matthew that he might have something to give to 
the children. 

After the long and tedious voyage of three months around 
Cape Horn, Mr. Wheelwright reached Valparaiso in March, 
1834. He had good success in disposing of his Scriptures. 
A good many of his books went into the schools. A learned 
priest who was a member of the Senate took an interest in 
his work and favoured the unrestricted circulation of- the 
Bible. But after he went ncAthward to Coquimbo an in- 
fluential bishop opposed his work with might and main; 
and the Bible Society Agent was much chagrined to find 
himself obliged to take away from a native bookstore two 
boxes of Scriptures in order to save them from being burned 
by order of the Bishop. Elsewhere people whose influence 
might have hampered him were religiously indifferent; and 
a great many people refused to buy the Bible at any price. 

After two years the Board put on record its faithful effort 
to furnish the Bible to the disturbed countries of South 
America, but noted that those countries offered little reason 
for the continuance of the Agency. Nevertheless, the Board 
decided to continue the experiment, probably because the 
Agent, in spite of all obstacles, more than once wrote home 
for further supplies of books. The agency came to an end, 
however, in 1837 and was not renewed. 

In its twentieth report the Board took up the agency 
question as entirely new. " Hitherto," it announced, " ap- 
propriations for publishing foreign Scriptures have mostly 


been made through missionary bodies of different religious 
denominations. Great good has in this way been effected, 
and the same instrumentalities must be more or less resorted 
to in the future. It appears to the Board, however, that they 
should, as far as practicable, begin to establish agents of thejr 
own in foreign countries; men who shall co-operate with 
missionaries in preparing and distributing the Scriptures, and 
yet be responsible to this Board for their operations." 

This decision of the Board was a natural step of progress 
in efficiency. No longer would the Society seem to be a 
mere money box upon which drafts could be made in sure 
hope of acceptance. Far more than this the Society, here- 
after, would be in intimate co-operation with missionaries 
everywhere. The needs of the missionaries would be its 
needs. The joy of the missionaries in seeing the power 
of the gospel of Jesus Christ would be its joy. As a mis- 
sionary Society the American Bible Society would now 
enter the realms of paganism and Mohammedanism, one in 
interest and aim with each of the denominations there labour- 
ing. It could do this feeling that the call had come from 
the missions. Missionaries gladly served when they could 
as distributors of the Bible, out to many of them keeping 
account of books sent and of dues to men who distributed to 
the people began to seem what serving tables seemed to the 
Apostles in the early mission of the Church. The work of 
preaching and teaching could not brook the distraction of 
energy implied in carrying Bibles far afield to reach the 
secluded, the isolated and the hungry. This pioneer work 
distinctively belongs to the Bible Society. 

A vastly more important agency than the travelling com- 
mission given Mr. Wheelwright was established in 1836 in 
the fields of the American missionaries in the countries 
bordering on the Eastern Mediterranean. The Rev. Simeon 
H. Calhoun of Williams College was chosen to be the agent 
and sailed for Smyrna in November, 1836. His voyage by 
sailing vessel occupied forty-four days. Mr. Calhoun wrote 
a cheery letter from Smyrna, Turkey, telling o| his cordial 
reception by the missionaries, the agent of the British and 
Foreign Bible Society, and other friends. He went almost 
immediately to Constantinople, the centre where American 


missionaries were engaged in translation. Smyrna was the 
location of the Mission Press. Printing material could be 
brought into the country more easily there, and more liberty 
was enjoyed in Smyrna than immediately under the shadow 
of the Sultan. 

The Turkish Empire at that time extended from the 
frontiers of Persia and the Caucasus Mountains westward 
to the Adriatic Sea, and from the Persian Gulf and the val- 
ley of the Nile on the south to the borders of Hungary and 
Transylvania on the north. Its territories included all the 
lands which figure in Bible History, and its proud and self- 
satisfied rulers were fully assured believers in the religion 
of Mohammed. To Mohammedans in those early days in- 
sanity was the least opprobrious epithet with which they 
could characterise the wisdom of Christianity. The ob- 
ject of American missions there was, of course, influence 
upon Mohammedans ; but at first the missionaries sought to 
arouse spiritual yearnings among the Greek and Armenian 
Christians of the Empire, long cut off from fellowship with 
the Christians of the West. 

Mr. Calhoun's first letters justified the decision of the 
Board to send agents abroad. The American missionaries 
at Constantinople were translating the Scriptures into Mod- 
ern Armenian, into Turkish as written with the Armenian 
alphabet, and into the Spanish* jargon written with Hebrew 
letters used by the Jews of Turkey. In 181 5 the Russian 
Bible Society had published five thousand Ancient Armenian 
Bibles and later two thousand Testaments in the same lan- 
guage. In 1822 with earnest solicitude to reach those who 
could not understand their ancient writings, it had published 
the New Testament in Armeno-Turkish. 1 During almost 
a score of years the British and Foreign Bible Society had 
been securing the publication of Scriptures in Armenian as 
well as in Greek. In 1819 Mr. Pinkerton while at Constan- 
tinople informed the British and Foreign Bible Society that 
he had arranged for one thousand Modern Greek Testa- 
ments, five hundred Testaments in Ancient and Modern 
Greek in parallel columns, and five hundred Arabic Testa- 

1 Turkish written with Armenian letters. 


ments to be distributed among the pilgrims at Jerusalem with- 
out money and without price. The Board in New York 
might be puzzled to know why, with such seed ready for 
sowing, American missionaries urgently appealed for aid in 
providing new seed for the sower. Mr. Calhoun quickly 
learned that the existing versions had been generally in the 
ancient form, while those issued in the modern dialect which 
the people understood depended for accuracy upon the judg- 
ment of native translators, well-intentioned but little experi- 
enced in the use and interpretation of the Bible. Hence 
those versions in the local languages could not be permanent. 

By having an agent abroad who was a keen observer the 
Board could see the actual needs and conditions of the fields 
where they were asked to work. In the educational work of 
the missions they quickly understood that the mission schools 
and the Bible Society are rooted in the same soil and bear 
the same kind of fruit. The mission schools make the Bible 
an important part of the course. The board could under- 
stand the utter weakness of the oriental Christian churches. 
The priests never preached. They were exactly like those 
described by one of the old prophets as " dumb dogs that 
cannot bark." They could not* intelligently expound any 
passage of Scripture. The people led by such priests cannot 
understand why worship should demand thought. At one 
place during morning prayers a house servant was moving 
noisily about the room arranging the furniture. After- 
wards Mr. Calhoun rebuked him for disturbing the worship. 
" Oh, what is the difference ! " he said. His idea of wor- 
ship was merely the making of the sign of the Cross, or the 
counting of beads, and no noise disturbs that. 

It was of the greatest importance to the Board to know 
that the distribution of Scriptures at their expense was really 
efficient. Mr. Calhoun was able to show that the tide of in- 
terest in the Bible had risen enough in those regions to float 
the Bible Society ark over all obstructions and all shoals. 
For instance, Armenians could use the Bible without fear 
of penalty. Although the Greek patriarchs fiercely cursed 
those who circulated and those who read the Modern Greek 
Testament, large numbers of them were sold to the Greeks. 
Mr. Calhoun writes in 1839 that about ten thousand New 


Testaments had been circulated in Greece through the 
bounty of the Society. " Some of them," he says, " were 
torn up and destroyed; but what of God's mercies are not 
abused by men ? The most of them were kept and read by 
the people." When the Hebrew-Spanish version of Psalms 
prepared by Dr. Schauffler and printed at the expense of the 
Society was issued the Jewish Rabbis in Constantinople 
anathematised the book and stopped its sale.' But Mr. Cal- 
houn sent his edition to Adrianople, Brousa, and other cities, 
quickly selling a large number. 

Had it not been for the Agent in the Mediterranean regions 
the Board of Managers might not have heard of the variety 
of demands for Scriptures encountered in Constantinople. 
Thousands of people seemed to be waiting by the table to 
pick up any crumbs which fell. It became necessary to get 
German Bibles in quantities from New York to supply the 
demand at Odessa. In Constantinople itself were English 
and French and Germans who demanded Scriptures in their 
own languages, and of course it would not do to say to such 
that the Bible Agent came to Constantinople merely to sup- 
ply Armenians and Greeks. Mr. Calhoun received an appeal 
from Rev. Justin Perkins, American missionary far away 
in Persia. A Nestorian priest asked him for a Bible and 
as a test the question was put to him : " In return what 
will you pay for it?" The priest answered, "Silver and 
gold have I none, but I will pray the Lord in return to give 
you a portion in the Kingdom of Heaven." Mr. Perkins 
wrote, " I suppose that your Society will have no objection 
to receiving such currency as this." 

It was also useful to the Board to understand the self- 
denials and dangers which their agent encountered in do- 
ing his ordinary work. Because the plague was ravaging 
Constantinople, when Mr. Calhoun went to Greece he was 
imprisoned in quarantine for fifteen days, during which time 
he was not allowed to see any friends excepting at a dis- 
tance, separated by a wide hall. In travelling in Syria in 
1839 he was attacked by Bedouin Arabs but happily his 
fleet mule out-distanced them. Various qualities of their 
Agent revealed themselves through such experiences. In 
Smyrna Mr. Calhoun took time to visit the hospitals and 


care for English sailors among the sick ; and coming out of 
the hospital he wrote at once to the far away office in New 
York, " Send me two hundred English Bibles quickly ! " 
When he was put in quarantine and cut off from his friends, 
his Bible was his companion. He received a new sense of 
the fitness of this companion ; therefore he longed for greater 
earnestness in distributing it among the people whose awful 
fate for ages had been that the Bible was a sealed book to 

The object of the Bible Society is none other than to offer 
slaves of evil the truth that sets men free. The fitness of 
the Bible to satisfy men's need was the ultimate reason com- 
pelling the Society to choose Agents for its foreign fields. 
Let the words of the Rev. John Breckenridge here express 
the hope and the belief of the Society at this epoch : " Un- 
der the present title and organisation the benevolences of 
the Society are absolutely unrestricted and universal. It 
is American in the spirit of enlargement, not of restric- 
tion. It expresses our Nation's philanthropy. . . . The 
history of the Bible is the history of liberty. The South 
American states are not free because they have not the 
Bible. Ireland is not free; unhappy Poland is not free; 
Spain, Portugal — all oppressed nations are not free because 
the people at large have not the Bible. Theirs is an erectness 
of principle, a mental and moral independence proper to and 
inseparable from the influence of the Bible. History has 
wrung a reluctant tribute on this subject from Gibbon. 
' Philadelphia alone/ he tells us, ' was saved by prophecy or 
by courage. Her valiant citizens defended her religion and 
her freedom above four score years, and at length capitulated 
with the proudest of the Ottomans. Among the Greek col- 
onies and churches of Asia Minor Philadelphia is still erect, 
a column in a scene of ruins/ Such a testimony needs no 
comment." x 

1 Rev. Dr. Breckenridge at the Sixteenth Anniversary of the 
American Bible Society. Monthly Extracts, No. 52. 



On hearing interesting information about any benevolent 
enterprise some people regret a common practice which 
mingles with the story, appeals for money. They do not 
hesitate to communicate to others this regret. Efforts for 
the good of mankind should not be debased by association 
with money seems to be their thought. 

But even Bibles cost. Sending them to the destitute im- 
plies expense. Even postage on the letters that convey news 
of free grants of Scriptures in the course of each year costs 
quite a little sum. So it comes about that obedience to the 
command " Go teach all nations," whether it takes the form 
of a missionary or a Bible Society is as inseparable from the 
problem of ways and means as is obedience to the law of love 
in the home circle. Like every undertaking which is worth 
while a Bible Society costs money in proportion to the 
breadth and depth of its influence in the world. In 1817 the 
work of the Bible Society was carried on at an expense of 
about $19,500. In 1841 the cost shown by the Treasurer's 
books was a little more than $1 18,000. There was nothing to 
regret in placing this fact of necessary cost before those who 
. formed the Society for the benefit of the community and the 
nation. Appeals for the support of the work naturally be- 
long with the narrative of its incidents. 

Financing the Bible Society during its first twenty-five 
years was (as it ever must be) a great problem which gen- 
erally absorbed the thought of the whole administration. So 
many potential supporters of the Society seemed dormant as 
to conscience ; so many people now knew not the founders of 
the Society ; so gingerly must the approach to them be made ; 
so hard was the choice of the opportune time for overtures ; 
so often did impending disaster cloud hope ; that the effort 



to give some stability to the income of the Society would 
have been a mill-stone about the necks of men less able or 
less godly than this group of managers and officers. Yet 
on the whole this complicated and perplexing task in the 
retrospect offers situations of intense interest. 

The main reliance of the Society for financial strength, 
as we have explained, was an enterprising and efficient 
Auxiliary system. So long as they maintained the spirit 
which animated them at the beginning, Auxiliaries would 
retain efficiency. A chain of branches of a commercial 
house succeeded upon this principle; their usefulness often 
depending upon spirited admonitions from the central office. 

In 1841 there were nearly nine hundred Auxiliary Bible 
Societies. Of these about one-half could be relied upon 
for contributing to the general work so regularly that their 
contributions could form a part of the financial plans of the 
Society. One society in Western Massachusetts was in- 
clined to congratulate itself that its donations for the general 
work of the American Bible Society during the whole twenty- 
five years exceeded one thousand dollars a year. Where the 
habit of giving is fixed, mere contact with regular givers 
brings others into the same category. The Washington City 
(District of Columbia), Bible Society was preparing a lib- 
eral donation for the American Bible Society, when one man 
rose in the congregation and said that he would pledge two 
hundred and fifty dollars a year for four years for this pur- 
pose. Instantly in another part of the house a second man 
sprang to his feet and said, " I'll give a thousand dollars on 
the same terms ! " This contagious interest made the dona- 
tion of the Washington City Bible Society more than twice 
as much as its officers had thought of raising. 

The Board urged Auxiliaries to remember the sacredness 
of the effort in which they were engaged ; to hold meetings 
at central points throughout their field that people might be 
informed, and so to stir many hearts with desire to help. It 
later appointed agents to travel among the Auxiliaries in 
order to systematise both distribution of Scriptures and col- 
lection of money. After a time, the expense of maintaining 
these agents was found to equal about twenty-five per cent, 
of the money which they were able to raise for general work, 


and the Board began to hesitate as to whether the good 
work which they did in distributing Scriptures to the poor 
was justified at such a cost in money. So in 1839 the Board 
decided to diminish the number of these agents. Then 
Auxiliaries which were not regularly visited by agents with 
tidings of the great work began to lose energy ; the wheels of 
their activity moved slower and slower, and finally stopped 
like the wheels of a clock that has been forgotten. In 1840 
as already noted, the Board appointed a Financial Secretary, 
the Rev. E. S. Janes, D.D., to excite Auxiliaries and other 
friends to larger contributions to the Bible Society. By his 
efforts the Auxiliaries were to be encouraged and the finances 
of the Society improved. 

Grants to distant fields complicated the problem of financ- 
ing the Bible Society. Appeals as moving as the cry of a 
child lost in the darkness of night came from Asia, Africa 
and the islands of the Pacific. Of course the Managers in 
making appropriations to help the missionaries carefully 
examine the Society's average receipts of past years. This 
is the basis of the limit within which all appropriations must 
be brought. After it is fixed in deliberate council, the Board 
has to proceed as if the money were in hand, although at the 
beginning of every new year the Treasury be empty. Cau- 
tious business men who never relax their watch upon the 
mouth of the money bag were led, however, to take risks by 
appeals like the following copied from the records of 1838. 
Mr. Spaulding, Methodist Episcopal missionary in Brazil, 
thus begged for Scriptures : " Suppose one in twenty would 
receive the Bible, then two hundred and fifty thousand are 
now wanted — or one in fifty, then one hundred thousand — 
one in a hundred, then fifty thousand — or one in two hun- 
dred, then twenty-five thousand — or one in five hundred, 
then ten thousand — or even one in a thousand, then five 
thousand are now wanted. The country is open for their 
reception. The door may soon be closed, forever. Can the 
American Bible Society furnish us with what we want?" 
This appeal caused the Board at once (1839) to decide to 
print the Scriptures of the Portuguese version in New York. 

From Madras came word that the American Mission 
Press had been enlarged, and to make its power felt by the 


masses all was ready except the money. " My dear 
Brother," wrote Mr. Scudder, "we must go forward, and 
you must in connection with the British Bible Society come 
up to our help or our hands must hang down. Will you 
come to our help? I, with such helpers as I need, will go 
forth and distribute the books when prepared." 

The agent in the Levant, Mr. Calhoun, wrote of demands 
for Scriptures from American missionaries in Greece, Syria 
and Persia. These he supplied by buying from the British 
and Foreign Bible Society, whose agent, happily, did not re- 
fuse him as the virgins of the empty lamps in the parable 
were refused. From Dr. Grant of the American Mission in 
Persia came a moving appeal for aid to print the Bible in 
Syriac. Syriac Scriptures were scarce at Julamerk. " Nes- 
torian children," wrote Dr. Grant, " are taught to read with 
the book bottom side up or turned on either side as well as 
held in the perpendicular position so that five or six persons 
may read from a single book around which they sit in a 
circle." Such a picture of destitution coupled with youthful 
eagerness to read remains on the tablet of the mind. 

When the appropriation to aid work of any kind is once 
made, it becomes an agreement which cannot be recalled 
without notice. Men engaged for the work cannot be dis- 
missed at the close of a day, even though the Society's in- 
come dwindles. Hence applications for grants were received 
at the point of the bayonet when people at home reduced 
their donations to the Society. 

In 1835 the Board found that the census in the United 
States showed more than five thousand blind. It promptly 
decided that so soon as funds should be specially contributed 
at least the entire New Testament must be printed in letters 
which the blind can read. To Dr. Samuel G. Howe of Bos- 
ton, then engaged in experimenting to find a practical sys- 
tem of raised letters, was granted one thousand dollars and 
later further sums toward the expense of printing the New 
Testament in raised letters. The Massachusetts Bible So- 
ciety contributed for this work one thousand dollars, and 
the New York Female Bible Society eight hundred dollars 
more. " What," said a blind woman to Dr. Howe, " do you 
think I can read the New Testament which you are printing? 


Then I can die in peace ! " It was like a miracle of the Lord 
Jesus. The Board could not fail to take part in so blessed 
a work. And yet the agreement to begin this work was 
equivalent to a promise to carry it on. And so, year after 
year, many thousands of dollars have been expended by the 
Society in printing books for the blind. 

Almost unconsciously, about the same time, the Board 
agreed to another permanent draft upon the Treasury. An 
application came from the American Sunday School Union 
for the terms on which it could be supplied with Scriptures, 
since it wished to cease printing Bibles. The Managers 
agreed cordially to put that Society on the same footing, as 
to prices, with Auxiliary Bible Societies ; allowing it, more- 
over, six months credit. Later the Sunday School Union 
desired Testaments which it could sell at ten cents. They 
were furnished, although they cost the Society eleven and a 
half cents a piece. The arrangement meant a steady burden 
upon the finances of the Society, yet it was justified because 
the Sunday School Union distributed the books widely over 
the country. 

The financing of the Society was complicated by the un- 
expected in 1836 and 1837. It then had to conduct work 
under the stress of a terrible financial panic. In 1836 the 
Board of Managers actually apologised to the public because 
of a small balance in the Treasury at the end of the year. 
It had promised to pay about forty thousand dollars to mis- 
sions abroad, and part of the money was left in hand to be 
paid after correspondence. The change from fulness to 
emptiness of the Treasury came with the appalling sudden- 
ness of a tropical storm. In that year naturally a slight 
diminution of income was to be expected through the forma- 
tion of the American and Foreign Bible Society. But be- 
sides this a crisis arose in commercial circles through the 
tariff and the removal of United States funds from the 
banks under President Jackson's financial policy. Strin- 
gency for money then began. 

The year 1837 was an entire year of pecuniary embarrass- 
ment and suffering in every part of the country. Book sales 
were about five thousand dollars below the average in each 
of three next succeeding years. Collections of money for 


the Bible Society were difficult and sometimes impossible. 
Auxiliaries in many cases had to take payment in farm 
produce for Scriptures or for annual subscriptions toward 
the Bible Society work. Such contributions often spoiled 
in store because there was no transportation to a market. 
In the West when money was paid over, the treasurer of a 
local Society could not remit it to New York without a very 
heavy discount. Consequently money which ought to be in 
New York remained in the treasuries of Auxiliary Socie- 
ties. Money that was sent sometimes lost its value on the 
journey to New York. The Treasurer's report for 1839 
showed a balance in hand of $1,452.43, and frankly specified 
the elements of this balance to wit : Bills receivable not re- 
ceived, $562.43 ; broken bank and counterfeit notes, $142.50 ; 
Texas money not current, $747.50; total, $1,452.43. 

As the time dragged along the stock of books in the deposi- 
tory was lower than for several years, but more Scriptures 
could not be printed because the receipts from sales had 
fallen off. The Board did not feel justified in borrowing 
money for printing, and was unwilling to plead importunately 
for money because of the suffering that blighted the whole 
nation. Like a noble ship driven by a hurricane, the Bible 
Society was thrust by each voracious wave nearer to a rocky 
coast. Money was not available to pay the appropriations 
for American Missions abroad. The Society was in debt to 
the mission in Ceylon, the missionaries having begun print- 
ing as soon as an appropriation was announced. In sheer 
desperation the Board considered dismissing the printers and 
binders in New York, and announcing to missionaries every- 
where that it was impossible to furnish the promised money. 
Mr. Calhoun, foreseeing this, wrote from Turkey in 1838: 
" Your contributions have gladdened the hearts of the mis- 
sionaries; will you now abandon them? If so my work will 
be short." Mr. Goodell at Constantinople wrote : " We 
cannot indulge for a moment the thought of the American 
Bible Society giving up its work in the Mediterranean 
regions. It would be unjust! The American Bible So- 
ciety has been doing a great and good work here. If it 
holds on but three or four years longer it will complete the 
great things which it has undertaken, and then can retire 


with honour and with the gratitude of half the world." The 
Board of Managers when obliged to hear such reproach- 
ful pleading felt like a culprit before his righteous 

Before the end of 1838, as if in answer to the prayers of 
his distracted servants the Master had come to lead them 
to their desired haven, there was a sudden calm. Dona- 
tions from Auxiliary Societies kept coming in until a total 
of twenty-four thousand dollars was reached. Such a sum 
had not before been paid in one year by Auxiliary Societies. 
Mr. James Douglass of Cavors, Scotland, without solicitation 
was suddenly moved to send a draft for one thousand pounds 
sterling, as a donation to the Society. About the same time 
some one bought a part of the land in Pennsylvania left to the 
Society by Dr. Boudinot fifteen years before, and this unex- 
pectedly brought in two thousand dollars. Other legacies 
paid in 1837 and 1838 brought eighteen thousand dollars 
more into the Treasury. The lean years were ended ; the re- 
lief seemed to be due to a divine intervention ; the very print- 
ing presses hummed out psalms of thanksgiving. The mis- 
sionaries in Ceylon received their belated grant ; Scudder and 
Winslow in India beamed with happiness on receiving five 
thousand dollars at once to print books for the poor Tamil 
villagers; Agent Calhoun had solid comfort to spare for 
Goodell and Schauffkr, the translators ; and Siam, Africa and 
the Sandwich Islands received their allotted portions with 
joy. As for the men burdened with the problem of finding 
the means for all these important labours, they thanked God 
and went on with new courage. 

It may be of interest to note, just here, the amount of re- 
ceipts of the Society during the first twenty-five years. The 
aggregate of these receipts was $1,814,705. Almost half of 
this amount came from sales of books, and went to re-stock 
empty shelves. The donations of Auxiliary Societies during 
the twenty-five years amounted to $469,284. Donations 
from churches, societies, individuals, including Bible So- 
cieties not Auxiliary amounted to $391,475. Legacies re- 
ceived during the twenty-five years made a total of $103,410. 
About $24,000 were received from other sources such as 
rents, interest, etc. These totals made a very encouraging 


showing, when we remember the two or three years of 
financial panic and real poverty in almost all parts of the 

The problem of providing means for a work like that of 
the Society was an inheritance from the fathers. The people 
who called the Society into being had mostly passed away at 
the end of a quarter of a century, and so to many the Bible 
Society seemed a case of spontaneous generation for the 
maintenance of which no one outside of its membership had 
responsibility. Such careless aloofness was due to igno- 
rance and not to ill-will. Financing the Society required the 
Board in the executive officers to keep close to the people so 
as to remove ignorance, scatter information, and so to draw 
the sons to feel toward the Society as their fathers did. The 
Society was a living thing; therefore, it could not remain 
limited to the measure of its first activities; it grew, and 
growth means larger supplies of the means of support. The 
development of the object for which the Society was formed 
was a sacred trust committed to the Society by the last gen- 
eration that the Board might hand it down to its successors. 
The Bible Society, like a great fruit-bearing tree, needs not 
only earth and sunlight and space to grow, but water and 
suitable nourishment in order to rejoice the people with 
abundant fruit. To provide these is a duty that falls upon 
the shoulders of each successive generation of our people, 
and to them, if they but appreciate it, such a duty will prove 
a veritable mantle of Elijah. 

At the end of the first twenty-five years of its existence 
the Bible Society represented the definite purpose of a solid 
and influential part of the American people. It had a right 
to assume that all the people can be interested in learning its 
work, and can learn that it properly depends upon the people 
all over the land for the support of enterprises placed in its 
hands by the providence of God. When there is questioning, 
then, why the American Bible Society should stand at the 
door pleading for money, the answer is that the Board and 
its officers are bound to make these requests. This is not 
like some visionary scheme for drawing light and heat with- 
out labour or expense from coal as it lies in the mine. It 


is a skilfully directed missionary enterprise, which, in the 
providence of God, like all sane enterprises of His church, 
had direct and active relation to the whole progress of the 



On the 13th day of May, 1841, the American Bible Society 
met at the Society's house in New York at nine o'clock a. m v 
and after the routine business was transacted, at half past 
nine a procession was formed, consisting of officers, man- 
agers, guests, members, delegates, clergymen and others, 
which moved to the Tabernacle on Broadway. At ten 
o'clock the chair was taken by the President supported by six 
Vice-Presidents, and the meeting was opened by Rev. Dr. 
Milnor reading part of the 1 19th Psalm. 

President John Cotton Smith delivered an address, empha- 
sising the promise for the future found in the experiences of 
the past. Secretary Brigham then read a report of the oper- 
ations of the twenty-fifth year. The issues were 150,202 
volumes, making the aggregate issues of the Society in 
twenty-five years 2,795,698 volumes. The receipts from all 
sources amounted to $118,860.41 ; the aggregate receipts for 
twenty-five years being $947,384.06. The Scriptures had 
been circulated in about fifty languages and especially among 
the poor who would not otherwise have received the gospel. 

The report of this meeting adds, " As usual the audience 
was immense and attentive, evincing unabated attachment to 
the circulation of the Bible." A part of this interest came 
from a dramatic incident. The Rev. Hiram Bingham, mis- 
sionary of the American Board in the Sandwich Islands, 
and translator of the Bible, was called upon for an address. 
He brought forward and formally presented to the Society a 
copy of the Bible in Hawaiian, the result of fifteen years' 
labour which he said had been made available to the people 
by financial aid from the American Bible Society. A thrill 
ran through the audience like that which moved the multi- 


1832-1841] A TELLING APPEAL 163 

tude when Jesus Christ gave hearing and speech to the dumb. 
People looked their satisfaction into each other's eyes. 

Mr. Bingham made a telling point in his address when he 
said that he had just learned that the Society had appro- 
priated fifty thousand dollars to be given for Bible work 
among heathen abroad during the current year. " I cannot 
conceal my grief," he said. " If I were to express my feel- 
ing and that of my associates I would say to the Board of 
Managers, ' Take thy bill quickly and write five hundred 
thousand/ Would not this enlightened and Christian as- 
sembly approve the amendment ? Just think of it ; fifty thou- 
sand dollars for the whole pagan world ! " The passionate 
entreaty was not lost upon the audience, although no action 
upon it could be hastily taken. During years they had given 
and had prayed that their gifts might advance the kingdom. 
The gifts and the prayers had been accepted and used by 
God as they desired ! In Hawaii a newly Christianised na- 
tion was the result ! Such an appeal emphasised as nothing 
else could the increased opportunity for service which 
marked these twenty-five years. Men went from that meet- 
ing convinced of the great possibilities which God has placed 
before the Society, and in it before all Christians. 

One point of difference in the position of the Society 'w 
1841 compared with its uncertain beginnings in 1816 is shown 
in its stable administration. The outstanding feature of its 
administration was its dependence upon the Auxiliary Bible 
Societies. Many of them represented mere good intentions 
without strength to execute ; and the list of Auxiliary Socie- 
ties had been in great measure cleared of the weaklings. 
Many dormant Auxiliaries had been revived, sometimes 
with a more simple organisation. All of the Auxiliaries 
were knit more firmly together through their union with the 
American Bible Society, and all knew that the plan of this 
combined action was a plan that would work. Aspirations 
like that for the General Supply or for work in foreign 
fields would have vanished like air-castles of other types 
had these Societies not been bound together by means of a 
national Society. 

Another salient point of difference between the Society in 
1841 and the Society in 1816 was its comprehension of its 


home field. The fact that distribution at home was a vital 
necessity, had become elucidated and fully understood. In 
1816 the great work before the Society was to print Bibles. 
It is a great thing to print many Bibles, but in 1841 it had 
become a commonplace axiom that though the number 
printed be enough to bury the Bible House, the books would 
do no good unless carried forth to the needy. The Society 
had learned in some degree that people may eat at the same 
table, find shelter under the same roof, and yet be miles apart 
in their spiritual sympathies. It now included in its fields 
points in Europe, Asia, and Africa, but it appreciated the 
wrong which would be involved in thinking the needs of 
Turkey more urgent than those of Tennessee. 

Its field at home had many pressing problems, the most 
grave of which was that after all the lavish supply there 
were still in these United States people handicapped by igno- 
rance of the Bible. How could any one live without the 
Bible for one year? Members of the Board would almost as 
soon give up life as give up the Bible. The golden rule of a 
Bible Society is to do to others, even at home, as it would be 
done by. Some paragraphs in the report of May, 1841, 
showed both the need and the helpless desires of destitute 
people to find the Bible. One agent in the mountains of 
Kentucky said that hundreds and thousands of women in 
that state are anxious to get the Bible, praying God to let 
them have one, who never had and never would have so 
much as fifty cents of their own. One of these women said 
she loved the Bible ; she had seen but one in five years, and 
that belonged to a friend living seven miles away. She 
would buy a Bible but she had no money. The agent gave 
her one. Tears came to her eyes as she said, " It is the 
most precious present I have ever received. Now instead 
of visiting on Sunday I can stay with my Bible and be 
happy." Another agent in southeastern Georgia told of a 
house which he reached by a log path ; that is, a line of trees 
so felled that one touches the other, bridging a great swamp. 
In three families which the agent visited at the other end 
of this primitive path, but one person could read ; but when 
that one person was given a Bible, the three families estab- 
lished the custom of meeting together every night and the 


one read aloud to them, stooping over the fire of pine knots 
which gave them light. The Society had a right to insist 
that " demand for the Bible among the destitute proves that 
God both prepares their hearts to receive it, and "calls upon 
us to circulate it more extensively." 

In the early years of the Society some warm-hearted 
Christians feared the effect of giving to ignorant people 
Bibles without notes. This fear was of the same quality as 
that of a grandmother who protests on seeing a grandchild 
fed meat for the first time. But the dread of Bibles without 
notes slowly passed away. As President Mark Hopkins 
strongly said in an address at the Anniversary in 1840 
(which we cannot give in full), none should say there is 
harm in giving ignorant people the Bible without notes. 
The sun requires no artifical medium by which to transmit its 
light. The free air of heaven needs no addendum of human 
perfumes to make it healthful. No one hesitates to let his 
child see the works of God in the sky or in the rocks fear- 
ing lest the child's simple mind be disturbed by the contro- 
versies of geologists and astronomers. The child's emotions 
of beauty and sublimity are called forth by seeing the 
grandeurs of nature. So with the Bible. 

The Biblical scientist may dig down through the strata of 
truth and adopt what pleases him ; " but let the child and 
the unlettered feel the beauty and sublimity and moral 
power of the precepts and facts of revelation which God has 
made to stand out as great rocky mountains. Love of truth 
helps one to comprehend truth." And so it is lawful to place 
the light of truth in the benighted cottage; to give durable 
riches to the poor; to give the oil of joy to widow and 
orphan; to give the soldier, the sailor, and the immigrant 
an invaluable directory. The Society had freely added all 
these to the privileges of its home field in twenty-five years 
of experience. 

The Society's serious work in the foreign field was en- 
tirely the development of a decade, and that field in 1841 
was no longer a vague expanse of unknown and unclassified 
paganism. The American foreign missionary societies since 
the organisation of the Bible Society had sent men to spread 
the gospel in many foreign lands. As soon as these mission- 


aries realised the need of Bibles they cried aloud to the 
American Bible Society for help, so that by the end of the 
twenty-fifth year the work of the Society was linked to 
that of missions in Asia, Africa, and Oceania besides those 
in America and in Europe. Hiram Bingham said truly, in 
speaking of the Bible Society at the anniversary, that " the 
Bible cause every year assumes new importance from the 
indispensable aid which it furnishes the advancing cause of 
Christian missions/' It seemed almost as if the whole ques- 
tion of a speedy evangelisation of the world might depend 
upon the will of contributors to Bible Societies. 

Another point of gain in the equipment of the Society in 
twenty-five years was its increased command of languages. 
In 1817 the Board had already arranged to purchase French 
and German Scriptures, and expressed the hope that some 
time to these it might add Scriptures in Spanish and Portu- 
guese. By the end of 1841 the Society had printed or aided 
in printing Bibles, Testaments or portions in five languages 
of the American Indians, seven European languages, five 
languages of Asiatic Turkey, seven languages of India, be- 
sides Hawaiian, Chinese, and the Grebo language of West 
Africa. Moreover, in carrying on its work, it had found 
it necessary to purchase Scriptures in twenty other lan- 

This rapid gain sprang from the entreaty of missionaries 
for aid not only in printing but also in translating the 
Scriptures. The American Board in those days was the 
largest of the foreign missionary societies, and consequently 
the larger part of these requests came from its missions. 
Under its charter that Society was obliged to print Bibles 
for its different fields when necessary. In its first twenty 
years it had printed the Scriptures in various alien lan- 
guages. In September, 1839, however, Rev. Dr. Ander- 
son, Secretary of the A. B. C. F. M., wrote Secretary Brig- 
ham that appropriations had been made to its missionary 
stations absorbing all its probable income; but that it had 
not appropriated one dollar for printing Scriptures, leaving 
this entirely to the American Bible Society. 

The printing of Bibles for missions brought the Society 
an important advantage in close personal relations with the 


missionaries who knew their fields most thoroughly. They 
must have been men of strong initiative and endurance who 
in those days could venture to translate the Bible. Some 
of the names of the early missionaries of the American 
Board have been treasured in Bible Society records as well 
as in those of the missionary Society. We have room only 
to mention a few who were busy with Bible translation at 
that time : J. B. Adger, William Goodell, W. G. Schauffler, 
H. G. O. Dwight, and Elias Riggs, in Turkey ; Hiram Bing- 
ham in the Sandwich Islands, and E. C. Bridgman in China ; 
and among missionaries working in the United States, S. 
Riggs, Williamson, besides Dencke, whose was the version 
in the Delaware language first undertaken by the Society. 
These men put into the hands of the Bible Society a God- 
given power, for it takes several years to fit out one mission- 
ary in a single language, but in one year a Bible Society 
can make thousands of Bibles in many languages which 
when ready can be set in places reached by no living mission- 

A curious illustration of the importance of this power 
was seen in Bombay, India, when as a by-product of the So- 
ciety's edition of the Scriptures in Marathi, Israel was en- 
lightened. Numbers of Jews living in Bombay had for- 
gotten Hebrew and had almost lost the principles of their 
religion. But they eagerly took up the study of the Old 
Testament in Marathi which was a revelation to them, and 
led to important reforms. So in this blessed work the very 
languages come bowing the neck to receive the yoke of the 
Son of God, lending themselves to the sower of the Word. 

From all this it becomes clear that the Society had now 
reached maturity. Its bones were hardened, its muscles 
toughened, and its eyes trained accurately to observe. 
Much preparation is required to turn the recruit into a sol- 
dier; seasoned, cool and unflinching. The Society had 
found that a means used of God for securing his servants 
from unfruitful effort is often a plain blocking of the way. 
As Burke says, " Our antagonist is our helper." The fact 
is that men pray for quiet success too much. They would 
not seek the quiet that belongs to stagnation. Any life, to 
be tolerable, must have aspirations which spring from dis- 


content with current conditions; leading perhaps to strife, 
but certainly to struggle. The Board of Managers probably 
much desired a plain and easy path, but looking back upon 
its course during these years, it saw that the progress gained 
could not have been gained by any who sit at ease in Zion. 

The death list in the records of the Bible Society during 
twenty-five years includes three Presidents, twenty-three 
vice-Presidents, and seventeen members of the Board of 
Managers. As President John Cotton Smith said : " The 
virtues of the men who founded the American Bible Society 
are to be revered and emulated, but the places once occupied 
by those deceased associates in active duty have been suc- 
cessively filled by men capable and qualified for these onerous 
and responsible offices." The men now in charge of the af- 
fairs of the Society found themselves trusted by the people 
not alone because of the great men who had gone but be- 
cause of their own good service, just as the soldier is re- 
warded on the battle-field ; not for the rank which he holds 
but for what he has done. 

A precious gain of the Society in its first quarter century 
was a larger appreciation of the power of the Bible to 
change men. We may not understand this power, but we 
can feel it and see it, just as we can live and grow without 
understanding how food is changed into blood, muscle and 
bone. Where the Bible is not read corrupt forms of re- 
ligion prevail. It was the privilege of the Society in these 
years to see nations definitely influenced by the Bible in 
South America, in Turkey, and in the Sandwich Islands, 
besides noting its influence in different parts of the United 
States. In Latin America, whether in Mexico, West Indies 
or the different countries of South America, cases were re- 
peatedly observed where the lives of men were lifted to a 
high plane through Bible study ; and many were prepared for 
receiving instructions of the missionaries soon to establish 
themselves in those regions. In Greece twenty thousand 
copies of the New Testament had been scattered among the 
schools and the homes of the common people. This sowing 
was somewhat like that of the parable; much of the seed 
seemed wasted, and yet, there too, the seed which fell on 
good ground repaid all the expense and all the labour. 


The Bible points out germicides which arrest moral and 
spiritual decay. No medical man or professor of bacteri- 
ology is as positively sure as this book in the indication of 
antiseptics that prevent blood-poisoning. 

In Turkey before 1841 twenty-five American mission- 
aries with their wives had established themselves in ten 
widely separated stations in different parts of the empire. 
Each one of these stations was a distributing centre for 
Scriptures furnished by the Bible Society. The stations 
nearest the coast were built upon foundations laid by Mr. 
Benjamin Barker, Agent of the British and Foreign Bible 
Society ; but after 1836 they were supplied by the American 
Bible Society, some with books printed in Turkey on the 
mission press at its expense, some with Scriptures bought 
from the Agent of the British Society. By the close link- 
ing of the Society with the missions these Scriptures were 
distributed with a discretion and thoroughness which no 
single agent of any Bible Society could exercise; and the 
result, precious fruit of larger grants of the American Bible 
Society, was a general clearing of the religious ideas of Ar- 
menians and Greeks. Unsound thoughts leave the mind in 
the presence of the word of God as silt leaves the turbid 
stream, sinking to the bottom where it belongs, when ex- 
posed to the light and air of heaven. 

A lesson of these experiences is that the Bible glorifies 
God. The Book was planted as an essential in the first 
American colonies ; it moved men to make so rare a treasure 
known to the destitute ; it thus assured in the midst of the 
nation a will to serve the purposes of God, and became 
fundamental in both Bible Society and missionary Society. 
Thoughtful men regarding the story of the first quarter of 
a century of the Bible Society were startled by evidence, 
withal, that God's hand directed its course. This guidance 
was seen in the time at which the organisation took place, 
just as immigration commenced to assume importance and 
as the vast territories of " Louisiana " received from Na- 
poleon had begun to attract settlers. It was seen in the re- 
sponsibility brought upon the Society for providing French, 
Spanish and German Scriptures to be used in the United 
States ; it was seen again in the attention to needs in South 


America forced by a logic like that of Joseph Hughes: if 
we can give Bibles to the aliens in the United States, why 
not to those using the same languages elsewhere? It was 
seen in the simultaneous invention by several Auxiliary 
Bible Societies of the plan of systematic supply of all desti- 
tute families in their local fields within two years' time, 
which plan men dared apply to the whole United States; 
and it was seen again in the echo from American missions 
abroad of the reports of this General Supply at home, that 
led to the momentous decision to supply all American 
foreign missionaries, so making the American Society a 
world Bible Society. 

Thus the Board of Managers had seen a vision of God's 
hand beckoning and had heard His voice calling to the 
action for which He Himself had raised it up. Nothing 
had remained for them to do but to throw energy and per- 
sistence into their work, with thanksgiving for the privi- 
lege of a share in the divine purpose to establish His king- 
dom ; and with every servant through whom from the begin- 
ning the kingdom has been in any way advanced, each mem- 
ber of the Board and every Secretary was moved to the ut- 
terance of the old song : " The Lord has triumphed glori- 
ously, praise ye the Lord ! " 

FOURTH PERIOD 1841-1861 


A most commonplace axiom declares acts to be perma- 
nent in their results. On the other hand any great enter- 
prise in these days has some date which men call its begin- 
ning, although the true beginning is not commonly sought. 
The American Bible Society came into existence in 1816; 
before that, however, the idea from which it sprang was 
rooted in many lands. Europe, with its turmoil of clash- 
ing religious and political systems ; the Roman Empire, with 
its iron rigidity of organisation ; the Jewish Commonwealth, 
with its glory and its shame, all nourished some roots of this 
great idea. The idea which took form in America in 1816 
did not then have its beginning. Paul has planted, Apollos 
has watered, and the increase has followed in time from 
principles of uplift long unnoted. 

Small events described in the first twenty-five years cov- 
ered by this story have somehow become knit together in a 
complicated pattern. Since the story hereafter deals more 
clearly with results than with mere hopes and plans, mys- 
tery gives place to certainty that a Society " whose beginnings 
are eternal " does not end when men connected with it end 
their active life. An empire built upon force of arms be- 
gins with a man skilled in arms and bold in self-assertion, 
and it ends when his successors let it fall. The enterprise 
of the Bible Society abides because it plants in the minds 
of sincere Bible lovers, God's truth. Some of these will 
hand the Word down to children's children, and some will 
pass it on to neighbours who bequeath it to their children's 
children. The result is an ever widening circle whose 
centre is the truth which makes men free. An end to this 
extension cannot be imagined, any more than one can 
imagine the end of rare and beautiful flowers seen in Japan 



or China or South America, and brought to our gardens. 
No one discusses whether seed or flower came first, and no 
one dreams of an end to the species, once established in the 

The permanence of the plant once established was not 
necessarily prominent in the minds of the Board as it faced 
the question, How can the work 'of the Society advance in 
this country with the growth of population ? The first step 
to finding the destitute Americans in the home field was ap- 
preciation, at last, of its immensity. The strongest Auxil- 
iary Bible Societies were all within three hundred miles of 
New York City; but by painful experience the Board had 
learned in 1841 that its greatest problems lay beyond a circle 
three hundred miles from New York. Sitting in New York 
the Board heard appeals from the people and from its 
Agents; some were five hundred miles away, some eight 
hundred, some twelve hundred, and some almost three 
thousand miles away, yet within the limits of the United 
States. The efficiency of plans to increase the circulation 
of the Bible at such distances rested upon the hearts of 
members of the Board as constantly as the need to make 
money hangs about the neck of one who has planned to ac- 
quire quickly a million dollars. And the urgency of these 
appeals pressed upon the Managers of the Bible Society be- 
cause without the Bible men, women and children of the 
frontier districts would become hardened through follow- 
ing their own hot desires as the earth is hardened by the sun 
in a weary land where no water is. 

In this desperate condition were the people among whom 
Agent Simpson of Kentucky worked in the late forties and 
of whom he wrote. " They are often as careless and in- 
different about spiritual things as the wild beasts in their 
own mountains. No minister has ever had access to them, 
and around them no moral restraints are ever thrown." Yet 
these were full-blooded descendants of the early colonists. 
The greatness of its task was forced upon the attention of 
the Board by such reports as that one-fourth of the families 
of Kentucky had no Bible; in several election districts of 
Maryland the same ratio of destitution was found ; in Potter 
County, Pennsylvania, which had been supplied five years be- 


fore, fully one-fourth of the families in the increased popu- 
lation were destitute. The need to save our own people 
from dry rot, and the sense that it was for their sake, per- 
haps, that the Bible Society had " come to the kingdom," 
pressed ceaselessly upon conscience. The members of the 
Board, the Secretaries, the Agents, the Auxiliaries, the ex- 
plorers whom the Auxiliaries employed, their officers, and 
the many branch Societies might have been found, there- 
fore, in the twenty years before the Civil War breathlessly 
working together for the one object of the Bible Society — 
an instrument of uplift divinely supplied with pervasive 

By this time the American Bible Society had some thou- 
sands of Life Members and a very considerable number of 
Life Directors. To these friends the Board looked for aid. 
Life Members and Life Directors scattered over the whole 
breadth of the country might distribute many Bibles. The 
Board, therefore, decided in 1841 to let every Life Member 
participate in Bible distribution by receiving without charge 
one dollar's worth of Bibles or Testaments in each year. 
The same cheap books to a larger value would be given, on 
request, to each of the Life Directors. In the first year 
after this decision about eleven hundred dollars' worth of 
Bibles and Testaments were distributed among the poor by 
Life Members and Life Directors. Later it became neces- 
sary once or twice for the Board to call attention to the pur- 
pose of enabling Life Members and Life Directors to be 
agents of Bible distribution, for which this annuity of books 
was allowed; but the purpose has been, to a large degree, 
carried out, many and many worthy poor having received, 
through Life Directors and Life Members, Scriptures which 
they 'otherwise could not have obtained. The system was 
as simple as the distribution of water from an irrigating 
canal over a wide expanse of country by means of little 
channels opened when needed by individual farmers. 

Another method of widely distributing Scriptures which 
suggested itself to the Board of Managers was enlistment of 
the good offices of pastors. It seemed reasonable that the 
destitute should be supplied with Scriptures by their nearest 
neighbours, and the Board sent out circulars urging pastors 


of churches to help the local Auxiliary Societies to reach 
needs in their own fields. No agency could equal churches 
interested in the work and co-operating with the Society. 
The pastor is one individual in a church, but by his leader- 
ship the people are impelled to win others. It was this great 
influence which the Board sought to gain and did gain in the 
sparsely settled districts. As the churches became larger 
and the cares of the clergy more complicated, it came to pass 
in many instances, however, that pastors replied, when asked 
to act as distributors and collectors for the Bible Society, 
that with the duties of their charges and the supervision of 
the many charities of the day they were taxed to the full ex- 
tent of their physical powers. When asked, at least to in- 
duce members of their churches to lend a hand in Bible dis- 
tribution, many replied that laymen are so pressed with the 
legitimate engagements of business as to have little time to 
make personal distribution of Scriptures. The country was 
growing up; its people were fully occupied. The Board 
was forced to rely chiefly upon Auxiliary Societies for ex- 
ploring the needy fastnesses of the West. 

The Board at its station in New York regarded Auxiliary 
Bible Societies five hundred, a thousand, or fifteen hundred 
miles away as the natural outlet for the stream of Bibles 
and Testaments continually issuing from the Bible House. 
Many days' journey from that Managers' Room, where 
reigned supreme the one desire to build up character in the 
nation, somebody must seek out those careless about char- 
acter. Auxiliary Societies on the ground could most wisely 
choose and direct explorers and Bible distributors. So it 
came about that the Board urged the six hundred or more 
Auxiliary Societies beyond the Alleghanies to strengthen 
their organisations, securing the co-operation of every church 
and every individual. 

The Auxiliaries of the Eastern States were caring for 
their own fields. The New York Bible Society was supply- 
ing the destitute in New York City and the immigrants as 
they landed after the tedious passage across the ocean. 
Through work among the merchant ships in the harbour, 
the New York Society and also the Philadelphia Society 
found means of getting Bibles into Spain. This in the 


fifties was an impossible feat if directly attempted. Spanish 
sailors in New York harbour, however, supplied with the 
Book which to them was a curiosity were careful enough to 
see that no custom house or police devices in their own land 
touched their own private property. The Massachusetts 
Bible Society, the New Hampshire Bible Society, the Ver- 
mont Bible Society, comparatively near at hand, were all 
busy with the distribution in their own states. The Penn- 
sylvania Bible Society in the three years, 1841 to 1844, dis- 
tributed one hundred and fifty-three thousand volumes in its 
own field. It built a commodious Bible House in Philadel- 
phia but even this expense did not lead it to diminish the 
donation of some five thousand dollars which each year it 
attempted to place at the disposal of the national Society. 
The Virginia Bible Society, fully awake to the ignorance 
which was threatening the mountain regions of that state, 
effectively worked for Bible distribution, placing two or 
three thousand volumes each year in the most needy dis- 
tricts. But it was beyond the five hundred mile limit that 
the Board of Managers most felt its dependence upon 
Auxiliaries as channels of distribution. 

Types of the distant but active societies linking remote 
populations with the warm sympathy centred in New York 
are worthy of notice. One was the Nashville Bible So- 
ciety, of which General Andrew Jackson had been the first 
vice-President. This Society was the source of supply of 
all destitute families in Middle Tennessee in 1829, and 
twenty-five years later was busily distributing Scriptures not 
only in its own, but in many neighbouring counties. An- 
other efficient Society was the Charleston Auxiliary in South 
Carolina which paid a part of the salary of the Agent sent by 
the Board to supervise Bible distribution in that state, and 
which showed marked activity until the Civil War cut off, 
for a time, communication between the New York Bible 
House and the Southern States. One of the last acts of the 
Charleston Auxiliary before the outbreak of the Civil War 
was in i860 to send a donation of one thousand dollars to 
the American Bible Society while at the same time dis- 
tributing 800 volumes of Scripture among the troops who 
were shortly to begin the attack upon Fort Sumter. An- 


other of these more distant Bible Societies was the Ala- 
bama Bible Society which in 1852 built a serviceable Bible 
House stocked with Scriptures for the surrounding ten or 
fifteen counties. A thousand miles or so from New York 
was the New Orleans Bible Society. Here the American 
Bible Society kept a stock of about $5,000 worth of Scrip- 
tures in various languages for distribution among interior 
towns, and, during the Mexican War, in Texas and in 
Mexico. After the Mexican War the New Orleans Bible 
Society bought the whole stock of books belonging to the 
American Bible Society in that city and shortly took part 
in the organisation of the Southwestern Bible Society at 
New Orleans in which it was merged and which built a Bible 
House in New Orleans from which Bible workers through- 
out the Southwest could obtain supplies. 

In 1857 the Southwestern Bible Society reported that dur- 
ing the six years since its organisation it had sent 42,000 vol- 
umes of Scripture into Louisiana and Southern Mississippi, 
and had explored territories which up to this moment had 
never been systematically examined. Equally important, 
but not quite so far away, was the St. Louis Bible Society 
whose efficiency was shown in the year of financial panic, 
1847, by its visitation of ten thousand families in Missouri, 
of whom only three hundred destitute of the Bible refused 
to be supplied. Still within a circle of one thousand miles 
from New York, the officers of the Auxiliaries in Illinois 
took up enthusiastically the plan of establishing branch So- 
cieties in every township. In 1855 there were in that state 
six hundred and twenty-five Auxiliary Bible Societies and 
branches. In 1857 there were a thousand so well organised 
that there were fully one thousand local depositories in the 
state. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Illinois 
had one thousand two hundred and twenty-five Bible So- 
cieties which had issued fifty-five thousand volumes during 
the year ; fifteen hundred ministers co-operating heartily in 
the distribution and forming a part of an effective army of 
ten thousand unpaid volunteers engaged in Bible distribu- 
tion in the state. 

Separated from New York by the whole breadth of the 
Continent, in 1850 an Auxiliary Bible Society was organised 


in San Francisco by the Rev. F. Buel, whom the Board had 
sent in August in 1849, by way of the Panama railroad, 
post haste to furnish Bibles for that wonderful region of 
gold which passed through no territorial childhood, but al- 
most as soon as Commodore Sloat and Colonel Fremont had 
taken possession sprang into notice a full grown and amply 
populated country demanding admission as a state. Al- 
most with its first introduction to the people of the Eastern 
States, Christian workers hurried to this wonderful new 
country. Churches were built and to the infinite satisfac- 
tion of the Board of Managers of the Bible Society, in settle- 
ments where no preacher had yet appeared, Bible deposi- 
tories had been opened, stocked with Scriptures in almost all 
the languages of Babel. Two thousand miles west of New 
York was another distributing centre among, the Mormons 
in Utah. At first Bible distribution was approved and the 
Mormons themselves organised little local Bible Societies; 
but in 1858 there is a record of the unhappy ending of the 
work so pleasantly commenced. In that year the Mormons 
expelled from Utah territory the Bible Society Agents. 

Of course there were some idle and inefficient Societies 
which could not be moved by any high tension motors in 
New York, but in general the zeal and the efficiency of these 
distant Auxiliary Societies counted for much in solving the 
problems of the Board. 

The various methods devised by the Board for the supply 
of the United States form a complicated whole sometimes 
described summarily as " machinery." But in Bible dis- 
tribution on such a scale no system of mere machinery can 
achieve results. In this case action must be thoughtful and 
sympathetic or the object will not be attained for which the 
great Master of all work thrusts forth His labourers. As 
already mentioned, the Board employed superintending and 
advisory agents, especially in fields where the duty of seek- 
ing and supplying the destitute was neglected or imper- 
fectly performed. Each Agent had under his supervision 
from forty to fifty counties, in each of which, theoretically, 
an Auxiliary Bible Society was constantly in action. In 
the districts of the West and Southwest, far from New 
York, it was found that Auxiliaries could do little unless 


occasionally visited by an Agent to advise and to strengthen 
their purpose of looking up and supplying the destitute. An 
illustration of the influence of the Agents marks a stage of 
progress in New Jersey. In 1848 there were in that state 
forty-one Auxiliary Bible Societies. Twenty-three of these 
were absolutely torpid. An Agent was appointed by the 
Board to re-animate these local Bible Societies. After five 
years, returns from New Jersey showed that there was 
hardly a single inactive Society in the state. But the reports 
of the national Society do not show the whole result of 
such agencies, for a number of strong state Societies ap- 
pointed and supported Agents of their own to advise and en- 
courage the county Auxiliaries. 

In 1842 the number of Agents employed by the Ameri- 
can Bible Society was fifteen. The number was gradually 
increased until after four or five years, between thirty and 
forty Agents were in the service all the time. These Agents 
were carefully selected for the work, since, like St. Paul, 
they must count physical obstacles as naught. In a newly 
settled region the Bible Agent's condition resembles that of 
the settlers whose log huts he visits. His work is of the 
same type as that of men newly occupying wild land. It 
is the work of taking out the tangled undergrowth, felling 
trees, dragging together logs, chopping up branches, and 
finally ploughing and harrowing the soil that it may be seeded 
down. Of a typical Agent it is recorded that " he sought 
to organise a Bible Society Auxiliary in every congrega- 
tion." This was the Rev. Thomas Stringfield, of Tennessee 
and Alabama, who afterwards became editor, the first editor 
in fact of the Southwestern Christian Advocate, now the 
Christian Advocate published at Nashville, Tennessee, 
being the organ of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. 
Our space will not allow us to characterise in details the 
members of this noble body of Christian workers. 

Nothing was ever achieved without enthusiasm, and there- 
fore Agents must feel that they are called to the work, and 
are doing that for which God has sent them. They were 
chosen for spiritual qualities as well as for those more ob- 
viously needed which imply strength of body and of mind ; 
and it has been the experience of the Society from the be- 


ginning that to be personally engaged in taking the Bible to 
those who do not know or do not want it is a means of 
spiritual growth which is not to be surpassed. 

Sometimes the work of taking Bibles into the wilderness 
was costly on account of the sparseness of the population. 
Rev. J. A. Baughman, Agent in Michigan, some ten years 
after the territory had become a state, reported that the dis- 
tance he travelled during the year was 2,723 miles, but the 
number of books which he put into circulation was only three 
thousand five hundred volumes. An Agent in one of the 
Southern States gives in his report a glimpse of other cares 
in this kind of life : " I have been separated from my 
family in special cases eight or ten weeks at a time, suf- 
fering many inconveniences, several times being upset in 
stages, more than once barely escaping drowning on the 
coast, preaching usually three times on Sunday besides ad- 
dressing Conventions and Auxiliary Societies almost every 
day during the week. All these things combine to make 
the year one of toil and sacrifice; but I do not regret it." 
Rev. J. J. Simpson, an Agent partly supported by the Lex- 
ington and Vicinity, Kentucky, Bible Society had for the 
goal of his efforts a visit to every family in his district that 
could be reached on horseback or on foot. One adventure 
in seeking out the houses of settlers hidden away in the 
woods, included missing the road in the dark and finding 
himself in a ravine from which there was no visible exit. 
Providentially, at this crisis, out of the darkness, two rough 
looking but kind-hearted farmers came to his relief. The 
records of this class of labour also include tragedies. The 
Rev. H. J. Durbin, one of these Agents, while riding through 
a forest in a storm was killed by a heavy branch torn from a 
tree by the gale. Rev. Richard Bond, an experienced and 
efficient Agent in Missouri, was killed by the accidental dis- 
charge of a carbine brought home as a trophy from Mexico 
by one of the volunteers. In Indiana, Agent Mayhew was 
drowned in fording a river. While Agent Hatcher of 
Tennessee was absent from home on a Bible tour in 1850, 
his house, library and papers were burned. The shock of 
the home-coming can be imagined ! 
x The expense of maintaining agents among the Auxiliary 


Societies was a subject of constant anxiety to the Board. 
The average annual cost to the Society of an Agent was 
something like one thousand dollars ; but no new discussion 
of the question disclosed means of avoiding the expense. It 
could not be a wise economy to save the cost of Agents and 
let Auxiliary Societies give up the struggle and die. The 
newly settled regions in the West must be supplied at all 
costs ; and after the year 1848 the Board deliberately decided 
to treat distant western territories as the British and For- 
eign Bible Society treated countries in Europe and Asia 
where Scriptures were not easily put in circulation. Be- 
sides the Agents, Colporteurs were employed wherever 
Auxiliaries were feeble, and in districts where no Auxiliary 
had been formed, to act as explorers to unearth and supply 
families that were carelessly living without the Bible. 

Under the influence of the Agents the number of Auxiliary 
Societies and especially of local branches of the county 
Societies increased. In i860 there were between four thou- 
sand and five thousand local Bible Societies, counting the 
branches and village committees. This means that as many 
as one hundred thousand people were engaged in a cordial 
and self-sacrificing effort to place God's word in every part 
of the domestic field in co-operation with the Society. 

The question has often been raised, whether Bible dis- 
tribution on such terms is worth while. One has only to 
call to mind that it plants in every district of the home land 
a single idea new to many, but which is instantly adopted by 
some after studying the Bible. This idea, foreign to those 
who have not the Bible reading habit, is the need of every 
man to abide in obedient dependence on God. The work 
of the Board of Managers in New York was like the labour 
of Sisyphus, for the peculiarity of Bible distribution in a 
growing nation is that it is never completed. Nevertheless 
men are so closely in contact with each other that of neces- 
sity they bear one another's burdens and, to some degree, 
they share one another's gains and advantages. An atom is 
added to the common stock by each man who lives worthily. 
He passes away when his work is done, but his good deeds 
live in some degree among those who follow. The scatter- 


ing of the word of God among the settlers on the frontier 
thus prepared a future for many a district now fully occu- 
pied, and so is to be reckoned a noteworthy factor in the de- 
velopment of the nation. 


One peculiarity of any missionary society's relation to 
its enterprises is that feeble and helpless people can shape 
its use of the apparatus in hand as effectively as though 
having authority to command. The more helpless such 
people, the more clearly relief is due. The last chapter 
dealt with methods of Bible distribution developed under 
pressure of a general prior claim of the home field upon the 
Society. From beyond the accustomed range of the home 
field thousands of people now newly came into view who 
caused enormous increase in the responsibilities of the 
Board, until it almost attained the standing of a foster 
father to orphans. The events which brought forward 
these creators of new responsibilities were the Mexican 
War and a period of unrest in Europe. 

In 1846, thirty years of peace was broken by war with 
Mexico. Like the most of such conflicts, this war was 
the explosion of fiery elements that had smouldered, out 
of sight, during years. Americans had settled in Texas be- 
fore 1830 in considerable numbers. In 1836, after seeking 
in vain from the Mexican government some amelioration 
of its arbitrary rule over the American settlers, the Texans 
declared independence, and were recognised as an inde- 
pendent republic by the United States, and later by the most 
of the European governments. Proposals to admit Texas 
to the United States were opposed throughout the North 
because, if granted, the large territory added would favour 
slavery, and the weight in Congress would be increased of 
those with whom the North was in ceaseless controversy. 
Moreover, Mexico, framing a species of " Monroe Doc- 
trine " for herself, had declared that if Texas were an- 
nexed by the United States, that act would mean war. 


1841-1861] HOME FIELD ENLARGED 183 

In 1845 President Polk, supported by the Secretary of 
State, John C. Calhoun, and the southern delegations in 
Congress, considered it wise to grant the request of the 
republic of Texas, refused during several years, for an- 
nexation to the United States, and Congress by joint resolu- 
tion voted the annexation. Mexico at once broke off rela- 
tions with the United States, and, a detachment of the 
United States Army being in Texas at this time, its troops 
in April, 1846, attacked this little force under General Tay- 
lor near the Rio Grande. Congress immediately voted war 
measures, and during the next two years the United States 
Army was fighting, while, American fashion, hurriedly pre- 
paring to fight. About a dozen serious battles took place ; in 
September, 1847, the city of Mexico was captured, and on 
February 2, 1848, the conquerors dictated the terms of peace. 
The acquisition by the United States of lands about equal in 
area to the thirteen original states of the Union was one 
great result of the Mexican War. For this conquered land 
fifteen million dollars were paid under the Treaty of peace. 
The home field of the Bible Society was thus increased by a 
region which, roughly speaking, corresponds with the states 
of California, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and a part of 

The outbreak of war brought new demands upon the 
Bible Society. Calls from Texas for Scriptures and the 
establishment of Auxiliary Bible Societies there had al- 
ready brought the Society into cordial relations with the 
people of that little-known province of Mexico. The men 
of the United States army were supplied with Bibles and 
Testaments, and the advance of the army into Mexico 
opened access to the Spanish speaking people of Mexico. 
Scriptures were issued for troops as they marched from 
home by the Cincinnati Young Men's Bible Society, by the 
New Orleans Bible Society, by chaplains at Vicksburg, Mis- 
sissippi, to the officers of the army and to the troops sent 
west to occupy California ; a thousand volumes were sent to 
the Texas Auxiliary Bible Societies, and the local Auxil- 
iaries in New York, Boston, Pittsburg and Charleston, South 
Carolina, were energetic in supplying troops passing through 
these cities. So it came to pass that a large proportion of 


the soldiers going to Mexico took with them Scriptures is- 
sued by the Society. 

The opportunity to reach Mexicans also was seriously 
taken in hand by the Board in 1847, when it decided to send 
as its Agent to Mexico the Rev. W. R. Norris, formerly a 
missionary in Buenos Aires, who had learned the Spanish 
language and had proved himself throughly efficient. 
Equipped with some thousands of Bibles and Testaments 
in English, Spanish, French and German, Mr. Norris reached 
the United States army in Vera Cruz toward the end- of 
the year. His power for meeting the difficulties of his 
rather perplexing mission lay in his thorough belief in the 
old saying that " one man with God is in the majority." 
This agency was successful at least in placing the Bible in 
the hands of many Mexicans who read it carefully and 
were thus prepared to give a cordial reception to American 
missionaries in after years. 

During this period questions reared themselves unex- 
pectedly, sometimes north and sometimes south of the 
line, out of the institution of slavery. Like a wild grass 
in a lawn, that sends out roots underground to invade choice 
flower beds, each fragment of root endowed with persistence 
of life that seems to defy eradication, the institution showed 
itself on every side. The Mexican War was probably in- 
evitable; but its outbreak at the time might be laid to the 
eagerness of slave-holders to insure their influence in Con- 
gress. In hope of calming the controversy over the proposal 
to annex Texas, the American Government just at this time 
secured from Great Britain a treaty acknowledging the 
rights of the United States over the territory of " Oregon," 
later carved into the states of Oregon, Washington and 
Nevada. This gain it was hoped would, by balancing the 
addition of Texas to the South, satisfy the North. The 
addition of so immense a territory to the home field was 
to the Bible Society a discovery of great communities who 
are famine stricken, and therefore compel attention and 
succour. These great Spanish speaking populations and 
Indian populations were generally ignorant of what makes 
men worth while, ensures a tranquil life, and is the basis of 
mere business prosperity. Thus the backward Mexicans 

1861] FRICTION 185 

and the Indians, as well as the settlers in all the hew ter- 
ritories, unseen and unknown to the Board at New York, 
unwittingly compelled it to supply with Scriptures masses 
of people not before included in the plans for the domestic 

Meanwhile the two sections of the country were steadily 
drifting apart. An antagonism grew up akin to those class 
antagonisms where each body in the social order considers 
its vested rights to be unjustly attacked. In the North 
Southerners were regarded as devoid of elementary moral 
sense, while in the South the people dreaded any extension 
of the notions of the " Yankees " as they dreaded Northern 
frosts which untimely destroyed their crops. 

The central figure in this fateful antagonism was a man 
or woman who had no rights, so that social and political 
authorities were free from obligation to humanize the master 
of slaves when his conduct seemed other than humane. 
The life of the slave, at its best, left little room for aspira- 
tion and development. The field hands, especially, divided 
their life into three unequal portions: toiling in the fields, 
eating, and sleeping. Few of the slaves could read. Many 
of their masters were unwilling to let them learn to read 
because a slave rebellion was the Southern planter's bogey. 
Among the house servants, in some cases, a few were per- 
mitted by the master or mistress to take lessons in reading 
from the warm-hearted children of the manor. The great 
body of the slaves of the plantations, however, were looked 
upon by people of the New England States as groaning 
by reason of bondage, like Israel in Egypt. 

Many good people in the Northern States thought that 
the Bible Society ought to send Bibles to comfort the slaves. 
In 1834 the Board of Managers had stated its principle of 
supplying every race destitute of the Scriptures; leaving 
responsibility for the details of distribution in the United 
States, however, to the wisdom and piety of the local Aux- 
iliary Societies, aided, if need be, by grants from the Bible 
House. In 1845 tne Board had to re-publish the statement 
of 1834, again pointing out that co-operation in this good 
work belonged to the Board, while the detailed measures 
of distribution were the privilege and duty of the local 


Auxiliaries. It later called attention to an example of 
work for slaves « in which the Society had engaged in a 
small way. A missionary supported by a church in one of 
the northern counties of Alabama among the coloured peo- 
ple asked the Bible Society for books. He was furnished 
a grant of thirty Bibles and four hundred Testaments, the 
more gladly since he could discover the coloured people who 
could read. All such opportunities the Board was glad to 

New agitation in the North led in 1848 to the formation 
of the Free Soil political party; and again requests show- 
ered upon the Board for a general distribution of Scrip- 
tures among the coloured people in the South. Individuals 
in the Northern States undertook to raise a large fund which 
would embarrass the Bible Society should it not undertake 
to furnish all slaves with the Scriptures. 

The subject was, of grave importance, but seemed to 
be imperfectly understood. The Board, therefore, issued 
a frank statement recalling previous demands of the same 
tenor, and the Society's desire to furnish the Bible to all 
classes able to use it. The statement cited the original plan 
by which the Society was expected to distribute Scriptures 
mostly through local Auxiliaries, some of which were large 
state institutions organised before the national Society, and 
becoming connected with it as do all Auxiliaries by two 
simple pledges; namely, to circulate the Scriptures without 
note or comment and to pay over surplus revenues to the 
general Society. In all other respects they were more 
independent of the general Society than the several states 
in the Union in relation to the federal government. This 
relation to Auxiliary Societies, the Board added, it would 
not disturb even if it had the power. If the Board were 
to intervene in the fields of Auxiliary Societies, a great 
number of them, overshadowed like grasses under a spread- 
ing tree, would sink into torpor and soon become extinct. 

As to the question, how far local Auxiliaries should rea- 
sonably be expected to supply the coloured people of the 
South, the Managers declared that "no Bible Society in 
any place is bound to perform all sorts of duty. It is an 
institution with one great object. It is not formed for 


purposes of education, or missions, or the correction of civil 
laws ; but it is formed for the purpose of circulating the word 
of God as far as practicable among all classes and condi- 
tions of men who are capable of using it. So far as there 
are coloured freemen or slaves within the limits of an 
Auxiliary who can be reached, who are capable of reading 
the blessed word of God, and are without it, they should 
unquestionably be supplied with it, as well as any other 
class. This duty is plain and imperative; so plain that the 
Board knows not a Bible Society in the South which calls 
it in question." 

As to the question whether collection of money would 
simplify the problem of Bible work among slaves, the 
Board said that there was an almost universal inability 
among slaves to read, and an indisposition to instruct them 
equally extensive. Funds in the hands of any Bible Society 
could not remove these obstacles; and distributions on any 
considerable scale could not usefully be made before their 
removal. If numerous slaves in the South able to read 
the Bible were yet without it, and their holders consented 
to their being supplied, then collections of money would 
help to meet so important a demand. By formal and unani- 
mous resolution the Board declared its policy to be the use 
of every opportunity for furthering Bible distribution among 
the slaves but it asked those who contribute to the Bible 
Society to consider " whether it is wise to restrict contri- 
butions to an object which can only be attained gradually; 
the funds for which remain in part unexpended, while 
elsewhere people equally destitute and more accessible are 
left unsupplied." This agitation over the slavery question 
was hardly more than a summons to be ready for labours 
sure to be called for some day, and from this time another 
expansion of the Society's responsibilities at home was fore- 

Another such expansion began in a small way in Oregon. 
The first settlers were hunters and trappers, who established 
themselves on the coast to collect furs, and opened friendly 
trade relations with the Indians. The whole country was 
occupied by tribes of Indians who gauged the value of 
the region from the standpoint of the game-warden. They 


were nomad hunters, each tribe owning a certain strip of 
land valuable as a game preserve and a fishing privilege. 
The Indian's title to the land was the tomahawk, promptly 
used on any stranger who seemed to be a competitor. On 
the other hand the white men who flocked into the country 
after its recognition as a part of the United States, valued 
the land from the standpoint of the farmer and the industrial 
worker. Even the streams had value in terms of water power. 

The Indians and the whites, then, differing as to the 
purpose for which Oregon existed, were pretty sure to 
clash as soon as they faced each other without interpreters 
able patiently to explain good-will as understood by the two 
parties. Consequently the story of the relations between 
the settlers and the Indians is unpleasant. In one part or 
another of this great region the settlers were at war with 
the Indians from 1845 almost constantly until 1855, and 
again in 1858. In fact, taking into account the Shoshone 
War and the Modoc War, that region was not free from 
bloodshed until the Indians were confined to reservations 
about 1875. 

Missions to the Indians of Oregon were established by 
the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1834 and by the A. B. 
C. F. M. in 1836. Grants of Scriptures were made by 
the Bible Society to these, the American Home Missionary 
Society, and other missions. 

The Oregon Auxiliary Bible Society was organised, where 
Portland now stands, in 1850 and the Clatsop County Aux- 
iliary, near the mouth of the Colombia, in 1851. Rev. Mr. 
Phillips was sent to Oregon as Agent of the American Bible 
Society in 1853. He reported that the sturdy adventurers 
on the Pacific coast often showed real delight on finding 
the Society represented there by its Scriptures. Having 
suffered in the long, weary journey and many having lost 
their Bibles with other goods, would fain replenish their 
stock. The larger part of the Scriptures sent to Oregon 
in this period went into the hands of settlers. 

In 1847, 250,000 immigrants landed in the United States, 
in large part fugitives from the famine in Ireland. They 
were worn with fatigues of the long voyage, but eager to 
find the work which would put them in a position better 


than they had ever known. In 1848 other immigrants be- 
gan to pour into the country in consequence of the con- 
vulsions which shook the monarchies of Europe. From 

1849 to 1853 an average of one thousand immigrants landed 
every day. Every sailing vessel, brig, bark, or stately ship 
which took the long voyage of six to eight weeks across 
the ocean from European ports, brought numbers of dream- 
ers that El Dorado lay within the growing republic. In 

1850 ten new states had been added to the Union since the 
Bible Society was organised, and these ten states had ac- 
quired a population almost equal to that of the whole coun- 
try in 1816. The Society had already provided itself with 
Scriptures in various languages, and had supplied, either 
directly or through the local Bible Societies and the general 
home missionary societies, immigrants in New York State, 
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin. In 
1854 the Southwestern Bible Society at New Orleans dis- 
tributed 10,000 volumes in thirteen languages obtained from 
the American Bible Society. In 1858 it placed Testaments 
or portions of Scripture in the hands of people from thirty 
different nations speaking twenty languages. The New 
York Bible Society made it a point, as far as possible, to 
meet every man as he landed with a Testament in his own 
language, obtained from the national Society and offered 
to him by a man of his own nation. Hon. Samuel J. Walker, 
former Secretary of the United States Treasury, prepared 
a resolution which was adopted by the Washington City 
Bible Society and forwarded to New York, urging the 
preparation of a Testament in Spanish and English for use 
among the multitudes of Spanish speaking citizens in Cali- 
fornia and the other territories acquired from Mexico. 
This was done, and Testaments were printed in German, 
Italian, Dutch, and Norwegian, with the English version 
in parallel columns, so that the newcomers might be helped 
to acquire the English language. These people maintained 
their roots, so to speak, in many foreign lands. Only a 
small proportion of the immigrants knew anything about 
the Bible, even as a rule of ethics. Many rejoiced in the 
idea that liberty is freedom from restraint of law. 

These strangers, left like neglected apple trees to follow 


their own nature, would be sure, notwithstanding a show 
of prosperity, to become morally debased, corrupt and cor- 
rupting. Chancellor Ferris, of the New York University, 
who was chairman of the Distribution Committee at this 
time, drew a contrast between the expectation of friends 
of the Society in past years and the actual situation. A few 
years ago, he said, it was thought that the country would 
soon be completely supplied with Bibles, so that there would 
be little for the Society to do in the United States. But 
he pointed out, now that God is pouring upon the land a 
multitude of immigrants from the old world which is cer- 
tain to increase, all Auxiliary Bible Societies, all churches, 
all Christians should rise to the emergency and supply the 
Society with funds for the great extension of its labours 
clearly foreseen. 

It is hard to realise the burden which at this time rested 
upon the souls of the members of the Board and the Secre- 
taries. All felt that these people must be encouraged to read 
the Bible since it is the will of God, and since that book helps 
men to be law-abiding citizens. Among the immigrants some 
were prepared to accept new ideas of life and growth. The 
members of the Board knew that if the Society could in- 
crease the circulation of the Bible among these strangers, 
no matter whence the alien might come, he would surely 
be a blessing to the land. 

Besides the principles which had always urged activity in 
the work of Bible distribution, the occurrences mentioned 
in this chapter brought to light a principle equally funda- 
mental with the others, that destitution has in itself a claim 
to be supplied. This is a natural requirement like the de- 
mand of the heart that tenderness be shown to infants on 
account of their helplessness. Wherefore the extension of 
labour always awaiting a Bible Society is immeasurable. 



In 1846 the Society at its annual meeting was greatly 
stirred by the prophetic vision of unlimited progress now 
opening before the Society. It directed the Board of Man- 
agers to arrange to print at least seven hundred and fifty 
thousand volumes during the year ending with March, 1847, 
and to plan for at least one million volumes of issues in the 
next year. 

The Board abandoned the contract system of printing its 
books ; bought new and improved presses ; considerably re- 
duced the cost of books; but at the end of the year found 
that notwithstanding these efforts, the issues from the press 
were more than one hundred thousand volumes less than 
had been called for by the Society. They also discovered 
the reason for this shortage. The Society's House was too 
small to receive the presses required for so great editions. 

A daring flight of imagination was needed to believe that 
more space was necessary than the existing House, by an 
enlargement, could be made to yield. The great expansion 
of the field described in the last chapter, however, stirred 
the Board of Managers like a revelation. Members of the 
Board began to perceive the scope of the duty laid upon the 
Society from its very birth, and they decided to build a 
new house in accord with the thrilling vision. In July, 
1847, a lot was contracted for on Chambers Street extending 
through to Reade Street which would accommodate a build- 
ing almost twice as large as the Society's House in Nassau 

Disappointment came to the Board when it was compelled 
to give up the purchase of the Chambers Street plot on 
account of unsatisfactory surroundings and a doubtful 
validity of title. Yet it was perfectly clear that the demand 
for Scriptures would soon exceed the possibility of supply 



with the existing equipment. From 1836 to 1841 the aver- 
age annual issue of Scriptures was 160,000 volumes. In 
the next five years the annual average was 340,000, and in 
the five years ending in 1851 the annual average of issues 
was 600,000. A committee was appointed to find a suitable 
site, if possible near Broadway between Canal and Bleecker 
Streets. This limitation, however, was afterwards removed, 
and early in 1852 land for the new Bible House was bought; 
a great plot of three quarters of an acre between Third and 
Fourth Avenues, Ninth Street and Astor Place at Eighth 
Street. The Committee had to explain, however, that they 
bought so large a lot because a good site downtown could 
not be found; the owners would not divide this plot, but 
after building a house which would accommodate the grow- 
ing work of the Bible Society, any excess of land could 
easily be sold. The men of the Bible Society received their 
sight gradually like the one at Bethsaida who before seeing 
clearly had a dim stage when men seemed like trees. 

When the Society began its operations John E. Caldwell, 
the first Agent, kept the depository at his office in an upper 
room at the corner of Nassau and Cedar Streets. Later 
the books were removed to a building on Cliff Street occu- 
pied by Mr. Fanshaw, who had the contract for printing and 
attended to the shipment of books. The books were is- 
sued from a room measuring nine by twelve feet. Later 
a four-story building was hired for the printer in Hanover 
Street, adjoining the Exchange. Here the Agent had his 
office and a rear room twenty feet square for the deposi- 
tory. In a moment of optimism he expressed his belief that 
he would yet see that room entirely filled with Bibles. In 
1823 the Society's House in Nassau Street was finished 
and occupied. It contained a depository capable of holding 
one hundred thousand Bibles, and here the work of the 
Society was done, the building having been twice enlarged, 
until 1853. 

After some hesitation about so great daring, the Board 
decided that three quarters of an acre would be an area 
none too large for a Bible House to serve the United States 
and American Missions abroad. This decision of the Board 
was never for a moment regretted. 


The cornerstone of the Bible House in Astor Place was 
laid in the presence of a large assembly. The list of articles 
which the cornerstone contains is worth transcribing: one 
of the first Bibles published by the Society in 1817 ; one of 
the last edition of the Bible published in 1852; the thirty- 
six annual reports of the Society; the Bible Society Record 
from 1849 t0 J 8S2; a catalogue of the Society's Biblical 
Library; a copy of the report of the Versions Committee 
on the collation of the English Bible ; the rules of the Board 
respecting principles to be followed in translation; a pro- 
gramme of the exercises at the laying of the cornerstone, and 
a copy of President Frelinghuysen's address. 

The new Bible House had 741 feet of street front, was 
six stories high, with a floor space of about three acres 
besides the cellars and vaults. At the time of its completion 
it was one of the finest business houses in New York City. 
Its cost, with the land, was $303,000; but it was not built 
with money given for Bible distribution. The proceeds of 
the sale of the Society's House in Nassau Street were $105,- 
000; more than twice the original cost. Fifty-nine thou- 
sand dollars was derived from special subscriptions made 
by friends in the city. The remainder of the cost of the 
building, $140,000, was borrowed upon mortgage, and the 
rents during the first year amounted to $20,000 ; more than 
twice the amount of the interest on the mortgage. As the 
rent roll increased it finally paid off the mortgage without 
further special subscriptions. 

The records of the Board contain a definite mention of 
the belief of its members that the plan for the new Bible 
House was commensurate with the importance of the Bible 
cause by providential direction. When the new site was 
finally secured the Managers remembered almost with awe 
their disappointment at losing the land contracted for in 
Chambers Street, and they felt that the hand of the Lord 
was in it. When they found that the land now acquired 
on Astor Place had been assigned three several times to 
other purposes by the owners, and three times the purchase 
proposed had been given up, they were confirmed in the 
feeling that an over-ruling providence had reserved this 
land for nobler purposes. 


The Building Committee, too, in its report referred to 
the narrow boundaries within which the Board was con- 
tent to confine the Society at the outset, and compared that 
limited area with the commodious spates of the new Bible 
House as showing how even the most sagacious of the Man- 
agers fell short of any conception of such a result as provi- 
dence had realised for them. Though the expenditure for 
this great building was large and was entered upon without 
specific action of the Board, discussion of the amount to be 
expended, or of whence this money could be supplied, in 
no one instance was a properly audited bill presented a sec- 
ond time for payment. But like the widow's cruse of oil, 
the supply in the Treasury had been found equal to every 
call, ceasing only with the demands of the Building Com- 
mittee; and this without the use, even temporarily, of one 
dollar of the ordinary contributions of the Society. 

In February, 1854, the Building Committee made its final 
report and received the warmest thanks of the Board for 
jits work. On the suggestion of Rev. Dr. S. H. Tyng of the 
(Protestant Episcopal Church, Rev. Dr. Gardiner Spring, 
Pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church, offered a prayer 
of thanksgiving to God for His gift to the Bible Society of 
this spacious and commodious house ; imploring God's bless- 
ing upon it that it might ever continue to send forth leaves 
from the Tree of Life for the healing of the nations. All 
the members of the Board felt that the call to build this 
house had come as all God's calls come, arousing His serv- 
ants to action by revelation of a great need, even as the 
vision of the man from Macedonia revealed new fields in 
Europe to St. Paul. 

Christians believe that they hold the Bible in trust for 
the world. If this is true, to have failed to build this house 
under the existing circumstances would have been to con- 
demn the Bible Society to a small and fruitless future. 
The Board, expecting great things from God, committed it- 
self to a work whose length and breadth had not been im- 
agined. In the year of their full occupation of the new 
house the issues of one month were more than in any one 
year of the Society's first eleven years. In the five years 
from 1846 to 1851 the average issues of each year were 


600,000 volumes. In the next five years, 185 1 to 1856, the 
average issues were 940,000 volumes. This quick expan- 
sion seemed instantly to justify the daring of the Board. 

Many of the men who had laboured nobly to build up the 
strength and efficiency of the Bible Society, like Moses and 
Aaron as they led the people toward the Promised Land, fell 
out of the ranks before this great epoch was reached, and 
new workers took their places as do the reserves of an army 
whose front ranks are thinned. 

By the election of Rev. Dr. E. S. Janes, Financial Sec- 
retary, to be a Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
the Board had to regret in 1844 a great loss to the Society. 
As a successor to Dr. Janes the Rev. Dr. Noah Levings, 
pastor of a Methodist Episcopal Church in New York, was 
chosen financial Secretary. Dr. Levings was well qualified 
for his work. At the time it was said that he had no su- 
perior as a platform speaker in his denomination. But in 
January, 1849, while returning from a journey for the So- 
ciety to the South, he was taken ill and died at Cincinnati, 
greatly regretted by all who knew his diligent and efficient 
services as Secretary of the Society. 

In April, 1845, the Bible Society was called to mourn the 
death of Rev. Dr. James Milnor, for more than twenty years 
a Secretary of the Society and a leader in many of its great 
decisions. Dr. Milnor had ceased to perform the duties of 
a Secretary some years before, but he was active in all the 
affairs of the Board of Managers ; in fact, he had served as 
chairman of the Anniversaries Committee in preparing for 
the annual meeting of the Society held about a month after 
his death. His legal training and familiarity with business 
methods fitted him to render services in the Board from 
which many ministers would shrink. He was remarkably 
free from small prejudices. When questions difficult of 
adjustment arose in the Board, they were approached by 
Dr. Milnor with a frankness and sincerity that showed how 
earnestly he sought truth and right, and this habit secured 
for him the confidence of his associates. His devoted and 
scriptural piety made him rejoice in discovering the image 
of Christ under any outward form. In the Bible cause this 
noble spirit had ample scope. The last sermon which he 


preached in St. George's Church two days before his death 
was on Christian union. All of the members of the Board, 
as well as the Secretaries of the Society, felt his death as a 
personal loss. 

In December, 1845, the Hon. John Cotton Smith, for 
nearly fifteen years President of the Society, closed his 
useful life at the age of eighty-one. He was appointed a 
Vice-President of the Society at its organisation, and be- 
came President in 183 1. He was an abiding patron of sound 
learning and a consistent advocate of the doctrines and duties 
set forth in the Holy Scriptures. 

The large development of the Society in the Western 
States seemed to make it desirable that one of the Vice- 
Presidents residing in the West should be chosen as the next 
President, and the Board unanimously elected for this office 
the Hon. John McLean of Ohio, one of the Justices of the 
Supreme Court of the United States. Justice McLean ex- 
pressed regret that his duties in court in each month of 
May would absolutely prevent his ever attending an annual 
meeting of the Society. For this reason he declined the 
office of President. 

Vice-President Theodore Frelinghuysen, Chancellor of 
the University of New York, was then elected and became 
President of the Society in April, 1846. Chancellor Fre- 
linghuysen at the age of twenty-five had commanded a com- 
pany of soldiers in the War of 1812. Later he had become 
Attorney-General of New Jersey, and in 1829 was elected 
United States Senator from that state. While still Presi- 
dent of the Bible Society he was chosen President of Rut- 
gers College, New Brunswick, N. J. His fitness to stand 
at the head of the Bible Society, and the important services 
which he was qualified to render to it, were clear to its 
friends in every part of the country. 

Vice-Presidents Alexander Henry, Peter G. Stuyvesant, 
John Griscom, who represented the Society of Friends in 
the Convention of 1816 which organised the Society, Hu- 
bert Van Wagenen, who had been connected with the So- 
ciety for thirty years, and Judge Duncan Cameron of North 
Carolina, passed away during this period. Among members 
of the Board of Managers who finished their work about 


this time the name of John Aspinwall is to be noted. He 
became a member of the Board of Managers in 1816 and 
his name was signed as auditor to every one of the Treasury 
accounts from the organisation of the Society up to the 
time of his death in 1847. 

Before the next Annual Meeting of the Society the Hon. 
John Quincy Adams died. He was chosen Vice-President 
in 1817, and later filled the high office of President of the 
United States during four years. He was a hearty and 
unswerving friend of the Society until the time of his death 
on the 23rd of February, 1848. The esteem with which he 
was regarded was shown by the expressions of bereavement 
which came from thousands in widely separated regions. 

The increase in the amount of correspondence, due, per- 
haps, to the great extension of the Auxiliary system, made 
it necessary to appoint more Secretaries. In January, 1849, 
the Rev. S. I. Prime was elected Secretary. He was a pas- 
tor of Presbyterian churches in the state of New York until 
1840, when throat troubles compelled him to give up preach- 
ing. After some strenuous tours for the Society a return 
of the same throat troubles obliged Secretary Prime to re- 
sign his position after one year of service. In 1849, trie 
Rev. Joseph Holdich, D.D., a prominent Methodist Epis- 
copal minister who was at the time Professor of Moral 
Science in Wesleyan University, and in 1853 Rev. James 
McNeill, a Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina, were 
elected Secretaries to fill the vacancies caused by the resig- 
nation of Mr. Prime and the death of Dr. Levings. 

The Rev. Joseph C. Stiles of Savannah, Ga., a Presby- 
terian Evangelist in the South and Southwest, who in 1848 
became pastor of the Mercer Street Presbyterian Church 
in New York, resigned his pastorate on account of ill- 
health, and in 1850 became Secretary of the Society with 
special reference to work in the Southern States: He re- 
signed this office in 1852 and returned to the pastorate. 

The burden of correspondence grew more and more 
heavy as the years went by, and in 1855 the Board decided 
to relieve the Secretaries of the duty of attending General 
Conferences and Synods of ecclesiastical bodies. The Rev. 
Moses L. Scudder was appointed General Delegate to 

i 9 8 PERPETUAL GROWTH [1841-1861 

represent the Bible Society at such meetings of the church 

In spite of perplexities on every side the addition of ter- 
ritory and population to the United States expressed a clear 
command to the Society as a missionary organisation. The 
annual meeting on the 8th of May 1856, therefore, formally 
resolved that for the second time the Society should under- 
take to place a Bible in every destitute family throughout 
the United States which was willing to receive it. A gen- 
eral circular was issued calling upon the people to co-oper- 
ate in this work, noting that the population of the country 
had been doubled since the first general supply, and was 
now more than twenty-six millions. The circular insisted 
that this work must not be slighted as a mere enterprise 
of men. It was an undertaking to which God Himself 
called His people. Every Christian should aid by assuming 
some definite part of this task. Happily, this appeal fur- 
nished a good illustration of the pervasive quality of Chris- 
tian principle which drives men into action even as St. John 
was forced into action in the vision when he ate the book, 
although warned beforehand that later it would bring bit- 

On account of the vast extent of the land and its widely 
scattered population, more than four years were occupied 
in the work. It was pressed with earnestness, and 3,678,837 
volumes were distributed to those willing to read the Bible. 
In 1856 the states and territories which existed when the 
supply began had been pretty thoroughly supplied, and by 
i860 territories which at the beginning of the undertaking 
were unorganized had received thousands of copies. The 
great fact of this distribution was that the multitude newly 
affected and animated by the teachings of the Bible would 
give tone to generations yet to come. From this point of 
view the most exigent and possibly the most fruitful field 
of the Society was and is the domestic field; without neg- 
lect, however, of the foreign field wherever American mis- 
sionaries labour. 



Each year the Bible House in New York became more 
surely a clearing house for the wants of people of diverse 
tongues. As immigration increased, Scriptures in the Euro- 
pean languages were printed in the Bible House in New 
York instead of being imported in small quantities. During 
the whole period from 1841 to 1861 the Spanish version 
of the Bible took a large place in discussions of the Com- 
mittee and of the Board because of the dislike of Spanish 
speaking Americans for the quaint and obsolete terms found 
in the Valera version. Various attempts were made to im- 
prove this version. In i860 the Board finally announced 
that a new edition of the Spanish Bible would have the 
advantage of all revisions which had taken place during 
previous years. The Portuguese Bible which had been pur- 
chased from the British and Foreign Bible Society was now 
so much in demand that a set of plates was ordered from 
London, and Portuguese Scriptures began to be printed at 
the Bible House in New York. During this same period a 
Welsh Bible with references, a Hawaiian Testament with 
English in parallel columns, and a German Bible for which 
new plates were made from the best edition of the Canstein 
Bible, were printed at the Bible House. In 1858 the Bible 
in Modern Armenian was electrotyped and printed there. 
The type was set up by compositors, some of whom knew 
not a single letter of the Armenian alphabet, the eminent 
linguist and missionary, Elias Riggs, the translator of the 
version, giving close supervision to the work. 

From its first year the Bible Society had taken interest in 
the welfare of Indians throughout the country; work for 
them being classed by common consent with work for " for- 
eigners." In 1834 a grant was made to the American 



Board's Missionaries, S. R. Riggs and Williamson, for print- 
ing portions of the Scriptures in the Sioux or Dakota lan- 
guage for the use of missionaries of two or three denomina- 
tions. About the same time the New Testament of the 
Ojibwa (Chippeway) version, translated by the Rev. Sher- 
man Hall of the American Board, was printed at the Bible 
House, and the good missionary expressed the hope that the 
Scriptures in Ojibwa and those in the Dakota language 
might break down the fierce enmity between Sioux and 
Ojibwa Indians. In 1844, a grant of some seven hundred 
dollars was made to the American Board for the expense 
of printing parts of the Bible in Cherokee, translated by Rev. 
Mr. Worcester. Shortly afterwards grants were made to 
the American Board for printing Scriptures in Choctaw. 

That there was benefit in the dissemination of the Bible 
among the Indians was clear from the fact that the missions 
were successful. Bishop Kemper of a Protestant Episcopal 
Mission on the borders of Canada, in writing for a grant 
of one hundred copies of the Book of Isaiah in the Mohawk 
language, casually mentioned as though it was nothing sur- 
prising that in his mission among the Mohawks there were 
ninety-nine faithful Indian communicants; and the Board 
was astonished and delighted a few years later to receive ap- 
plication from Choctaws and from Cherokees for recogni- 
tion as local Bible Societies, auxiliary to the American Bible 

All this work of preparing versions in different lan- 
guages was in the same vein as the labour spent upon books 
for the blind; for what is translation of the Bible into the 
spoken language of any people but opening the eyes of those 
who cannot see the truth ? 

The condition of the blind, cut off from sharing the life 
of the nation, isolated both by their own impotence and by 
the dulness of many who are not able to feel the meaning 
of blindness, is always a silent appeal for sympathy. The 
Board of Managers had helped Dr. Howe in his splendid 
work for the blind, and in April, 1843, the stereotype plates 
in line letter for the whole Bible were at length finished at 
a total cost of ten thousand dollars. Within the next ten 
years about four hundred volumes of Scripture had been 


distributed to blind persons. Some of these books went to 
the West Indies, some to Central and South America, and 
some to Turkey. They went into thirteen states of the 
Union; this kindly help being rendered without noise or 
pride although each person who received the Book rejoiced 
as much as if on a ship in mid-ocean he had received a wire- 
less message from a dear friend at home. 

From all parts of the country and for many kinds of sup- 
plies, applications as eager as the pleas of men in a " bread 
line " came from Christian workers. These were dealt with 
under the general rule that, where possible, Auxiliary So- 
cieties should do what ought to be done. This rule, how- 
ever, did serve where no Auxiliary could be found. All 
requests and suggestions from such districts were dealt with 
sympathetically and thoughtfully in the Board Room. Of 
this latter class was the proposal to put Scriptures in hotels 
in different parts of the country. Many travellers would be 
pleased to find the Book in their rooms. The Board de- 
cided in 1846 that any hotel would be supplied with Scrip- 
tures on payment of half of the cost of the books. At the 
suggestion of the Hon. S. Wells Williams, who had travelled, 
perhaps, by the overland route from California, the Board 
freely granted Bibles to be placed in each of the overland 
stage stations. 

The cholera epidemic of 1849 an d the opening of Cali- 
fornia to gold seekers both brought difficulties to the brave 
workers in the Western States struggling to do their share 
in Bible distribution. By the immense emigration to the 
gold regions many districts were almost stripped of the more 
active part of their population. Hundreds on whom the 
Bible Society relied for help were taken off as by a tidal 
wave. Letters to officers of the Auxiliary Societies many 
times brought no answer or came back marked " gone to 
California/' The Auxiliaries found themselves in difficulty, 
too, because much ready money was taken out of the com- 
munity by those undertaking that tremendous journey across 
the plains and the mountains to the new El Dorado. 

The San Francisco Bible Society had to deal with many 
different nationalities. Thousands of Chinese were pour- 
ing into California, stopping in camp at San Francisco for a 


short time, and then scattering through the mining regions. 
Efforts were made to reach this nomad crowd with portions 
of Scripture, Mr. Buel, the Agent for California, and some 
of his assistants committing to memory a sentence or two of 
Chinese that they might show friendliness to these wan- 
derers from the Far East and help them to understand the 
aim of the book that was placed in their hands. San Fran- 
cisco quickly became a strategic point with reference to the 
long stretch of the coast and the regions beyond the Pacific. 
Accordingly, in 1853, the San Francisco Bible Society built 
a Bible House which would serve as a depository for the 
Board in New York. Orders would come to the San Fran- 
cisco depository in the same day, perhaps, from Oregon and 
from the Sandwich Islands. At that time an order sent 
from the Sandwich Islands to New York might be expected 
to bring a consignment of books to Honolulu in about one 
year. On the other hand, a well-assorted stock at the Bible 
House in San Francisco would ensure that those ordering 
from the Sandwich Islands would receive the books in two 
months' time. A similar promptness of supply was regis- 
tered by the Agent in Oregon when he ordered Bibles from 
San Francisco. 

In the midst of the great labour imposed upon the Board 
by the multitudes of immigrants and settlers moving into the 
Western land, it was with satisfaction that the Board re- 
ceived applications from the American Tract Society for 
grants of Scriptures to be distributed by its colporteurs. 
Such applications soon became so frequent as to call for a 
definite understanding with the Tract Society about the 
methods of its colporteurs. Valuable as was the help ren- 
dered by these men outside of the field of an Auxiliary Bible 
Society a careless tract distributor might easily interfere 
with the work of the Auxiliaries, if not advised to avoid 
competition. Difficulties were found to arise from the con- 
fusion sometimes created in the minds of the people when 
Tract distributors offered to sell books of the Bible Society. 
Overlapping seemed inevitable, when Tract Society workers 
unintentionally entered the field of an active Auxiliary. 
After some discussion between the two Societies, the officers 
of the Tract Society expressed entire agreement with the 

1861] BIBLE BURNING 203 

rules for the use of grants laid down by the Board of Man- 
agers and considerable numbers of Scriptures were at that 
time distributed by Tract Society colporteurs in those parts 
of the great western region which was yet unexplored by the 
agents of the Bible Society. 

Such efforts as the Society was making throughout the 
land could hardly fail to excite enemies of the Bible. In 
1842, the Champlain Bible Society, a branch of the Clinton 
County, New York, Auxiliary Society, finding many French 
Canadians settling in its field, distributed French Scriptures 
among them, which were well received. In November of 
the same year Father Telmonde, a Jesuit priest from Mon- 
treal, suddenly appeared at Corbeau, one of the French 
settlements in the Champlain township, and raved like a 
madman against the Protestants who had supplied the 
Canadian settlers with the Bible. He seems to have for- 
gotten that he was a visitor in a free country and scared 
Roman Catholics by an arrogated authority until he suc- 
ceeded in collecting about one hundred of the Bibles. These 
he brought together at Corbeau, tore off the covers and gave 
them to the men to use in stropping their razors, and burned 
the books in a rather barbaric public ceremony. Having 
thus violated the peace of an American village, he escaped 
to Canada unpunished. To Protestants, of course, the act 
was sacrilegious, and aroused anger by its arrogance. It 
was an insult to the American people, as well as an outrage 
on the immigrants who gave up books which they prized. 

However, Father Telmonde did not check Bible work. It 
is always better to overcome opposition than to be spared it. 
Professor Deems of the University of North Carolina, 
speaking on another subject, mentioned the objection raised 
by some people that if the Bible Society scatters Bibles 
promiscuously, many will sell them and take the money to 
buy whiskey. " Let them sell them ! " said Professor Deems, 
" the Book is still in existence, still full of heavenly energy 
for any who will read it." The truth of this philosophical 
remark was vindicated at Corbeau. One woman, even when 
threatened by Father Telmonde, flatly refused to give up her 
Bible, saying, " It is the best of books." And she kept it. 
Many of the Roman Catholics were indignant at the outrage ; 


for they recognised robbery when they ruminated over the 
action of the priest. After a few years it was discovered 
that the man foremost in assisting the priest in the Bible 
burning, stirring up the fire with a long pole in order to 
make the books burn more thoroughly, became conscience- 
smitten for what he had done, abandoned the Roman Catholic 
church, and joined the Protestant mission at Grande Ligne 
in Canada. In the little settlement where the Bibles were 
burned, three of the families left the Roman for the Protes- 
- tant church, and one of the men became a Bible colporteur 
among his own people in consequence of the violence which 
woke him up, much as a man asleep on a bank by the side of 
a brook may be wakened by a hailstorm, unpleasant, but use- 
ful as sending him to shelter before a heavy rain. 

A chief element of the strength of the Bible Society is, 
of course, the warm interest of the numbers who support it 
with their thoughts, their prayers, and their gifts. Every 
now and then a kindly word of sympathy from a man high 
in the councils of the nation, brings encouragement to those 
engaged in the ceaseless labour of the Society. 

In February, 1844, a general Bible convention was held in 
Washington, the place of meeting being the hall of the 
House of Representatives. In that crowded hall ex-Presi- 
dent John Quincy Adams presided as senior vice-President 
of the American Bible Society. In an address full of fire 
he set forth the value and power of the Holy Scriptures, and 
his own affection for the Society which labours to extend 
their circulation. 

General Zachary Taylor, fresh from the Mexican War, in 
1849 became President of the United States. In 1850 some 
ladies of Frankfort, Kentucky, presented him with a Bible 
beautifully bound with the constitution of the United States. 
President Taylor revealed his opinion of the Bible in his let- 
ter of thanks. He said, " I accept with gratitude and pleas- 
ure your gift of this inestimable volume. If there were 
nothing in that book but its great precept, ' All things whatso- 
ever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to 
them/ and if that precept were obeyed, our government 
might extend over the whole continent." In June of the 
same year a Presbyterian Sunday School in Patterson, New 


Jersey, made a contribution constituting President Taylor a 
Life Director of the Bible Society. His letter of acknowledg- 
ment written on the fifth day of July, after the commence- 
ment of the severe illness which, to the grief of the nation, 
proved fatal a few days later, contained these words : " I 
accept with the liveliest emotions of gratitude this compli- 
mentary testimonial which has associated my name with an 
institution so comprehensive in its usefulness and efficiency 
as a means of good as the American Bible Society. Be- 
lieving that our prosperity and greatness as a nation, no less 
than our happiness as individuals, is in direct proportion to 
our observance of the teachings of that Book in which the 
holy religion is revealed, I cannot be indifferent to those 
labours which tend to diffuse its instructions and render it 
more accessible to all." 

Reports of Agents and colporteurs during this period give 
glimpses of the influence of the Bible upon the nation. The 
book went among men and women too busy to pray or to 
think of God except when in pain or terror, qualified perhaps 
to be attractive as flowers in a well-kept garden, but starved 
in their souls like a rosebush choked with weeds. In a 
town in Illinois one hundred and two persons who had been 
indifferent to religion, hardly knowing the name of Christ 
except as profaned in assertion or threat, during 1848 be- 
came warm-hearted members of the church, after a Bible 
Society Agent had sold in that town one hundred dollars' 
worth of Bibles. In Wisconsin a Roman Catholic woman, 
very religious in her fashion, showed some annoyance when 
her husband let a belated traveller lodge in their house. 
After the stranger had retired for the night the woman took 
up one of the books which he had laid on a shelf, curious to 
see what made people buy them. It was a Bible. She had 
never heard of the Bible and she looked into it. The beauti- 
ful words held her fascinated until the day dawned. That 
chance access to the Bible changed the woman's life, and 
some months later the Bible colporteur had the satisfaction 
of learning that she had cast in her lot with the neighbouring 
Protestant church. 

Among the immigrants were some easily interested in 
Bible work. Picture, for instance, a German widow in 


Ohio, with her four unmarried daughters, weaving, spinning, 
sewing, selling butter and eggs, for one great purpose. 
They worked for their living, but the purpose was not fully 
rounded out until they had each given thirty dollars for a 
Life Membership in the Bible Society. A German farmer 
in the same district dug out of the ground, as it were, Life 
Memberships for all the members of his family, amounting 
to $210 altogether. Another German woman who had 
settled in Auburn, New York, begged the Agent to write her 
message to the Society. " I want to tell them," she said, 
" how much thankful I am for the Bible. I wish I- could 
tell how hungry I was for the Bible and good books in Ger- 
man ; so hungry, not for bread and water, but for the Bible. 
And after I got it, I be so glad ! " 

Professor Deems of the University of North Carolina 
wrote to the Bible Society in 1843 °f a settlement in Wake 
County called Flat Rivers. This place for eighty years had 
been infamous as a Sodom. The people were unclean and 
profane, fearing not God nor regarding man. In 1830, dur- 
ing the first General Supply, a Bible Society colporteur went 
to Flat Rivers, visited thirty-four families, gave away thirty- 
three Bibles (for in one house he found a Bible), received 
in return forty cents, paid more than one dollar for board 
and lodging, and went away. Thirteen years after this visit 
the place had entirely changed, and in every one of the houses 
where a Bible was left some, at least, of the members of the 
family were pious, God-fearing people. Professor Deems 
remarks on two points concerning Bible distribution which 
are worth carrying in mind. In the first place Christians 
may so neglect neighbours who have not the Bible that an 
entire settlement close at hand may become degenerate ; and 
in the second place, where the Bible is used by any family or 
community, it quickly lifts them to a higher plane. 

A significant feature of the story of the Society has been 
the support given to it by thousands of day-labourers. There 
was a little Auxiliary Society in New York known as the 
Fulton County Auxiliary. One day a plainly dressed 
woman came to the annual meeting of that Society. She 
said she had come six miles to attend the meeting and men- 
tioned that her home was five or six miles from any meeting 


house. She had neighbours who lived without the Bible 
and she wanted to supply them. Eight dollars and fifty- 
four cents she had brought with her and she was furnished 
with Bibles and Testaments. 

The next year the same woman appeared at the annual 
meeting with fifteen dollars and thirty-eight cents. Dur- 
ing fourteen years this woman acted as a branch Bible 
Society, herself long being the sole member. She came 
every year bringing small sums of money, part to pay for 
books that she had distributed, and part as a dona- 
tion for the Society. After a time two younger women 
came with her to the Bible meeting to take up the work of 
Bible distribution. A number of years later the Fulton 
County Bible Society found that these poor women, moved 
by love of Christ like the woman who poured the precious 
ointment upon His feet, had paid into the Treasury of the 
Society altogether $813.62. If every district in the country 
had Bible workers of this earnest, persistent type, the whole 
world would soon be filled with Bibles. 



The year 1848 was notable for upheavals in all Europe. 
Where nations simultaneously break the bonds by which 
kings have shaped the fortunes of the people, we may look 
for great rational causes in vain. Small material troubles 
like famine and high prices lead the people to think their 
rulers incapable, as is probably the case. At all events, in 
France poor harvests and the cost of living in. 1847 kd the 
people of Paris in February, 1848, to drive away Lafayette's 
" Citizen King " Louis Phillipe, like the manager of an es- 
tate dispossessed while sure that his position has placed him 
above criticism. This outbreak of the Parisians kept the 
country unsettled throughout the year. In December Prince 
Louis Napoleon was elected President of the Republic of 
France, and laid plans for ruling, as soon as might be, as 

The expulsion of Louis Phillipe from France was an ob- 
ject lesson to the rest of Europe. Fire applied to a boiler 
makes no change in the appearance of the water for some 
time. Then a single bubble of steam appears at some point, 
and shortly with sufficient heat, the whole t mass of water 
may be converted into steam at once, and rend its restrain- 
ing iron with a tremendous explosion. Something of this 
sort followed the suggestion that it is possible for a people 
to tell a king to get out of the way of their progress. Be- 
fore the year 1848 was through, Ferdinand, Emperor of 
Austria, had been driven from Vienna and gave up his 
throne; the Pope had fled from Rome in terror; the King 
of Prussia barely escaped being sent away from Berlin ; sev- 
eral of the small states into which Italy was divided drove 
out their grand dukes and princes, and insurrection every- 


1841-1861] A CRY FOR HELP 209 

where seemed on the point of expelling monarchy from the 

North Italy, that is, Lombardy and Venice, revolted 
against the king of Naples; Mazzini proclaimed the Italian 
Republic at about the same time that the French Republic 
was declared. Under Louis Kossuth the Hungarian people 
made a bold dash for freedom from Austria, and marched 
their army upon Vienna. 

March, 1848, brought with it insurrections in Vienna, in 
Budapest, in Berlin. Then the tide turned and with it 
kings came back. Before the year was through French 
troops had occupied Rome for the Pope ; Francis Joseph had 
taken the crown of Austria, succeeding his uncle Ferdinand. 
By the middle of 1850 the Austrians again oppressed north- 
ern Italy ; the Pope had abolished the liberal constitution in 
Rome; Kossuth had fled to America, and the dream of lib- 
erty for European peoples faded like other dreams. 

These facts have a place in this story, because an impulse 
like that of the Good Samaritan drew the American Bible 
Society into close relations with the sufferers in troubled 
Europe. In France the revolution naturally brought oppor- 
tunity for a wide distribution of Scriptures. Even a care- 
less, pleasure loving people becomes thoughtful when the 
whole social structure seems to be falling to pieces. 

But the disturbances which made the opportunity cut off 
local means of using it. Who should furnish means but the 
American Bible Society? There were no cables, no tele- 
graphs, no quick steamers across the ocean in those days, 
and so a special messenger was sent from the French and 
Foreign Bible Society to New York to tell the story of its 
dire need. This messenger, the Rev. Mr. Bridel, addressed 
the Annual Meeting of the Society in May, 1848. He said 
that the French Bible Society had been in successful opera- 
tion until the recent political movements reduced to poverty 
some of the wealthiest friends of the Society, and had thus 
wrecked its resources and crippled its hands. Printing was 
suspended, colporteurs had been discharged-. France, now a 
republic, like a younger sister appealed for help. 

The Society at its Annual Meeting voted " that it is the 
clear and palpable duty of this Society to listen to these 


calls, and that the Managers be therefore advised to raise 
and remit to France the sum of $10,000 this year and a like 
sum for the succeeding year." Rev. Mr. Kirk of Boston 
strongly supported this resolution, referring to the unusual 
crisis when all have heard the rolling of the awful chariot 
wheels of God whose hand sways the nations. Rev. Dr. S. 
toft. Tyng remarked that a gentleman in New York had of- 
fered to give a thousand dollars if the Society would raise 
ten thousand. He himself would agree to raise five hundred 
more, and he hoped pledges would quickly follow for the 
whole ten thousand dollars. Mr. Kirk promised one hun- 
dred dollars. Secretary Brigham called attention to the 
well established custom for the Society to act through its 
Auxiliaries, and doubtless prompt action of the Auxiliaries 
in this matter would be secured. As a result $10,000 was 
sent to France during the year. 

Difficulties were met in raising the second instalment of 
$10,000 to be sent to France during 1849. In fact, only 
$1,000 was sent out during that year, and the French Bible 
Society wrote piteous entreaties for a speedy payment of the 
amount promised. In consequence of the assurance of this 
aid from America, it had incurred obligations, and found it- 
self in serious difficulty; $3,500 were sent in response to 
this appeal but a sort of paralysis seemed to have smitten the 
sources of revenue. As is often the case, many who might 
have given, assumed that others would certainly pay, for the 
whole country sympathised with needy France. It was not 
until the year 1851 that the whole of the promised amount 
was remitted to the French Bible Society. 

In 1849 the French Government curtained liberties which 
had flourished after the establishment of the republic. De- 
partments of France in which the clergy had strong influence 
were for a time entirely closed to Bible colporteurs. No 
one was permitted to distribute the smallest printed leaf un- 
less authorised by the prefect of the Department, and the ob- 
taining of such authorisations became more and more diffi- 
cult. But in spite of these obstacles, authorisations in suf- 
ficient number were granted to enable the Bible missionary 
in some places to continue his operations on a large scale. 
In other Departments the authorities, recognising the peace- 


able character of the people employed in Bible distribution, 
and perceiving good effects from their labour, relaxed their 
rigour in the matter of granting the authorisations. Fur- 
thermore, Rev. Dr. Monod reported, general* interest in cir- 
culation of the Bible was seen to increase in proportion to 
the bitterness of the opposition to it. Many people who in 
calmer times would have cared little for the Bible now 
sought it with eagerness ; and many booksellers who would 
never have kept the Bible in stock at other times were com- 
pelled by the reading public to give the Scriptures a certain 
importance in their trade. 

The Society has had by repeated grants to the French So- 
ciety an important share in the development of the Prot- 
estant movement in France. It should be remembered, how- 
ever, that the British and Foreign Bible Society had then, 
as now, an able Agent in Paris, and from time to time made 
grants of money and books to the Protestant Bible Society 
of Paris as well as to the French and Foreign Bible So- 
ciety. Thus ^ the British and the American Societies have 
touched shoulders in aiding evangelicals to cultivate the 
moral and spiritual sense of the brilliant and attractive 
French people. During the twenty-eight years from 1833 
to 1 86 1 the grants of the American Society as aid to Bible 
work in France amounted in all to something more than 

Disturbances in Austria and Germany during 1848 very 
much restricted the operations of the German Bible So- 
cieties. After the overthrow of the revolutionists in Hun- 
gary and in Austria, an agreement was made between the 
Emperor Francis Joseph and the Pope by which all religious 
instruction, and, in fact, all education throughout the Aus- 
trian Empire was surrendered to the Roman Catholic clergy, 
controlled by bishops in the appointment of whom the Aus- 
trian government had no voice. This " Concordat/' as it 
was called, became an effectual barrier for many years 
against general Bible circulation on the Austrian domains. 

In Germany, Baptist and later Methodist missionaries, sup- 
ported from America, finding multitudes of people without 
the Bible, applied to the Society and received aid in books 
and especially in money for printing in German. Up to the 


year 1861 the money grants of the Society for printing 
Scriptures in Germany amounted to $33,000. The Rev. J. 
G. Oncken of the Baptist Publishing House in Hamburg, 
applying for h£lp in 1856, gave some idea of the extent of 
his work. He then reported that since the year 1829 he 
had put into circulation 600,694 volumes. These grants for 
printing Scriptures supplemented the efforts of the German 
Bible Societies, which, being commonly quite local in char- 
acter, left considerable stretches of country without system- 
atic Bible supply. 

The American Society had at various times granted Scrip- 
tures for distribution in Italy. In 1849 the Rev. G. Hast- 
ings, American Seamen's Chaplain at Marseilles, was al- 
lowed to go on a United States ship-of-war to Sicily. He 
took with him all the Italian Bibles he had and got a further 
stock from the British and Foreign Bible Society and sold 
700 volumes in Sicily, besides receiving commissions for 
2,100 volumes more. The avidity with which the Sicilians 
seized the Bible at that time suggests a hunger for the Word 
of God often found among the most unlikely people. 

In Italy the chief supply of Scriptures came through the 
British and Foreign Bible Society. In the few months of 
the Republic of 1849 more Scriptures were circulated in Italy 
than in six hundred years before. Four thousand New Tes- 
taments were even printed in Rome, for the first time in his- 
tory. But after the return of the Pope the most stringent 
measures were adopted in central Italy against the Bible 
and all religious books not authorised by the Roman Church. 
Men of first rate education and high standing in society felt 
obliged to deposit their Bibles, obtained during the republic, 
with English residents, saying that they could not feel safe 
with the Book in the house. These people were not cow- 
ardly, but they had no armour that could repel the fierce 
attacks of the inquisition. Count Guicciardini of Florence 
had been known as a Protestant for three or four years, but 
on the return of the Grand Duke of Tuscany from exile, the 
Count was arrested. Six other Protestants of Florence 
were also arrested and condemned to exile in the Marremma, 
the most unhealthy marsh-land that the Tuscan government 
could find. Happily, the influence of Guicciardini was suf- 


ficient to save them from going to the marshes when they 
promised to leave Tuscan territory. But in exterminating 
the Bible by force the priests commended it to the people. 
Arbitrary proceedings have a wonderful tendency to open 
men's eyes. 

When a Protestant Committee was organised for Bible 
distribution in Northern Italy, it received aid from the 
American Bible Society. Between 1855 and 1861 grants of 
money to the Italian Committee at Florence amounted to 
$9,700, and the plates of the Italian Bible made at that time 
served for years in furnishing Scriptures for use in Italy. 
It was almost ten years after the restoration of the Pope 
to the Vatican that freedom dawned for any considerable 
section of the Italian people. With the expulsion of the 
Austrians from Lombardy and Venice in the summer of 
1859, a new era of religious liberty began. 

During this period the Society was also aiding Bible 
work in North Russia. Mr. William Ropes, an American 
merchant living in St. Petersburg, brought to the notice of 
Secretary Brigham the desperate condition of the Protestant 
Esthonians in the Baltic regions, and also an extraordinary 
dearth of Scriptures in Finland where Protestant Chris- 
tians searched in vain for Bibles. The British and Foreign 
Bible Society had made some grants during several years to 
a Bible Committee in connection with the Anglo-American 
Congregation in St. Petersburg, whose place of worship, by 
the way, received its Government license as the Chapel of 
the American Legation on request of James Buchanan, then 
United States minister. After Pastor Knill, pastor of this 
body, died, he was succeeded by the Rev. John C. Brown and 
application was at once made to America for money to sup- 
ply the destitute Protestants. This was the beginning of 
an important work of the Society of which we shall hear 
later. During the twenty-seven years from 1834 to 1861 
money sent to the St. Petersburg Committee (composed of 
Messrs. Ropes, Gillibrand, and Miricles) amounted to 
$18,800. Mr. Brown wrote to Dr. Brigham that he had a 
list of Lutheran clergymen in the Esthonians who would en- 
courage every attempt to benefit their parishioners by Bible 
distribution. A young theological student of his acquaint- 


ance would be exactly the man to supply every family with a 
copy of the New Testament at a low price or gratuitously. 
This done the young man would supply the parishes of 
Lutheran clergymen who were unlikely to co-operate ener- 
getically in the work, and when those were supplied he 
would go into parishes where the ministers were so rational- 
istic as to oppose Bible circulation. Beyond that he hoped 
to do something for Livonia and Finland. 

Mr. Brown's plan was attractive, although exacting. 
Ideas come lightly into the mind, whence we know not, which 
may prove solvents of difficulties or bearers of fruit to an un- 
heard of degree. Then it becomes evident that the same 
idea occurred to many. As we say of the wind, concerning 
which, after millenniums of study none can tell whence it 
comes or whither it goes, we can only say in this case that 
we receive the impression ; its source transcends our appre- 
hension. Of this class of ideas was the plan of helping 
European Protestants. The Society felt it a duty to give 
aid to Bible lovers crippled by anarchy or stifled by tyranny ; 
and lo, the thought was seized with eagerness in all direc- 
tions. It was one of those God-given ideas that everybody 
knew to be in his mind before it found expression. " Of 
course it is our duty I " 

The influence of such a campaign widens like the circle 
where a pebble has fallen into a still pool. Men who have 
been moved by the old Bible make it live in a new soil, with 
new applications and perhaps new interpretations. And so 
the sum of the work accomplished tells upon generations to 
come. It is worth while to have done such a work. In 
every undertaking of this class God's truth becomes spread 
in many directions like the beams from a lighthouse guiding 
ships which approach from north or south or east. 

Rev. Dr. F. Monod, a Secretary of the French and For- 
eign Bible Society, reported early in 1850 that up to the end 
of 1849 th e a *d of the American Society had permitted the 
printing of 102,000 volumes, besides making new plates for 
an octavo and a duodecimo Bible in French; plates for the 
New Testament, with the Psalms in each of these sizes, and 
a set of plates for the four Gospels and the Acts bound to- 
gether. Of the books printed, 62,625 volumes had been put 


in circulation during the year. The colporteurs of the 
French Society reported that this Bible distribution was 
warmly welcomed. Again and again village people who re- 
ceived the Scriptures afterwards said, "I read that book 
constantly; the religion of the Bible shall be my religion 
henceforth forever. ,, The colporteurs also reached a multi- 
tude of political prisoners held in durance, and their Testa- 
ments rejoiced both prisoners and guards. 

In any upheaval of society not the richer class, but the 
great mass of the poor is the decisive factor. In the work 
of the Society in Europe the rich and highly educated were 
not neglected, but it was among the masses, the despised 
common people, that the influence of the Bible was most 
strongly felt. It was among them that the numbers of 
Scriptures scattered abroad could be seen to have influence 
because these books, read in private, attack the habit of evil 
thought and act in its lair. Single sentences out of thou- 
sands found in the Bible tend to fix in mind attractive ideals 
like the words of the Psalmist : " I will set no base thing 
before my eyes." In the long run the circulation of the 
Bible slowly but surely modifies national character. What 
these ignorant and oppressed peoples have always needed 
and still need is instruction in free manliness and its pre- 
cious worth. That instruction they can find compressed 
into the pages of the Bible. The Society could not work 
out the rebuilding of these broken nations, but using every 
opportunity to give them the Book, it has helped them to 
learn how they could do it themselves. 

The appeal to the Board from distressed Europe led 
President Frelinghuysen to say in his address at the Annual 
Meeting of 1850, " The Word is ordained in its course among 
the nations to bring the whole family of man into one 
blessed brotherhood, bound to God and to each other by the 
ties of love." Obedience to the command of Jesus Christ 
respecting the instruction of all nations is justified by all 
the experiences of the Society. The faith and foresight of 
the members of the Board and its executive officers has al- 
ways tended to the extension of beneficent influences. One 
generation profits from the struggles, the faith, and the prog- 
ress of those who are gone, but its profit is a sacred trust re- 


ceived for the betterment of many other generations to 
come. So it was meet that children of Europe who brought 
the Bible with them across the ocean to the new world, and 
there proved its power to make life fruitful, should hasten, 
when they saw European nations suffering through igno- 
rance of Bible teaching, to carry back, for the good of their 
old fatherland, the great Book of Life. 



Neighbourly feeling is a most natural and praiseworthy 
emotion. The Orientals say : " When you buy a house 
don't look at the house, look at the neighbours ! " In regard 
to Latin America it was perfectly natural that the Society 
and its supporters throughout the United States should have 
a most kindly regard for the welfare of these neighbours 
who spoke only Spanish or Portuguese, and yet one of the 
great problems of the Society was how to reach them. 
There was a barrier like a steel wall separating Anglo-Saxon 
America and Latin America. The cause of this separation 
was not distance, not difference of race and language, not 
even lack of roads ; it was a total difference of atmosphere. 
The Latin American countries had only slowly commenced 
to emerge from a cloud of ignorance and superstition. The 
very governments of the different republics were unstable, 
replaced in some regions by anarchy; and a considerable 
plausibility attaches to the theory that this was largely due 
to the church which, finding its material interests attacked 
when the different colonies revolted from Spain, steadily 
struggled against the progress of the masses toward political 

The Society cherished no enmity against the Roman 
Catholic Church. By experience, however, the Board was 
obliged to regard it as a partly political organisation en- 
dowed with the ideals of militarism while armoured with 
the sanctities of religion. It seemed to have for its object 
in Latin America the absolute control of mind as well as of 
soul in its adherents in order that the church might be built 
up. The people were in a state of bondage. The outward 
forms of religion were strictly and pompously performed, 
but there was little inward searching out of defects in 


218 IN LATIN AMERICA [1841- 

motive or conduct. Any crime might be committed by a 
member of the church and within an hour be fully forgiven 
at the word of the priest. To the masses of the people re- 
ligion had for its chief function deliverance of the individual 
from hell. This was deemed impossible unless each indi- 
vidual held aloof from intercourse with heretics as though 
they were infected with leprosy. 

On the other hand warm-hearted Protestant Christians 
of the United States felt responsibility for the betterment 
of all within their reach, since it is God's will that his people 
should be efficient instruments for the uplift of the race. In 
the eyes of the Protestants of the United States it was clear 
that God's revelation of the rules of the universe had not 
reached the people of Latin America. Those people were 
suffering for lack of knowledge of the elements of pros- 
perity and peace. The impelling principle which led the 
Board continuously to strive to circulate Scriptures among 
these people was that expressed in the old proverb, " Go 
slowly to the banquets of a neighbour, but haste to his afflic- 

During the first forty years of the Society's activity, its 
plans for supplying Scriptures to accessible places in Latin 
America was what the French might call "opportunist." 
When any person from those lands of Spain's might and 
Portugal's adventure appeared in New York, or wrote from 
any island, district, or commercial mart promising to circu- 
late Scriptures in languages of the Latins, the Board was 
ready to respond. In this casual and uncertain way during 
the twenty years of the period from 1841 to 1861, 42,000 
volumes of Scripture were distributed through local friends 
of the Bible, not connected with the Bible Society, with much 
travail of soul and in many places, from the West Indies 
and Mexico to the southernmost tip of Patagonia. 

As missionaries of different denominations were sent out 
to the Latin Islands of the West Indies, the Board took 
pains to supply every call for Scriptures. These calls came 
sometimes from missionaries, sometimes from the chaplains 
of the Seamen's Friend Society, sometimes from merchants, 
sometimes from United States Consular officials, and they 
reached San Domingo, St. Thomas, Porto Rico, Cuba and 


Hayti. The Island of Hayti attracted special attention 
through the religious liberty said to obtain there, and serious 
efforts were put forth by missionary Societies and the Bible 
Society in that domain of French speaking coloured people. 
Religious liberty in Hayti, however, proved to be more or 
less of an ignis fatuus, for it alternately appeared and dis- 
appeared whenever the officials of government became care- 
less of the priests, or on the other hand saw reasons for pros- 
trating themselves before those intelligent white men of 
strong will. 

In 1850 the Rev. Mr. Pierson was sent to Hayti as an 
Agent of the Society. He found a field hungry for the 
JBible and was cheered by the numbers who rejoiced to read 
it. Mr. Pierson found that there was more freedom, more 
education, and more open detestation of unworthy priests 
than he had expected. He found missionaries in different 
parts of the country, and he urged the Society to increase its 
force because expenses were so small. The Haytian dollar 
was only one-fourteenth part of an American dollar and 
yet had about the same purchasing power as the dollar at 
home. He soon found himself in difficulties, however, for 
Father Cessen, a leading Roman Catholic priest, a native of 
Corsica who had travelled much and had lived in the United 
States for several years, began a campaign of sermons 
against Mr. Pierson and the work of the Bible Society. 
General La Rochelle, a leading member of the Haytian Gov- 
ernment and a Roman Catholic, had welcomed Mr. Pierson 
because of the great need of moral training among the peo- 
ple. But Father Cessen warned the people that Mr. Pierson 
and the missionaries were really political agents of the 
United States Government, that they were paid from the 
Government ten dollars a head for every convert, and fifty 
dollars for every child born to these converts, and thus they 
were expected to overthrow the Haytian Empire. Father 
Cessen won the Empress to his opinion of the dangerous 
influence of the Protestants, and shortly the government 
went to the extent of forcing into the army all young men 
whom they found in possession of the Scriptures. Agent 
Pierson had little opportunity for Bible distribution after 
this fierce outbreak, and much disappointed, he withdrew. 


Mexico was the nearest neighbour to the United States 
among the Spanish republics. Its needs excited warm sym- 
pathy; but a certain stubborn prejudice repelled every ex- 
pression of sympathy. The people of Mexico were patriotic 
and because of their patriotism were quite ready to use their 
knives upon those whom they considered enemies of the 
country. At the same time one could not consider the na- 
tion as happy. It was composed of an aristocracy, mainly 
Spanish, ruling with a rod of iron a labouring class chiefly 
Indian; and this proud, Spanish, aristocratic rule persisted 
with but little basis of intellectual primacy. The country 
was almost constantly in political upheaval, like the lake of 
lava lying at the bottom of a crater, boiling, belching noxious* 
gases, and sometimes bursting forth to destroy itself as well 
as the surrounding regions. The country was in so dis- 
turbed a state even as late as the French invasion in 1862, 
that a resident Bible Agent from the United States could 
hardly escape violence. 

During the occupation by United States troops, Rev. Mr. 
Norris, the Agent of the Society, placed Scriptures in 
some hundreds of families in Vera Cruz, Jalapa, Puebla, and 
Mexico City. But he left with the Army in 1849. The 
Rev. B. P. Thompson was appointed Agent in 1859 to dis- 
tribute Scriptures among the Spanish speaking people along 
the Rio Grande. Miss Melinda Rankin, a missionary living 
at Brownsville, Texas, also distributed Scriptures faithfully 
among the Mexicans within her reach. Mexicans from the 
interior often wished Scriptures but roving bandits often 
made it impossible to reach such applicants and impeded 
Bible work even on the border line. 

In Central America the Rev. D. H. Wheeler, Seamen's 
Friend Society Chaplain at Aspinwall, had been cordially 
helpful to the Society during more than two years in dis- 
tributing Scriptures on the Isthmus of Panama, along the 
line of the Panama railroad, and he had placed books also 
in the hotels at Aspinwall, Gatun, and Chagres. In July, 
1856, he was commissioned as Agent of the American Bible 
Society for Central America, and sent to Nicaragua, where 
there seemed to be an opportunity for Bible distribution. 
" General " William Walker, with his filibusters, had sue- 


ceeded in getting possession of a part of the country, and in 
this region Mr. Wheeler was expected to work. In October, 
foreseeing, perhaps, but not afraid, Mr. Wheeler wrote that 
the Nicaraguans seemed determined to drive out Walker and 
his government and to exterminate all Americans residing in 
Nicaragua. He remained, however, in Granada. While a 
battle was proceeding a few miles away between Walker 
and the Nicaraguan troops, some Nicaraguan cavalry made 
a raid upon the city. They ordered every man capable of 
bearing arms to go out and join the Nicaraguan troops. 
Mr. Wheeler and two other Americans who occupied the 
same house refused, on the ground that they were Ameri- 
cans and neutrals, to take part in the battle. The cavalry- 
men immediately seized the three men, took them out of the 
city and shot them. It was a terrible end of an agency most 
hopefully undertaken. Mr. Wheeler was a delightful man 
and a devoted Christian, always ready to sacrifice personal 
interests for the sake of winning men to Jesus Christ. A 
few weeks later Walker burned the city of Granada. This, 
of course, made it impossible for the Society at once to send 
another Agent to Nicaragua. 

In 1854 Rev. Ramon Montsalvatge was appointed Agent 
of the Society for Spanish South America with instructions 
to begin work in Venezuela and go on to New Granada, a re- 
public nearly corresponding with Colombia of to-day. Mr. 
Montsalvatge was a Spaniard, a Roman Catholic by birth, 
and a truly converted man. He landed at La Guayra, 
Venezuela, where he distributed in a very short time a thou- 
sand volumes of Scripture mainly by sale, but before long he 
found that some of the priests did not think well of him. A 
priest in La Guayra bought a Bible and a Testament of him 
and expressed interest in his work, saying that the Ameri- 
can Bible Society was doing the town a great benefit by 
sending the Scriptures in Spanish there. A day or two later 
the bishop, accompanied by two of his clergy, called on Mr. 
Montsalvatge, and upbraided him for selling Protestant 
Bibles. He went off, leaving a canon to labour with the 
" renegade." This labour took the form of offering Mr. 
Montsalvatge a round sum of money for ten boxes of Bibles 
which were in the custom house and which would be put 


where they would do no harm. Mr. Montsalvatge declined 
to sell Bibles for this purpose, whereupon the canon went off 
raging noisily. Mr. Montsalvatge also visited Caracas and 
some other places with considerable success in Bible distri- 
bution, finally establishing himself at Cartagena until di- 
rected from New York to go to Bogota. He chose the route 
which follows the Magdalena River, but before long an- 
nounced that the steamer in which he was ascending the 
river with his family had been destroyed by an explosion 
and he had to return to Cartagena. • He then began to preach 
to a small congregation of Protestants and was very kindly 
regarded by this congregation; but he gradually gave up 
work for the American Bible Society after the arrival of 
Mr. Duffield, the Agent of the British and Foreign Bible 

Chile, pointed out in 1825 by Dr. (then Mr.) Brigham as 
a notable centre for Bible distribution, and occupied in 1833 
by Mr. Wheelwright, the first Agent sent abroad by the 
Board, began to attract attention again a score of years 
later. The Rev. D. Trumbull, a young minister sent in 1846 
by the American and Foreign Christian Union and the Sea- 
men's Friend Society of New York, to work for foreigners 
and seaman at Valparaiso, was from the first a regular cor- 
respondent of the Society, receiving considerable quantities 
of Bibles in Spanish and in other languages for circulation 
by his own hand and by a colporteur locally supported. Mr. 
Trumbull believed in selling the Scriptures whenever pos- 
sible and yet his labours aroused sincere and enduring inter- 
est among the people. His name became known along the 
whole coast and orders for Scriptures came to him from 
many distant places. 

Another attempt to open systematic Bible distribution in 
Spanish South America was made by the Board in 1857, 
when the Rev. V. D. Collins, a missionary of the American 
and Foreign Christian Union in Brazil, was appointed Agent 
of the Society for Spanish South America. Mr. Collins was 
acquainted with the Spanish as well as the Portuguese lan- 
guage, and he was instructed to begin his work at Buenos 
Aires and then to cross the river into Paraguay and visit 
Uruguay and such other republics as he found it convenient 


to reach. Mr. Collins arrived at Buenos Aires in October, 
1857. He laboured earnestly and persistently and put in 
circulation in different parts of the South American con- 
tinent a considerable number of Scriptures. From Uruguay 
he went acro§s the great plains and crossed the Andes into 
Chile. Encountering somewhat strenuous opposition and 
finding little encouragement on the Pacific coast, Mr. Collins 
resigned his commission in 1859 and went as a missionary to 

By this time the American missionary societies had begun 
to send men into different parts of South America. The 
Bible Society was thus enabled to proceed more confidently 
as it responded to requests from missionaries, sending Scrip- 
tures to Rev. H. B. Pratt at Bogota, Colombia, to Rev. Dr. 
E. D. Carew at Buenos Aires, to Rev. F. Crowe at Guate- 
mala, and others. It also came into relations with the 
Moravians in Guiana for whom it published a version in 
Arawack of the Book of Acts, the translation having been 
made by the Rev. Otto Tank. 

Rio Janeiro must always bring to mind the disastrous re- 
sult of the attempt of French Huguenots in 1555, to establish 
a colony of refuge at this point. The leader of the expedi- 
tion was a man of some distinction in the French Naval 
service, named Villegagnon. The colonists went to Brazil 
• because, as one writer remarks, there was every reason to 
hope that the Reformation would take root there and fill the 
South as well as the North with Protestant people. But 
upon the arrival of a large force of Portuguese with orders 
to seize the country, Villegagnon suddenly threw off a mask, 
commenced to persecute the Protestants, and the result was 
that the little colony disappeared. Some returned to France 
after suffering terrible hardships, some were freed from the 
treacherous enemy by death, others apostatised in order to 
escape implacable and cruel hatred. The French court was 
too busy destroying Huguenots in France to think of those 
in Brazil, and those fellow believers at home who should 
have supported the colony beyond the ocean were fully occu- 
pied by an untiring enemy which threatened everything dear 
to them. So the whole country became Portuguese and 
Roman Catholic. 

224 IN LATIN AMERICA [1841- 

Methodist missionaries to care for seamen went to Brazil 
about 1836, and both Rev. Mr. Spalding, and Rev. D. P. 
Kidder, who later joined Mr. Spalding, gave much time to 
circulating the Scriptures in Portuguese furnished them 
from New York. Mr. Kidder travelled exteqsively in the 
interior and wherever he went he carried the Bible with him. 
The priests opposed this work, but their unreasonable and 
fanatical obstruction stimulated curiosity in their followers, 
and sales increased. The books sent out from Rio Janeiro 
were not by any means without result. Mr. Kidder re- 
marks : " While subsequently travelling in distant prov- 
inces I found that the sacred volumes put in circulation at 
Rio Janeiro had sometimes arrived before me, and wher- 
ever they went an interest had been awakened which led the 
people to seek for more." 

The first organised agency in Brazil was established in 
1854, when the Rev. J. G. Fletcher, an English gentleman 
long resident in that country, was appointed agent of the 
Society. He distributed many Bibles in the interior prov- 
inces, but in 1856, on account of illness in his family, he re- 
signed and returned to England. Mr. R. Nesbit, who had 
already done good service for the Society in the valley of 
the Amazon, was appointed Agent at Para in July, 1857. 
After about one year's earnest and successful service, while 
on a journey up the Amazon River, Mr. Nesbit contracted , 
a fever and died. 

By this time the American missionary societies were be- 
ginning to send missionaries into Brazil. The Rev. Mr. 
Holden of the Protestant Episcopal Missionary Society, 
sent to Para, received Scriptures from the Bible Society to 
distribute in connection with his work. The Rev. Messrs. 
Simonton and Blackford, missionaries of the Presbyterian 
Board established at Rio Janeiro, for several years acted as 
agents of the Society, distributing the books over large ex- 
panses of country and everywhere finding friends glad to 
receive the Scriptures in their own Portuguese language. 

The British and Foreign Bible Society had ceased sys- 
tematic labours in South America for a decade or more. In 
July, 1856, however, the reports of Mr. Fletcher, the Ameri- 
can Bible Society Agent, made its Committee the more eager 


to attempt something again in what the Secretary, Dr. 
Bergne, regarded as " a field of immense extent which both 
Societies can but imperfectly occupy." Dr. Bergne there- 
fore informed Secretary Brigham that two Agents had been 
appointed to take up work in South America, one at Carta- 
gena, Colombia, and one at Rio Janeiro. He expressed the 
hope that the American Society would hail the British 
Agents as fellow labourers instructed to maintain the most 
friendly intercourse with its Agents, and to engage " in such 
plans of joint operations as may be practicable." This was 
the beginning of organised labour in South America on the 
part of the British and Foreign Bible Society. 

From all this work of the Society in South America, one 
may learn the nature of the Bible distribution. Its nature 
is to reach more and more individuals, and the truths which 
even the most unlearned can acquire from Bible reading 
make interest in the Bible spread as the light of dawn 
spreads over a dark valley. A fruit of the work of a Bible 
Society which appeals to all classes of the people is discovery 
of the value of the Bible as an instructor in liberty ; for the 
Book teaches men how to escape the bondage of their own 
evil habits and furthermore how to claim their rights if they 
are held in bondjage by others more powerful than them- 
selves. In this way the Bible among the masses of the 
people slowly modifies national character. Missionaries 
going into South America found in repeated instances that 
the Scriptures sent out by the Society had prepared their 
way; and the missionaries, vigorously taking hold of the 
work of Bible distribution, in turn prepared a way, as the 
work grew, for the appointment of permanent Agencies of 
the Society in different parts of the neighbour continent and 
its islands. 



Environment and atmosphere have a large place in the 
difficulties of Bible distribution, as we have seen in Latin 
America. The control of men's minds and conduct in the 
Mohammedan system which prevailed throughout the Levant 
Agency at the beginning of the nineteenth century was re- 
markably like the Roman Catholic control of thought and 
action at the same period in Latin America. The Mo- 
hammedan religious body, like the political Christian church 
of the Middle Ages, stood for militarism armoured with all 
the sanctities of religion. Mohammedanism has a form of 

fodliness ; it insists on reverent worship of the one true God. 
ts weakness lies in teaching men the habit of carefully per- 
forming outward forms of religion without insisting on the 
inward moral allegiance that is an essential of belief that 
God is. Any crime, excepting blasphemy, committed by a 
devoted Mohammedan, as soon as committed is forgiven by 
the merciful God. Social intimacy with Christians was in 
1820 and to some extent still is, to a Mohammedan, con- 
tamination to be avoided with vigilance. The aim of the 
religious hierarchy in Mohammedan society was absolute 
control of mind and soul. The people lived in bondage, 
for the Sultan as vicegerent of God always had a " Thus 
saith the Lord " with which to check tendencies toward indi- 
vidual liberty of judgment. 

Among a people manacled in this way the Bible So- 
ciety could have small opportunity, were it not that the 
Oriental Christians subject to the Mohammedan govern- 
ment and scattered throughout its domains were tolerated, 
allowed to maintain their own worship and their own social 
customs. Nevertheless these Christians also at the begin- 
ning of the nineteenth century lived in bonds of ignorance 
and superstition. 



American missions in Turkey were commenced in 1820 
by the Rev. Pliny Fisk and Rev. Levi Parsons of the Ameri- 
can Board, who made a beginning of mission work at 
Smyrna, at Beirut, and at Jerusalem. A complete printing 
outfit was sent from Boston to the mission, being first estab- 
lished on the island of Malta beyond the reach of Turkish 
officials. There the printing of Scriptures and tracts in the 
languages of the Levant was quickly commenced. 

Among the Armenians of the Levant there was a strange 
readiness to receive the Bible not found among Greeks or 
Jews, and of ctfurse not among Mohammedans. This 
brought the missionaries into close relations with them at the 
outset. It will be remembered, as was intimated in the nine- 
teenth chapter, that about 181 5 the Russian Bible Society 
published the Bible in Ancient Armenian, and in 1822, for 
those who could not understand the ancient language, an 
edition of the New Testament in Armeno-Turkish, and the 
next year the British and Foreign Bible Society published 
a version of the Testament in modern or colloquial Ar- 
menian. These Testaments were widely circulated, al- 
though both had defects in style and sometimes in rendering. 
Later some publications of the American Mission Press at 
Malta found their way to Constantinople and stimulated 
questioning as to the need of reform in the Armenian 

During the first fifteen years of the American Mission, 
forty-one choice missionaries, men and women, were sent 
by the American Board into regions to which the Bible So- 
ciety in 1836 sent Rev. Mr. Calhoun as Agent. Fifty-four 
new missionaries were sent out during the eight years of his 
agency, but of these ninety-five missionaries, thirty-eight 
in the meantime had been taken from the field by failure of 
health or by death. At the close of the forty-one years end- 
ing with this period of our history (1861) 251 missionaries 
(including wives of missionaries) had been sent by the 
American Board to this great field. But the stress of forty 
years' labour had reduced the whole number by 125 in- 
valided home or removed by death. This missionary host 
was established in twenty-five widely separated strategic 
points in Turkey, Greece, Syria, and Western Persia. 

228 THE LEVANT [1841- 

Every missionary station in this broad area was a centre of 
Bible distribution which looked to the American Bible So- 
ciety for books. The duties of the Society's Agent were 
not by any means trivial in such a field. 

In the Levant were many sincere souls whose gropings for 
truth stirred sympathy. Bibles distributed by the first 
American missionaries deeply influenced such persons. In 
1832, Mr. Goodell visited Nicomedia, the former capital of 
Bythinia, and the occasional residence of Diocletian the 
Cruel, of Constantine the Great, and other Roman Emperors. 
Here Mr. Goodell left with an old priest a copy of his 
Armeno-Turkish New Testament. He gave to some 
Armenian boys in the street some tracts in the Armenian 
language, one of which fell into the hands of another priest. 
These two priests were soon saying to themselves and to 
each other, " If this is religion, we have none ! " Six years 
later, Mr. H. G. O. Dwight found in Nicomedia sixteen 
Armenian followers of the Bible who had never seen a mis- 
sionary, who appeared to be truly converted men, and who 
afterwards became the nucleus of a flourishing evangelical 

One of the tracts issued in Armeno-Turkish from the mis- 
sion press at Malta fell into the hands of an Armenian pil- 
grim at Jerusalem in 1826, and was taken home to Marsovan 
in Asia Minor. The tract introduced the pilgrim to the 
New Testament and the New Testament showed him Jesus 
Christ. That tract sent out at a venture by the earliest mis- 
sionaries of the American Board was the first messenger of 
the Gospel in a place which since 1852 has been a noble 
station of the American Missionaries and a centre for the 
widest distribution of the Bible. Such works were the 
Lord's doings ! 

One of the graduates of Peshtimaljian's Armenian school 
in Constantinople, named Der Kevork, particularly inter- 
ested the missionaries Goodell and Dwight, who attended his 
ordination at the Armenian Patriarchate in 1833. This 
young priest's after history illustrated the preparation among 
the Armenians in those days for study of the Bible. He 
was assigned to the parish of Haskeuy, Constantinople, and 
for long years he kept up friendly relations with the mis- 


sionaries and, as the priest of that parish, he taught his 
people to study the Scriptures, and shape their conduct by 
the divine light. About half a century after this ordina- 
tion a missionary called upon Der Kevork, who was still 
priest of the Armenian Church in Haskeuy. The old man, 
dressed in white, was bolstered up with pillows. His long 
beard was white as snow and his thin hands and kindly face 
were white and bloodless, for he was soon to pass from 
earth to the presence of the Saviour whom he loved. On a 
little stand at his bedside was the Armenian Bible of the 
American Bible Society, and on a shelf nearby were com- 
mentaries, a Bible handbook, and other books in Armenian 
printed by the American Mission. When the missionary 
was leaving that saintly presence, the venerable priest took 
his visitor's hand and, with warm emotion, said, " And so 
you are the son of my dear friend, Dr. Dwight : God bless 
you ! " And he kissed the missionary on both cheeks. That 
affectionate benediction was a precious testimony to the 
worth of the Bible brought to Der Kevork by the early mis- 
sionaries, to be a light to his path from his ordination to his 

The relation of the Bible to the work of the missionaries 
in the Levant was set forth by the Rev. William Goodell, 
translator of the Bible into Armeno-Turkish. He wrote to 
Secretary Brigham in 1842 : " Our whole work with the 
Armenians is emphatically a Bible work. The Bible is our 
only standard and the Bible our final appeal. Without the 
Bible we might say one thing and the priests and bishops 
could say another, but where would be the umpire ? All our 
efforts would be like beating the air. . . . And so we our- 
selves, with the Bible in our hands and in the hands of the 
people, seem to be standing on the Rock of Ages and build- 
ing for eternity; but without it we build on the sand and 
our house is exposed to be blown down by every storm that 
sweeps by. These remarks I thought it important to make 
as an apology, should any be deemed necessary, for having 
devoted some eight years of my life to this work of trans- 
lating the Word of God. ,, 

Mr. Calhoun threw his whole heart into his Agency. 
Hardly more than a dozen years before he went to Turkey 

230 THE LEVANT [1841- 

in 1836 he had been an unbeliever and a mocker at the Bible. 
It seemed to him a great privilege now to help take the book 
back to the lands whence it issued. His agency field in- 
cluded almost all the territories mentioned in Bible history 
and it was, perhaps, the most attractive and promising of all 
the fields then occupied by the American Board of Foreign 

Armenian Bible lovers in this field attracted the sympathy 
of many Europeans as well as Americans, when in 1839 the 
Armenian Church commenced a systematic persecution of 
those who persisted in reading the Bible. The persecution 
of these Evangelical Armenians continued until 1846 with 
some intervals of relaxation. The Armenian patriarch at 
Constantinople being allowed by the Turkish Government 
to use the Turkish police to maintain ecclesiastical disci- 
pline, banished many men, who had become enlightened 
through reading the Bible, to distant parts of the country, 
among them Mr. Calhoun's chief assistant in the Bible dis- 
tribution. The trade unions expelled those who refused to 
give up the Bible, so that hundreds could get no employment. 
Even the butchers and bakers were forbidden to sell food to 
these unfortunate people. They were anathematised and ex- 
communicated by the Armenian Church and it was not until 
1846 that the British Ambassador, at the instance of the 
American Missionaries, obtained the interference of the 
Turkish Government in behalf of men persecuted for con- 
science's sake. This was the origin, entirely unexpected and 
unsought, of the Protestant Evangelical Community in the 
Turkish Empire, and of this body Mr. Calhoun said in one 
of his letters, " A truly religious, spiritual community, by 
the grace of God, has been created in Constantinople which 
would have done honour to the Church of Christ at any 
period of its history." 

Mr. Calhoun did not withhold aid from regions border- 
ing upon the Turkish field. Some hundreds of thousands 
of Protestant German colonists were scattered through the 
southern provinces of Russia and in Walachia and Mel- 
davia, who were eager to have Bibles. At his request the 
Board of Managers granted funds and sent German Bibles 
for distribution among these people, who were in part di- 


rectly reached, and partly through Mr. Melville of Odessa, 
afterwards Agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, 
and through the Rev. Mr. Fielstedt of Bucharest, mission- 
ary of the Church Missionary Society. Protestants lived in 
Hungary for whom under the Austrian laws the Bible could 
not be imported. Mr. Calhoun caused to be printed in 
Vienna two thousand copies of the Testament and Psalms 
in German for these poor people, books printed in Vienna 
not being interfered with by the laws that checked impor- 

The Board of Managers was always sensitive about us- 
ing for salaries funds of the Society. Its hope was that 
missionaries would be able to care for Bible work, so that 
Agents would not be permanently needed in mission fields. 
In 1842 it notified Mr. Calhoun that his appointment would 
be continued for two years, but its renewal would then be 
an open question. Mr. Calhoun had set his heart upon 
labour for the people of Turkey and now he arranged to 
become a missionary of the American Board. But he urged 
the continuance of the Bible Society Agency. His reasons 
were, first, that Bible work in the Levant was largely in the 
hands of the American Bible Society. Second, all the mis- 
sionaries looked to the Society for a supply of Scriptures but 
they were too busy with their own growing enterprise to 
supervise Bible work and make out regular and accurate re- 
ports of distribution. Third, the field is the most important 
that the Bible Society has or can have ; the people are ac- 
cessible and responsive, and it is an honor to carry the Bible 
back to the ancient Bible lands. 1 In 1844 he resigned, 
joining the mission in Syria, and the Board of Managers 
decided not at once to appoint another Agent for the Le- 
vant. To the end of his long and fruitful life Mr. Cal- 
houn gladly co-operated with the Society in the distribu- 
tion of Scriptures among the mountains of Lebanon where 
the impression of his faithful labours and his holy life per- 
sists to this day. 

All this time Mr. Goodell was carrying on his transla- 
tion of the Bible into Armeno-Turkish. In the early months 
of 1842 the Old Testament was finished, being printed at 

1 Letter of S. H. Calhoun to Secretary Brigham, May 9, 1842. 

232 THE LEVANT [1841- 

the expense of the American Bible Society, and in January, 
1843, Mr. Goodell wrote to Secretary Brigham that the 
Armeno-Turkish Testament was also finished and was be- 
ing printed by the British Bible Society. He joyfully added : 
" In the hands of the Armenians who use only Turkish is 
now all the information that has ever come from Heaven 
for their benefit." 

During the eight years of Mr. Calhoun's Agency, 35,000 
volumes of Scripture had been printed at the expense of 
the Society chiefly at the Mission Press in Smyrna, 12,275 
volumes had been supplied from the Bible House in New 
York, and 28,436 volumes had been purchased of the Brit- 
ish and Foreign Bible Society for the use of the American 
missionaries. The books sent out by the Agency were in 
seventeen languages, from Syriac and Persian in the East, 
to Albanian, German, Italian, French and English in the 

In 1853 began a quarrel of Russia with Turkey over the 
question whether the Greek or the Roman Catholic Church 
ought to have custody of the key of the Church of the 
Nativity in Bethlehem. In the war to which this quarrel 
led, the Western Powers of Europe became involved. This 
concentrated attention in America as well as in Europe 
upon the Turkish Empire and Constantinople which Russia 
hoped to capture. 

In the month of July, 1854, the Rev. Chester N. Righter, 
who had lately returned from a tour through Syria and 
Western Turkey, was appointed Agent in place of Mr. Cal- 
houn. Mr. Righter wrote pleasantly of his reception at 
Constantinople, and of the organisation of an Auxiliary 
(to the British and Foreign Bible Society) in that city 
which united British missionaries to the Jews and American 
Missionaries to the general population in one body under 
presidency of the Hon. Carrol Spence, the American Minis- 
ter. The stirring events of that time were emphasised during 
the first annual meeting of this Auxiliary, held in the hall 
of the principal hotel, when speakers were repeatedly inter- 
rupted by the thunder of guns from the English and French 
fleets saluting the Sultan as ship after ship, in full view 


from the windows, passed up the Bosphorus to attack the 
Russian fortress of Sebastopol. 

Mr. Righter made a visit to the armies in the trenches 
before Sebastopol, distributing Scriptures among the sol- 
diers, and in Constantinople he worked among soldiers as 
well as among the people of the city. In fact, the Crimean 
war brought facilities for Bible distribution such as had 
never before been known in Turkey. 

By this time the American Board had added to the num- 
ber of its stations, and Mr. Righter wished to see for him- 
self the men sending to him for Scriptures. After visit- 
ing Greece and Egypt, in 1856 he set forth with an English 
missionary Secretary on a long tour on horseback to the 
stations occupied by adventurous missionaries of the Amer- 
ican Board in Eastern Turkey. He visited Tocat, Sivas, 
Arabkir, and Diarbekir, and proceeded to Mosul by a raft 
built in antediluvian style on inflated goat skins. Thence 
he went to Mardin, where he was taken ill. His companion 
brought him to Diarbekir with great difficulty. Every ef- 
fort of Dr. Nutting, the resident missionary physician, 
failed to check the disease, and Mr. Righter died at Diar- 
bekir in December, 1856. 

The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. Mr. 
Righter' s body, lying in the Syrian cemetery at Diarbekir, 
is a perpetual reminder to the evangelical congregation in 
that city of the self-sacrifice which brought them the Bible, 
and to the American Bible Society of its sacred duty to stand 
by that distant missionary station. In this field every Tes- 
tament taken into a village or town lying beyond the mis- 
sionary centers, created a demand for many more. Thus 
in these northern parts of Mesopotamia it was American 
enterprise which as early as 1850 discovered the opportu- 
nity, took permanent residence among the squalid houses of 
the people, and, mission arid Bible Society always co-operat- 
ing, scattered the seed of an abundant harvest. 

A co-labourer with the Bible Society, the Rev. Dr. Eli 
Smith, translator of the New Testament into Arabic (the 
version chiefly used in evangelising Diarbekir), finished his 
earthly service in 1857. In 1848 Dr. Smith had been set 

234 THE LEVANT [1841- 

apart for Bible translation by the American Board, the Bible 
Society providing the salary of his assistant. On receiving 
intelligence of Dr. Smith's death, the Board of Managers 
honoured his memory by formally assuming the duty of 
supplying funds to complete the translation of the Bible 
into Arabic as soon as an able man was found for the work. 
This able man was another missionary of the American 
Board, the Rev. C. V. A. Van Dyck, who taking up the 
work of Dr. Smith revised it and completed the transla- 
tion of the Bible in the most masterful manner. 

An obvious necessity of the existence of a Bible Society 
is that missions anywhere sustained by churches which help 
to support the Society should receive aid for printing and 
distributing Scriptures. The Rev. I. G. Bliss, a former 
missionary of the American Board at Erzerum in Eastern 
Turkey, was selected for Mr. Righter's post and arrived at 
Constantinople in January, 1858. 

Mr. Bliss had special qualifications for this position. He 
knew the land, its languages, and its needs. Being ac- 
quainted with a large proportion of the great missionary 
body he could sympathise with and help them as a stranger 
could not. Having an energetic habit he would press Bible 
distribution to the utmost. The time was propitious, for 
diffusion of the Bible always creates demand for it. Or- 
ders were constantly coming from all parts of the Levant 
for Scriptures, This demand came from all nationalities 
and from people of every rank. In Constantinople the 
Mussulman official of high standing could be seen reading 
the Bible and discussing its contents with a despised Prot- 
estant peasant from the far off highlands of Ararat. 

Until 1836 nearly all the Scriptures used by the American 
missionaries in the Levant were obtained from the British 
and Foreign Bible Society, the bills for their cost being 
generally paid by the American Bible Society. This fact 
raised a curious problem. These Scriptures were naturally 
included by the British and Foreign Bible Society in its re- 
ports of issues. That Society rejoiced that it had supplied 
the Scriptures which the American missionaries used in 
beginning their remarkable campaign in Turkey. On the 
other hand, the American Bible Society of course reported 


among its issues books for which it had paid and which it 
sent to the missionary stations. For a time, therefore, the 
figures of Bible circulation in Turkey suffered from a 
double entry not observed perhaps by either Society. Such 
an infelicity was less liable to occur after a permanent Agent 
had the work of the American Society thoroughly in hand. 1 
One year after his arrival in Constantinople Mr. Bliss 
wrote to Dr. Brigham that during three months "more 
copies of the Scriptures published by our Society have been 
sent forth from the Depot in that city to different parts 
of the Empire than during the whole of the last year." One 
order was for 100 Bibles from Bythinia. A week or two 
before this eight boxes of Bibles were sent to Harput, 
reached by pack-mule caravan from a Black Sea port 300 
miles east of Constantinople. The following week six large 
cases of Scriptures were despatched by ox-cart to Philip- 
popolis in Bulgaria. An unexpected desire to read the 
Bible seemed to have been awakened among the Christian 
sects of Turkey and even among the Mohammedans. The 
enthusiasm shown by Mr. Bliss in these early months of his 
Agency continued fresh and undiminished during thirty 

1 The American Bible Society began in 1827 to make remittances for 
Scriptures to the missionaries of the American Board in the Levant, 
and from that time to 1861 it had granted for printing or for pay- 
ment of the bills of the British and Foreign Bible Society for books 
supplied to American missionaries $110,816; the books being in Ar- 
menian, A rmeno- Turkish, Arabic, Syriac, Hebrew-Spanish, Greek 
and some other languages. 



Gloriously was the Nineteenth Century of church his- 
tory ushered in by the great missionary movement. This 
movement both prepared a way for taking Bibles to almost 
every part of the world, and produced Societies to furnish 
the Bibles. The earliest American missions in purely pagan 
lands were established in India. Even before any formal 
decision to supply American missions abroad, the Society, 
as already mentioned, began to send money to missions 
which needed Scriptures as a foundation for their work. 
To American missions on the continent of India and in the 
island of Ceylon during its first twenty-five years the So- 
ciety granted more than $35,000 for Bibles. 

The confidence of the Society in making these appropria- 
tions largely rested upon the qualities of American mis- 
sionaries. In India, for instance, the American Board had 
established itself in different parts of the country, and later 
other American missionary societies opened work in this 
strange, and in many respects beautiful land. Beginning 
with 1 81 3 the American Board placed a missionary station 
at Jaffna in Ceylon and at Bombay and as the places seemed 
to invite occupancy, it also formed a station at Madras and 
later one at Madura. It sent out printing presses and prin- 
ters to Jaffna and to Madras in order that the missionary 
might reinforce the spoken word with printed arguments. 

We talk about India as if it was a single country and its 
people a single nation. We read that 300,000,000 people 
inhabit that land. These numerals, however, convey little 
impression, being no more interesting than the formula of a 
problem in Algebra. When American missionaries went 
into India, educated, refined, loving the good, hating the 
evil, they found themselves in the midst of different races, 
separated by language and by lines of caste as well as by 



walls of religion, yet in several respects alike. The masses 
of the people lived in darkest ignorance. They were un- 
able to read, their minds seemed utterly vacant; a sort of 
animal instinct held them to the ways of their fathers, 
whether as to place of abode or its quality, whether as to 
religious belief or its outward expression. No aspiration 
for improvement brightened any life, and no curiosity was 
aroused when improvements were offered by others. With 
ten or more varieties of gross paganism to be studied and 
mastered, in the very place where Satan's seat appeared to 
be, a missionary in India had occasion, if ever man had, 
to doubt the duty of including India within the Saviour's 
command to teach all nations. 

Possessed by the devil of egotism, the Brahmins, men of 
the highest caste, educated for the most part, unceasingly 
turned the ignorance of the masses to their own personal 
gratification and gain. Power to oppress was their birth- 
right; the corruption of the people was the surest defence 
of their influence. Like the ancient Pharisees they would 
not touch with their finger-tips the heavy burdens which 
they laid upon the people. Their spirit appears in the cold 
unfeeling attitude which they held at this time toward their 
sacred Vedas. They restricted the use of these to members 
of the Brahmin caste. Lower castes might not possess or 
read the Vedas, nor even hear them read. The Pariahs, 
people so low in the social scale as to be outside of any 
caste, they regarded as not worthy to drink from the same 
well as Brahmins, nor entitled to own any space upon earth. 
Missionaries coming into the country, as though personally 
attacked, deeply felt this oppression of the masses of the 
people. The kind of sensitiveness toward injustice which 
burns as fire until a remedy is found, is what God always 
shows in His messages to men. A holy indignation fairly 
drove the missionaries into efforts to help the poor and 
ignorant and despised. Influence by which they could move 
such degraded people does not spring from genius, but 
from humble service in the name of Jesus Christ. 

At the beginning of the second quarter century of the 
work of the Bible Society these missionaries, hidden as it 
were like leaven in a great mass of meal, had been labour- 


ing for a score of years. In the mission schools some peo- 
ple had learned to read; in limited circles the missionaries 
were recognised as men of a new species. An American 
missionary did not tell lies. He could not be convinced 
of self-seeking, and he preached a religion which lived in 
his heart. Such traits of character, utterly at variance with 
those prominent in India, led the common people little by 
little to take interest in what the missionary taught. Char- 
acter, so to speak, was the thin edge of a wedge that cleft 
the apathy of the people toward moral principle, toward the 
circumstances of daily life and toward everything save the 
daily scraping together of food enough for the day. 

With a heat like that felt by those who have discovered 
families dying from starvation, the missionaries cried to 
the Bible Society for help and the Board hastened grants 
of money for Bibles, During the twenty years from 1841 
to 1861 grants to the American missions in India amounted 
to nearly $120,000. 

The greatest value of these grants of money was that the 
missionaries were thereby enabled adequately to publish 
translations of some importance. In Ceylon the Tamil 
Version existed long before American missionaries acquired 
the language, but the American Mission Press became for a 
time a centre from which some English missions also re- 
ceived Scriptures in Tamil, since the Americans improved 
the clearness and accuracy of the old translation. It. seemed 
wise to the English and American missionaries to work to- 
gether in this, and the Jaffna Bible Society, Auxiliary to 
the British and Foreign Bible Society, was organised. Be- 
fore long we find American missionaries suggesting to the 
American Bible Society that grants of money for Ceylon 
be made directly to the Jaffna Auxiliary instead of to the 
American Board of Boston. The Managers granted the 
request, and as a natural result, the fruit of the seed sow- 
ing by the Society was lost to sight in the reports of the 
Jaffna Bible Society. This was simply another illustration 
of a fact which has close relation to the spiritual growth of 
every Christian worker ; namely, that God's way of advanc- 
ing His kingdom is to have one sow and another reap the 
fruit of the sowing. 


The revision of the Tamil Bible was afterwards trans- 
ferred to Madras, where the American Mission Press was 
also occupied with work in Tamil, and where the advice 
and co-operation of English missionaries was more readily 
obtained. The Madras Auxiliary of the British and For- 
eign Bible Society took general charge of the printing, but 
in this case the rule was followed of dividing the editions 
in proportion to the money furnished by the two great 
Bible Societies. In 1845 the Rev. Mr. Winslow sent a 
beautiful letter to the Board of Managers accompanying a 
specimen of the first edition of the Bible in Tamil to be 
brought within the compass of a single volume. 

Some of the grants for India during this period were 
made to the Rev. A. Sutton, an English Baptist missionary 
in Orissa, who confessed to Secretary Brigham that four of 
the missionaries in that field were English and only two 
Americans. " But then," he added, " four of the wives of 
missionaries are Americans and only two English. If I 
myself have not the honour of being American, yet I feel 
it difficult to admit that I am less interested in the pros- 
perity of your institution than a lineal descendant of the 
Pilgrim Fathers/' Naturally this frank and friendly 
avowal secured for Mr. Sutton several grants of money 
for Scriptures in the Uriye language. 

In the north of India as American Presbyterian Missions 
were established in the Lodiana District, money was fur- 
nished by the Society for translation, printing and distribu- 
tion in the Hindi and Urdu and later in the Punjabi lan- 
guage. The Methodist Episcopal mission at Lucknow re- 
ceived grants for Bible distribution almost as soon as it 
had fairly taken up its work. And later on the printing of 
Scriptures in Urdu at Lucknow was supported by funds 
from the American Bible Society. 

It was during this period that the Indian mutiny oc- 
curred. It was a terrible insurrection in North India last- 
ing more than a year from May, 1857, which was intended 
to destroy the troops, establishments and other appurte- 
nances of the East India Company. From the missionary 
point of view a part of the significance of this terrible mutiny 
was the revelation which it made of trust in God and de- 


voted bravery animating missionaries who stayed by their 
posts. This gave them influence among some classes of 
the people. The mutiny also resulted in the transfer of 
the British civil and military organisations in India from 
the East India Company to the British Government. Bible 
distribution, evangelistic efforts, and education made steady 
forward progress after this bloody episode of Indian his- 

Mention has already been made of the early work of 
American missionaries upon the Marathi Version. Before 
1850 the mission co-operated with the Bombay Auxiliary 
of the British and Foreign Bible Society, using the funds 
sent by the American Society to pay for printing Scriptures, 
and also for purchasing Scriptures in other languages than 
the Marathi which the missionaries used in their general 
evangelistic work. Mr. Allen, one of the missionaries of 
the Board in this field, mentioned a curious result of the 
Bible work. By the activities of Bible Societies, Moham- 
medans seemed to have been stirred to print the Koran, 
which had always before been written out by hand. They 
even went further than this in printing favourite chapters 
of the Koran separately in little booklets which, like those 
from the Mission press, could be sold for a very low price. 

Another early mission of the American Board was in 
Siam, having been commenced by David Abeel in 1831 and 
continued until about 1850 when the missionaries were 
withdrawn. During the time of their stay at Bangkok 
the missionaries set up a printing office, manufactured 
Siamese type, and with money granted by the Society is- 
sued in Siamese the New Testament and some books of the 
Old Testament. Rev. Charles Robinson, one of the mis- 
sionaries, wrote to the Board describing the work, and in- 
cidentally this letter illustrates what we have already men- 
tioned — the importance of early editions of a new version 
as a foundation for permanent translation of the Bible. 
Mr. Robinson says, " This mission has introduced in your 
books the division of words in printing, as is done in other 
languages. The Siamese generally acknowledge that this 
makes the book much easier to read than those printed in 
the Siamese method which runs words together." The 


American missionaries, also, introduced marks of punctua- 
tion, being rather cautious about this however, for fear of 
criticism; but the Siamese seemed to be pleased after they 
understood what was being done. " Hundreds and per- 
haps thousands/' said Mr. Robinson, " in this kingdom have 
read portions of the word of life. Although buried long 
in dust, we trust the good seed will at length spring up." 
When the American Presbyterian Church opened its per- 
manent mission in Siam, the hope of Mr. Robinson came 

At the time of which we are writing, Africa was on the 
maps chiefly as a picture of a guess. The ignorance of the 
West concerning the interior of the great dark continent 
was hardly more gross than that of the people who lived in 
it concerning America. Excepting in the northern and 
southern extremities of the continent, which had been 
touched by civilisation, the very idea of writing had not 
yet reached the minds of the people. They were without 
an alphabet and of course without books. Among the va- 
rious missionary societies attempting to enter the continent 
from the East and from the West, American societies had 
commenced work on the West coast in Liberia, and farther 
south near the mouth of the Gaboon River. Great Britain 
occupied Port Natal on the southern part of the East coast 
in 1842. The American Board sent missionaries into that 
region about the same time and it was not many years be- 
fore the Bible Society was beset with requests for aid to 
print the Scriptures in African languages. 

Intellectual giants only could enter that dark continent, 
discover means of talking with the people, acquire a vo- 
cabulary, decide upon an alphabet suitable for writing the 
language, and within a decade or so begin cautious trans- 
lations of portions of Scripture. The old Romans did many 
things by which the Christian world still profits. Their 
alphabet has been the instrument of bringing intellectual 
and spiritual life to many a black tribe left generation after 
generation without the power of writing. 

In 1847 tne Society printed in New York the Gospel of 
John in the Grebo language, translated by a missionary of 
the American Episcopal Church in Liberia. In 1849 tne 


missionaries of the American Board in southeastern Africa 
announced that they had completed a translation of one of 
the Gospels into the Zulu language, and the Society fur- 
nished them the means of printing it on their own press at 
the mission headquarters. This was the beginning of a 
great African version of which some 250,000 volumes have 
been printed at the Bible House in New York. In 1852 
one of the first works undertaken in the new Bible House 
was the printing of the Gospel of John in the Mpongwe 
language, spoken by tribes in the district of Gaboon, in 
West Africa, Rev. Mr. Bushnell, one of the missionaries 
of the American Board, having supervised the proof-read- 
ing in order to insure accuracy. This work for darkest 
Africa, as we shall see later, has had the result of show- 
ing that the black men have the same difficulties and the 
same yearnings for better things as do the white men who 
often despise them. 

In China the real beginning of advance in missionary 
work was prepared by treaties at the end of the war with 
England in 1842 commonly called the Opium War. Tem- 
porarily only, before that time, could missionaries find lodge- 
ment in Chinese cities." Singapore with its large Chinese 
population was a famous mission station, and the Portuguese 
island of Macao also had an important place in early mis- 
sions to China. But after losing Canton in the war with 
England the Chinese government made peace and opened 
to foreign commerce five important seaports. These ports 
were quickly entered as mission stations. Incidentally the 
cession of the island of Hong Kong to Great Britain gave 
missions a secure base for operations in the Chinese Em- 
pire. After the second war with England new treaties gave 
access to several additional cities, some of which were in 
the interior of the country. China was open to the Gospel. 

American missionaries in China received, from 1833 to 
1836, $19,500 from the Society for printing revisions of Dr. 
Morrison's Chinese version. In 1843 the missionaries of 
several different denominations conferred in regard to 
Scriptures for China. The conference was unanimous on 
the necessity of promptly supplying missionaries with the 
Bible in Chinese, the necessity of revising the existing text, 


and the impropriety of independent action by the missions, 
which might produce several versions of the Chinese Scrip- 
tures. It was agreed, too, that missionaries of all denomi- 
nations should participate in the revision, a portion being 
assigned to each station and afterwards passed around for 
comments before being taken in hand by the delegates com- 
posing the general revision committee. Along with the 
earnest desire for a union version, and a general agree- 
ment in principle, curiously enough this conference brought 
to light difficulties of translation which proved unexpectedly 
stubborn. Not only did the old question of rendering the 
Greek word baptizo prove a stumbling block, but the selec- 
tion of terms to represent the Deity and the Holy Spirit 
in Chinese encountered irreconcilable differences of opinion, 
although Morrison's Bible, which used the term Shin for the 
Supreme Being, had been in use for twenty-five years. 
The conference voted in both cases to leave those ques- 
tions for later settlement, in the meanwhile expecting the 
different missions to fill the blanks in the manuscript with 
the term by each preferred. 

In June, 1847, the Committee of Delegates having re- 
ceived suggestions made by the different stations began 
its revision of the Chinese New Testament. Then began 
also a series of discussions in Committee lasting through 
three or four years concerning Chinese terms properly to 
be adopted for the name of the Deity and of the Holy 
Spirit. Some general principles of Bible translation also 
became topics for warm discussion. Discussion ripened 
into controversy; and quite a library of letters, pamphlets, 
and other documents were interchanged between the differ- 
ent parties and submitted to the Bible Societies in London 
and New York for their judgment, and sometimes even for 
their guidance. 

When the New Testament was ready to be printed in 
1850, the Bible Societies not having been willing tcr make 
a decree, as two hundred years earlier the Pope had done in 
a parallel controversy among Roman Catholic missionaries, 
the question of "terms" very definitely divided the Com- 
mittee of Delegates. In the meantime the Committee of 
the British and Foreign Bible Society, in its eagerness 


quickly to supply Scriptures for China, had given to the 
London Missionary Society $5,000 to enable it to send 
a cylinder press to Shanghai, and had decided to furnish 
any amount of money that was necessary promptly to bring 
out a revised Chinese Bible. It informed the American 
Bible Society of its action and offered to let it participate 
in the expense. The American Society, also feeling very 
deeply the needs of China, appropriated $10,000 to be used 
by the missionaries of the American Board in bringing out 
the revised Chinese Bible whenever it should be ready. The 
New Testament was printed, the places left blank for the 
revisers, being filled by each party according to preference. 

Throughout this controversy the letters from Dr. Bridg- 
man, Dr. S. Wells Williams, and other American mission- 
aries to Secretary Brigham showed a yearning to put the 
Bible into the empty hands of the Chinese which was 
pathetic. Again and again they begged for prayers in be- 
half of a speedy solution of the obstructive problems. 
Nevertheless, in August, 185 1, when the "Delegates Com- 
mittee" began to revise the Old Testament, it was almost 
immediately disrupted by divergent opinions respecting es- 
sential principles of Bible translation, Dr. Medhurst and 
Messrs. Stronach and Milne of the London Missionary So- 
ciety following their preference in the revision, and Dr. 
Bridgman, Mr. Culbertson and Bishop Boone, American 
missionaries, carrying on a revision according to the prin- 
ciples for which they had contended. Instead of a union 
version, two versions of the Chinese Bible were therefore 
issued, one more elegant in style and the other more ac- 
curate in rendering. Neither could be accepted by all the 
missions. Perhaps because the Chinese themselves have 
thought the Supreme Being too far above man to be men- 
tioned excepting by suggestion, the Chinese term to be 
used where " God " is named in the Bible is still unsettled. 
The Bible Societies must hope that the Chinese Christian 
church rather than missionary scholars will one day end 
a controversy which has endured through two generations. 

In all of this work of Bible translation and publication 
while American missions were at their beginnings, the early 
translation perhaps of a single Gospel with all its imperfec- 


tions proved a work of permanent value when made by a 
true scholar. There may be much retracing of steps as the 
translation is revised again and again, but the first serious 
impression upon the new language is commonly found in 
the earliest form of the version. Upon this foundation the 
finished structure of a more accurate and less crude trans- 
lation is erected. 



Vexatious troubles, which the Apostle admits to be in 
one sense grievous, he more than once assures his disciples 
are matters for rejoicing. Patience, for instance, he 
counts among things worth gaining, like gold dust from a 
sand bank, out of carking cares and afflictions. He reminds 
one that when a person has acquired patience in this way 
he is a gainer also of the experience of various good things 
that come to him who waits. Another of the Apostle's 
postulates is that after gaining the experience of good in 
the midst of trouble, a permanent condition of optimism is 
apt to result — a hope which will not fail. 

Notwithstanding the really remarkable successes which 
had attended the efforts of the Society both at home and 
abroad, the last few years of the period before the Civil 
War brought to the Board of Managers a series of per- 
plexities which sometimes seemed to be harbingers of greater 
evils to come. In 1857 three harassing problems together 
had to be dealt with by the Board. In the first place, while 
the Society needed a considerable increase in the amount 
of money available for its expanding work, a financial panic 
destroyed confidence and made values shrink to such an 
extent that the donations for the work of the Society were 
diminished by some tens of thousands of dollars in one 
year. In the same year a perfectly innocent attempt to 
secure the Bibles published by the Society against typo- 
graphical errors had result in an attack of threatening vio- 
lence upon the Board and the Society. By a curious coin- 
cidence, in 1857, also, the Supreme Court of the United 
States made a sweeping decision on slavery which aroused 
fierce indignation in the Northern States and strengthened 
in the South the foreboding that a. terrible conflict might 


1841-1861] DISTRESSED FOR MONEY 247 

soon spring from the controversy about slavery. With- 
drawal from the Union seemed the only means of escape. 
Clearly, this political disturbance also threatened the So- 
ciety's great undertaking. As the people of the whole coun- 
try became absorbed in personal losses, in doubts of the So- 
ciety's wisdom and in political quarrels they would forget 
the daily needs of the Bible Society. Such forgetfulness 
would be in effect like that of men at an air-pump on which 
depends the life of a diver hard at work out of sight under 
ten fathoms of water. 

It is the lot of the Bible Society to be continually in 
anxiety between increase, on one hand, of demands from 
needy districts and needy people, and on the other hand, 
of difficulty in raising money to satisfy these demands. In 
1841 the Board appropriated $50,000 for the supply of the 
foreign field, but when the financial year came to a close 
it was found that the donations from Auxiliaries, the chief 
source of supply, amounted to less than half of this sum. 
In 1842 the receipts of the Society were $8,000 less than in 
1 84 1, and one half of the appropriations to the foreign fields 
could not be paid because of the lack of money. 

The available money in the treasury was reduced by a 
habit fallen into by some Auxiliary Societies of ordering 
books in quantity without thought of the obligation to pay 
for them or of raising money for the purpose. Any Auxil- 
iary might thus hamper the general work of the Society. 
In 1844 the Board was besought to cancel a number of such 
debts and it had to write off $27,355 from the book ac- 
count, passing that amount to the account of books granted. 
In 1852, $46,373 were thus taken from the assets of the 
society and credited as free grants to Auxiliaries. The 
Board had no reserve fund to draw upon for suGh unfore- 
seen grants. In a year or two, besides such calls, its regu- 
lar grants of money for home and foreign work were barely 
covered by receipts, financial disturbances throughout the 
country having reduced contributions. 

In 1857, beginning with the collapse of a number of busi- 
ness houses in Ohio, the Board's sources of supply seemed 
to vanish like a brook dried by the hot summer sun. In 
August of that year business failures seemed to become 

248 STORM CLOUDS [1841- 

epidemic. Some 5,000 firms and companies failed in a few 
weeks with $290,000,000 of liabilities. The recourse of the 
Society in desperate need was the banks which would loan 
needed money. But in Philadelphia the banks generally 
suspended payment during the latter part of September, and 
in October there was a general suspension of payments by 
banks in New York. The Board and the Secretaries, who 
can cheerily hold their minds to the increase of Bible cir- 
culation when material means of increase have taken wing 
and gone, must have stalwart trust in God's purpose of 
good to the Society. 

The Society was then engaged in its second general sup- 
ply of the destitute. This work ceased as if struck by 
lightning. The Auxiliary Societies engaged in the distribu- 
tion could not raise money even for the freight on books 
from New York. The dearth of money seemed about to 
close a large part of the work of the Bible Society. The 
busy presses at the Bible House appeared to be on the verge 
of permanent stoppage. Donations fell off until the total 
for the fiscal year was less than a hundred thousand dollars. 
Long before the year ended the Society had noted as the 
greatest hindrance to gifts for its current needs a general 
impression that since all churches in the land contribute, 
the decision of one church to omit its collection can not 
make any great difference to the Society. 

Perhaps a wide-spread revival of religion which left a 
permanent mark on the nation in 1857 had something to 
do with the relief of the anxieties of the Board. Although 
the receipts from donations in 1857 were $33,000 less than 
in 1856, the legacies received by the Society, which had 
averaged less than $20,000 a year, were $152,000 for the 
three years 1856, 1857 and 1858. The Managers and the 
executive officers had looked to God for help. As a result 
Secretary Brigham wrote in the Annual Report, " By God's 
favour every financial obligation was met and at the end of 
the year the Board owed nothing except gratitude to God." 
Again all friends of the Society rejoiced with thanksgiv- 
ing for a most wonderful deliverance from terrible calamity. 

At this same time the hostile criticisms of old friends 
greatly harassed the Board. In 1847 complaints from many 


sources had set forth that the Bibles published by the So- 
ciety differed in small particulars. Some editions had typo- 
graphical errors ; some varied in the spelling of words ; some 
did not conform to any rule in the capitals, in the italics, or 
in the punctuation. 

The feelings of the Board would revolt against the most 
trifling alteration of the authorised text of the Bible, but 
good intentions could not guarantee infallibility. Accord- 
ingly it directed the Committee on Versions to make a care- 
ful collation af the Society's Bibles with the best editions of 
the Queen's Printers in England, and to prepare a Standard 
edition to which all future Bibles printed by the Society 
would conform. 

The Committee on Versions was composed of scholars 
of national and even international repute. One notable 
figure in the Committee was the Rev. Dr. Edward Robinson, 
Professor of Biblical Literature in Andover Theological 
Seminary and afterwards in the Union Theological Semi- 
nary in New York; a man honoured in two continents for 
his profound knowledge of the Bible and his high standing 
as a scholar. Another member of the Committee was the 
Rev. Dr. Samuel H. Turner, Professor of Biblical Learning 
in the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Epis- 
copal Church, a sound and able commentator on the Bible. 
Another member, the Rev. R. S. Storrs, Jr., D.D., was pas- 
tor of the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Brooklyn, 
great in intellect, in power of expression, in oratory as well 
as in manly character. The chairman of the Committee 
was the Rev. Gardiner Spring, D.D., one of the founders 
of the Society and a pastor of great experience and in- 

In three years and a half this committee finished its 
weary task of collation, and in 185 1 presented to the Board 
of Managers a detailed report of the work accomplished, 
explaining that it " had no authority and no desire to go 
behind the translators." This report the Board approved 
and published. It seemed to meet with general approval; 
and the Board issued its Standard Bible that year — a 
standard because carefully conformed to the authorised ver- 
sion, as required by the constitution. 


The Society's Standard Bible was circulated for six years, 
apparently without objection. Then an unheralded storm 
of criticism burst upon the Board. The Maryland Bible 
Society, the Pennsylvania Bible Society, and other Auxil- 
iary societies pointed out changes in the text which they 
said affected the integrity of the version. Many good peo- 
ple refused to use the Standard Bible and sent it back to 
the Bible House because it contained changes dangerous 
and unauthorised. Ecclesiastical bodies added their pro- 
tests against the action of the Board of Managers. Re- 
ligious periodicals and last of all the secular press took up 
the cry, with careless and ignorant comments. The Ver- 
sions Committee had stated that Rev. Dr. McLane, the col- 
lator, had found twenty-fout- thousand discrepancies be- 
tween the six old editions compared, one differing from 
another in punctuation or in the use of capitals or italics. 
Newspapers immediately declared that the Versions Com- 
mittee had made twenty- four thousand changes in the Bible ; 
pens always ready to emphasise human weaknesses de- 
clared that the Board had "violated the sanctity of the 
Bible"; that the Versions Committee had "butchered the 
sacred writings and apparently gloried in the mutilation " ; 
learned men of renown cried out in horror and alarm. 
The perfidy of the Bible Society was brought before the 
Presbyterian (Old School) General Assembly with the 
petition that it "find a remedy for such doings or make 
one." Happily, the Assembly was wise enough to wish 
to learn the facts, and referred the whole matter to the 
General Assembly of the following year. Nevertheless 
the tribulations of the year 1857 seemed to the Secretaries 
burdens heavier than their strength could withstand. 

The Board could not neglect the outcry of its friends and 
fellow-workmen in different parts of the land. It knew the 
value of the labours of the Versions Committee and had 
a high opinion of the patient diligence of Dr. McLane, who 
had made the collation and endured the drudgery of noting 
discrepancies even to commas and parentheses. It feared 
that it had made a mistake in acting without close examina- 
tion of the details of the Committee's work, being led by 
confidence in the scholarship of the Versions Committee 


to sanction unauthorised emendations. But the Committee 
was charged with exceeding its mandate. Alterations, it 
was said, had been made in the text where the King James 
translation had seemed to them to be incorrect. The Com- 
mittee had also made new headings to chapters, having 
justly regarded these as no part of the Bible, but a sort of 
index prepared by any one superintending the printing. 
Eminent clergymen wrote to the papers that the Versions 
Committee " objected to criticism as if they were acting by 
divine authority instead of being mere intruders meddling 
with the oracles of God." The actual facts of the Com- 
mittee's action must be set forth where they would inform 
critics ; otherwise these discussions might agitate the Society 
for months. The Board accordingly referred the whole 
mass of complaints and criticisms to the Versions Commit- 
tee with instructions to report upon the whole subject. 

The report of the Committee was presented to the Board 
in November. It defended in general the decisions of the 
Committee but recommended that the headings of chapters in 
the Standard Bible should be brought into accord with those 
in former editions. This would remove some objections that 
had been made, but would not soften criticisms concerning 
changes in the text of the Bible which savoured of revision. 
The Board, therefore, referred the report back to the Ver- 
sions Committee for consideration from this point of view. 
The Committee, however, did not wish to change its report 
and returned the papers to the Board. The Board was now 
perilously near a volcanic explosion. But Rev. Dr. Storrs 
suggested the appointment of a special Committee of nine, 
made up from nine different denominations, to be arbi- 
trators, as it were, in this delicate emergency. According 
to usage in such cases, Dr. Storrs as proposer of the plan 
was made Chairman of the Special Committee. 

In January, 1858, the special committee of nine reported 
resolutions for adoption in which Dr. Storrs did not concur, 
he urging in a minority report the adoption of a different 
set of resolutions. The controversial topic brought to the 
Board by these two sets of resolutions was in essence the 
question whether or not the Society has a right to revise the 
King James Version of 161 1, Dr. Storrs urging the right to 

252 STORM CLOUDS [1841- 

revise. His resolutions proposed that changes in the text of 
the Bible be approved where they are authorised " by some 
edition heretofore accepted in this country or in Great 
Britain, or by the unanimous consent of Christian scholars 
affirming their correctness." 

Feeling was intense, and calm deliberation was essential 
to any useful action. Upon the decision of the Board would 
depend the peace of the Society and perhaps its very ex- 
istence as a national institution. The Board therefore de- 
ferred consideration of the resolutions for two weeks, and 
on the 28th of January, 1858, the fateful decision was taken. 
Eighty-three persons entitled to vote in meetings of the 
Board of Managers were present. After a full and some- 
what warm discussion, the Board adopted by a very large 
majority the resolutions offered by the special committee of 
nine, as follows : 

" Resolved, That this Society's present Standard Eng- 
lish Bible be referred to the Standing Committee on Ver- 
sions for examination ; and in all cases where the same dif- 
fers in the text or its accessories from the Bibles previously 
published by the Society, the Committee is directed to cor- 
rect the same by confirming it to previous editions printed by 
this Society or by authorised British presses ; reference being 
also had to the original edition of the translators printed in 
161 1 ; and to report such corrections to this Board, to the 
end that a new edition, thus perfected, may be adopted as the 
Standard Edition of the Society. 

" Resolved, That until the completion and adoption of 
such new Standard Edition, the English Bibles to be issued 
by this Society shall be such as conform to the editions of 
the Society anterior to the late revision, so far as may be 
practicable, and excepting cases where the persons or auxil- 
iaries applying for Bibles shall prefer to be supplied from 
copies of the present Standard Edition now on hand or in 
process of manufacture." 

The resolutions adopted sustained the principles on which 
the Board had always interpreted the first article of the con- 
stitution and on which it had always acted in respect to the 
English Bible. The dissenting resolutions, on the other 
hand, admitted the principle that Bible Societies, " on the 


unanimous verdict of Christian scholars," might revise. the 
Bible. This theory, if carried into execution, would be al- 
most certain to break up a Society which different denomi- 
nations sustain. It was well, therefore, that the question 
was then permanently settled, since the revision of the Eng- 
lish Bible was destined to be undertaken a score of years 

The by-law which specifies the duties of the Versions 
Committee says, in so many words, that its action is to be 
" subject to the approval of the Board." Six of the mem- 
bers of the Committee, however, signed a protest against the 
action taken and asked to have it entered on the minutes. 
This the Board, of course, refused to permit. The six 
signers of the protest, Rev. Dr. Storrs, Rev. E. Robinson, 
Rev. S. H. Turner, Rev. Dr. Vermilye, Thomas Cock, M.D., 
and Rev. Dr. Floy, immediately resigned membership in the 
Versions Committee. Rev. Gardiner Spring, the Chairman 
of the Committee, only remained to carry out the decision of 
the Board. The Committee was reconstituted by appoint- 
ment of nine new members, and proceeded to complete the 
Standard Bible of the Society in accordance with the resolu- 
tions of the Board. Quiet was at once restored. 

Meanwhile in this same year of financial panic and of the 
attack on the Society for attempting a revision of the Eng- 
lish Bible, the Supreme Court of the United States made a 
decision which profoundly affected the country and there- 
fore the Bible Society. The case was that of Dred Scott, a 
slave who had sued for freedom. The decision of the Su- 
preme Court was, in the first place, that a slave, not being a 
citizen, cannot sue in the United States courts, and in the 
second place, slavery being a national institution, it is the 
duty of Congress to protect the property of slave-owners, 
even when the slave is in free territory. In the North it 
was felt that this decision carried the world back twenty 
centuries, for it upheld an ideal of citizenship as exclusive 
and aristocratic, and a theory of slavery as heartless, as that 
of the Roman Empire. 

All these things added to the anxieties of the Board, al- 
though they did not directly affect the Society. The simple 
and beneficent work of the Society steadily went on, the 

254 STORM CLOUDS [1841- 

Board, following St. Paul's rule of thinking no evil and pa- 
tiently enduring affronts, while political agitators were rush- 
ing about the country making orations full of fire which in- 
creased the bewilderment of a people travelling an unknown 
road in a fog. 

In 1859 John Brown of Kansas, with a small baud of 
armed followers, seized the arsenal at Harper's Ferry, 
Virginia, with the idea that he could induce the slaves to rise 
against their masters and gain freedom by insurrection. It 
was a mad scheme, for originating which John Brown was 
hung ; but it filled the hearts of Southerners with a sense of 
danger not only to their property but to themselves. The 
feeling grew that the whole of the Northern States were in a 
conspiracy to stir up insurrection among the slaves in the 

For the first time the possibility of war between the two 
sections took definite form in the minds of clear-headed men. 
The approach of war, though as silent and stealthy as that 
of a tiger toward its prey, shakes the social system to its 
foundations, and throws upon trade a creeping paralysis. 
The difficulty of raising money for benevolent work steadily 
increased, although the Southern Auxiliaries, as a rule, 
loyally sustained by cordial approval and by material gifts 
close relations with the Society. During the uncertainties 
of the time a pleasing equilibrium existed in the Society's 
relations throughout the country; but an equilibrium is al- 
ways uncertain since even a feeble effort may destroy it. 

In July, 1 86 1, the South Carolina Bible Convention in its 
annual meeting at Sumter passed a most cordial resolution : 
" That the American Bible Society merits the confidence and 
sympathy of the whole American people in view of the 
principles on which it is founded and the wisdom, economy, 
and efficiency of its management. It shall have our earnest 
co-operation in its plans and efforts for the supply of every 
family in our own and other lands with the oracles of God." 
The Convention then renewed its pledge to send to the Bible 
Society $5,000 during the year for its foreign work. 

Four months later Abraham Lincoln was elected Presi- 
dent of the United States by the vote of all the Northern 
States excepting New Jersey. 


It seemed to the people of the South that the unanimity of 
this election meant a definite purpose on the part of the 
Northern .States to wrest slaves from the hands of their 
owners. After six weeks of hurried consultation, South 
Carolina responded to this vote by passing with enthusiasm 
an ordinance of secession from the United States. During 
the next five months one after another the Southern States 
followed the lead of South Carolina, and organised a new 
Union as " the Confederate States of America " with Jeffer- 
son Davis as President. 

Fear of calamity is of the same quality as calamity itself, 
but is apt to be more exhausting to strength. The men at 
the Bible House had at this time to contend with much the 
same feeling as the soldier who is carried forward with his 
regiment toward a clash with hostile forces, not knowing at 
what moment, nor in what place, nor in what guise the battle 
will begin. But no one at the Bible House flinched. The 
point most sensitive to such portentous events is the Treasure 
chest of the Society. From the Treasurer's point of view 
the nation is divided into two classes, the one consisting of 
people who contribute to the Society and the other of those 
who do not. Because of the secession movement and its 
uncertainties, receipts gradually became less. In the spring 
of the year the Board had appropriated for work abroad 
$43439-90* and had notified the different missions that they 
would receive this amount. Of this sum $22,283.90 had 
been paid over. " The remainder," said the brave, calm and 
trustful men of the Board, " shall be sent out as soon as 

The forty-five years of which the story has been told up 
to this point have shown a steady increase of the influence 
and power of the Society. The Board had learned the 
lesson of expecting, in the spirit of the " bread petition " in 
the Lord's Prayer, to have the needs of the Society supplied 
one day at a time. It had no reserve of money laid up; 
there was nothing whatever that it could call its own except 
the Bible House and the fine equipment for printing books 
whenever there was money to pay for printing. But to men 
of devotion and experience and prayer storm-clouds cannot 
possibly destroy the calmness of hope in God. Political 

256 STORM CLOUDS [1841- 

disturbances cannot be a hindrance to work for Him any 
more than the soldier's anxieties before the battle can in 
any way hinder his throwing his whole power sturdily into 
the struggle which his general directs. 

In the midst of the forebodings caused by the secession 
movement, came from Florida a declaration that " all will 
rally to the support of the American Bible Society which 
knows no North, no South, no East, no West, but only one 
needy world." Another encouragement to unshaken confi- 
dence was a message from Charleston, South Carolina, after 
the secession ordinance had been passed, remitting to the 
American Bible Society $1,000 as the Charleston Auxiliary's 
share of the $5,000 promised at the State Convention. 

On the 12th of April, 1861, the Southern troops began 
the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the United States fortress 
in front of Charleston. Mr. Lincoln immediately called for 
75,000 volunteers to defend the property of the United 
States. That meant Civil War. 

Twice the Society suffered heavy loss before a shot had 
been fired. Secretary James H t McNeill, a Presbyterian 
clergyman from Fayetteville, N. C, continued at his post, 
framed the resolution for the supply of Scriptures to all 
troops in all parts of the country, and on behalf of the Com- 
mittee presented it to the Board, which unanimously adopted 
it. A week later North Carolina formally seceded from the 
Union, and Mr. McNeill, like many officers of the United 
States Army, decided. that he must go with his State. He 
accordingly resigned on the 6th of June, after eight years of 
faithful and self-denying service of the Bible cause. 1 The 
second loss was of another class. It was not until some time 
had passed that the Board realised that on the day when 

1 Later the officers of the Society were saddened by the tragic 
result of this decision of a loved associate. Mr. McNeill returned 
to North Carolina, where he acted for a time as chaplain in the 
Southern army. He later became a Major and afterwards Colonel 
of the Fifth North Carolina Cavalry Regiment. He distinguished 
himself in various battles throughout the war, was severely wounded 
at Gettysburg, and just one week before the surrender of General 
Lee at Appomatox, he was killed in action, April 2, 1865, near Peters- 
burg, Va. 


the war commenced it lost in the seceded States 653 of its 
Auxiliary Societies. 

It was perfectly clear to all that the rending of the 
Union menaced the existence of the Society. Never before 
had disaster seemed so imminent, the Society so defenceless ; 
but the Managers and the executive officers quietly con- 
tinued their work, unfrightened by the possibilities of this 
great crisis. In the annual report presented to the Forty- 
fifth Annual Meeting, in May, 1861, the Managers, with a 
hope born of experience, spoke these brave words : " Amid 
the political excitements and financial revulsions of the last 
four months we had reason to expect a large diminution 
of the Society's operations. This expectation has been 
realised, y^t not to the extent that might have been antici- 
pated. . . . Convinced more deeply than ever by events in 
this and other lands that without the controlling and sancti- 
fying influence of the Bible there can be no permanent se- 
curity for aught that is valuable to the individual or to the 
community, it behooves the Society to address itself with 
new earnestness and new hopefulness to its blessed work." 

FIFTH PERIOD 1861-1871 


A declaration of war can impede the progress of a na- 
tion, and it can also brand as a crime love of kith or kin 
which reaches across a line drawn on the map. For when 
war has been declared, to love the enemy is far more crimi- 
nal than to kill him, and to give him food is treason. A de- 
mand that men shall hate their fellows, then, is the first 
stage of the blight of war. In a civil war this blight assails 
the higher ideals and finer sentiments of men who are insep- 
arable because they have walked together in Christian fel- 

Something of this nature befell the Society in the spring 
of 1861, when a part of the people of the United States 
sought to rend the nation in twain while a larger portion de- 
termined at any cost to preserve its integrity. Foresight in 
detail of the blind hates and other harrowing features of 
civil war did not at first impress the minds of men because 
the secession of Southern States was gradual. Beginning 
with South Carolina December 20, i860, five more states 
seceded during January, 1861 ; Texas seceded on the 1st of 
February ; Virginia did not take the fateful step until April, 
after Fort Sumter had been bombarded and occupied by the 
Southern troops. Arkansas and North Carolina followed, 
and Tennessee did not yield to the public opinion of her 
neighbours until the 8th of June, 1861. 

The majority of the soldiers called to the colours in the 
North had no hostility whatever toward the people of the 
South. Far from conspiring together to free the coloured 
people in the South, the most of these men would not have 
enlisted to free the slaves by violence. Their one motive in 
taking arms was to prevent division of the patrimony which 



their Southern brothers had demanded in order to take an 
adventurous journey by themselves. 

A mature Christian experience, like accurate acquaintance 
with any branch of secular knowledge, reveals itself in words 
and acts. In such a mighty catastrophe as that which the 
Society faced in 186 1 there was nothing to do but to pray. 
The very pause to ask God for help is at such a time a clear- 
ing of the mind and a revelation of the solid standing 
place for effort found in God's inexhaustible loving kind- 
ness and wisdom. So it might be said of the Managers at 
this time that like the Psalmist, " in the multitude of their 
thoughts, God's comforts delighted their souls." 

President Frelinghuysen could not believe that a merely 
political disturbance could break the ties between the So- 
ciety and its Auxiliaries. At the Annual Meeting, May 9, 
1861, he said: "While there is much to alarm and afflict 
us in the political agitations of our country, one thing is our 
special comfort in the cause of the Bible Society : We are 
still one, bound together by the bands of Christian kindness, 
animated by like hopes, earnest in like purposes and cheered 
by the same sympathies." He doubtless remembered that 
General Stonewall Jackson of Virginia had long been a 
warm friend of the American Bible Society, sometimes go- 
ing himself from house to house to collect money for the 
support of its work. Mr. Frelinghuysen, like the most of 
the members of the Board, thought that old ties uniting them 
with friends of the Bible in the South could not be broken 
by command of any meddler who had chanced to attain 

It is always the difficulties hard to measure which lure 
Christian people to momentous decisions. Without reserve 
of money to make good a decision for enlargement, depend- 
ing like Israel in the desert upon food that came each morn- 
ing and could not be kept until the next, one of the Secre- 
taries wrote at this time : " God has left us no choice here ; 
we must open this book to those who have it not." To the 
eternal credit of the Society and its officers they could not 
conjure up hatred of the South such as war demands. They 
saw only the fact that war would prevent the relief of many 
poor people destitute of the Scriptures. 


Deliberately but unanimously the Board adopted the prin- 
ciple of cordial regard for all needy ones in the land with- 
out question of their attitude toward the government of the 
United States. In May, 1861, it sent to Auxiliary Societies 
and Agents throughout the land, North and South, a circu- 
lar which suggested the need of Bible consolations natural to 
those facing imminent danger and urged that every soldier 
who enlisted be supplied with a copy of the Scriptures ; the 
Board would grant books freely in every case where money 
lacked for this great undertaking. Three months later 
Auxiliaries in several Southern States having ordered Scrip- 
tures without remitting money to pay for them, the Board 
unanimously agreed that no cause existed to make any alter- 
ation whatever in its practice as to the supply of Auxiliaries 
that need the aid of the Society. 

For some time it seemed possible that the Society might 
preserve its ties of fraternity with the Southern Auxiliaries. 
Not until the middle of August, 1861, did the President de- 
clare the Southern States in insurrection. During the year 
ending March 31, 1862, thirty-six new Auxiliary Societies 
were recognised in nine of the seceding states. These So- 
cieties still ordered books from New York and the report 
shows that during the year Southern Auxiliaries paid the 
Society more than $3,000 for books which they had ordered. 

Notwithstanding these pleasant relations it became evident 
in 1862 that a number of the Southern Auxiliaries had with- 
drawn confidence from the Society. A Confederate States* 
Bible Society was shortly organised at Augusta and the 
Auxiliary tie gave way entirely. In spite of the hopes and 
the initiative of the Society, intercourse with some 600 
Auxiliary Societies in the seceded states then ended. 
Throughout the border states bitter animosities severed na- 
tional and Christian ties which had bound the people to- 
gether. People looked askance at each other as though the 
Dark Ages had returned and had laid whole communities 
under ban of the major excommunication. Some of the 
Auxiliaries in the border states held loyally to the parent 
Society and suffered for it. In Franklin County, Kentucky, 
the Auxiliary bravely kept at work although its members 
and all the surrounding people were held in constant fear 


for months because guerrillas from the South continually 
made raids into their fair county. At Buckhannon, in one 
of the central counties of Western Virginia, a detachment of 
Southern cavalry raided the town and a part of their 
plunder was the whole stock of Bibles in the Auxiliary de- 
pository. At Martinsburg, Virginia, near the Maryland 
border, the lady in charge of the depository more than once, 
finding troops moving to attack the town, was obliged to 
carry her Bibles into the cellar. After the enemy had de- 
parted she would laboriously restore them to the shelves 

A little later in the history of the war the Agent of the 
Society in Missouri briefly tells of the desolation wrought 
in that state, although it did not secede, by the tides of war 
flowing back and forth across its fertile fields. " Several 
clergymen," he said, " of different denominations have come 
into St. Louis for safety. From them I learned that many 
Sunday Schools and many churches in this state will be 
closed for months to come." In Virginia, after battles on 
battles had been fought in the Shenandoah Valley, one of 
the Society's Agents reported, " In this valley of Virginia, 
church edifices are nearly all appropriated for hospitals and 
other military uses. Ministers are gone, congregations are 
broken up, the Sabbath, even, to a great extent is forgotten." 

In war-time, railroad trains, steamers, wagons, carts and 
pack-horses headed for any point in the enemy's territory 
are stopped at some river or some pass in the mountains 
where stands a man, with a rifle and fixed bayonet, whose 
vocabulary contains but the one word, " Halt ! " Men have 
been shot for trying to carry messages or even medicine to 
the enemy. After the President's proclamation in August, 
1861, the stern fiat of martial law made intercourse with 
" the enemy " unpardonable. The greater the desire to 
benefit men in a hostile army, the greater the criminality of 
him who feels that emotion. 

Since a closed door guarded by the bayonet confronted the 
peace-loving men in the Managers' Room at New York, the 
Society might perhaps have given up its plan to send Bibles 
to the soldiers of the South. But responsibility for influence 
on men's souls could not be thrown off. The Society was 


bound to do all that it could to check irreligion amdhg sol- 
diers separated from religious ties and so huddled together 
that evil devices would become epidemic. The Board had 
determined to place a Bible or Testament in the hands of 
every soldier both North and South. All the resources of 
the Society should be used to give effect to this determina- 

The decision of the Board was confirmed by a marvellous 
occurrence. When Bibles were sent South to nourish the 
souls of the men of the Confederate Army, the guards did 
not order a halt. Generals and their subordinates on both 
sides of the line let the Book travel under a sort of " Truce 
of God." Through this unparalleled respect for a holy 
enterprise, some three hundred thousand Bibles, Testaments 
and single Gospels during the war passed from New York, 
through the firing lines, to comfort the Southern soldiers. 
Such a situation was beyond hope. 

Possibly the slow stages by which peace gave place to war 
led up to this novel situation. From Maryland, with its 
long border touching Virginia at all points, and its easy 
water communication with the Virginian shores of Chesa- 
peake Bay, throughout 1861 it was possible to send Bibles 
around the flanks of the hostile armies which were gather- 
ing. Packages of books went from Baltimore to the Vir- 
ginia Bible Society at Richmond, at the very time when the 
New York newspapers were hurling at the Northern Armies 
along the border the war cry : " On to Richmond ! " 

Immediately after the first impulsive decision of the 
Board, in May, 1861, Secretary McNeill wrote to the Vir- 
ginia Bible Society that the Southern Army would be sup- 
plied with Scriptures as well as the Northern. The first 
books sent in the West were held up as contraband of war. 
Early in 1862 Federal officers at Cairo, Illinois, stopped a 
parcel of New Testaments, as contraband, which was ad- 
dressed to General (Bishop) Leonidas Polk's Army at 
Columbus, Kentucky. This may have been, however, be- 
cause General Grant at that moment was beginning a move- 
ment in Kentucky which obliged General Polk to retire from 
Columbus, for later there was no further difficulty. Under 
the same system a goodly number of Testaments were sent 


directly to Richmond under flag of truce with the consent of 
the commanding officers of both armies. The Maryland 
Auxiliary reported in 1863 that it had sent to the South from 
the American Bible Society 86,424 volumes of Scripture 
during the year. Some five thousand of these volumes were 
sent, with the consent of the authorities, to prisoners of war 
in Richmond. All the difficulties which attended the plan 
to supply the South were removed, and by the middle of 
1863 shipments of books in large quantities from New York 
were regularly forwarded under flag of truce by way of 
fortress Monroe to their destination. The books mentioned 
above sent by the Maryland Bible Society were in fifty-seven 
cases, which were forwarded to Richmond by way of Fort- 
ress Monroe and City Point under permit from the Secretary 
of War ; and the United States Government and the Norfolk 
Steamship Company paid all expenses of transport. Such 
benevolent and picturesque courtesies under flag of truce 
were probably unparalleled in the history of wars. They 
could only occur where both of the contending governments 
and their generals had an inbred respect for the Bible and 
conviction of its power to benefit men. 

Curiously enough, the grand old Virginia Bible Society 
did not at first respond to efforts made to supply its deposi- 
tory with Scriptures. In November, 1863, a letter was re- 
ceived from its Secretary which stated that after two years 
of war, having received no response to a reasonable request 
for grants of Scriptures, it had made other arrangements 
and therefore was no longer under necessity of applying to 
the American Bible Society. From the outbreak of the war 
until the date of this letter, 22,650 volumes of Scripture had 
been sent to the Virginia Auxiliary through the Maryland 
Bible Society. The cause of the misunderstanding was 
that the Virginia Society did not realise that these books 
coming from Maryland were sent by the American Bible So- 
ciety. It, therefore, believing that the Society was not will- 
ing to supply its needs, sent the Rev. Dr. Hoge to London to 
obtain Scriptures from the British and Foreign Bible So- 
ciety. The considerable grant which was made in response 
to Dr. Hoge's request had to take its chances of running the 
blockade. It does not appear that many of these books 


reached Virginia. As to the famine of Bibles in the South 
generally, shortly after the books arrived from England, 
Rev. Dr. Thorne of North Carolina wrote that with all of 
these books and all which had been printed in the South 
and all which had been gathered up from churches and Sun- 
day Schools, the supply was as a drop in a bucket as com- 
pared with the terrible destitution which existed. In 1863 
some of the prisoners of war in Richmond who had been 
supplied with Testaments from New York sold their Testa- 
ments in order to buy food. The price at which they sold 
them at the doors of the Libby Prison was twelve or some- 
times fifteen dollars apiece. This fact impresses one with 
the famine of Bibles in Virginia. After the matter was 
thoroughly understood by the Virginia Auxiliary, its officers 
made graceful expressions of appreciation of the spirit and 
practice of the Society toward the people and the armies of 
the South. 

In 1863 the Rev. L. Thorne, pastor of a Baptist Church 
in Kingston, North Carolina, managed to send to New York 
by way of Baltimore a request for a grant of 25,000 Bibles 
and 75,000 Testaments for the North Carolina Board of 
Army Colportage. The grant was made and the books re- 
ceived to the immense joy of Mr. Thorne. He wrote to the 
secretaries his heartiest thanks for the gift. A grant not 
strictly limited to army work in the South was 25,000 
volumes of Scripture granted to the Southern Baptist Sun- 
day School Board in the same year. As the United States 
troops occupied more and more of the Southern territory, 
grants were made to the old Auxiliary Societies. Thus the 
Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee, Auxiliary received 
a grant of 20,000 Testaments for the Southern Army and 
50,000 for the United States Army under General Grant, 
then occupying Memphis. The books for the Southern 
troops were passed through the line,? by order of the gen- 
eral. After the occupation of Mobile, Alabama, a grant was 
made to the old Mobile Auxiliary for use among soldiers and 

Nor were the Southern soldiers confined in various North- 
ern States forgotten. Some 35,000 volumes of Scripture 
were given to such prisoners of war. Most of them wel- 


corned the Bible men and their books ; some, especially bitter 
against the Government, refused to take Bibles tainted by 
contact with " Yankees." Tens of thousands of prisoners 
of war exchanged during the four years carried south with 
them these pure tokens of Christian kindness shown by men 
whom they regarded as their natural foes. But these ship- 
ments of Bibles had a far greater effect in succeeding years. 

If the government had not facilitated the despatch of 
Bibles to the South, the Southern people must have re- 
mained not only without Bibles, but without knowledge of 
the kindly wishes of Northern Christians for their highest 
welfare. A little later the Society had access to the de- 
vastated lands where the bitterness of strife and of financial 
strain long blocked intercourse with all other people from 
the North. The reason why an exception was made in 
regard to the Bible Society was the hearty good will shown 
during the war in the supply of Scriptures to troops and 
other destitute people in the South. 

While the stress of war gave keen insight and foresight 
and intelligence of plan to the members of the Board and 
the executive officers of the Society, President Frelinghuy- 
sen and Secretary Brigham did not long participate in the 
labours of this strenuous time. Their great work was done 
in the years which prepared the Society to endure the test. 

On the 1 2th of April, 1862, President Theodore Freling- 
-huysen finished his long and useful life. At the time of his 
death he was residing, as President of Rutgers College, at 
New Brunswick, New Jersey. A year before, he had pre- 
sided as usual at the annual meeting of the Society and de- 
livered an interesting and stimulating address upon the duty 
of the Society in the presence of the extraordinary disturb- 
ances then beginning to be felt throughout the country. 
During the sixteen years of his service as President of the 
Society he showed himself entirely devoted to its interests 
because of love for the Bible. In his private life he devoted 
a certain time every day to study of the Book in order to 
promote his own spiritual development. This habit so left 
its mark on his conversation and on his thoughts that he was' 
a living epistle, known and read of all. When he was sena- 
tor of the United States he joined with others in maintain- 


ing a weekly Congressional prayer-meeting, and he was also 
teacher in a Sunday School in Washington. When he was 
dying, one near to him asked, " Is it peace with you now ? " 
" All peace," he answered, " more than ever before " ; and 
in a few moments he had ceased to breathe. At Mr. Fre- 
linghuysen's funeral, in New Brunswick, flags were at half 
mast, places of business were closed, the church bells tolled, 
and the Governor, the Chancellor, and the Chief Justice of 
New Jersey, with a number of other distinguished citizens, 
were his pall-bearers. And thus while cannon were thunder- 
ing at Yorktown, Virginia, at New Orleans a thousand 
miles away, and at many other places between, his body was 
committed with all honour to the tomb. 

Mr. Frelinghuysen had presided at every anniversary of 
the Society since his election as President in 1845, and the 
Board of Managers placed on record its deep sense of the 
loss which the Society, the church, and the community sus- 
tained in his death. 1 

Dr. Brigham's rugged health had shown signs of failing 
during a year or more before his death, but it was none the 
less a shock when he passed away on the 19th of August, 
1862, in the sixty-ninth year of his age. During thirty-six 
years he had served as Secretary of the Society, for the first 
fifteen of these years enjoying the counsel and fellowship of 
the sturdy and noble senior Secretary, Rev. Dr. James 
Milnor. His character was so simple and sound that every 
one trusted him. He had the quickest sympathy with every- 
thing which concerned the welfare of mankind, and he lived 
with the one purpose of advancing the kingdom of God. 
The completeness and harmony of his qualities especially 
fitted him for the office of Secretary with its many delicate 
and difficult relations. Rev. Dr. William Adams in preach- 
ing the funeral sermon gave a remarkably graphic descrip- 
tion of the duties of Corresponding Secretary of the Bible 
Society. Partly to remind the reader that this description 
of the Secretary's duties holds good to the present day, we 
quote this part of Dr. Adams' address : 

." If any one has imagined that the whole duty of a Secre- 
tary of one of our national Christian Societies consists in 

1 Manager's Minutes, Vol. 9, p. 260. 


writing and filing a certain number of letters, he has not 
caught the first idea of the service. It is not asserting too 
much to say that the general success of the organisation will 
depend upon its Secretary. He is ordinarily its chief execu- 
tive officer; he is surrounded and aided by various com- 
mittees giving him counsel and sharing with him responsi- 
bility, but he must devise, and arrange, and project, and 
accomplish. Compute the many delicate questions certain 
to arise in a Society like the Bible Society ; the many Agents 
and employees in all departments in every district of the 
country and the world ; the changes of events which are to 
be observed and reported throughout the vast field which 
has no limit save that imposed by our own capacity in pos- 
sessing and cultivating it; forget not the occasions, public 
and private, with manifold details which are to be improved 
for stimulating the indifferent, informing the churches — 
compute, I say, all these various interests, claims, duties, and 
services, and tell us what tact, expertness, justice, magna- 
nimity, patience, gentleness, scholarship, and piety are need- 
ful in one invested with such an office and conducting it with 
complete success. That our friend and brother attained this 
success is an honour of no ordinary kind." 



After the death of President Frelinghuysen, the Hon. 
Luther Bradish, for many years a Vice-President of the 
Society, was unanimously elected President. Mr. Bradish 
had won the high regard of the members of the Board and 
of the Society by his genial simplicity of soul, attractive 
manners, and especially his matter-of-course Christian char- 
acter. He was a member of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church, and as a liberal, warm-hearted Christian he extended 
the right hand of fellowship to all servants of Jesus Christ. 
In his early life, Mr. Bradish had served the government, 
having been sent by President Monroe in 1820 to visit coun- 
tries lying about the Mediterranean Sea. His duty was to 
collect information on commercial conditions preparatory to 
the negotiation of treaties. He spent five or six months in 
Constantinople and prepared the way for a commercial 
treaty with Turkey, although meeting much covert opposi- 
tion from the Ambassadors of European powers with the 
single exception of Russia, His advice as to the best method 
of procedure in negotiating a treaty with Turkey was fol- 
lowed with success under President Jackson. As Vice- 
President of the Society Mr. Bradish attracted attention to 
the qualities which had made him speaker of the New York 
Assembly and later Lieutenant-Governor of New York and 
presiding officer of the State Senate. His clearness of com- 
prehension and statement, his courtesy to all, and his skill 
in advancing business were remarkable. The same qualities 
served him when presiding in the Board of Managers. To 
preside at such a meeting on the first Thursday of August, 
1863, was his last public act. After the meeting he went to 
Newport, his usual summer residence, and on the 30th day 
of August his long life was quietly closed. It was noted 
at the time as a striking fact that the early presidents of 


1861-1871] THE STIMULUS OF WAR 269 

the Bible Society all reached advanced age with dignity and 
usefulness. Boudinot died at the age of eighty-one, John 
Jay at eighty-four, John Cotton Smith at eighty-one, Theo- 
dore Frelinghuysen at seventy-five, Luther Bradish at 
eighty ; and like the worthies mentioned in the Book of He- 
brews, " these all had witness borne them through their 

On the death of President Bradish, James Lenox, Esq., a 
Presbyterian gentleman long and favourably known for his 
constant interest in the well-being of the Society, having be- - 
come a member of the Board of Managers in 1837, and a 
Vice-President in 1852, was elected President of the So- 
ciety. His election gave general satisfaction to those who 
had the interests of the Society at heart, and he presided 
over its deliberations during the two last years of the war. 

Although war brings blight it may also bring needed stim- 
ulus. The great need of the armies engaged in fierce com- 
bat, and the decision to supply all soldiers with the Scrip- 
tures was a blessing to the armies and to the Society; to 
the armies North and South it was a blessing by influence 
upon individual soldiers and sailors to which an officer in 
the United States Navy testified when he said : a Iam not 
a religious man myself, but my best men are. ,, To the So- 
ciety it was a blessing because in an enterprise of this mag- 
nitude difficulties seemed ever piling mountain-high, and 
such an environment has the effect of rendering the minds 
of men more alert and discerning. 

Since the soldiers were young men of the teachable age, 
need was strongly felt to help them while separated from 
the restraints of home life. For young men left without 
moral restraint tend to degenerate; and perhaps it is more 
true of the young soldier than of other young men that 
when he begins to go down-hill plenty of people seem glad 
to speed his gait. So the Society was ruled by the highest 
possible motives. War does not annul Christ's command 
to spread the gospel. 

To the people at home an important reason for taking the 
Bible to soldiers arose from the thought of their being ever 
in danger of sudden death and therefore naturally inclined 
to seriousness. But the imminence of battle rarely led the 


youthful soldier to turn to his little Testament. When 
battle impends the soldier's mind perceives little but the 
work before his eyes. Like the young man in serious ill- 
ness, asked if he had made his peace with God, the soldier 
\ must have done that long before, or he can never do it in the 
midst of struggle. 

Men in the army are much like men out of the army. 
When there is no fighting and life runs like a song it is 
easy to forget God, for most men who are comfortable do 
. not note what they owe to God's loving-kindness. Many 
of these soldiers were children of Christian parents having 
the habit of going to church and Sunday School, of Sab- 
bath-keeping, devoted to God and to reading his word. 
Many of the young fellows had a store of Bible verses 
which they liked to recall ; such as " The Lord is my shep- 
herd," " Cast thy burdens on the Lord." Many knew that 
the Bible furnishes cheer and stimulus which is precious, but 
cannot be gained from comrades in the camp. Little by 
little, however, the soldier may forget his habit of reading 
the Bible. After a time his conscience forgets it, too. He 
thinks he means well and that surely is enough, even if he 
does make a mistake once in a while. In the camp the devil 
is always at work with obscene literature, with gambling out- 
fits, with sneers of hard-featured teachers of atheism, and 
where the camp is near a city, with unlimited liquor and 
the smiles of painted women. 

In the trenches, where day after day to stand up or even 
to raise the head is sure death, there is a certain monotony 
which wears on the nerves. In the camp, too, while troops 
are waiting orders, monotony often becomes insufferable. 
There is absolutely nothing to do or to plan day after day, 
perhaps week after week. At such times the little book is 
taken up as a last resource, and is liked because it brings 
memories of home. Unexpectedly it stimulates thought, 
and it offers the marching orders of Jesus Christ as a direct 
and personal message most comforting to a lonely soldier- 

When the camps were filling with recruits and instruc- 
tions had gone forth from the Bible House for the supply 
of Scriptures to the soldiers as they were enlisted, the de- 


mand for books was so sudden and so great that the stock 
in the depository was completely exhausted. Orders came 
from all parts of the country at once and it was nearly 
impossible to fill them and keep any books in the depository. 
In the year ending March 31, 1861, the issues from the Bible 
House were 721,878 volumes. The issues of the following 
year were 1,092,842 volumes. 

Meanwhile the directions to the Agents throughout the 
country were to " give these books freely to the destitute 
people of the Southern States as occasions offer in connec- 
tion with the movements of our forces. The American 
Bible Society has seen no reason to depart from its old prin- 
ciples and practice as a national and catholic institution and 
such it will remain, by God's blessing. To all of our people, 
loyal or disloyal, we hold forth the Word of Life." The 
Society exists to give away what it has, and still to give 

This continual giving caused the printing of books to be- 
come an immense enterprise. At the Bible House it was a 
time such as causes a business firm, like the rich man of the 
parable, to pull down what it has and build greater. The 
printing equipment at the Bible House was composed of six- 
teen power presses, and in the printing office, bindery, and 
shipping office together, over 300 persons were employed. 
Books were printed and bound at a rate never before known 
in the history of the Society. In the year ending March 31, 
1862, 370,000 volumes more were issued than in the previous 
year. In the one month of September, 1862, 168,632 
volumes were printed in the Bible House ; a total equivalent 
to an average of seven volumes every minute of every work- 
ing day. In 1863 the Board of Managers, with some hesi- 
tation, decided to print the New Testament in nine separate 
portions, small enough to go into a vest pocket. As an ex- 
periment, in April, 1861, the gospel of John, the Book of 
Psalms, and the Book of Proverbs had been separately 
printed in such volumes, and the demand for these books, 
amounting to 85,000 copies in two years, was decisive. 
Some members of the Board had held back from approv- 
ing the plan, but they could not resist the evidence of the 
demand, especially from the Army and Navy. In 1864, it 


was announced that the issues during the three years of war 
had amounted to 3,778,105 volumes, which was more than 
the total issues of the first twenty-eight years of the So- 
ciety's work. More than a million and a half of these books 
had been distributed in the last year, and so it came to pass 
that in 1866, on looking back, it was found that issues from 
the Bible House during the four years for home use alone 
amounted to 5,297,832 volumes. 

In the supply of the Northern troops, at the very first 
the whole effort of the Society was directed to furnishing 
Auxiliary Societies with books enough to enable them to put 
the Scriptures into the hands of men as they enlisted. A 
second phase of this work of the Society was the undertak- 
ing to supply directly the troops in the field; and finally, 
when the Christian Commission had shown its remarkable 
ability to handle great questions of supply, the Society de- 
voted its attention to furnishing the Christian Commission 
with all the books which it could distribute. 

The Auxiliaries, as a rule, supplied the soldiers as they 
first enlisted, each one caring for the quota from its field. 
For instance, the New Hampshire Auxiliary Bible Society 
supplied eight regiments and individual companies as they 
were organised, giving them 6,000 New Testaments. The 
Vermont Bible Society gave ten thousand volumes to the 
troops from that state. The Massachusetts Bible Society 
supplied 40,000 volumes to the Army and Navy, besides 
making a donation of about $2,800 to the national Society 
for its general work. The Connecticut Society and eleven 
smaller societies in that state supplied twenty-eight regi- 
ments, and a large number of sick and wounded in hospitals. 
In the first two years of the war Auxiliaries purchased from 
the Bible House over one million copies of Scripture which, 
for the most part, were given to the soldiers and sailors. At 
the great military centres the Auxiliaries had to ask aid 
from the national Society. For instance, the Washington 
City Auxiliary asked for a grant of 18,000 volumes in 1864. 
It had supplied the Army of the Potomac itself with Scrip- 
tures before this, and this grant was asked for the hospitals 
and forts in the neighbourhood of Washington, and the 
flotilla upon the Potomac River. This Auxiliary reported 


upon the local religious opportunities of these soldiers. 
Among the hospitals and in the forts many Bible classes had 
been organised, and chaplains from the hospitals were in the 
habit of conducting such Bible classes. 

The New York Bible Society did a splendid work among 
the soldiers passing through the city, from all parts of the 
country, and also among the crews of the vessels of war 
anchoring in New York Harbour; but like the Washington 
Bible Society, it was obliged to rely upon the national So- 
ciety for aid in its work, sometimes calling for a grant of 
ten or twelve thousand dollars' worth of books in one year. 

It is a matter of interest to see that in the year ending 
March 31, 1863, the national Society received $45,442.16 in 
donations from 284 Auxiliary Societies, and in the same year 
it received in payment for books $193,761.95 from 711 
Auxiliary Societies ; this circumstance showing to some ex- 
tent the efforts made by the Auxiliaries, even when they 
were poor, to pay at least for the books which they used in 
their fruitful work for the army. 

Meanwhile the United States. Army assumed vast propor- 
tions. Call after call was sent out by the President, now for 
300,000, now for 300,000 more, then for a draft or conscrip- 
tion of 500,000, and so on. The losses in the war were very 
great. Fully half of the soldiers who fought the scores of 
battles were under twenty years of age. It is sometimes dif- 
ficult to realise the enormous extent of territory involved in 
these events. Armies along a frontier that measured liter- 
ally thousands of miles, fiercely struggled for life; lost it; 
won it. The tremendous sweep of the murderous contest 
can be judged from the soldiers' diaries. Some of them 
during the terrible four years marched five or six thousand 
miles in order to win peace on the field of battle. These 
facts led the Board in February, 1863, to authorise the Com- 
mittee on Distribution to issue for the army 475,000 Testa- 
ments and separate portions. 

During the war there was great waste of Bibles and Testa- 
ments as of other articles of equipment. Battlefields swal- 
lowed up hundreds of the little books on the bodies of dead 
soldiers. Wounded men commonly lost all their belong- 
ings. Again and again, when troops were ordered suddenly 


to break camp, in the hurry of packing knapsacks and camp 
equipage, perhaps in the night, with other small articles these 
little books were unwittingly left behind, to the amazement 
of villagers who searched the vacant ground the next day. 
The book in a soldier's kit is like a seed in soil that may be 
parched by drought or flooded by cloudburst or become food 
for insects ; yet these risks must be taken, for the world will 
starve if no seed is sown. 

Let it not be imagined, however, that this seed was 
wasted or that the work of the Society for the army was 
not appreciated. In a company composed entirely of 
Roman Catholics half of the men took the Testaments with 
cordial thanks and almost all of those who refused did so 
because they could not read. Workers of the Christian 
Commission, writing from the bloody fields of Virginia, 
often expressed sincere belief that the soldiers are more 
accessible to the gospel than the young men at home. " The 
soldier's Bible seems to receive better care than anything 
else which he has." Rev. H. A. Reid, chaplain of the 5th 
Wisconsin Infantry, wrote, ." The Bible is more read and 
reverenced by men in the army than by the same men at 
home. These men on the average are going to be better 
citizens than they were when they came out to take part in 
the war." A sick soldier at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, 
showed his Bible to Agent Wright. It was torn, water- 
soaked, defaced by the rough usage of the campaign. " I 
love to read this book," he said, " ten times more than I did 
when my wife put it into my knapsack. When I feel lonely 
and cast down, I go off by myself alone and read a chapter 
in the Bible. Then I can pray and then all becomes bright 

One of the Agents in the Southwest talked with a Roman 
Catholic Captain in General Banks' army. It was at the 
end of his second year of service. " Did the men take care 
of their Testaments ? " he asked. " Yes, and they read 
them too ! " " Could you see any good results from their 
reading the Testament?" "Yes, I've seen men who were 
of the lowest scum of humanity become sober, thoughtful, 
respectable fellows; and because this is so I want to do 
something to help send the New Testament into the army." 


And the Captain insisted on giving the Agent ninety cents, 
which happened to be all the money he had. A Massa- 
chusetts pastor who served the Christian Commission in the 
army of the Cumberland centering about Chattanooga, 
Tennessee, said : " I have contributed to the Bible So- 
ciety all my life, but I never knew its worth and power until 
to-day. The first collection I shall ask from my church will 
be for that Society to buy Testaments for soldiers, and the 
next will be for the Christian Commission to hand them over 
to the army. ,, 

The Christian Commission was organised in the Bible 
House by the Young Men's Christian Association. It aimed 
especially to foster the higher life of the soldier. It ob- 
tained from the Society at various times considerable grants 
of Bibles, Testaments and portions, which it received at the 
Bible House and carried to the troops in various parts of 
the country. It became a great distributing Agency in con- 
nection with all of the United States Armies and the various 
squadrons of the Navy. Its work of distribution reached 
soldiers and sailors in their camps, in the hospitals, and 
even on the battle-field. About fifteen hundred clergymen 
and laymen took part in the work of distribution and it was 
a wonderful success in accomplishing what it set out to do. 
As time went on, the supply of the soldiers and sailors was 
more and more systematised. The Board could not and did 
not throw off its responsibility for the proper use of grants 
made for the troops. It appointed capable Agents, one for 
each great Military District, and a wonderful work was 
carefully and thoroughly done through the Christian Com- 
mission. The whole number of Scriptures granted to the 
Commission and by it put in circulation during the war was 
1,466,848 volumes. The value of the books granted by the 
Society for this great distribution through the Christian 
Commission was $179,824.59. 

Mr. George Hay Stuart, President of, the Merchant's 
National Bank, of Philadelphia, the President of the Chris- 
tian Commission, wrote to the Board of Managers in March, 
1866, " There are few homes in the land where a Union sol- 
dier has thrown off his knapsack without bringing back from 
the war a book from your press, and to many a home has the 


pocket-worn Testament found its way as the only memento 
of the one who will never return. Henceforth, that is the 
family heirloom." 

Upon the Society and upon its future new forces were 
now acting. They sprang from the stress of the period of 
the civil war. The bonds uniting different elements in the 
Society and in the Auxiliaries grew stronger ; tendencies to 
admit responsibility for the support of the Society became 
more marked among the people; the world-value of Bible 
work received new light. The executive officers anol the 
Board of Managers could no more escape the constant pres- 
sure for large and effective action than a diver in his helmet 
can escape atmospheric pressure when he is fifty feet under 
water. But little occurrences showing how thoroughly the 
people sympathised in all great work taken in hand often 
brought encouragement and inspiration. At a Bible meet- 
ing in Arkansas the Society's Agent in his address men- 
tioned the two mites of the widow who cast her all into the 
Treasury and a gift of sixty-eight cents from a woman in 
Turkey who sold her copper kettle to get it. The next 
morning a little girl came to him bringing a pair of new 
woollen socks. " Mother has no money," she said, " but she 
sends these. They are all that she has to give to help send 
the Bible to those who haven't any." The mother was a 
widow with four children. Such gifts of love for the poor 
which the Society received quickened the faith of those 
hard-pressed men at the Bible House. 

The return of peace found the Society with larger re- 
sources at command and with broader and nobler aims than 
at any previous period of its history. Before the war was 
through the men at the Bible House learned that the burdens 
of war-time had been placed upon them for good by the 
providence of God Himself, and their hearts went out like 
the Psalmist, in prayer and thanksgiving : " For Thou, oh 
God, hast proved us ; Thou hast tried us as silver is tried ; 
Thou broughtest us into the net ; Thou layedst a sore burden 
upon our loins; Thou didst cause men to ride over our 
heads ; we went through fire and water, but Thou broughtest 
us out into a wealthy place ! " * 

1 Psalms 66, vv. 10-12. 



The surrender of the Southern armies in the first months 
of 1865 revealed their utter exhaustion. This brought to 
thoughtful people a beginning of realisation of the desola- 
tions which war had wrought in the South. In the northern 
and western parts of Virginia almost every grove was 
gashed by shells and every field seamed by the trenches of 
attack and defense. Military necessities had destroyed 
enormous quantities of property. Georgia had been deso- 
lated by many battles ; and finally the march of General Sher- 
man's Army from Atlanta to Savannah, when the troops 
fed from the country as they went, left a track from forty 
to sixty miles wide, stripped of everything that could be 
eaten, and of all fences and outbuildings which could be 
burned for cooking the soldiers' daily food. The main 
artery of communication, the Georgia Central Railroad, had 
been taken up rail by rail for three hundred miles, all the 
cross-ties burned, and the rails heated to redness in the 
fires of burning, and twisted around trees or telegraph poles 
lest some one should fancy that they might be relaid. 

The same desolation scarred the fair face of South Caro- 
lina and North Carolina, where Sherman's army passed in 
its long, hard progress from Savannah to Goldsboro and 
Raleigh. Families had not been injured in their persons, 
and there had been no general destruction of dwellings ; but 
all fit cattle had been devoured ; every horse and mule in the 
path of the army had been impressed, old worn-out beasts 
being left in exchange. Wherever the armies marched dur- 
ing the terrible four years, desolation indelibly recorded 
their path. In a large part of the Southern States the peo- 
ple were reduced to a dead level of want. There were no 
favoured classes, for all classes were poor beyond under- 



standing. A pitiful letter which came to the Bible House 
in New York in 1866 illustrates this general condition. A 
retired minister was living in an obscure village in North 
Carolina. He had been for several years a Life Member 
of the Society. He wrote that he was seventy-four years 
old and, much impoverished by the war, he had no means 
to buy candles by which to read his Bible in the evening. 
Hence he found it impossible to read the small type of 
an ordinary Bible. The light of his fire was too feeble. So 
he begged the Board to let him have a Bible with large 
print, for he would fain have the solace of reading in the 
evening hours. It is needless to say that this venerable 
saint received immediately a copy of the New Testament 
and Psalms in Great Primer type, the largest which the 
Bible Society possesses. 

" When God shakes the nations He magnifies His own 
word. It moves right forward in the track of mighty provi- 
dences, and leagues its powers with all the grand issues of 
the age. It has been so in every great struggle for progress, 
in the fall of Rome, in every world convulsion in modern 
history; it is to be so in the case of our own tremendous 
conflict." * The great religious question now before the 
Society was the same in essence as that which gave the 
Bible Society its existence: the necessity of encouraging 
religious life among isolated and cheerless families. Here 
the Society could give first aid. The feeling of all in the 
Bible House was that there should be no withholding of 
the priceless boon of the Bible to those willing to receive it. 
It was not a question of money, but of religion ; not a mat- 
ter of calculation, but of faith in God and service for His 
Kingdom. For the destitution in the South was vast, piti- 
ful, appealing to the inmost souls of all members of the 
Society. The old stimulus of need to win multitudes left 
without the Bible applied with new force in this case; and 
with general approval it was decided in 1865 that among 
the works by which the Society should celebrate its jubilee 
year, a prominent place must be given to the re-supply of 
the South. In all those Southern regions the Society had 

\ Secretary Holdich in the Annual Report of 1863, page 95. 


rendered comfort and solid encouragement to the disheart- 
ened population. It could not give away its money. The 
case was something like that of St. Peter at the temple gate 
when he said to the cripple, " Silver and gold have I none ; 
what I have I give thee." The Board foresaw its immense 
responsibility for aiding the restoration of all the devas- 
tated fields. 

The Society's Army Agency on the old war area was con- 
tinued for the supply of troops in many places east of the 
Mississippi River and for some 80,000 soldiers who were 
retained on the Western Plains and in Texas. This gave 
an opportunity for the distribution of Scriptures in different 
parts of the South without new machinery and it was found 
that wherever the Board, the Auxiliaries and the Bible 
Agents met need, efficient work was immediately done. 
The work of these agents brought life to dead Societies as 
well as strength to the Society. 

Circumstances which demanded of the Agents the most 
prompt supply were those of the lowliest of Christ's fol- 
lowers. In California the Society's Agent found an old 
woman from Texas living in a ragged tent alone in an en- 
campment of Southern people who had moved to the Pacific 
coast after the war. She could hardly express her joy at 
receiving a copy of the New Testament bound with the 
Psalms and in type large enough for her feeble vision. As 
the Agent left her he congratulated the woman on her hope 
of a resting place some day in the " city which hath foun- 
dations." He said to her, as a contrast to her insecure 
little tent : " There no rough winds nor stormy skies will 
come to destroy our peace." The response of the old lady 
sprang from her heart, and was not phrased in accordance 
with the grammar of the schools. She joyfully said : " Nary 
wunst ! " 

Southern Christians responded to these kindly offices 
like those who watch for the dawn. They also co-operated. 
Rev. Mr. Gilbert, one of the Missionary Agents in the South, 
speaking of some of the good people of Virginia wrote that 
it seemed to him an omen for great good that " the first 
fruit of benevolence coming out of the soil trampled by 
the iron hoof of war, should be labour in behalf of that 


inspired volume which lies at the basis of our liberties." 
The overtures of the Bible Society in other states were 
answered almost as soon as the cannon ceased to roar. 
Gov. Brownlow, of Tennessee, and a number of leading 
citizens of that state offered their services to help in Bible 
distribution. The Society's Agent at Nashville wrote that 
he never encountered people so anxious to buy family Bibles, 
but there was absolutely no money in the country districts, 
and so these eager people had to make the best of the 
smaller and cheaper Bibles which the Society could give 

The Southwestern Bible Society, at New Orleans, voted 
in 1865 to resume co-operation with the American Bible 
Society so as to supply troops as well as families. Several 
denominations in South Carolina took pains to inform the 
Bible Society of their gratitude for help in supplying the 
destitute with Scriptures. In North Carolina, in 1866, 
fifteen Auxiliary Societies as well as a number of Bible 
Committees assumed a share in the general supply of the 
destitute which was recommended by the Society. Missis- 
sippi friends of the Bible were ready to co-operate with the 
Society although no money could be raised and grants would 
have to be asked from New York without present return. 
In September of 1865 the Virginia and the Alabama Bible 
Societies resumed Auxiliary relationship. Rev. Dr. Wood- 
bridge, President of the Virginia Society, wrote to Secretary 
Holdich, " We desire that the old relations shall be resumed 
entirely as though the war had not been. This is the spirit 
and the object of the Board of Managers of the Virginia 
Bible Society." The Alabama Society created much sur- 
prise at the Bible House by announcing that it had in hand 
$600 and would shortly receive $800 more, making $1,400 
altogether which before long it would send to the Treasurer 
at New York. 

A year later the Virginia Auxiliary ordered $10,000 worth 
of Scriptures for depositories in that state. The Society 
sent the books charging only one-third of the actual cost. In 
South Carolina where people were suffering m 1867 for 
bread, applications for Scriptures came from thirty-one dis- 
tricts which were quickly supplied. In Georgia where the 


white people were on the verge of starvation, 15,000 vol- 
umes were sent as grants to Auxiliary Societies desiring to 
distribute Scriptures. In Arkansas where a large part of 
the population were hungry all the time because there was 
no way of earning money, the Society granted, in 1867, 
$6,000 worth of Scriptures. Another incident of the same 
year, showing the eagerness of the Southern people to re- 
ceive Scriptures in their terrible destitution, was that con- 
tributions of money were sent to the Society from Southern 
States which had not yet begun to recover from the losses 
of the war. There was great significance, however, in the 
fact that two years later the number of Auxiliaries in the 
Southern States had reached a total of 856. Cordial Chris- 
tian sympathy had not been extirpated by the bitterness of 
the temporary estrangement. 

During the later years of the period which ends with 
1 87 1, when the Southern States received full control of their 
own affairs, tremendous social and financial problems still 
rested upon the Southern people. Letters from South 
Carolina in 1866 mentioned depression and discouragement 
because of the unsettled condition of the country. In North 
Carolina friends wrote that money was more scarce than 
ever, because labour had not yet been regulated. In Mis- 
souri, a border state which had supplied men to both armies, 
the return of the discharged soldiers revealed, if it did not 
create, new antagonisms. Jefferson City, the capital of the 
State, had become a moral desolation; most of the churches 
had been closed and many church organisations had become 
extinct. These pressing problems were small, however, in 
the presence of the questions relating to freed slaves. 

For years the Society had supplied such coloured people 
in the South as were able to read. In the later years of the 
war these grants increased. The Bible was everywhere 
welcomed by coloured people. Rev. Dr. L. D. Barrows 
Superintendent of Education among the negroes of South 
Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, wrote in 1866, asking Scrip- 
tures for coloured people. " To my mind," he said, " there 
is not one open door on this round earth where the Society 
can do so much good as by supplying coloured people just 
learning to read. I submit to you, no reader will you find 


who will thumb this book like these new readers, who may 
be seen in groups and squads on the streets and on the 
plantations reading and giving the benefit of their reading 
to others. ,, 

In the first year after the war it is estimated that at 
least 500,000 negroes learned to read. Rev. W. F. Baird, 
the Agent of the Society among the coloured people of the 
South, wrote in 1866 of a conversation with a negro forty- 
four years old who had stumbled through a recitation in 
English, and sensible of his failures had remarked, " If 
the Lord lets me live until to-morrow I will have that lesson 
right!'* Another illustration of the eagerness to learn 
which he found among the coloured people was a man who 
worked for his physical life at his trade of making cotton- 
gins from half past six in the morning until five o'clock 
in the evening, who then gave himself to intellectual life, 
walked two miles to a night school, and after an hour in 
attendance there, every night studied until twelvje or one 
o'clock. His idea was that he would like to be a well- 
equipped man. 

Nevertheless, the case of the coloured people was most 
perplexing. During the last year of the war, especially 
while Sherman's army marched through Georgia and the 
Carolinas, great masses of coloured men, women and chil- 
dren, left the plantations and fled to the army for protec- 
tion and support. The government, through the Freed- 
man's Bureau, tried to care for the blacks, their support, 
education, and their labour on the plantations under equi- 
table contracts; but this government aid extended only 
through 1870, when the Freedmen's Bureau was given up. 
Throughout the years immediately after the war, the two 
great social questions before the nation were, first, the pro- 
tection and restoration of political rights to the white pop- 
ulation of the South who had staked and lost all; and sec- 
ond, the protection and education of the newly emancipated 

It was interesting to discover that in some Southern 
States Auxiliary Bible Societies as they were re-organised, 
received coloured people to membership. From North 
Carolina in 1866 came many demands from Bible Commit- 

1871] MONEY FOR NEEDS 283 

tees for large type Scriptures for the use of coloured people 
who were not yet skilled readers. Of course, the newly 
emancipated people, were included in the general supply of 
the South already ordered. 

The question of money to meet these extraordinary de- 
mands was a serious one. Hitherto the Society had lived 
as did the Israelites in the wilderness who were fed by daily 
manna. A condition of the daily bounty was that the peo- 
ple might not make the gift an object in life. There must 
be no hoarding, no gluttony, there must be nothing which 
might diminish the sense of daily dependence upon the most 
gracious God. The Society had held to the principle of 
spending all its receipts. It had no invested funds, owned 
no stocks of any kind; its entire property was the Bible 
House and the plant for printing and binding. Nothing 
could have been done to meet the sudden demands upon the 
Treasury had not the school of the years of war taught 
the nation that this great work of Bible distribution calls 
for support as a benefit to the whole nation. 

In 1862 a Committee was appointed to review the general 
operations of the Society in order to propose any possible 
economies. While this matter was under consideration, the 
British and Foreign Bible Society in a fraternal letter, 1 
as an expression of Christian sympathy offered a donation 
of 2,000 pounds sterling to the American Society. In the 
meantime, however, Providence had placed the Treasury 
beyond need of this aid, but this did not diminish apprecia- 
tion of the offer or the warmth of expressions of grati- 
tude in the letter which declined the generous offer. 

In 1863 the Finance Committee was able to announce the 
complete payment of the mortgage upon the Bible House. 
The building had been paid for without taking a cent from 
ordinary contributions for Bible work. Later consider- 
able amounts were paid into the Treasury in connection with 
the Jubilee celebration. The Pennsylvania Bible Society, 
for instance, made a donation, as a jubilee offering, of $5,000 
for printing the Arabic Bible, and $5,000 for supplying 
20,000 Testaments and Psalms to be distributed in the 

1 February 2, 1862. 


Southern States. Small amounts came from unexpected 
quarters. In 1864 the Rev. Dr. Van Dyck, translator of the 
Arabic Bible, sent fifty dollars to the Society as a thank 
offering for being spared to complete that great work which 
had occupied sixteen years. Among the many legacies re- 
ceived during this period was one from J. E. Worcester, the 
lexicographer, who bequeathed the copyright and income of 
sales of his great dictionary to the American Bible Society 
and the American Peace Society, each to have one half of 
the income. People in Turkey sent donations of over $1,000 
to be used in giving the Bible to freedmen. Of this amount 
forty dollars was from a Mohammedan who was inter- 
ested in the emancipation. Does any one ask why a Mo- 
hammedan, taught that slavery is ordained of God, should 
feel sympathy for American slaves? The answer is that 
American missions and Bible agents during a whole genera- 
tion had been teaching Turkey the nature of gospel 
philanthropy. It was natural for a man subtly moved 
through the Bible, to send his gift for freed slaves to the 
Bible Society. 

In 1865 the Board through such gifts found that it had 
more money than it immediately required and for the first 
time invested surplus funds for emergencies. In 1867 the 
receipts of the Treasury from thirty-nine states and terri- 
tories amounted to $743,000. The people had rallied to the 
support of the Bible Society, and rescued it from serious 

The greatest amount ever received in a single year as 
donations from Auxiliary Societies was $113,309 given in 
1866. The largest sum received up to that time in a single 
year in donations from churches and individuals was $71,- 
874 in 1866. This sum was not exceeded in any year until 
forty years later. The total of donations from churches 
and individvfals during the war period, (1861-1870) was 
$507,925; the total of Auxiliary donations was $814,517; 
and the total of legacies received during the same period 
was $865,252 — that is to say, aside from the receipts from 
sales of books $2,187,694 had been paid into the Treasury 
for the general work during this period of war and un- 
paralleled expenditure. The stress of the times had aroused 


the people to deny themselves in support of this great na- 
tional enterprise. The receipts from sales during the same 
period, amounting to $3,053,802, fully provided for the 
large expenditure in the printing department. And so it 
came to pass, in the good providence of God, that the So- 
ciety was able promptly to do its considerable work for 
the Southern States, without neglecting work abroad. 

Not only upon the members of the Board of Managers 
did the stress and burden of responsibility for this work 
weigh in these times, but upon each of the Secretaries and 
upon the Treasurer ; each one encumbered by the magnitude 
of the needs most closely before his eyes. All were haunted 
at times by dread of overlooking needs, of failing to gauge 
the quality of incessant demands for help, and of distinguish- 
ing between trust in God and blind self-will when the fields 
clamoured for help although the Treasury seemed empty 
and no supplies in sight. Each of these men, however, was 
fitted and furnished so that from the treasure of his godly 
heart he could bring out things new and old for the inspira- 
tion and stimulus of his associates. So it came to pass 
that these strenuous experiences tended to weld together 
these men of different theological views through their elemen- 
tary beliefs, hopes, and habits. Out of this time of stress, 
then, the Society came forth a more efficient, more aspiring 
institution, more than ever convinced of its divine mission. 
Like the Israelites in their education as the chosen people 
of God, it found its daily journey guided by the pillar of 
cloud or of fire, it had its hungers, its thirsts, its tempta- 
tions, perhaps, to give up so wearing a struggle, and its 
repeated rewards of trust; but throughout its rugged path 
its power was union in hope for the land to be occupied as 
a province of the Kingdom of God. 

This union in hope was not restricted to the Bible House. 
Dr. Taylor, the Secretary immediately in charge of the 
Society's affairs in the South, was very much interested in 
1867 to receive a set of resolutions from the Lexington, 
S. C, Auxiliary. From that state, which was the first to 
raise the flag of secession came these welcome words : " We 
hail the American Bible Society as an instrument in the 
hands of God to unite us as a people — brothers of a com- 


mon country and a common destiny — in all efforts for the 
evangelisation of the country and the world." This state- 
ment which was repeated in spirit again and again in 
Southern States may be said to emphasise the choicest fruit 
of the federation of Christians which the Bible Society 
represents, and of which the basis is need to combine for 
the world's good all forces, both visible and latent, among 
the servants of Jesus Christ. Wherever the Society has 
worked its daily experiences have disclosed the replacing of 
cold courtesy by cordial love, the growth of fraternity, the 
concentration of powers, and a new efficiency in advancing 
the Kingdom. In this feature of its organisation the So- 
ciety exhibits a method of Christian activity at once fruit- 
ful and sane. Such a federation is possible only through 
laying aside purely personal preferences and repugnances so 
that the wish and the command of the Redeemer may have 
richer fruition in the world. Such a federation of denomi- 
nations exerts an attraction upon unbelieving cynics whom 
organic union of churches could not startle. One great re- 
sult most clearly brought into view through the stress of the 
war period was, in short, the increase of a sense of brother- 
hood tending to actual union of all hearts through con- 
formity to the image of the First Born among many 



Genealogy enthralls many students of history. From 
the point of view of the influence of parents upon the chil- 
dren and their descendants there is rich suggestion and a 
certain satisfaction in tracing worthy characteristics, sturdy 
purpose, and noble achievement which are linked together 
from generation to generation. Though names are modified 
or obliterated, though individuals are removed by death, 
deeds remain belonging to the family as it follows its al- 
lotted course, unmistakably a unit from first to last. 
Change, even deaths from year to year may affect the out- 
ward aspects of an institution such as the Bible Society; 
but like an influential old family its distinctive principles 
and its permanent qualities remain through the years. 

The services to the Bible Society of a number of distin- 
guished men were terminated by death during this period. 
The Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher, who was a Secretary of the 
Convention at which the Society was organised, Rev. Dr. 
Eliphalet Nott, Gen. J. G. Swift, the distinguished surgeon, 
Dr. Valentine Mott, the Rev. Dr. John McDowell of Phila- 
delphia, renowned for his interest in Sunday Schools and 
Bible classes in the Presbyterian Church, Rev. Dr. G. H. 
Sayre, Rev. Dr. T. S. Biggs, and Chief Justice (N. J.) 
Hornblower, all of whom were members of the Convention 
of 1816 (the last named being a Vice-President of the So- 
ciety), all passed away in this period. Among other Vice- 
Presidents of the Society, Judge McLean of the United 
States Supreme Court, died in April, 1861. Vice-President 
George Douglass of Long Island, died in February of the 
same year. 

When the close of the war brought the Society into di- 
rect relations again with its friends in the South, the Board 
expressed its regrets in a fraternal memorial on the death 


288 THE PULSE OF LIFE [1861- 

during the war of Vice-Presidents Samuel Rhea of Ten- 
nessee, J. B. O'Neall of South Carolina, and C. C. Pinckney, 
also of South Carolina. The wide range of the interests of 
the Society was illustrated by the circumstance that the first 
of these distinguished gentlemen was a Presbyterian, the 
second a Baptist, while the third belonged to the Protestant 
Episcopal Church. 

One of the first of the friendly greetings received from 
the South after the close of the war was a message of 
confidence and good cheer from General John H. Cocke 
of Virginia, Vice-President of the Society since 1844. He 
died in 1866, greatly beloved, maintaining his interest in all 
good things, with mental faculties wonderfully preserved to 
extreme old age. Vice-President William B. Crosby, con- 
nected with the Society since 1816, and elected member of 
the Board in 1830, died in 1865, leaving a vacant niche hard 
to fill. 

In 1867 the Hon. J. H. Lumpkin, Chief Justice of Geor- 
gia, and the Hon. J. A. Wright, once minister of the United 
States to the Court of Prussia, both Vice-Presidents of the 
Society, passed away. In the same year Vice-President 
Freeborn Garretson, and Vice-President Heman Lincoln of 
Massachusetts died. Mr. Lincoln was a warm friend of 
the Society who had held the office of President of the Bap- 
tist Home Missionary Society and had filled other positions 
of responsibility in connection with Baptist missionary op- 
erations. Vice-President Peletiah Perit died in 1864, and 
Vice-President Benjamin L. Swan in 1866. 

In April, 1868, Vice-President W. W. Els worth, finished 
his course. The son of the Hon. Oliver Elsworth, second 
Chief Justice of the United States, he was worthy of his 
distinguished parent. He was an earnest supporter of the 
Society from its organisation, and was elected Vice-Presi- 
dent in 1848. Another Vice-President of long and well- 
tried fidelity was Thomas Cock, M.D., of the Society of 
Friends. He became a member of the Board of Managers 
in 1834, and in 1839 was made a Vice-President. The 
Board of Managers mourned the removal of one so endeared 
to them by his many virtues, his gentle manners, and his 
earnest Christian spirit. 


In 1869' the Board suffered loss again in the death of 
Henry Fisher, Esq., for sixteen years Assistant Treasurer 
of the Society. His complicated duties during the Civil 
War were performed with indefatigable industry, a zeal 
which absorbed him, and a love for the work which made 
it completely successful. Millions of dollars passed safely 
through his hands during his long incumbency. He was 
prompt, earnest, exact, conscientious and thoroughly conse- 
crated — an honour to the Protestant Episcopal Church of 
which he was a member. A. L. Taylor, Esq., was elected 
Assistant Treasurer in November, 1869. 

The services of the Rev. Samuel L. Tuttle entitle his name 
to a place in this record of the great family of the Society, 
although he had not official relation to the Board. Ap- 
pointed in 1863 assistant to the Secretaries, he performed 
duties assigned to him from day to day. He was prudent, 
tactful, energetic, and worked in the office up to almost the 
last day of his life, the 16th of April, 1866. During the 
Civil War it had not seemed necessary to employ three 
Secretaries at the Bible House, but on Mr. Turtle's death 
the intricate questions arising from the reorganisation of 
the Society's work in the Southern States made it necessary 
to appoint a third Secretary, and in 1866 the Rev. T. Rals- 
ton Smith, D.D., well-known as an esteemed pastor in 
New York City, was called to office of Corresponding Sec- 

As James Russell Lowell observes, " In times of struggle 
we have our Sinais and our talks with God in the bush." 
This spiritual value of trials must be recognised as a main 
element of the permanence of the Society's eminence. 
Throughout the period from 1861 to 1871 the Secretaries 
of the Society were spurred to utmost activity. They were 
under strain, whether at the desk, or walking, or eating, or 
dreaming in sleep. The growth of population through its 
natural increase as well as through immigration, demanded 
immediate discovery of new methods of distribution, for 
as the nation grew the work must grow. The completion 
of the Pacific railroad in 1869 brought a renewal of pres- 
sure upon the men at the Bible House. It laid upon the 
Society new responsibilities, for in the vast regions thus 

ago THE PULSE OF LIFE [i86i~ 

opened villages and towns were springing up in a night 
like mushrooms* Every difficult phase of the steady in- 
crease of demands from the home field caused the Bible 
House to throb with life and activity. 

The distinctiveness of the Society's bearing under such 
strains in some degree depends upon continuity in the office 
of Secretary. As has been noted. Secretary Brigham had 
the advantage of the counsel and advice of Secretary Milnor 
for several years, and in the same way Secretary Holdich, 
the senior Secretary of the Society after Dr. Brigham's 
death, could look back with satisfaction to twelve years 
of association with Dr. Brigham in his work as Correspond- 
ing Secretary. In the whole of the first fifty years of the 
Society's history one or the other of these three men had 
direct connection in some way with almost every important 
action. To take the place of Secretary Brigham the Rev. 
W. J. R. Taylor, D.D., of Philadelphia, was elected Cor- 
responding Secretary. Dr. Taylor was an able and effi- 
cient man whose talents gave him special power in deal- 
ing with the many problems presenting themselves in the 
Southern States at this time, but after eight years of serv- 
ice he felt obliged to return to the pastorate and resigned in 
October, 1869, to become pastor of the First Reformed 
Church of Newark, N. J. 

On the resignation of Secretary Taylor the Board di- 
vided the whole work of the Society into two sections, that 
at home and that abroad; placing Secretary Holdich in 
care of the work abroad and Secretary Smith in charge of 
the work at home. By this means responsibility for each 
branch of the work would be concentrated under the man- 
agement, it being understood that an assistant to the Sec- 
retaries, and additional clerical aid as necessary, would be 
provided. The kindly service of the Society for the army 
was a general missionary enterprise as truly as that which 
commanded the services of William Carey or Gordon Hall. 
So the Secretaries as well as the Board were fully prepared 
to press forward the Bible cause in the home land. 

The members of the Board were always close to the pub- 
lic affairs of the country. In 1865 they were smitten when 
the bullet of a madman killed President Lincoln, one of 


the Life Directors of the Society ; and they passed a resolu- 
tion of grief, for he had been struck down at the very 
fruition of the policies in which he had led the nation. In 
1869 when General Grant took his seat as President of the 
United States in Lincoln's place, the Board of Managers 
presented him with a finely bound Bible. Three Vice- 
Presidents of the Society visited him with this book : Vice- 
President Salmon P. Chase, Chief-Justice of the United 
States, Vice-President Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, United 
States Senator, and Vice-President George Hay Stuart, the 
President of that great Commission which had co-operated 
with the Society in the supply of the armies which had been 
like pieces on a great chess-board in the hands of General 
Grant. It was immediately after General Grant's inaugu- 
ration that the simple ceremony took place, and the book 
was accepted with kindly words of appreciation. 

As the life of a living, growing body throbs in all its 
members, the Auxiliary Societies, too, showed themselves 
alert and active in these critical years. Each was inde- 
pendent in affairs of its own field. But through the fel- 
lowship of co-operation with the body which they regarded 
as a " parent Society " they were all participants in its 
gains — and its pains. During all of this period the Auxil- 
iaries were stimulated to great efforts and many of them 
reached a degree of efficiency which was amazing. 

In the South the Auxiliaries for some time after the war 
were offered help from New York to do their allotted work. 
To be put in general circulation in Georgia the Society in 
1867 granted over 15,000 volumes to the Auxiliary Societies 
of that state. Thirty-three Auxiliaries in Alabama organ- 
ised or revived by the Society's Agents were supplied with 
books for sale and free distribution. In Mississippi it was 
not possible to revive the old Auxiliaries so speedily, only 
seven having taken up active work during the first year 
after the war. In Louisiana the Southwestern Bible So- 
ciety of New Orleans threw good-will and energy into its 
general work. Its principal sources of supply were obliter- 
ated during the war, and in 1867 the Pennsylvania Bible 
Society made a special contribution in order to have the 
Board send 6,000 Testaments and Psalms for distribution 

292 THE PULSE OF LIFE [1861- 

among the poor of New Orleans. In Arkansas no traces 
could be found of the former Auxiliary Bible Societies, and 
in 1867 about $6,000 worth of Bibles were sent to the state 
to be distributed by volunteer Agents who worked without 
pay during the general re-supply among the most destitute 
of the people. In Missouri, also, the Auxiliary Societies 
not being re-organised for a long time, the Society had to 
make many grants of books for distribution by local com- 
mittees. In Tennessee, which was early occupied by the 
national troops, signs of recovery of ability appeared soon 
after the close of the war; yet here, too, it was clear that 
gratuitous help of the national Society would be necessary 
for some years. The sure response of these Societies to 
the measures adopted by the Board was well represented by 
the comment of the Louisville, Kentucky, Bible Society upon 
the decision to supply soldiers of both armies. " No bet- 
ter method could be adopted," it said, " for quieting the 
billows now raging over our once happy land than to let 
the voice of Him who stilled the storm when upon earth, 
be heard through His word." 

In the Northern States the situation of the Auxiliary 
Societies was very different. In Ohio fifty-three Auxiliar- 
ies were able to do something, but only twelve of them com- 
menced resupplying their fields immediately after the de- 
cision of 1866. A considerable number of " Sunday School 
Branches " of the Auxiliaries helped in the work. In Illi- 
nois Auxiliaries suffered less from the distractions of war- 
time than in many other states. In 1861 the Auxiliaries 
and their branches in Illinois made a total of 1225. Fifteen 
hundred ministers co-operated. In the year ending March 
31, 1867, Illinois Auxiliaries remitted to the national So- 
ciety somewhat more than $82,000. About half of this 
sum was in payment for books used by the Auxiliaries in 
their local work, and donations for the general work of 
the national Society made up the rest. Only the Auxiliar- 
ies in New York State did more in that year than those 
of Illinois in the way of remittances to the Society. The 
New York Bible Society sustained an arduous work of 
supplying Scriptures to the Army and Navy, paying the 
whole expense of the distribution and part of the cost of 


the books. It received during the four years of war grants 
of books from the National Society valued at $37,684. 
These grants were made because the work was really na- 
tional in character. The New York Female Bible Society, 
busy with its special work of sending women to read the 
Bible to the poor, contributed $1,008 to the general Society. 
The Massachusetts Auxiliary Bible Society during this 
same period made a generous donation of $5,000, specially 
designated for the publication of the Arabic Bible. 

In the midst of this period of unaccustomed labors, the 
Annual Meeting in 1866 decided to mark the beginning 
of a new half century by undertaking a third General 
Supply of destitute families throughout the United States. 
It was a great undertaking, but it was energetically carried 
out. In 1871 the Society reported that 2,990,119 families 
had been visited, 228,807 families supplied, and 218,839 
persons not included in the destitute families. By 1870 it 
had learned that the vast regions newly opened to settle- 
ment since the war, could not, in the nature of things, be 
fully supplied by any merely local effort. Direct dis- 
tribution by the Society must supplement such efforts. This 
necessity increased the labour, the cost and the duration 
of the General Supply ordered in 1866. 

The Auxiliaries in general were, as ever, eyes and arms 
and nerves of touch to the Society in all parts of the home 
field. In 1870 the reports of the Society ceased to contain 
a separate department of work for the South, the wounds 
having partly healed which had made such a department 
desirable. At that time there were 7,125 Auxiliaries and 
Branches in the United States. That a goodly number of 
these local societies were doing the work which falls to 
members of the Society is clear. For these local Societies 
had in the field 194 County Agents with no paid colporteurs 
and 24,949 unpaid Bible distributers seeking the destitute 
willing to be supplied with Scriptures. None can deny the 
influence upon the nation of such a force circulating God's 

Because the poor are handicapped in the struggle for a 
worthy life, it seems that God must have a special bless- 
ing for those, like the Society's Agents, who are occupied 

294 THE PULSE OF LIFE [1861- 

in helping the execution of His purpose for the poor. The 
people with whom the Agents dealt were frequently half- 
pagan, ignorant people. Some poured a pan of dish water 
on the Agent to drive him away, and some treasured a verse 
from the Bible as a revelation and a marvel. Christians of 
education and intellect, advised with the Agent, imparting 
refreshment and encouragement. As a result of making 
known his experiences among the destitute, a by-product, 
so to speak, of the Agent's work, too, was promotion of a 
spirit of fraternity among the churches of different de- 
nominations and between members of the church when 
drawn into a common line of labour. The Society had in 
1870 about forty Agents in the home field aided by twenty 
Assistants. They were established in every state of the 
Union excepting those in which Auxiliary Societies main- 
tained agents of their own. The Agents were men of devo- 
tion, activity, experience and insight. Upon them the Man- 
agers at the Bible House relied for tireless labours in be- 
half of individuals destitute of the Scriptures. The Agent 
was the voice of the Board, reaching to needy people in 
the most destitute parts of the country. To the lonely 
homesteader the Agent's presence and kindly sympathy was 
like a breeze from the mountains in a sultry valley. 

The Agents superintended the work of the Auxiliary 
Societies, animated Bible distribution, audited accounts, gave 
lessons in book-keeping, and distributed Scriptures from 
shack to shack in thinly settled regions where Auxiliaries 
had little reach. Within their own districts they watched 
over all the interests of the Society; as an incidental mat- 
ter trying, as far as possible, to increase contributions. The 
essential in the character of the Agent was likeness to 
Jesus Christ in utter devotion to the purpose of the Al- 
mighty, and in immeasurable sympathy for all the suffering. 

Among the more ignorant settlers in the new districts 
commercial book agents acted on the theory that people wish 
to be deceived, selling gaudily bound Bibles on the instal- 
ment plan to poor people who paid ten dollars or more for 
the book. Sympathy was at once aroused for those duped 
by such men. A negro in Kentucky exhibited with some 


pride one of these Bibles to an Agent of the Society, hav- 
ing bought it for twelve dollars. The Agent asked the 
negro if he could read it. " No," he said. " Is there any- 
body in your family who can read it?" "Nary one," he 
said. " Then what are you going to do with the Bible ? " 
" Oh," he said, " my little Mary is being teached to read, 
and when she larns how she'll read it to us." It was an 
unmixed pleasure to offer to people so eager to get the Bible 
a clearly printed, neatly bound volume for fifty cents, giv- 
ing at the same time comfortable words of sympathy along 
with the Book of all comfort. 

As a matter of economy, in 1869 the Society's Agents 
were withdrawn from Vermont, Virginia, and Rhode Island. 
In each of these states a strong Society seemed well fitted to 
handle by itself the needs of the state. This was really 
a piece of optimism concerning Auxiliaries which was hardly 
justified by experience. Of these three Societies the Vir- 
ginia Bible Society alone proved itself able to work with- 
out aid from an Agent supported by the National organisa- 

This chapter opened with a list of changes in the person- 
nel of the Society. The facts set forth impress one with 
the solid permanence of the life of the organisation. By 
the grace of God the Society's initiative and activity per- 
sist although its membership is mortal. Needs of the home 
land in no way diminished appeals to the Society from for- 
eign lands. We shall see in other chapters that this period 
was also a time of tension abroad. In the year ending 
March 31, 1868, more books were provided for the foreign 
field than the whole number issued from the Bible House 
in any single year of the first thirty-five years of the Bible 
Society's work. 

While the Bible House was occupied seemingly to its full 
capacity with the publication of Scriptures for use at home, 
it was preparing plates for several important versions to be 
used abroad. In 1864 while demands from the home land 
upon the Society seemed to absorb the whole of its resources, 
the Board was so moved by the destitution of millions in 
South America that it appointed a permanent Agent in the 

296 THE PULSE OF LIFE [1861-1871 

region now known as Argentina. This was the beginning 
of the fruitful La Plata Agency of the Society, and in fact 
a turning point of the Society's enterprises followed by 
efficient and energetic action in South America not before 



The tendency of Bible ideas, words and phrases to take 
a permanent place in the language is of exceeding interest. 
Because of this tendency all is an understatement that can 
be said of the Bible as a mine of wisdom. The Book unob- 
trusively moulds thought and surrounds the reader with a 
pure atmosphere which nourishes spiritual growth. It is a 
precious treasure which the humblest may use, like the talent 
in the parable, for the increase of his intellectual and 
spiritual capital. Merely as a civilising agency Bible distri- 
bution, for this reason, should commend itself to the support 
of all. 

For various reasons a good many people in their treat- 
ment of the Bible follow the notorious example of the man 
who buried his talent in a napkin. Some make the reading 
of the Bible impracticable by giving it ponderous weight and 
massive binding ; some make the reading by common people 
a crime which merits anathema ; some, without going so far 
as to punish readers, see to it that the book can only be 
found wrapped in gorgeously embroidered cloths on the 
altar of a church, and some, though free from such restric- 
tions, cordially neglect reading the book that lies open in 
their hands. The one possession which might make all rich 
is buried out of reach. 

What the Society has done in some of the countries where 
the Bible is neglected or hidden is an essential part of this 
story. The undertaking has been simple conformity to the 
purpose of the Master, in the same way that the builder of a 
palace tries exactly to embody in stone the thought and plan 
of the architect. American Baptist Missionaries in Sweden, 
and Methodist Episcopal missions in Norway and in Den- 
mark asked and received during this period $5,150 for Bible 
distribution. In Denmark the use of a grant of $650 illus- 



trates how widely even a small sum may serve the destix 
tute. Scriptures bought with the grant were sold at cost 
or less whenever possible. With the proceeds of sales more 
books were bought and sent on " missionary excursions." 
After five years the missionaries through this grant had 
circulated 8,686 volumes, and their expectation of typical 
fruits from the sowing was as well grounded as that of the 
farmer who expects to reap wheat when he has sown wheat. 

During the period of the Civil War (1861-1871), the 
Methodist Episcopal Mission at Bremen, Germany, received 
grants amounting to $52,947, applied to making three sets of 
plates of the German Bible and two of the New Testament, 
and printing and distributing the books among the people. 
The scarcity of Scriptures among the common people, and 
the advantage of supplying the Book to emigrants to the 
United States at the port of embarcation, made this work 
like the despatch of shiploads of provisions for famishing 
families in Ireland and Russia. Bible distribution was op- 
posed by Roman Catholic priests just as people in India op- 
pose the health officers who try to save them from the 
plague. But Dr. Jacobi, the missionary, remarked with 
satisfaction, " The old man (the Pope) will surely be con- 
vinced that Protestantism has a much greater force than he 

In 1864-65 Prussia made war on Denmark over Schleswig- 
Holstein; in 1866 on Austria, and in 1870 on France. In 
all these wars our little Testaments went to barrack and 
hospital. One wounded man said to the colporteur who 
gave him a Testament : " What on earth shall I do with 
it?" But a few weeks later, when he was leaving to re- 
join his regiment, he said to the colporteur, " I am studying 
the little book in earnest, and thank you for it." In the war 
with France a German lady had to give up her only son for 
service in the Army. Six weeks later, the battle at Sedan 
which overthrew the Emperor Napoleon bereaved this lady. 
Comfort came to her like a voice from the spirit world, how- 
ever, when in her dead boy's effects she found a little Testa- 
ment given by the " American Bible Society " on which 
were marks of use such as showed that her son had lived in 
harmony of purpose with her and with her God. 


In Russia during this period 20,000 Testaments were 
printed at the expense of the Society by the Committee 
which supplied the destitute Esthonians of the district of 
Reval. Later on money was sent to the Committee at St. 
Petersburg to buy from the depot of the Holy Synod Rus- 
sian New Testaments for exiles in Siberia. When the 
books arrived at Nikolaievsk (about 4,000 miles from St. 
Petersburg), they were sent up the Amur River 500 miles, 
and rejoiced the hearts of the poor exiles. Grants for the 
Russian work during these nine years amounted to $17,497. 
Good will in the name of the Lord knows no limitations. 

Iti France at that time any failure to use the Bible was 
due, perhaps, less to government restrictions than to fear of 
the Church hierarchy. Here is a reason, if one must 
needs be given, for the Society's labours in such lands. 
Old friendship for France, too, was a special reason for aid 
rendered to the French Bible Societies. The French Prot- 
estant Bible Society, organised in 1818, in 1863 changed its 
constitution and began to publish an imperfect version of 
the Bible. Upon this a minority of its managers resigned 
and in 1864 united with the French and Foreign Bible So- 
ciety forming a new body called the Bible Society of France. 
Tq this new organisation the American Bible Society gave 
some $13,000 in this period. The money was used in print- 
ing and distributing Scriptures in France. In 1870 the 
French Society reported that in the six years since its or- 
ganisation it had put in circulation 60,000 volumes. 

The Board of Managers in 1863 made a re-statement of 
its policy toward the nations more or less destitute of the 
Bible. It declared that while the Society is under obligation 
to enter every open field where American missionaries ask 
its aid, America, excepting Canada, is its special field. Latin 
America, including Mexico, Central America and South 
America with their island dependencies, should be supplied 
with all diligence in addition to the vast home field. From 
1 86 1 to 1 87 1 the expenditures in Latin America amounted 
to $10,486, besides grants of books. 

Mexico both attracted and repelled efforts to supply its 
people with Scriptures. Until 1861 the Rev. James Hickey, 
a Baptist minister in Texas, had been actively distributing 

3 oo THE ONE TALENT HID [1861- 

Scriptures and tracts among Mexicans near the Rio Grande. 
When the Civil War blazed up, hoping to continue his work 
unhampered by the crisis in the United States, he removed 
from Texas to Monterey in Mexico. There he received oc- 
casional grants of Scriptures from the Society and put some 
nine hundred volumes into circulation chiefly by sale. 

The earnestness and devotion of Mr. Hickey led the Board 
in the latter part of 1862 to appoint him Agent of the So- 
ciety for Mexico, expecting him to live in Mexico City. 
Meanwhile, England, France, and Spain had intervened to 
regulate the chaos in Mexico, and had disagreed as to the 
measures to be adopted. France was left to act alone. In 
June, 1863, French troops captured Mexico City, to the 
great joy of the clerical party, which opposed Juarez. The 
country was full of fighting men — partisans of the French, 
partisans of Juarez, and plain, unblushing bandits ; but Mr. 
Hickey was not afraid to travel. His adventurous ex- 
cursions took him into the states of Tamaulipas, Zacatecas 
and San Luis Potosi. The marvel of his ventures was that 
everywhere he aroused interest in the Bible which he car- 
ried. But the roads, he said, were " such as to smash any 
wagon not made of spring steel. ,, 

The fame of the Bible spread through the country. Mr. 
Hickey wrote in 1865 : " So soon as the Heavenly Father 
sends peace I propose to send four colporteurs into Tamaul- 
ipas to distribute Scriptures in every town and ranch in the 
state." But this was not to be. Again and again Mr. 
Hickey had to make the difficult journey of some two hun- 
dred miles from Monterey to Brownsville because there was 
no other way of securing the books sent from New York. 
Early in 1866 he suffered from exposure on a journey for 
books, and was laid up with pneumonia at Brownsville for 
nearly two weeks. He went to work again while still far 
from well, and toward the close of the year he took the same 
hard journey again to replenish his stock. Illness followed 
his arrival at Brownsville, and on the 10th of December, 
1866, this brave servant of Christ rested from his arduous 

The impression of such a life on the country was last- 
ing. General Lew Wallace later passed through the region 


where Mr. Hickey had laboured and was surprised at the 
profound respect in which the people held his memory. 
The reason of this respect was partly the high character of 
the man, but chiefly the quality of the Book. It quickly won 
the love of the soul-hungry people. One Mexican on hear- 
ing some verses read, instantly said to his wife, " That is a 
book to open a man's eyes ; buy it ! " And she did. " Is 
not my word like as a fire, saith the Lord, and like a ham- 
mer that breaketh the rock in pieces ? " 

Upon the death of Mr. Hickey, Mr. Thomas Westrup 
was appointed agent of the Society. He was prepared for 
the work by missionary labour on the border and well- 
seasoned for its extraordinary demands. The obstructive- 
ness of the priests whose cause seemed to be looking up 
since the advent of the Emperor Maximilian, was less of a 
hindrance to Bible work than the outlawry which flourished 
under cover of resistance to the French invasion. 

Maximilian's exotic Empire was doomed, however, as 
soon as the end of civil war in the United States permitted 
Mr. Seward, with some hundreds of thousands of seasoned 
soldiers at hand, to speak seriously to Napoleon III concern- 
ing French armies in Mexico. Early in 1867 Bazaine and 
his troops embarked for France. The tragedy of Queretaro, 
June 19th, 1867, was the natural consequence — a shock to 
the whole civilised world, a cup of gall to Napoleon III, and 
an ominous beginning for the new freedom of Mexico. 

The clerical party was much enfeebled by this catastrophe. 
Local officials, Mr. Westrup wrote, declared that the new 
constitution made Bible burning illegal. In the three years 
of his agency he put in circulation about 8,000 volumes of 
Scripture in Tamaulipas, Nueva Leon, Chihuahua, Dur- 
ango, San Luis Potosi, and Zacatecas. The proceeds of 
sales in 1869 were $1,100 — good evidence that the book was 
wanted by the people. There were little groups of Bible 
readers in^many places, and the Bible could be seen to be 
changing brutes into men. Colonel Rodriguez in Tamaul- 
ipas described the revolution wrought in his own life by 
saying, " I have not changed my profession. I have only 
changed my commanding Officer ! " Miss Melinda Rankin, 
always vigorously at work, reported converts to New Testa- 

302 THE ONE TALENT HID [1861- 

ment Christianity of all ages — an old woman of sixty-nine 
and a boy of thirteen — in the place in Nueva Leon where 
she now laboured. Two men who had threatened to shoot 
any one who should bring Bibles to their village were found 
among the humble students of the words of Jesus Christ. 

By the beginning of 1870 the new order of things in 
Mexico led to the opening of missions by different denomina- 
tions. The Society made grants of books and money, 500 
Bibles to the Protestant Episcopal Mission, $2,750 to the 
American and Foreign Christian Union for Rev. H. C. 
Riley, its missionary in Mexico City. The missions found 
instant response among Bible readers, particularly in the 
six states named above, where to this day are found a large 
proportion of the adherents of Protestant missions. Mr. 
Westrup had taken part in laying foundations, he now 
yearned for a share in the building. In 1870 he resigned 
in order to enter the service of the American Baptist Home 
Mission Society, in Northern Mexico. 

Entreaties of the American Missionaries in Buenos Aires 
decided the Board in 1864 to appoint an Agent for that part 
of South America. Mr. Andrew Milne, a young Scot living 
in Buenos Aires, was selected for the post. With a delicate 
sensitiveness to comity, the Board instructed him to estab- 
lish the Agency in Montevideo because the British and For- 
eign Bible Society had labourers in Buenos Aires. 

Mr. Milne was connected with a mercantile house, but 
hours that were his own he had long devoted to missionary 
effort among the people of the city. He gladly began serv- 
ice of the Society in June, 1864. From his appointment 
dates the opening of serious work of the Society in behalf 
of the Spanish speaking parts of the southern continent. 
The vision of a Christian worker always outruns his imme- 
diate surroundings. While Mr. Milne in 1864 was advised 
to begin his efforts in Entre Rios, one of the fourteen prov- 
inces of Argentina, he foresaw that one day the Bible would 
nourish the lives of divers tribes and nations, from the At- 
lantic to the Pacific and from the equator to Cape Horn. 

Since by this time the British and Foreign Bible Society 
had opened a depository in Montevideo, Mr. Milne, to avoid 
appearance of rivalry, established his agency at Rosario, on 


the Parana River. From Rosario Mr. George Schmidt, an 
energetic colporteur, was sent to explore the northern coun- 
try. He visited many of the chief cities, besides the villages 
and ranches as far west as Jujuy in the skirts of the Andes, 
some seven hundred miles from Rosario. 

When the work of the Agency began in 1864 the Bible 
was the rarest of books in that region. By slow and patient 
methods Mr. Milne and one or two colporteurs in the first 
six years of his agency had placed in the hands of the people 
of many towns and villages as far as to the borders of 
Brazil and of Peru a total of about 25,000 copies of Scrip- 
ture. The wide dispersion of these books prepared the way 
somewhat for missions of many denominations. A salient 
feature of this work was the ceaseless and even virulent 
opposition of leading men of the church which for three cen- 
turies had dealt with the nation as though its existence de- 
pended upon keeping the book inactive. This opposition in 
turn brought to light evidences that the Bible frees men's 
minds from arbitrary control. At a little mud ranch in the 
country which seemed hardly worth a visit, Mr. Milne in 
1870 discovered a refined lady who said, " I have a Bible al- 
ready ; it is worth more to me than an ounce of pure gold ! 
The priest ordered me to give it up to be burned but I told 
him I would as soon think of burning my clothes ! " 

To Peru the Society sent Scriptures through Rev. Mr. 
McKim, missionary of the American and Foreign Chris- 
tian Union at Lima. Chile, settled by the Spanish in 1541, 
lies between the crest of the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, 
and the Society treated its needs as a problem separate from 
those of Mr. Milne's Agency. Rev. Dr. Trumbull at Val- 
paraiso completed in 1871 his twenty-fifth year of hearty 
co-operation with the Society. During this period the Val- 
paraiso Bible Society, organised in 1862, with Dr. Trumbull 
as president, pressed Bible distribution among English, Ger- 
mans, and Americans in the city and reached out among 
Chilians in adjoining districts. During seven years the Val- 
paraiso Bible Society in 1870 had put in circulation 7,000 
copies of the Scriptures. 

In regard to Central America, and Colombia then known 
as New Granada, little can be said except that the Board in- 

304 THE ONE TALENT HID [1861- 

tently watched for opportunities of Bible distribution while 
the unrest of revolution bubbled and boiled like a witch's 
mixture in a cauldron. In 1863 the Rev. W. H. Norris was 
appointed Agent of the Society for Central America and 
New Granada. But early in 1864 Mr. Norris* health gave 
way, and he was obliged to resign. The Rev. W. H. Gulick 
of Caraccas, Venezuela, and Mr. F. Hicks of Panama, in- 
dependent and self-supporting missionaries, were now fur- 
nished Scriptures for distribution. In 1866 the agency of 
the British Society was withdrawn from Bogota and the 
American Society took steps to aid American missionaries 
in Colombia as it had always done. In the West Indies the 
work of the Society, during this period, was still rather de- 
sultory in character, books being sent in small parcels to 
missionaries or other Christian workers in Cuba, Hayti, and 
Porto Rico; but nothing being attempted in the way of a 
permanent Agency for the islands. 

When American missionaries began to establish them- 
selves, far south of the eastward straggling islands, in 
Brazil, they were glad to handle Scriptures for the Society. 
Rev. Mr. Simonton and Rev. Mr. Blackford of the Pres- 
byterian Mission in Rio Janeiro, during this period em- 
ployed colporteurs at the expense of the Society. Farther 
north the Rev. R. Holden of the American Protestant Epis- 
copal Mission at Para, each year after his arrival received 
grants from the Society, employed colporteurs and himself 
travelled widely to distribute Scriptures until 1864. Then 
he was formally appointed Agent of the Society. The 
Board was rather surprised, however, to learn that before 
the notice of this appointment had reached Mr. Holden he 
had been engaged as Agent of the British and Foreign Bible 

In all such distributions the Bible permanently wins the 
hearts of some. Here and there people were reading the 
Bibles bought from Mr. Fletcher, the former Agent of the 
Society. Mr. Blackford wrote joyfully of results of the sow- 
er's work that came under his own eyes. The story of a con- 
vert at Sao Paulo suggests that in many places the Bible even 
now may be working silently and imperceptibly. A very old 
woman rebuked this man when a boy for noisy play on 


Sunday, and read to him out of a book the command to keep 
the Sabbath holy. She also let him read in the book, which 
was the Bible. When he grew up he sent to Rio Janeiro to 
get a Bible ; but could not, for the price was twenty-five dol- 
lars. Some time afterward the teacher of the public school 
gave him a Spanish Bible, printed by the American Bible 
Society in 1824. The man learned Spanish solely for the 
purpose of reading the Bible. For twenty years that man 
had privately studied the Bible, and when the missionaries 
arrived in Sao Paulo he was entirely ready to make public 
profession of his faith in Jesus Christ. Mr. Blackford 
wrote in this connection : " Results may seem small as 
compared with the outlay, but such facts as this prove the 
work to be worth while ! " The sincerity of the Brazilian 
lovers of the Bible received further testimony when the little 
church at Rio Janeiro out of its poverty sent a donation of 
twenty-five dollars to the Society as a token of the gratitude 
of its members. 

At the beginning of this period a few governments of Eu- 
rope served the clergy, guarding the Bible with the sword. 
In the Papal states as well as the small countries in central 
and Southern, Italy, the police constantly watched against 
the admission of Bibles. Even an American who went to 
Rome would have his Bible taken from him as soon as he 
crossed the line. A species of madness seemed to possess 
the authorities. After Italy became one united kingdom 
the police restrictions were removed excepting in the Papal 
states and the Society speedily took advantage of this situa- 
tion. The Rev. William Clark, formerly a missionary in 
Turkey, was sent by the American and Foreign Christian 
Union to Milan and the Society furnished him with money 
to circulate Scriptures. It also made grants to the Geneva 
Italian Committee whose work in the north of Italy it had 
long aided, and to a Waldensian Committee in Florence, 
first to print Scriptures, and finally for making a complete 
set of plates of the Bible in Italian to be used at Florence. 
The grants of the Society for printing and distributing 
Scriptures in Italy through these channels amounted during 
the nine years to $24,240. During this period the British 
and Foreign Bible Society and the Scottish National Bible 

3 o6 THE ONE TALENT HID [1861- 

Society were working with great vigour in all parts of Italy 
and the American Society refrained from placing colpor- 
teurs in the field. 

Toward the close of this period the great Vatican Council 
assembled in order to declare as a dogma of the church the 
infallibility of the Pope in matters of spiritual guidance. 
On the 18th of July, 1870, this dogma of infallibility was 
proclaimed with all the pomp and ceremony of which the 
ancient church of Rome is capable. On the same day 
France, whose troops were protecting Rome against liberty, 
declared war against Germany. Within two months the 
French Empire had been overthrown; her troops were re- 
called from Rome, and Italians occupied the city, and 
temporal sovereignty was wrenched from the paralysing grip 
of the church! 

In Spain almost more than in Italy arbitrary power for- 
bade the people's access to the book that gives men under- 
standing. Worthy men were imprisoned for reading it. 
After the revolution of September, 1868, when Queen Isa- 
bella fled the country and Marshal Serrano was installed at 
Madrid as Regent, freedom seemed to have displaced 
tyranny even in the domain of religion. The American and 
Foreign Christian Union established a mission at Seville 
and the Board granted it 5,000 copies of Scripture. But the 
Spanish Custom House stopped the books. By the inter- 
vention of General Daniel E. Sickles, the American Min- 
ister, the Custom House released the books one full year 
after their seizure. The boxes of Bibles were viewed by 
every official " with deepest malignity," wrote Rev. H. C. 
Hall at Seville, for they contained the first Bibles, perhaps, 
ever regularly passed by that Custom House. As we shall 
later see, they were not the last. 

Thus the treasure long hidden has been gradually put into 
use among multitudes. The word " talent " used to be a 
Greek word of money value. Its adoption into many lan- 
guages with a nobler meaning reveals the wide dissemina- 
tion of the Bible, where our Saviour's parable attached to 
the old Greek word the sense of an endowment or gift avail- 
able for success in life, The Bible itself is such an endow- 


ment, for neglect of which none can escape accountability. 
Hence the effort to give the book free course in lands where 
men have concealed or neglected it appeals to the sympathy 
and support of every true Christian. 



Warm as was interest in the nations among whom the 
Bible was hid from the common people, sympathy and 
yearning to help could not but go out toward the millions 
of pagans and Mohammedans whose lands seemed to form 
a sort of anarchistic reservation on the earth, where the law 
of God was not known. 

India, one of the countries of this class, had held for 
many years a place in the hearts of the members of the So- 
ciety. The aid of the Society was given to American Mis- 
sionaries in Ceylon, at Madura, and in the Arcot region of 
South India, in Lucknow and the Lodiana district in North 
India. The languages of India in which Scriptures were 
published or circulated during this period at the expense 
of the Society were Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Uriye, Urdu, 
Hindi and Panjabi. The cost to the Society of printing and 
distribution from 1861 to 1871 in different parts of the 
country amounted to $57,859. 

In 1866 the Rev. Dr. J. P. Chamberlain of the Reformed 
Church Arcot Mission, made a tour for the Society in the 
territories of the Nizam of Hyderabad, little known because 
of the surly fanaticism of the population outside of the 
great cities. The tour was an exploration, an opportunity 
for distribution of Scriptures among all classes, and an un- 
dertaking adventurous and even dangerous to the devoted 
missionary. Many of the people in their ignorance could 
not make out the sense of a Gospel unless some one ex- 
pounded it. One man in South India, after buying a por- 
tion brought it back because he said " it had offended his 
household god." Another one liked the little book so much 
that he came to ask the missionaries if he ought not to offer 
it worship. On the other hand there was some intelligent 



use of the books. An inspector of police, a Brahmin, said 
to a missionary : " There never was a being like Jesus 
Christ, and never a book like the Bible. Though I have 
eaten a meal, if I have not read my Bible I am hungry still." 

In Siam with money furnished by the Society, the Presby- 
terian Mission Press at Bangkok printed during this period 
29,000 copies of Scripture, including the four Gospels, St. 
Paul's Epistles to the Romans and to the Corinthians, Gene- 
sis, Exodus, and Leviticus, all in separate portions gener- 
ously distributed. 

An atmosphere of romance hangs about the palm-clad 
atolls of Micronesia. But the missionaries of the Ameri- 
can Board found little o.f romance when they visited one is- 
land after another where the unclothed people were sunk in 
ignorance, without an idea of reading or writing, or of an 
alphabet. During this period, however, the Society printed 
Scriptures pretty continuously at the Bible House and at 
Honolulu for use in these little islands ; schools having pre- 
pared the natives to read. The English alphabet was used, 
as in the Hawaiian Islands, for writing the different lan- 
guages. Portions of Scripture for the Marshall Islands, 
for the Gilbert Islands, and for Kusaie (Strong's Island) 
were printed at Honolulu at the expense of the Society, 
and a large family Bible in Hawaiian as well as a New 
Testament in Hawaiian and English in parallel columns 
were printed at the Bible House in New York. There was 
large demand for both of these last named books, although 
it was the opinion of the missionaries that the natives of the 
Hawaiian Islands, at least, would gradually lose their 
identity by mingling with foreigners who were taking up 
their abode in those charming surroundings. 

The acceptance of the Scriptures in Micronesia is shown 
in a letter of Rev. Mr. Snow of the American Board's Mis- 
sion in Kusaie, who had been absent from the island for 
many months, leaving the people the Gospel of St. John for 
their instruction. On his return in 1864, he found that 
some forty persons had made up their minds during his 
absence to surrender to Jesus Christ. In a Sunday School 
were 118 pupils of all ages in twelve classes studying the 
Gospels. Many had committed the Gospel of St. John to 


memory. Mr. Snow brought them the Gospel of St. Mat- 
thew, just printed. The people were over joyed. In groups 
of three or four that evening they were lying around their 
little lamps reading the new book. The Society could not 
but hasten the printing of the Bible for people giving it such 
a welcome. 

In China, as a thorn in the flesh of translators, the " term 
question " x persisted because missionaries were unable to 
unite upon a Chinese term for " God." A compromise usu- 
ally permitted the printing of either Shangti or Shen in edi- 
tions of the Bible for the missions which respectively re- 
quired either term. By Dr. Schereschewski a curious ex- 
periment was made in his Mandarin Old Testament. He in- 
troduced the term Tienchu, supported by the fact that it had 
been used by Roman Catholic missionaries for two hundred 
years. It never came into use, however, in Protestant mis- 
sions, and it did not appear in the Mandarin Old Testa- 
ment after 1899. 

Bible translation at the expense of the Society steadily 
went on, driven by the needs of China's vast multitudes. 
The Board had recognised in 1852 a committee composed of 
Bishop Boone and Rev. Dr. E. C. Bridgman, once members 
of the " Delegates' " Committee, Rev. Dr. Culbertson, Rev. 
Dr. Jenkins, of Shanghai, and Rev. Dr. McClay of Fuchow, 
as a Committee of translation with power to publish the 
Bible when completed. The version of the New Testament 
prepared by this American Committee was published in 
1854 and that of the whole Bible in 1862. Dr. Bridgman 
did not live to complete the work, passing from this life in 
1861. Dr. Culbertson had the privilege of seeing the work 
finished before he died in 1862. This version was more 
faithful in rendering the original, but less elegant in Chinese 
style than the Delegates' version. It had a very large circu- 
lation during forty years, being the first complete Bible in 
Chinese published by the Society. Even now the demand 
for it requires it to be kept in stock at the depository at 

During this period the printing of the Fuchow colloquial 

1 See Chapter XXIX. 


version of the Bible and tentative portions of a Mandarin 
version called for grants. The Society in May, 186), re- 
quested the Board of Managers to hasten the publication of 
a Mandarin version since it is generally understood through- 
out China. A committee at Peking, of which Bishop 
Schereschewski was a member, took up the work and in 
1872 the New Testament in Mandarin was published at the 
joint expense of the American and British Bible Societies. 
This was a new practical illustration of federation, cau- 
tiously tested in the field by missionaries, its timid inventors, 
and thus commended to the Boards at home. 

Up to the year 1866, grants of the Society to missions in 
China had been designated for the expense of translation 
and printing; the missionaries distributing the books com- 
monly without asking payment from the people. As earty 
as 1866 the Presbyterian Mission in Shanghai experimented 
with sales. Five colporteurs were sent out who left some 
part of the Bible, generally by sale, in 30,000 Chinese fami- 
lies ; and when a proposal was made by this and other mis- 
sions that a part of the money granted by the Society should 
be used to support colporteurs, the Board could not very 
well refuse. ^ A good colporteur in a pagan land is the face 
of a personified, smiling, well-wishing Christianity. Ac- 
cordingly, the missionaries were authorised to use some part 
of the Society's grants for maintaining colporteurs. 

Such a development of the activities of the Society might 
be suspected by some to be partly owing to the weakness of a 
people unable to resist energetic foreigners. It was, how- 
ever, encouraged by the reception given to the Bible by the 
Chinese. A missionary cautidned some country people to 
whom he was giving Bible portions to take care of the 
books. One of the peasants said to him : " Do you mean 
that you think we would destroy printed books ? Never ! " 
A certain amount of discrimination and intelligence was al- 
ways shown by the people after the practice of selling 
Scriptures drew more thoughtful attention to the books. 
Rev. Mr. Mills, a Presbyterian Missionary of Tungchow, 
travelled far afield and sold a considerable number of Scrip- 
tures in the very birthplace of Confucius. Rev. Dr. Blod- 
gett of the American Board's North China Mission, hap- 


pened upon a little company of Chinese studying the Bible 
by night. They were weavers who had to work late in 
finishing some special order, and one of their number would 
be asked to read the Bible to them while they worked. In 
one of these serious groups of weavers the reader was a 
woman. As among all other races, some among the Chinese, 
too, learned faith in Jesus Christ through the unaided read- 
ing of the Scriptures. Rev. Dr. Martin, of the Presbyterian 
Mission, wrote of a Chinaman who had never seen a mis- 
sionary, but had become convinced of the truth by poring 
over a Bible which years ago had somehow fallen into his 
hands. Such incidents thrillingly show the fitness of the 
blessed book for inner needs of every race of men. 

Several times the question of appointing an Agent for 
China was raised in the Board of Managers. Both the 
British and Foreign Bible Society and the National So- 
ciety of Scotland were represented in China by Agents, and 
many of the American missionaries thought that Bible dis- 
tribution could be more effective under supervision of an 
Agent of the Society. The Board, however, did not wish 
to incur the expense. As late as 1868 it decided again that 
so long as missionaries were willing to superintend distribu- 
tion, the money might well be committed to them for that 
purpose. Five years later, however, Bible distribution ab- 
sorbed so much time that the Board appointed the Rev. L. 
H. Gulick, M.D., a missionary who had served long in 
Micronesia, to be Agent of the Society for China and Japan. 
The books in Mandarin, in Classical and in local colloquials 
printed at the expense of the Society in Shanghai and 
Fuchow, were being sent to Nanking, Hankow, Peking, 
Tientsin, and far up the Yangtse River as well as among 
the coast provinces. Grants were being made to the Ameri- 
can Board, to the Methodist Episcopal, the Protestant Epis- 
copal, the Presbyterian, and the Reformed Church (Dutch) 
missions. From the beginning (in 1833) °f the Society's 
serious work in China until the appointment of Dr. Gulick 
as Agent in 1874, 1,594,818 volumes of Scripture had been 
printed in Chinese, and 1,300,000 of them had been put into 
circulation. The cost to the Society of this great work was 


In 1837 the Board made a grant to Rev. Dr. Gutzlaff in 
the hope that Gospels translated into Japanese by him might 
carry an appeal to the unknown empire of Japan. But 
the first words from America heard by the Japanese were 
the English words of the hymn, " Before Jehovah's awful 
throne ye nations bow with holy joy." The Japanese could 
not understand these words, but they were mightily aston- 
ished at the music of the band upon the deck of Commo- 
dore Perry's flagship as it led with the tune of " Old Hun- 
dred " the singing of a thousand manly voices engaged in 
divine worship on a Sunday morning in July, 1853. 

Fully six years passed after Perry's first visit to Japan be- 
fore the treaty with the United States was ratified. Then 
only could foreigners venture to live in Japan. The ob- 
jection of the old feudal system to any breaking down of 
the wall of exclusiveness was like the objection of a bat to 
the rays of the sun. Happily some Japanese preferred the 
sun. In 1859 the first American Missionaries went to 
Japan; Rev. Mr. Liggins and Rev. Mr. Williams of the 
Protestant Episcopal Church, Rev. Mr. Verbeck of the Re- 
formed (Dutch) Church and Dr. Hepburn of the Presby- 
terian Church. These men were instantly confronted with 
the need of Bibles for the missions. There was no Bible in 
Japanese. Dr. S. Wells Williams, the Chinese scholar, and 
Dr. Gutzlaff, the learned free lance of China missions, had 
long ago attempted something in the way of translations into 
Japanese; and later Rev. Dr. Bettelheim, a converted He- 
brew from Hungary, who had been sent by British naval of- 
ficers as missionary to the Lu Chu Islands, had translated 
portions of Scripture which had been printed by the So- 
ciety for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. Other- 
wise no word of Scripture existed in Japanese. Application 
was made at once to the Society for aid. 

So far as the Board was concerned, this newly opened 
empire was little more than a name in the year i860. In 
June of that year the Board invited the Japanese ambassa- 
dors making a tour of the Western nations to visit the Bible 
House. The ambassadors came ; went over the whole build- 
ing ; minutely inspected the machinery for printing and bind- 
ing; were especially amazed by the hydraulic presses used 


to smooth the printed sheets, and went away delighted with 
the Society and its wonderful works. The visit of the 
Japanese Embassy put Japan on the map of the Society, 
although the name was still followed by a question mark. 

In the same year Rev. Dr. B. J. Bettelheim, who had re- 
turned from the Lu Chu Islands and established himself in 
the state of Illinois, offered to give the Society his transla- 
tion of parts of the Bible, assuring the Board that all Japa- 
nese scholars would testify to the high quality of the lan- 
guage used. The Dutch interpreter of the Japanese Em- 
bassy, said that the ambassadors thought educated people in 
Japan might discover the meaning of Dr. Bettelheim's trans- 
lation, but that the masses could not understand it at all. 
Meanwhile Dr. Hepburn at Yokohama advised on general 
principles that if Dr. Bettelheim's manuscript could be had 
for any reasonable sum, it might help other Bible trans- 
lators. After consideration, however, the Board decided 
not to accept Dr. Bettelheim's offer. 

In view of the phenomenon of a knowledge of the Dutch 
language by many Japanese, the Board in 1861 sent a supply 
of Holland Bibles to be distributed among those Japanese 
who had been in trade with the Hollanders living on the 
little island in front of Nagasaki which had been a trade 
mart of the Dutch during some two hundred years. Taking 
these Scriptures to the Japanese was at best a forlorn hope, 
since the strictly commercial vocabulary of Dutch which 
was used at Nagasaki could hardly throw light on theological 
terms. But in this urgent case more than one order for 
these Scriptures came from the missions in Japan. Since 
all educated Japanese could read Chinese, the missionaries 
also ordered Scriptures in that language. In their hope that 
the Bible might speak to the Japanese before they themselves 
could, like the ancient alchemists, they cast various ma- 
terials into the crucible and watched to see if base metal 
was transmuted into gold. 

The Society placed in the hands of missionaries of dif- 
ferent denominations in Japan during the period from 1861 
to 1871, $4,800 for use in translation of the Bible, and for 
purchase of Chinese Scriptures. It also sent out 1200 
volumes of Dutch and of English Scriptures for direct 


distribution. The money granted for translation was used 
for supporting the Japanese assistants. The formal begin- 
ning of Bible translation in Japanese was about 1865, and 
by the year 1866 the missions had agreed to organise for 
Bible translation a select committee so that there might be 
for all but one Japanese version. 

During this preliminary work the people showed interest 
in the Bibles offered by the Americans. The nation had 
been awakened by cannon. A considerable number of the 
people were eagerly asking how they, too, could get such 
cannon. But some of them actually found food for hungry 
souls in the American book. People who read the Bible for 
the first time enjoy the vividness of a first impression ; the 
new thought remains a topic of meditation. We to whom 
the ideas in general are old, often fail in meditation be- 
cause we think we know the truths taught by the Bible. 
The importance of the fresh first impression had not oc- 
curred to Abbe Hue when he sneeringly inquired if Protes- 
tant missionaries thought they would convert China by plac- 
ing a few Bibles on its shores. At all events it does not 
seem to have occurred to him that the spirit of God is able 
to use His own word. By the time, in 1868, that the Gospel 
of Matthew was ready for the press, the missionaries had 
already been rejoiced by learning that a young man in prison 
had been converted through Bible study recommended by a 
Chinese teacher. In that same year two Japanese of educa- 
tion and rank were baptised, having found faith in Jesus 
Christ through copies of the Bible in Chinese sent out at a 
venture from mission stations. The faith of the mission- 
aries was justified. The rock had in it a soft spot that 
having once been reached by the elements, all external things 
began to work together to reduce the granite to powder. 

For Africa the first serious work taken up by the Society 
was aid to the Gaboon Mission of the American Board, and 
to the Cape Palmas Mission of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church. African tribes had neither writing nor alphabet. 
Hence distribution of Scriptures must wait upon mission 
schools. In 1870 the entire New Testament in Mpongwe 
was printed at the mission press on the Gaboon at the ex- 
pense of the Society. Grants of Scripture portions were 


made from the stock in New York, and curiously enough 
some copies in Arabic were called for to be read by the Mo- 
hammedan negroes engaged in trade in all that region. On 
the eastern side of the African continent the American 
Board's Missionaries in Natal were translating the Bible. 
The book of Genesis in Zulu was printed in Natal at the ex- 
pense of the Society, together with several additional por- 
tions of the Old Testament. By such slow stages the So- 
ciety piwsued its path of help to American missions in what 
was then almost literally the unknown continent. 

Beyond the confines of Christendom the only lands in 
which the Society at this time had an agency were in the 
region at the eastern end of the Mediterranean known as 
the Levant. Rev. Dr. I. G. Bliss, the Agent, wrote with 
fluent optimism o-f s-uccesses in Bible distribution. There 
was opposition from some of the Greek and Armenian 
clergy, and many ingenious devices of obstruction were used 
by the Turkish authorities, but the Bible made its way among 
the people so rapidly that in 1870 the Society had no more 
promising field abroad. In that region, where no inherited 
conviction of Christian truth gives support to Bible work, 
there were fifty principal Bible depositories of. the Society 
with 175 branch depots. These depositories were found in 
European Turkey, in Greece, in the storied islands of the 
JEgean Sea, on the shores of the Dardanelles, in the old 
Roman provinces of Asia, in Syria and Mesopotamia, on 
the banks of the Nile and in the Empire of Persia — wher- 
ever there were American missionaries. Forty colporteurs 
and six Bible women were engaged in distributing Scrip- 

In Persia a colporteur exploring the country went through 
Hamadan, the city of Esther and Haman, as far as Ispahan, 
and came back delighted with the reception given to him 
and his books. In Egypt, Rev. Dr. Lansing took a colpor- 
teur to a great fair at Mansoura. The Patriarch of the 
Coptic Church was at the fair and his presence was dreaded 
by the men of the Book. The tactful colporteur, however, 
went straight to the Patriarch asking if he had forbidden the 
people to buy Bibles. " Oh, no," said the Patriarch, " God 
forbid that I should do such a thing 1 " The colporteur then 


suggested that he might buy one himself. The great pre- 
late bought, and the whole stock of Bibles was quickly taken 
up. Mohammedans in different parts of Turkey bought 
Bibles or Testaments and one expressed the feeling of many 
when he said : " This is the best and the holiest book I ever 
saw ; it cannot do me harm." It must not be supposed from 
these incidents that the work of the colporteur comports with 
ease. Such labour requires too great self-denial for any 
but the most devoted Christians. The incidents of this 
period, however, justified belief that every Bible or Testa- 
ment sold kindles a light which cannot be extinguished. 

Rev. Dr. Bliss returned to the United States on furlough 
in 1865, with a plan, elaborated lovingly in detail, for a 
Bible House in the heart of Constantinople. As a centre of 
all forms of evangelism such a building would send out light 
to every part of the Levant. The Board could not consent 
to use funds of the Society for the purpose ; but it authorised 
Dr. Bliss to raise money by special subscription, letting it be 
understood that the Society took no responsibility in the 
matter. Dr. Bliss presented his case with such contagious 
zeal in different parts of the United States that he succeeded 
in raising about $60,000 for the construction of the Bible 
House and returned to Constantinople with a glad heart. 

During the period from 1861 to 1871 the cost to the So- 
ciety of supplying Scriptures in the languages of this great 
Agency amounted to $230,951. Including this amount the 
expenditure during this period in non-Christian lands whose 
people had erected their various civilisations in ignorance of 
the Bible and of its existence was $411,385. This great 
sum represented a part of the cost to American Christians 
of their obedience to their Lord, of their compassion for 
men who grope in spiritual and ethical uncertainties, and of 
their conviction that the Bible makes men and makes na- 
tions. It represented the worship by free-will offerings of 
many thousands of our people ; and by every token the gift 
had found favour with God. 



In May, 1865, the Society entered its fiftieth year of serv- 
ice. At the same time a new era dawned in the United 
States with the end of civil war. The rattle of small arfns 
and thunder of cannon were stilled. The passions of those 
who fought passed away like bad dreams. The great armies 
dispersed. Long separated families were reunited. Of- 
ficers and soldiers packed up their regimental trappings and 
returned to their ordinary occupations. Throughout the 
land useful production gradually displaced waste and de- 
struction. There was a general revulsion of feeling from 
distress and anxiety to thanksgiving and joy. The Bible 
Society, also, had special occasion for joy as it entered its 
fiftieth year. It could look back upon a half century of 
struggle and often of anxiety, cheered, however, by con- 
stant gains of strength through the support and leadership 
of its Master. To the Board it seemed a happy and provi- 
dential coincidence that the beginning of so notable a year 
of its history should be associated with the beginning of a 
new order of things in the history of the republic. For this 
the Managers offered humble and hearty thanksgiving to 

At its regular meeting, May 4, 1865, the Board appointed 
the current year to be observed as a Jubilee, delegating to the 
Anniversaries Committee all necessary arrangements. The 
Committee appealed to all the churches in the country, to 
observe the Jubilee year by special services, and invited the 
Auxiliaries to change each regular annual meeting into a 
little Jubilee meeting that would commemorate the increased 
circulation of the Bible as well as the multiplied evidences of 
its power. The Committee also suggested four particular 
objects which might be undertaken by the Society as appro- 
priate to a year of praise and thanksgiving: First, the 



supply of destitution in the South ; second, a general supply 
of the needy throughout the home land; third, the electro- 
typing of the Arabic Bible, and fourth, the issue of the re- 
vised Spanish Bible. There would be no general call for 
special contributions, but Auxiliary Societies might well 
take up one or more of these objects and do what they found 
possible to make it a success. 

The appeal sent out by the Committee was written by the 
Rev. William Adams, D.D., and rang out clear and pene- 
trating like the old Hebrew trumpet call at the beginning of 
each Jubilee yean Dr. Adams pointed out how the Society 
had surpassed the most sanguine expectations of its 
founders, receiving the cordial confidence and support of 
the entire country ; multiplying its Auxiliaries in all parts of 
the land ; sending out millions of copies of Scriptures in all 
directions which, like those placed in the army during the 
war, could be reckoned as seed cast on a subsiding flood, and 
destined to reappear with blessed results in future growth. 
He noted the changes since the organisation of the Society 
throughout the world, in sentiment, in forms of government, 
and in religious devotion to God with a new regard for the 
Bible; and he called upon all the people to expect quick 
progress of the Kingdom, like a tree long in growth, which 
after maturity, in one season blossoms out and bears abun- 
dant fruit. 

Responses to these appeals came from all parts of the 
land, Auxiliaries and ecclesiastical bodies heartily pledging 
action in the line proposed. Congratulations were received 
from the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Bible So- 
ciety of France, and other Societies in Europe. 

The Board arranged as a part of the exercises of the 
fiftieth year a series of sermons by eminent clergymen to be 
delivered in the first instance in New York City. The first 
Jubilee sermon, on the " Advantages of a Written Revela- 
tion/' by Rev. William Adams, D.D., was preached October 
15, 1865; the second by Rev. Dr. Vermilye, November 19, 
on the " Purity of the Bible " ; the third by Rev. Dr. Charles 
Hodge of Princeton Theological Seminary, January 21, 
1866, on the " Inspiration of the Bible " ; the fourth, Feb- 
ruary 18, 1866, by President J. W. Cummings of Wesleyan 


University on " The Bible and Civil Government " ; the fifth 
by Rev. R. S. Storrs, D.D., Jr., March 18th, on " The Bible 
the Book of Mankind " ; the sixth by Rev. Dr. W. R. Wil- 
liams of the Baptist Church, April 15, on " What the Bible 
has done for the World during the Last Century " ; the sev- 
enth by Rev. Dr. Alexander Vinton, April 22, on " The Hu- 
mane in the Bible " ; and the eighth by the Rev. Isaac Fer- 
ris, D.D., LL.D., Chancellor of the University of the State 
of New York, May 6th, on the "History of the American 
Bible Society." 

These sermons were listened to by large and interested 
audiences; several of them being repeated in the House of 
Representatives at Washington, and the most of them in 
Philadelphia, Boston, Cincinnati, and other cities. Taken 
together they constituted a powerful agency to turn the 
thoughts of the people to the Bible and the memorial cele- 
bration which would reach its climax on the fiftieth Anni- 
versary of the day on which the Society was organised. 

That anniversary day was Thursday, the 10th of May, 
1866. The Board of Managers met as usual at the Bible 
House, where they welcomed as representatives of the 
British and Foreign Bible Society the Rev. Thomas Phil- 
lips, senior District Secretary, and the Rev. Thomas Nolan 
of St. Peter's Church, Regent Square, London; of the 
Bible Society of France the Rev. Caesar Pascal ; of the Bible 
Society of Upper Canada, the Rev. Lachlin Taylor, D.D., 
and Rev. William Ormiston, D.D. Besides these men from 
other Bible Societies, representatives were present of twenty- 
nine Auxiliary Societies from Massachusetts to California. 
After transaction of the formal business of an Annual Meet- 
ing, the Society with its guests adjourned to the Academy 
of Music where the celebration of the fiftieth Anniversary 
took place, President Lenox taking the Chair at ten o'clock. 

The platform was filled with an assemblage of eminent 
and venerable men such as are not often brought together. 
The Bible Society Record in describing the meeting, said: 
" Rarely have we seen so large an audience equally inter- 
ested, patient, and deeply affected with the spirit of the 

A very interesting feature of the Jubilee Anniversary 


was the presence on the platform of the Rev. Dr. Gardiner 
Spring, who briefly addressed the meeting. As the young- 
est of the founders of the Society in 1816 and one of the 
three surviving members of the Convention, he presented 
to the meeting, after giving thanks to God for the expe- 
riences of his own life, the single thought, " It is my earnest 
desire that the God of the Bible shall be honoured in your 
future career as He has been in some measure in the past." 

Immediately following the words of Dr. Spring, Bishop 
C. P. M'llvaine of Ohio arose, giving as an excuse for his 
doing so that, while he was too young in 1816 to be present 
at the organisation of the Society, he remembered his im- 
pressions as a boy on seeing Dr. Boudinot and some of the 
delegates; and how later, in college, he was moved by an 
address by Dr. Spring. He added that he felt unable 
passively to hear the words, perhaps the farewell words, ad- 
dressed to the Society by this venerable father, and there- 
fore he requested that the audience rise in testimony of re- 
spect to Dr. Spring. Immediately the vast audience rose 
and remained standing for some time in silence and in 

Among the addresses at the Jubilee Anniversary we can 
only mention a few. Rev. Thomas Phillips, of the British 
and Foreign Bible Society, pointed out that a Jubilee is an 
opportunity which may occur only once in a lifetime to re- 
view the past and stimulate new zeal for the future. He 
rapidly described the Jubilee of the British and Foreign So- 
ciety in 1854 as a time for thanksgiving, a time for reas- 
serting the nature and source of the Bible, and a time for 
urging Bible lovers to become Bible givers. He brought 
to the American Bible Society the salutations of the older 
Society, gracefully suggesting that she had been in the habit 
of considering herself a parent to the American Society, but 
now that the younger Society had attained to the respect- 
able age of fifty, he would salute her as a sister and heartily 
thank God for her work in the world. The Rev. Thomas 
Nolan emphasised the fostering care of God shown in the 
history of the Bible Societies. The stereotype process was 
invented just a short time before the British and Foreign 
Bible Society was organised and required a method of quick 


multiplication of Bibles. Again the Society with the appli- 
ances for printing available at the mission presses in Beirut 
and Smyrna working full speed, would have required 6,000 
years to print a supply of Arabic Bibles for the 120,000,000 
who ought to have them. But shortly before the need arose 
the invention of electrotyping solved the difficulty. Mr. 
Nolan thanked the Society for the gift to the British So- 
ciety of a set of Arabic plates of the Bible, and rejoiced that 
both Societies had fostered the Christian feeling expressed 
by Lord Bexley : "If we cannot reconcile all opinions, let 
us try to unite all hearts." 

The Rev. Caesar Pascal, representative of the French 
Bible Society, followed up this topic of the favour of God 
shown to the Bible Society by remarking what an amazing 
thing it seemed to friends in Paris that the American Society 
in the midst of the war, with a financial crisis pressing and 
a national debt computed by the thousand millions, could 
still increase its operations and enlarge by many thousands 
its circulation of Scriptures. In expressing the warm re- 
gard of the French Society he added that it is the Bible 
which gives the United States its prominent place in the 
world, and makes the destiny of the United States rest 
under God to a great extent with Societies like this. 

Major-General O. O. Howard of the United States Army, 
who one year before on that day was still commanding the 
right wing of General Sherman's army in North Carolina, 
made a warm appeal for attention to the needs of the 
South, and especially of the poor whites and the freed 

There were also strong addresses on the Bible in action. 
Rev. Dr. Rufus Anderson, Secretary of the American 
Board, pointed out that the American Bible Society in fifty 
years had spent about $800,000 for printing and distributing 
Bibles in foreign lands and chiefly in pagan countries. He 
said that more Bibles had thus been distributed outside of 
Christendom since the Bible Society era than were in all 
the world from Moses to the Reformation. By trying to 
form some impression of the vastness of the influence of 
this distribution, it is possible to see how" essential the Bible 
is to the missionary. 


Rev. I. G. Bliss, Agent of the Society in the Levant, hav- 
ing to watch over an area of 1,200,000 square miles, made a 
strong appeal for adequate support. In the eight years of 
his service the proceeds of books sold in his Agency 
amounted to $22,000. This sum had been paid by the poor ; 
the books for the most part being sold for only one-third 
of their cost. 

Rev. Dr. Jonas King of the American Board's Mission in 
Athens, Greece, who had received during forty years grants 
for Greek Scriptures, emphasised the truth that missionary 
work shows the Bible to be the centre of the moral world as 
the sun is the centre of the physical world. 

The Hon. Robert C. Winthrop of Massachusetts, the 
statesman and orator who followed Daniel Webster in the 
United States Senate, invited his hearers to think of the in- 
fluence of the 21,000,000 volumes of Scripture sent out by 
the Society during these fifty years. They have gone to 
people who were without them, and it were better to endure 
war or pestilence or any other variety of famine than a 
famine of the word of God. " The influence of these 
Bibles," he said, " has nothing to approach it in importance 
in all the boasted achievements of mankind/' And then he 
appealed to the people to reflect that " if the Bible stands 
alone, in measureless superiority, in peerless pre-eminence, 
so have Societies devoted to its publication a paramount 
claim upon the support, the sympathy and the co-operation 
of all Christians." 

The addresses were eloquent and in some passages very 
impressive. For full five hours the large audience kept up 
its interest. Then President Mark Hopkins of Williams 
College, pronounced the benediction, and the assembly dis- 
solved, with hearty good wishes for the future of the Ameri- 
can Bible Society. 

That passage of Mr. Winthrop's appeal was needed which 
reminded his audience that Societies devoted to Bible circu- 
lation have a paramount claim upon the support of all 
Christians. A great number of new schemes of benevolence 
had sprung up during the war period. The Agents of the 
Society and its Auxiliaries reported strenuous efforts being 
made throughout the country to raise money for colleges, 


theological seminaries, denominational extension schemes, 
endowment of hospitals, homes for disabled soldiers and 
sailors, and similar institutions throughout the South as well 
as schemes for the education and uplift of freedmen. The 
difficulty of maintaining interest in the Bible Society work 
was felt very strongly in cities. Churches absorbed in 
purely denominational work were very glad to have supplies 
of Scriptures from the Bible Society, but did not feel under 
special obligations toward it since it was an undenomina- 
tional institution. In the cities there was more and more 
difficulty in finding churches willing to put the pulpit, even 
for a single Sunday in the year, at the disposal of the 

In this careless attitude toward the support of the So- 
ciety people forgot that their missions, both at home and 
abroad, were receiving large sums in aid of their work from 
the Society; that the churches in the days when missions 
were young had urged the Society to take up work in Tur- 
key, China, Japan, and other countries. The Society had 
become involved in and attached to this work ; the churches 
should not lose their interest, lest they be classed with cer- 
tain unthrifty farmers who will set out acres of choice 
peach trees and then leave them to the borers and the weeds. 
The people forgot, too, that if the Bible Society were left 
to go to pieces for want of support, they themselves would 
be the first to suffer from such a catastrophe. 

It was with pleasure, therefore, that the Board learned 
that many stimulating sermons on the Bible and the claims 
of support for its circulation had been delivered at this 
time in different parts of the country. Here we can give 
space to a brief mention only of the charge of Bishop East- 
burn of Massachusetts to the clergy of the diocese. The 
subject of this document, issued May 2, 1866, was " The 
Bible Society's Jubilee Year." The paper reviewed the 
history of the formation of the Society which was within 
his own memory. It then, in eloquent terms, pointed out 
" what a distinct assertion this great institution is every day 
making in the face of the whole country of the inspiration 
and divine authority of the Holy Scriptures." On this ac- 


count prayer and labour is due, he said, for the continued 
prosperity of the work of the Society. 

A time of transition is always one which sifts aims and 
motives. The period of the Civil War was to the Bible So- 
ciety such a period of sifting. Such experiences as have 
been noted during the period of the war developed in the 
Society inspiration to undertake and vigour to execute. 
From these experiences, hard and wearing as they were, 
the Bible Society had occasion to rejoice with thanksgiving 
as it came forth, entering upon its second half century as a 
new, well-equipped body assured of success, through divine 
guidance, in all the undertakings of its destiny. 



A proverb of the Zulus in South Africa says, " You can 
count the apples on one tree, but you cannot count the trees 
in one apple." It is a breezy thrust at him who knows too 
much, and a quiet hint that attention may yield profit as 
well as interest. 

In the fifty years whose close was celebrated with thanks- 
giving in May, 1866, the Society received $10,434,953.74. 
Aside from the proceeds of sales of books at or below cost, 
important sources of the receipts were : 

Donations from Churches, Societies 

and Individuals, $1,500,470 

Donations from Auxiliaries .... 1,386,146 
Donations from Legacies . . . . 1,145,149 
These large sums, like the apples on the Zulus' tree, are ob- 
vious and important facts of the Society's arduous labours 
during half a century. But many important details of the 
present, the future, and the permanent usefulness of the So- 
ciety can only be observed by a closer examination of the re- 
lations of past events. 

In such a retrospect one is particularly struck with the 
enormous additions to the home field of the Society since 
the close of the first quarter century of its history. Texas 
was then a foreign country; California, which included a 
vast expanse of territory to the eastward of the present 
limits of the state, then belonged to Mexico; and in the 
northwest the great undefined region known as " Oregon " 
was of uncertain ownership, being occupied by British as 
well as American hunters and explorers. All of these vast 
regions at the end of another twenty-five years were in- 
cluded in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of 
immigrants had come into the country and were fast settling 
the lands west of the Mississippi. Willing or not willing, 
the Society had been irresistibly driven to attempt the supply 



of the great, needy populations thus placed within its reach. 

The temporary rending of the Union by the Civil War 
with the severing of relations with the Southern Auxiliary 
Societies, and with the immense demand upon the Society 
for the supply of the army and the destitute South seemed 
to have nothing but strain and pain for the Board of Man- 
agers and the Executive officers. In after-thought, how- 
ever, none could but see a providence in the building of the 
Bible House at Astor Place, without which the Board would 
have been helpless in this emergency. All saw, too, that 
through this terrible stress of supply, the ties uniting as- 
sociates in the Bible House, the bonds holding together the 
Auxiliaries all over the country, yes — and those linking the 
Society with brethren of the Southern States, were more 
firmly knit; very much as the fellowship of a fierce cam- 
paign binds members of the same regiment to one another 
almost as members of one family. 

Engrossing anxieties in the home field had not hindered 
the expansion of the Society's fields abroad. Those fields 
had increased to a degree never imagined, in most sanguine 
moments, by the executive officers of the first twenty-five 
years. Europe, France, Germany, Russia and even Italy, 
had received thousands of volumes of Scriptures through 
the solicitude of the men who looked upon the world from 
the windows of the Bible House. Bible Society colpor- 
teurs were ranging over the Turkish Empire from the 
Danube to the Persian Gulf, distributing Scriptures in lan- 
guages which, like Bulgarian for instance, had not been 
heard of in New York during the first quarter century of 
the Society's existence. In China the Bible was being 
printed for the Society in at least six different dialects and 
American funds were joined with those of the two British 
Bible Societies to secure the preparation of a truly union 
version of the classical Chinese. Japan had come to light. 
Japanese Ambassadors had inspected and praised the Bible 
House in New York. Copies of the Scriptures in Dutch 
and in Chinese had been disseminated for the Society in 
Japan, turning a chosen few men to Christianity; and a 
Committee of scholarly missionaries were preparing for a 
Japanese version of the New Testament. 


American Missionaries in Mexico, Central America, in 
both Spanish and Portuguese South America were dis- 
pensing to eager inquirers Scriptures provided by the So- 
ciety. From India and even from Africa missionaries were 
calling for additional grants to reach multitudes that might 
now be won to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Missionary 
ships in the Pacific Ocean were carrying Bibles printed by 
the Society to numbers of the little Micronesian Islands and 
bringing back word of the wonderful influence of the word 
of God upon the people. This was not the fruit of well- 
planned enterprise on the part of the Board. All that its 
members could say on seeing the great fields inviting them 
to foreign lands was, " What hath God wrought ! " 

Expansion in the foreign field cheered the members of 
the Board by bringing them into touch with men converted 
abroad, and helping the Bible distribution of the Society. 
Dr. Bliss of the Levant Agency described in 1866 some of 
his colporteurs working in the city of Constantinople. One 
was a Greek — tall, sallow, sorrowful, and taciturn, who 
had been working twelve years as a colporteur, dealing 
largely with his own people, the Greeks ; selling many books 
also to Mohammedans until the government interfered, and 
selling some too, to Jews. He had succeeded in inducing 
people to buy about 8,000 volumes of Scripture. Another 
was a thin, nervous Armenian named Avedis who went 
about burdened like a pack-horse, with a basket of books 
hanging from his shoulder and a carpet-bag full of books 
to balance it in front, another carpet-bag, also full of books, 
in his left hand, and two or three sample New Testaments 
in his right hand. When any one raised objections to buy- 
ing the Scriptures, Avedis would talk the caviller into buy- 
ing if it took an hour. This colporteur had a mind of his 
own. He objected strongly to selling the Ancient Armenian 
Bible because in his view that unintelligible language has 
been used by Satan to ruin the souls of multitudes of his 
fellow countrymen. Another successful colporteur was a 
blind theological student. After his study hours he would 
feel his way carefully along the street, offering Scriptures to 
any whose attention he could gain. Taking a portion of 
Bible in raised letters in his hand and reading with his fin- 


gers passages to the people helped him to dispose of his 
books when a man had been induced to open a Testament 
and find in it the verses which the blind man was reading. 
Simple minded followers of Jesus Christ like these, in 
South America, in the United States, in Europe and in Asia 
had been doing an important service as pioneers who open 
the way for the missionary. 

Of the manner in which missionaries opened a way for 
the Bible Society much could be seen in the important lan- 
guages in which Scriptures were printed during this period 
at the Bible House. Of German and French Scriptures 
large editions had been printed almost every year from 18 17 
onward. For the Jews the Old Testament in English was 
printed without chapter headings, running title, or other 
accessories. Among the Asiatic languages, besides the 
Arabic of which detailed mention is given below, the Mod- 
ern Armenian Bible and the New Testament, and a pocket 
Testament in Modern Syriac (the colloquial language used 
by the Nestorians of Persia), were electrotyped and printed 
during the second quarter century. 

Among the languages of the American Indians the New 
Testament in Dakota, translated by Riggs and William- 
son, missionaries of the American Board, had been electro- 
typed arid printed, along with parts of the Old Testament 
in the same language, and the New Testament in Cherokee. 
From the West Indies the Society had received a curious 
manuscript of the Gospel of St. Mark in Creolese, the dia- 
lect of the mixed coloured population of the Islands of 
Curacao. The translation had been made by the Rev. S. 
Van Diessel, a missionary labouring in that island, and the 
Board was glad, on being assured of the faithfulness of 
the version, to add it to the list for which the Society is 

For the Islands of the Pacific the Hawaiian family Bible 
had been electrotyped and printed, together with portions 
for several of the Islands of Micronesia, and the latest work 
for the healing of the nations undertaken at the Bible House 
during this period was the electrotyping of the Bulgarian 
New Testament with the old Slavic in parallel columns. 

Among these numerous versions of the Bible, the Arabic 

version deserves more than a casual glance which it has 
had. The Arabic version used for forty years or more by 
the British and Foreign Bible Society was the work of 
Sarkis, a Maronite Bishop of the Seventeenth Century. He 
translated the whole Bible from the Vulgate for the use of 
the Roman Catholic Church in Syria and the work was 
published at Rome in 167 1. In the form there printed the 
Latin original accompanied the Arabic in parallel columns. 
This version being the best available was adopted by the Brit- 
ish Society in 181 8, the Apocrypha and the Latin of the 
diglot being of course discarded. Scriptures of this version 
were the ones first purchased by the American Bible Society 
to supply American missionaries in Syria, and were gen- 
erally used in that region until about 1864. 

A new Arabic translation free from the inaccuracies of 
the Vulgate seemed absolutely essential. " The Arabic 
translator " wrote the missionaries in urging their plea, " is 
interpreting the lively oracles for forty millions of an un- 
dying race whose successive and ever augmenting genera- 
tions shall fail only with the final termination of all things. 
... To give to them a Christian literature, or that germinat- 
ing commencement of one which can perpetuate its life 
and expand it into full grown maturity is to put in their 
hands gigantic verities taking fast hold on the salvation 
of myriads whom no man can number in the present and 
all future generations ! " 

Books in Arabic printed from type made in Europe are 
intolerable to Oriental readers, because the curves and slopes 
of the letters are not artistically proportioned. Rev. Dr. 
Eli Smith, who commenced the great work of translation, 
first took the finest available specimens of Arabic caligraphy, 
and by long, patient labour reproduced perfectly all the 
graceful forms for which Arabic manuscripts are remark- 
able. The pattern letters which he drew averaged about 
three inches in height. Mr. Hallock, the printer, with a 
pantograph then traced the letters, reduced to the required 
diamensions, upon polished steel from which he finally 
cut the punches with which matrices were formed. So per- 
fect were Dr. Smith's models that the form of the letters 
has never been modified in the least. They satisfy the 


reader most finical, and by triumphantly outdoing efforts 
of past type-founders they disarm the Mohammedan hatred 
of everything Christian. The form of type having been 
fixed, the work of translation could go on with high hopes. 

This translation of the Scriptures begun by Dr. Eli Smith, 
revised and completed by Dr. C. V. A. Van Dyck, was 
brought to a conclusion in sixteen years. The laborious 
solicitude with which accuracy was sought should be noted. 
Of every form thirty proofs were taken and sent to as 
many scholars of all nations, their suggestions and criticisms 
being carefully considered before the form was released for 
printing. After several editions had been printed from 
type at Beirut, the mission unanimously requested the So- 
ciety to electrotype the book in ten different sizes and the 
request was warmly urged by the American Board ; with the 
result that one of the great works signalising the Jubilee 
year was the making of electrotype plates for the Arabic 
Bible, Rev. Dr. Van Dyck, the translator, supervising the 
work in New York. The first plate was electrotyped 
March 15 th, 1866. 

After completing three sets of plates, of which one set 
was sent to the British and Foreign Bible Society and one 
retained in New York for safety, the work of electrotyping 
was transferred to Beirut, the Society furnishing a complete 
equipment and a skilled electrotyper to instruct the Syrian 
workmen in the process. Since that time this Bible has 
been electrotyped and printed at the Presbyterian Mission 
Press in Beirut, the American Bible Society paying all ex- 
penses of publication year by year. 

It was pleasant to render the kindly service to the British 
and Foreign Bible Society as to plates of the new version. 
That Society wished to buy a duplicate set of the Arabic 
plates and the Committee to which the matter was re- 
ferred brought in a report of which the noble principle was 
expressed as follows : " No particular part of this broad 
work belongs of right to either Society exclusively, except 
so far as God in His Providence may afford to one a 
more ready access and greater facilities than to the other. 
In this great work of evangelising the world we should press 
forward side by side, with one heart and one purpose. 


Neither should ' they call aught of the things they possess 
their own/ but all things should be * in common ' for the 
Master's sake. Translations should be used interchange- 
ably, and any advantage or facility secured by one Society 
should be a gain to the cause and to all who love it." 

The Board of Managers approved the recommendation 
of the Committee and voted to furnish the duplicate electro- 
type plates without charge. It accompanied this decision 
with the largest liberty for the free and unrestricted use of 
these plates by the British Society with its .own imprint, con- 
ditioned only by the provision that no alteration be made in 
the plates without the consent of the American Society. 
Rev. Dr. Bergne in communicating a graceful resolution of 
thanks from the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible 
Society wrote to Dr. Holdich : " You resolve that the word 
of God shall not be bound, and give us unrestricted liberty 
to the use of a translation which owes its existence to the 
able scholarship, laborious toil, and indomitable perseverance 
of one of the best missionaries America has sent forth, and 
whose name will be held in Joving veneration not only in 
the land where he has personally been known but wherever 
the Arabic tongue is spoken and the Arabic Bible is circu- 
lated. For this we heartily thank your Board and shall 
long cherish the pleasant remembrance of a transaction upon 
which we believe the blessing of God will abundantly rest." 

Besides this progress with new versions many events dur- 
ing this period favoured the task of the Society. But some 
hindered it ; like the burning of Bibles by a priest in Mass- 
achusetts and like the suspicion of some good people in 
Connecticut that the Society was mismanaging its affairs. 
This history cannot give space to details of trials which in 
the retrospect seem trivial. The Roman Catholic priest who 
burned Bibles in 1869, probably really thought that he was 
doing God service for he said, like one who boasts a good 
deed, that he had gathered Bibles from the parish enough 
to last him " all winter for kindling." Connecticut is near 
enought to New York for its people to learn for themselves 
exactly what the Society is doing at any moment, but in 
1864, some of the good people of that state made known 
to the Congregational General Association distrust of the 


wisdom and practical management of the American Bible 
Society. The Association appointed a Committee to in- 
vestigate the management in detail. Two years later, in 
June, 1866, the Committee reported through its chairman, 
Rev. M. N. Morris, that it had made a full and careful in- 
vestigation by repeated visits to the Bible House. Upon 
the recommendation of the Committee, the Association 
adopted resolutions entirely clearing the Bible Society of 
any mismanagement or carelessness, and giving thanks to 
God for the ability and fidelity with which its affairs were 
conducted. To these resolutions the Association added 
another asking the Society to study the question whether a 
way could not be devised, without detriment of the mission- 
ary work of the Society, for supplying its Bibles everywhere 
through the ordinary trade, instead of limiting their sale 
to a few only of the more important centres of business. 
By such kindly action what seemed like a needless burden 
cast upon the Board became a favouring word. 

Three of the events which favoured the task of the So- 
ciety during the war period are worthy of emphasis. One 
of these was the sequel to the daring scheme of building the 
new Bible House on a great scale. This scheme was en- 
tirely foreign to the purpose of the Board until disappoint- 
ment had forced the giving up of the smaller plans which 
the members of the Board had formed at the beginning. 
In the sequel it was clearly seen that without that great 
Bible House the comprehensive service of the Society for 
the army a decade later could not possibly have been ren- 
dered. Then as a secondary consequence of the building 
of the Bible House, the Young Men's Christian Associa- 
tion was established under that roof. From that associa- 
tion sprang the Christian Commission which co-operated in 
the work of Bible distribution in the army in a most effi- 
cient way, using its hundreds of agents for the purpose, 
while the Society had comparatively few agencies available 
for work among the vastly increased masses of soldiers. 

Another of these notable events was the sudden disap- 
pearance of an insurmountable obstacle like a failure of in- 
come at a time when general distress made larger contribu- 
tions improbable. The story of the change in the financial 


condition of the Society at the height of the war reads like 
a fairy tale of a good child liberally cared for, by a mighty 
helper, for his good will and diligence. " The Treasure 
House of the Lord is the hearts of His people." During 
the five years after the Southern States seceded until the 
armies were disbanded donations from churches and in- 
dividuals amounted to $263,681, an amount considerably 
larger than donations of the same class in five years be- 
fore the secession. During the five years of the war period, 
donations from Auxiliaries amounted to $375,754. This 
amount was contributed to the Society after more than six 
hundred Auxiliaries in the South had withdrawn, and it 
exceeded the gifts of all the Auxiliaries in any previous 
period of five years. Again during this same five years of 
dire need on the part of the Society, receipts from legacies 
amounted to $475,733. This was a larger sum than had 
been received from legacies in any other period of five years 
since the Society was founded, and it was $200,000 more 
than the total of legacies in the next largest and next pre- 
vious five-year period. If the Society had possessed a wish- 
ing cap which would enable it to procure gold at a moment's 
notice, the effect could not have been more startling. 

One more notable event of this period was the astonish- 
ing agreement of the governments and generals of the two 
conflicting armies to allow hundreds of thousands of Bibles 
and Testaments to pass through their lines under a sort 
of special truce almost inconceivable in war time. Great 
as was the benefit of this episode to the soldiers of the South 
while the war was waging, the kindly spirit which moved 
the Society was thus made known to the Southern States 
and prepared the Southern people to welcome the Society 
after the war as if war had not been. The Society had not 
been brought into collision with the strong sentiment against 
union of the States which existed before the war because its 
very object held it aloof from purely civil questions. 
Therefore, it gladly undertook to act when it could, as an 
Agent of the Lord to aid and renew the religious activities 
of the South. It was the more ready to pour the living 
waters into the Southern States through every channel since 


there can be no real or enduring pacification without the 
Bible at the foundation of government and civilisation. 

These and many similar occurrences in Bible Society his- 
tory incline men to say, " Events have favoured the enter- 
prise ! " Events have neither eyes, brains, nor hands that 
they should favour or oppose. A truly intent mind will 
ask Who caused those favouring events? A similar ques- 
tion often arises in the ordinary life of the community. 
One man goes out to do what his hand finds to do. His 
task is perfectly done. Another man fails in all that he tries 
to do ; when he looks at the first he will only say, " Lucky 
dog ! " But when the successful one has controlled all his 
powers in the name of his Master, it comes to light that he 
has a secret which makes him stronger. The secret is 
that he is controlled by the thought, " My God helping me, 
I can and will succeed in this thing ! " Like the Hebrews 
in their long and checkered history, the members of the 
Society were taught during this time that when they were 
weak God was still Almighty; when their plans seemed 
about to fail, God's plans for them were most firmly founded. 

The men in the Managers' Room did their best. Work- 
men in any great factory finish perfectly the single piece of 
wood or of metal assigned to them, knowing that from these 
detached pieces the general management will cause to be 
built up and sent forth beautiful machines perfectly adapted 
to work. What these men did in the Managers' Room in 
the Bible House was of the same class; they did the duty 
next at hand, believing God would use their service for His 
great ends. It is in the periods which come afterwards 
that the proofs of the Bible appear; and one great thing 
evident to the later reader of this history is that this was 
a reason to expect the interposition of the Most High at 
this time, not in behalf of the Society, nor in behalf of the 
men representing it and sorely tried by their burdens, but in 
behalf of the task laid upon them and the Book which they 
had to send out. The cause at stake was a great one. A 
failure at New York would be felt throughout the home 
land, with its growing population, and abroad among the 
inarticulate masses of India, in China, in Japan, in Africa, 


and in Siberia. The benefit of the events which favoured 
the task of the Society was no personal gain. The gain 
was to the people who needed and received the Bible and 
gave glory to God Himself. 

SIXTH PERIOD 1871-1891 


Great and heroic deeds of the soldiers fill the thoughts 
of the common folk at the end of a successful war. Pain- 
ful surprises await the people, however, when the dolorous 
task begins of adjusting the war's cost. After the civil 
war, when business depression befogged the whole country, 
the people at large were taken aback. Anxiety prevailed 
in the land ; in some places money almost disappeared from 
the markets; suffering fell upon many a family; even a 
church, here and there, found it impossible to pay the salary 
of the pastor, and until after the return of the United 
States Treasury to specie payments in 1879, uncertainty 
hampered all plans for business or benevolence. 

As the nation tried to struggle up from the enfeebling 
wastes of the war, local catastrophes added to the general 
uneasiness. In October, 1871, the great fire in Chicago 
destroyed 18,000 buildings with money losses estimated at 
two hundred millions of dollars. The population of a wide 
region was thus bereft — the Christians, of a noble rallying 
point, and the pleasure-seekers, of the kind of values which 
the Revelation describes as lost in the fall of Babylon. 
This fire, by the way, occasioned a grant by the Board of 
$5,000 worth of Scriptures to the Chicago Bible Society 
which had 7,000 Bibles in stock, paid for, as one might say, 
by sweat of the brow, and entirely destroyed in one day. 
A year later, in November, 1872, was the great fire in Bos- 
ton, where granite buildings supposed to be absolutely fire- 
proof melted in the fervent heat, and where the cost of the 
catastrophe to the city was at least eight millions of dol- 
lars. It was in Boston at this time that love for the Bible 



had noble fruit in the circumstance that three of the larger 
Episcopal churches of the city gave the Society $2,500 for 
its work — an amount considerably more than their gifts 
the year before. 

The relation of these painful experiences to the story 
of the Bible Society is that in several states financial strin- 
gency and local anxieties made men quite willing to shut 
their eyes to the needs of the Bible cause. A little later 
people would become accustomed to smaller incomes and 
then they might perhaps begin to afford something toward 
forwarding the interests of their great Master. 

The Bible Society in 1867 reported its total receipts as 
$734,089.14. Twelve years later, in 1878, its report of 
receipts was $446,954.04. This gives some impression of 
the financial stress which the period of recovery from the 
effects of war brought to the Society. A comparison of the 
receipts during each period of five years for twenty-five 
years after the Jubilee Anniversary will give a clearer idea, 
perhaps, of the anxieties of the Board of Managers. 

Receipts for the five years ending 

March 31, 1871 $3,565,453-94 

Receipts for the five years ending 

March 31, 1876 3,128,734.66 

Receipts for the five years ending 

March 31, 1881 2,667,534.89 

Receipts for the five years ending 

March 31, 1886 2,853,409.22 

Receipts for the five years ending 

March 31, 1891 2,660,603.32 

The situation during this period verged on the desperate 
in several years when the receipts of the Society were over 
$100,000 less than the expenditures. 

Receipts from sales of books offered no relief to the 
Treasury, although they amounted to $7,785,459 ; for the 
larger part of the Society's issues do not return their cost 
to the Treasury. A great part of the books sold to the 
poor, particularly in backward foreign lands, bring no ade- 


quate price. The ten per cent, discount allowed to Auxiliar- 
ies and to the book trade, taking from the receipts the 
element calculated to cover cost of rent, supervision, wear 
and tear of plates, etc., like whole or partial grants of books 
is entirely a charge upon the Society's general resources. 
Books given in a single year to worthy denominational 
evangelistic enterprises with which the Society co-operates, 
frequently exceed in value the whole sum contributed by 
the denomination toward the support of the Society. Tak- 
ing at random the year ending March 31, 1884, grants of 
books amounted in value to $195,041. The same year the 
donations received from church collections and from in- 
dividuals amounted to $31,363.92, a sum less than one- 
sixth of the value of the grants, and the donors probably 
hoped that they had paid for numbers of Bibles besides those 
furnished for the uses of their own denomination. 

During the same five yearly periods from March 31, 1866 
to March 31, 1891, donations from churches and individuals 
were, respectively, $300,623, $176,907, $i59>o7 2 > $154,3™, 
and $149,029. Since these figures show that contributions 
from churches and individuals in the last five years (of 
the period ending in 1891) were one half less than they 
were twenty years before the question may arise how the 
great development of the Society?s work at home and abroad 
was possible; for, as was stated by President Allen early 
in this period, in fifty-six years the income of the Bible 
Society had increased twenty fold, but the volumes issued 
had increased two hundred fold! A verse in Revelation 
pronounces a benediction upon the dead who die in the 
Lord and rest from their labours, adding, " And their works 
do follow them." This verse might find interpretation and 
exemplification in this epitome of financial troubles. Leg- 
acies of saints who had passed away during this period 
formed the largest single source of income for the Society. 
The aggregate of legacies received during the twenty-five 
years was $3,350,460, while the total of donations of 
churches and individuals was $939,941 ; or, adding the total 
of Auxiliary donations which amounted to $1,378,529, as 
belonging to the same category of church collections, an ag- 
gregate is reached of $2,318,470. That is to say, the dona- 


tions of twenty-five years were over $1,000,000 less than 
the legacies of the same period. 

Difficulties which obstructed the collection of money for 
the Bible cause naturally tended to weaken Auxiliary Bible 
Societies, for they, too, looked to the churches for their 
support. Many of those which had shared the lights and 
shadows, and borne the burdens of Bible Society . progress 
since 1816 were still strong and active. Of such were the 
old state Societies in Massachusetts, in Virginia, and in 
New Hampshire, the latter so influential as to send in 
seventy-five years to the national Society $116,371 in dona- 
tions. Among these earlier Auxiliaries, too, were county 
Societies, like that of Westchester County which has fur- 
nished presidents and vice-presidents to the national So- 
ciety; or like Orange County, Albany County, Saratoga 
County, Washington County, Rockland County, and the 
Long Island Bible Society, in New York, the Cumberland 
County Society in New Jersey, and the Charleston, South 
Carolina, Bible Society, all of which appear as Auxiliaries 
in the very first report of the American Bible Society. 

Other state societies, like those of Maryland and Cali- 
fornia, and hundreds of county Societies of later origin in 
almost every state from Maine to California, were sturdily 
pressing forward in Bible work like young athletes in a 
Marathon race. The good women of Auxiliaries in Ohio, 
Delaware and New York were still relied upon with con- 
fidence. In Texas the Bible Societies at Galveston and 
Houston, which were organised before Texas was fully dis- 
engaged from Mexico, and at Austin, formed as soon as 
the Mexican War came to an end, were trusty helpers of 
the national Society. Two score or more of Welsh Auxil- 
iaries, one of them being in New York City and quite a 
number in Wisconsin, maintained a noble reputation for 
self-denial for the sake of sending to the Bible House, 
money which would carry Bible light into dark places. 

These few out of the long list of active, self-sustaining 
Societies, are names used merely as illustrations of the 
working of the original plan by which the national Society 
would combine and harmonise the efforts of local Societies 


willing to help as Auxiliaries. In this list, as labouring 
against peculiar encumbrances, the New York Auxiliary 
may be mentioned. It always felt handicapped by the fact 
that the city was the head-quarters of the national Society. 
While its work of distribution was marked with vigour, the 
collection of money for the support of the work was not 
easy. Churches and many individuals in the city often pre- 
ferred to give for the world-wide enterprise of the national 
Society rather than for merely local undertakings. The 
situation was like that of a son keeping a haberdashery shop 
in the city where his father has a department store, and the 
business depression which came to a crisis in 1873 seriously 
affected the New York Auxiliary. During the Civil War 
the parent Society had aided it to supply troops and sailors 
by granting to it about $35,000 in books or in money. In 
1873 this Auxiliary's indebtedness for Scriptures, used in 
the main for immigrants and sailors, was cancelled to the 
amount of $35,485. Two years later a new indebtedness 
of $20,500 for books had accrued, which was also cancelled. 
At the same time the Board decided to aid its struggling 
helper by regular monthly grants on applications submitted to 
the Distribution Committee. During the next sixteen years, 
from the 1st of April, 1874, to the 31st of March, 1 891, the 
New York Auxiliary drew from the depository under this 
arrangement books valued at $187,609, toward the cost of 
which it had paid $8,669. I* 1 its 66th annual report ( 1890) 
the New York Auxiliary mentions the fact that it had re- 
ceived in that year from the American Bible Society books 
valued at $9,148, and adds : " Thus that Society saved us 
from a serious deficit, if not from a cessation of our work, 
instead of receiving financial benefit from us." These cir- 
cumstances naturally added to the burdens of the Managers. 
But the Board was full of sympathy for the Auxiliary be- 
cause ever since 1829, when as the New York Young Men's 
Bible Society it asked recognition by the national Society, 
it had spent much money upon the expensive task of seek- 
ing and supplying the destitute in this great city. 

During the financial stringency which followed the war, 
a considerable number of Auxiliaries seemed to be over- 


come by an epidemic paralysis which carried alarm into the 
Bible House in New York. 1 The Auxiliaries which slowly 
dried up like herbage on the edge of a desert were chiefly 
in the newer and more sparsely settled territories, but some 
of them were found also in the most favoured states. Num- 
bers were found to be irresponsible as well as inefficient and 
were kept alive by the costly system of agencies. In 1891, 
out of 2,100 Auxiliaries only about 1,200 had enough physi- 
cal force to order books from New York. Many of these 
did nothing more than to keep books for sale in depositories. 
Out of this number 364 had collected money for Bible dis- 
tribution, sending the surplus to the national Society. Only 
990 of the whole number of Auxiliaries sent in reports, and 
out of these only no reported that they had been engaged 
in general operations in their respective fields. 

The original plan for an Auxiliary system laid a heavy 
burden upon local Bible Societies in expecting of them both 
labour in distribution of Scriptures, and activity in collect- 
ing the money to cover expenses of the distribution. It is 
impossible to review the history of those Societies without 
a suspicion of a parallel with men expected to " make bricks 
without straw." The assumption of the founders of the 
national Society was that Auxiliaries would always be stable 
in purpose, one in mind with the national Society which had 
just been organised. Robert Louis Stevenson defines what 
such unity of mind is. " To be of the same mind with 

1 Numbers of Auxiliaries expected the Society to send Agents to 
relieve them of the labour of book-keeping, of stock-taking and even 
of making out orders for books. In 1877, out of 1968 Auxiliaries 
267 remitted to the Treasury money for books and as donations, 
1 1 17, for books only, and 57, as donations only. Five hundred and 
twenty-seven Societies sent nothing for either books or donations. 
The indebtedness of these Societies for books ordered but not paid 
for was $169,000. Of the Auxiliaries 919 reported $166,624 as cash 
received by their Treasurers. Of this sum they reported $38,277 as 
expended on their own fields ; for books and donations they had sent 
to New York $114,213. This left $14,134 unaccounted for. At the 
same time, taking reports from 919 Auxiliaries as a basis, it was 
estimated that the 1968 local Societies had in their hands and en- 
tirely under their control, books valued at $427465. The situation 
pictured by these figures made the Auxiliaries Committee at the 
Bible House reluctant to withdraw the Agents upon whose advice 
and assistance growth in efficiency seemed to depend. 


another," says he, " is to see all things in the same perspec- 
tive. It is not to agree with him in a few things near at 
hand and hot much debated. It is to stand so exactly in 
the centre of his vision that whatever he may express, your 
eyes will light at once on the original; that whatever he 
may see to declare, your mind will at once accept." Now 
such a oneness of mind among Bible Societies implies not 
only stability in purpose, but the existence of a permanently 
helpful constituency and environment. 

Besides the influences already suggested as combining to 
hamper the support of Bible work, one cause should be 
borne in mind as constantly affecting the Society as well as 
its auxiliaries. A generation which has studied and ap- 
preciates the necessity of Bible work is always passing away. 
A new generation " which knows not Joseph " is always re- 
ceiving its heritage of control and direction in secular and 
religious affairs. Yet the new generation may lack knowl- 
edge of the relation of the Bible to national welfare. That 
the need of the Bible is as absolute in any nation as the need 
of scientific education, has to be taught again and again. 
The rising generation has to learn that the supply of every 
family in the nation with God's word is as much a public 
utility as the introduction of electric light into the streets. 
To many the idea will be entirely new that the circulation 
of the Bible has the power of God behind it, as certainly 
as has the flow of sap in an apparently dry tree when the 
spring sun stirs it to life. Again and again the new genera- 
tion has to be taught that for their own welfare the Bible 
Society should be enrolled on the schedule of every church 
for an annual and adequate contribution. Upon this sort 
of* educational work depends the adequate support of inter- 
denominational enterprises like the Bible Society and its 
Auxiliaries, even when their activities are most clearly 
needed by the churches. 

To all who love the Lord Jesus Christ the time here de- 
scribed offered wonderful opportunities for fruitful effort. 
The stimulus which emerged from the complex of influences 
left by the Civil War was felt in all the churches as it 
was in the Society. It was a glorious era of expansion of 
missions, of establishing schools, colleges, institutions for 


freedmen, homes for the aged, hospitals, and every other 
concrete expression of Christian desire to benefit mankind. 
The churches were electrical with longing to serve and hon- 
our the Lord. In these various enterprises the Society 
heartily rejoiced. Perhaps the Bibles distributed broadcast 
in the land during and since the war had prepared the way 
for these various undertakings of the different denomina- 
tions. The Bible was often a pioneer in home evangelistic 
activities ; while home missions, on the other hand, fostered 
need of the Bible. Thus all worked together to advance 
the kingdom of Christ. These splendid and most timely 
undertakings of the denominations could not succeed with- 
out money. Insensibly, this need of money displaced in 
some churches the annual collection for the Bible Society, 
although the Bible is so essential an element in home evan- 
gelisation. v 

Men of business principles like the laymen who conduct 
the affairs of the Bible Society again and again must have 
felt it their duty to reduce the large expenditures abroad 
and at home in view of the steady falling off in the contribu- 
tions of the churches to the support of the Society. But a 
permanent failure of support for Bible work was almost 
unthinkable. The labours of the Society at home and 
abroad, like other missionary operations, continually called 
for larger ventures, as will be seen in later chapters. The 
task of Bible Societies cannot be ended until every family 
on the face of the earth has received, or at least has been 
offered a copy of the Bible. Many attempts were there- 
fore made to increase contributions to the Bible cause. 

An attempt was made with some success in some parts of 
the country to enlist Sunday School children for the support 
of the Bible cause. Another measure in the same direction 
was a decision that in districts where Auxiliaries were inert 
or careless the Agents should go directly to the churches 
proposing to them to make their contributions to the Treas- 
ury in New York without reference to the moribund local 
Auxiliaries. This rather drastic action was approved by 
many ecclesiastical bodies in different parts of the United 
States and of different denominations, since this arrange- 
ment would bring the churches into direct relations with the 
Society. When the fourth General Supply of the destitute 


in the United States was decided upon in 1882, a general 
appeal was sent out for special contributions, since the So- 
ciety would have to spend considerable sums for distribu- 
tion by means of colporteurs. The Board also sent a strong 
appeal to lovers of humanity everywhere to become Life 
Members of the Society in order to aid in its support. 

Several times an urgent proposal was made to change the 
price of books so as to make it possible to offer the book 
trade attractive discounts and thus secure aid in Bible dis- 
tribution; this, however, after long study by experts was 
steadily refused by the Board. As the Connecticut Con- 
gregational Association pointed out in 1866: "The laws of 
trade or the principle of profit will never carry the gospel 
to heathen lands nor distribute the Bible to the poor at 
home or to those who need its influence but do not realise 
its worth. If these are to be supplied it must be by other 
means." x 

These various measures availed little. Then the num- 
ber of colporteurs employed in the United States in con- 
nection with the fourth General Supply was reduced, and 
reduction of aid to missions abroad seemed imminent. The 
Society had already withdrawn from Greece, where it had 
been working for more than fifty years. The withdrawal 
was due partly to the closing of American missions in that 
country, but chiefly to the lack of money in the Treasury. 
And now, in 1891, for the first time in its history, inade- 
quacy of receipts compelled the Board to defer making im- 
portant appropriations for its foreign work. In 1880 the 
Board decided upon the absolute necessity of establishing 
a reserve fund which should protect the work of the So- 
ciety in times of financial stress and emergency, but the 
provision of such a fund now seemed impossible. The ad- 
ministration of the Society seemed to be, like Othello, 
" steeped in poverty to the very lips." 

At each of the most difficult moments of this period lega- 
cies brought a respite. Several large bequests were received, 
of which $10,000 from the late W. B. Astor was a type, and 
many small ones charged with love, like a legacy of about 
$900 from an aged coloured woman who had been a slave 

1 Bible Society Record, July, 1881, p. 98. 

346 PAYING THE COST OF WAR [1871-1891 

in Georgia. Nevertheless, the continual threats of the 
financial situation called to mind St. Paul's allusion to the 
" thorn in the flesh " which he found disagreeable enough 
to justify prayer for its removal. His allusion does not 
describe, it merely suggests; moreover, it does not give a 
hint a£ to the sequel. It merely says that the Lord rated 
His grace as sufficient for the sufferer. Doubtless, the 
members of the Board and the Secretaries, if they could 
speak to us to-day, would tell us that the grace of the Lord 
is sufficient for any man, for it permanently turns the mind 
from pain. 

From the point of view of the Board and the Executive 
Officers, financial weakness did not prove an unmitigated 
evil. It insured discovery that money is an incident and 
not the soul of success in missionary work, it kept them from 
thinking that their own wits accomplished results, kept 
them near to their Master, and it forced upon these servants 
of God alertness and concentration of mind in the prosecu- 
tion of the work committed to their care. In the strength 
thus cultivated they performed their tasks, trying mean- 
while to suggest to the minds of the people the idea found 
in the old rule of the Talmud for work which is incumbent 
upon 411 : " If some complete the work effectively, the duty 
performed is credited to the whole body; but if through 
failure of some the cause suffers, the sin of it lies upon 
the whole body ! " 



In times of stress such as the last chapter introduced, 
able, broad-minded, and consecrated leaders became known 
to every active Christian. That men of weight are numer- 
ous, even exceedingly numerous, in every denomination is 
one of the surprises encountered whenever several denomin- 
ations work together. In the rapid procession of choice and 
earnest men who pass through the pages of this history, each 
successive group owed its dependence for strength and 
ability upon God alone. The Society is inclusive. It 
brings together in practical and effective co-operation men 
of different theological views in order that their very dif- 
ferences may brighten labour for God's Kingdom ; the word 
of God being an inviolable bond of unity. The changes 
which occurred in the Society from year to year emphasised 
the religious basis of many a noble life. The end of such 
a life on earth to the labourers who remain is a painful emer- 
gency, but its revelation that the departed one was led of 
the spirit of God is a memorable event. 

Of the sixty men of 1816 who met in the Garden Street 
Church to lay foundations for the institution whose develop- 
ment has been followed during nearly three score years, the 
Rev. Gardiner Spring, D.D., LL.D., died in 1873. He had 
been identified during fifty-seven years with the history and 
progress of the Society. During eighteen years he was 
Chairman of the Committee on Versions, retiring in 1864 
by reason of the infirmities of age. As pastor he was al- 
ways active in forwarding the interests of the Society, and 
the Board gave thanks to God for the long and valuable 
services of this eminent man. One man only of that dis- 
tinguished body remained until 1875. Mr. Henry W. War- 



ner was one of the representatives of the Auxiliary New 
York Bible Society in the Convention of 1816. He served 
for a time as President of that Society. In his own time 
he had been well-known as a cultured writer and lawyer in 
New York, but in 1875, when he passed away, Mr. Warner 
was remembered by younger men as the father of Susan 
Warner, author of the " Wide, Wide World," " Queechy," 
and other books, and of Anna B. Warner, who wrote under 
the pen name of Amy Lothrop. 1 

The changes in the presidential chair during this period 
were unusually many. President James Lenox became a 
Manager of the Society in 1838. In 1854 he was chosen 
Vice-President, and in 1864 President of the Society; per- 
forming the duties of his high office with grace and dignity. 
In 1 87 1, cherished schemes of Christian benevolence de- 
manding his constant attention, he urged that it was impos- 
sible with justice to himself to give attention longer to the 
duties of his position, and he resigned, to the great regret 
of the Board. On the 17th of February, 1880, Mr. Lenox 
passed away. 

Dr. William H. Allen of Philadelphia, President of 
Girard College, was elected President of the Society in 1872. 
His character displayed a rare blending of simplicity and 
dignity, of firmness and gentleness, and he was held in the 
highest esteem by all who knew him. After eight years of 
service of the Bible cause he felt obliged to resign his 
office. Once before he had signified his intention to retire, 
but his associates in the management of the Society per- 
suaded him to continue. After his resignation the Board 
elected him Vice-President, so that his counsel and influence 
might still be enjoyed. In August, 1882, he finished his 
work on earth. His funeral was held in the Arch Street 
Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. 

Dr. Allen was succeeded as President by the Hon. S. 
Wells Williams, LL.D., who took up the duties of office 
March 31, 1881. President Williams was the son of one 

1 Who remained a warm friend of the Society until her death in 
191 5. The beautiful home of the family on Constitution Island op- 
posite West Point is now the property of the United States Govern- 
ment, through a generous and happy thought of Mrs. Russell Sage. 


of the founders of the Bible Society. In 1833 ne went to 
China as a missionary of the American Board. After 
twenty-five years of enthusiastic missionary service, he en- 
tered the diplomatic service of the United States, from 
which he retired in 1876. He was a man of deep mission- 
ary convictions and of international reputation as a linguist, 
a sinologue, and a statesman. His counsels were invaluable 
to the Society. It was with peculiar sorrow, therefore, that 
the members of the Society learned of his death in Febru- 
ary, 1884. He died as he had lived, with a simple, childlike 
personal trust in Christ, and a radiant assurance of the 
triumph of Christ's Kingdom in all pagan lands. 

In November, 1884, the Hon.. Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, 
Secretary of State, and for twenty-one years Vice-President 
of the Society, was elected President. He accepted the 
office, intending to take up its duties as soon as his term as 
Secretary of State was completed; but on his return from 
Washington to his home in Newark, New Jersey, he was ill, 
and on the 20th day of May, 1885, he passed away, not hav- 
ing entered upon the Presidential office. 

Judge Enoch L. Fancher, Vice-President of the Society 
during eighteen years, was elected President in December, 
1885. Judge Fancher had been a justice of the Supreme 
Court of the State of New York, and was arbitrator of the 
Chamber of Commerce, being a jurist of prominence and of 
irreproachable Christian character. For many years he had 
been an active member of the Missionary Society of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. 

The series of great men who have served the American 
Bible Society as Vice-Presidents illustrate the importance 
of the office, as well as the dignity which they have imparted 
to it. Many of them resided too far from New York often 
to meet with the Society, but the death of such was a loss to 
the Society as serious as though they had been in daily 
converse with their associates in the common work. Let 
this place be devoted to mention of the Vice-Presidents who 
died during the twenty years ending in 1891. 

John Tappan, Esq., of Boston was one of the founders of 
the Massachusetts Bible Society, a Congregationalist of 
benevolent activity. It was privately recorded that he came 


one day to the Board with a thousand dollars in hand which 
he wished to give for sending a richly bound Bible to each 
of the rulers of the earth. The scheme was carried out; 
and one wonders what the rulers of the earth thought of it. 
But in the archives of the Society are letters from a number 
of Presidents, Kings, and Emperors courteously acknowl- 
edging the gift. 1 Mr. Tappan's good works on earth came 
to an end in 1871. 

The planning of measures of supply for the United States 
Treasury during the Civil War fell to the lot of the Hon. 
Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, Secretary of the Treasury. 
Later he became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the 
United States. From 1843 unt ^ ms death in 1873 he was 
actively interested in Bible work as President of the Cin- 
cinnati Young Men's Bible Society and in 1865 he became 
a Vice-President of the American Bible Society. To be 
a lawyer of eminence, a Governor of the State of New 
Jersey term after term, and minister of the United States 
to Berlin does not militate against the possessor of these 
distinctions being a warm-hearted, devoted member of the 
Reformed (Dutch) Church and during thirty-four years a 
Vice-President of the American Bible Society. Such was 
the Hon. Peter D. Vroom, who passed to the higher life in 


The Hon. William A. Buckingham, as governor of Con- 
necticut during the Civil War, was a counsellor and friend 
of President Lincoln, and from 1869 until his death in 1875 
he was United States Senator from Connecticut. He was 
Moderator of the first Congregational National Council, and 
became Vice-President of the Society in 1865. An eminent 
lawyer of New Orleans, Joseph A. Maybin, Esq., Vice- 
President twenty-three years and President of the South- 
western Bible Society twenty-six years, entered into rest in 
1876, full of honours and full of days. Hon. H. P. Haven 
of Connecticut, a mighty Sunday School champion, died in 
1876. Myron P. Phelps, Esq., a prosperous business man 
of Lewiston, Illinois, during twenty-six years Vice-Presi- 
dent of the Society, reached the term of his life on earth 

1 Volume marked Miscellaneous Correspondence 1843-1857, at the 


in 1878. After twenty-eight years as Vice-President Hon. 
Abraham B. Hasbrouck of New York, finished in 1879 a 
life of service to the church, the state, and the school. The 
Chief-Justice of the territory of Utah, an officer in the 
Civil War, and a warm-hearted Methodist, Hon. James B. 
McKean, passed from this life in the same year. Two 
eminent Vice-Presidents who died in 1880 were the Hon. 
Edward McGehee of Mississippi, of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church South, a distinguished jurist, and the Hon. 
Lafayette S. Foster, a Connecticut Congregationalist, Judge 
of the Supreme Court of that state, United States Senator, 
and an intimate friend of President Lincoln. Upon Mr. 
Lincoln's death in 1865, Mr. Foster became Acting Vice- 
President of the United States. The Hon. Horace May- 
nard of Tennessee was an elder in the Presbyterian Church 
and served his country well as Senator, as Post Master 
General, and as Minister to Turkey. In that strange land, 
too, he served the Bible Society by clearing away illegal 
restrictions on colportage. His death was in 1882. 

C. C. Trowbridge, Esq., of Detroit, long a member of the 
Standing Committee of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese, 
died in 1883. He had grown up with Michigan from the 
period when it was a vast and little known territory. The 
President of the Charleston, South Carolina, Bible So- 
ciety, a financier of renown born in Germany, Secretary of 
the Treasury of the Confederate States, the Hon. C. C. 
Memminger, died in 1888 after fifteen years' service of the 
American Bible Society as Vice-President. It is not easy 
to picture in the mind Chicago as a hamlet of eight small 
houses. But a pioneer who built and lived in one of the 
eight little structures that fixed the site of the great city was 
Judge Grant Goodrich. During twenty-three years he was 
a Vice-President and in 1889 received the summons to ap- 
pear on high. In 1889, too, Jacob Sleeper, Esq., a mer- 
chant of Boston, a Methodist unceasing in efforts to increase 
churches and schools, one of the founders of Boston Uni- 
versity, and President of the Massachusetts Bible Society, 
rested from his labours. In the same year death took a dis- 
tinguished Baptist, Prof. W. Gammell, LL.D., of Brown 
University, and that great captain of the forces of the King- 


dom, George H. Stuart, Esq., of Philadelphia, merchant, 
banker, President of the Christian Commission during the 
Civil War and during twenty-five years Vice-President of 
the Society. 

Every Vice-President of the Society, by virtue of his of- 
fice, is a member of the Board of Managers. In looking 
over the records of the Board, one is struck with the num- 
ber of Vice-Presidents living in and about New York whose 
names appear in every emergency. The loss of the counsel 
of such experienced men in the committees was deeply felt. 
By grouping together the names of Vice-Presidents and 
Managers who were members of the Finance Committee, 
for instance, and who passed away during this period, the 
seriousness of the loss appears. Vice-President F. H. Wol- 
cott (d. 1882) was one member of this group. During 
thirty years he served the Society first as Manager and 
then as Vice-President. Besides his work on the Finance 
Committee, he was active in the Committee on Distribution. 
Vice-President Frederick S. Winston, elected member of 
the Board in 1839, and Vice-President in 1865, was for 
thirty-two years chairman of the Finance Committee. Oc- 
cupied in all this time with business affairs of his own which 
attained success of colossal proportions, he was so identified 
with the Society that there was no part of its work of which 
he was not a part. He died in 1884. During twenty-one 
years a member of the Finance Committee was Vice-Presi- 
dent Hiram M. Forrester, Esq. (d. 1888), a lawyer, and a 
master of wise, clear, concise statement. Vice-President 
James M. Brown (d. 1890), the head of the banking house 
of Brown Brothers and Company, and President of the New 
York Chamber of Commerce, served in the Finance Com- 
mittee, and in the Committee of Publication. He was 
Senior Warden of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension. 

A member of the Board who served with ardent love in 
the Finance Committee was A. P. Cumings, Esq., an editor 
and proprietor of the New York Observer, who died at 
Nice, France, in 1871, and on the day of his death spoke 
tenderly of the Board which would meet that day. James 
Donaldson, Esq. (d. 1872), who was thirty-one years a 
member of the Board of Managers, a leader in the Finance 


Committee and in the Committee on Publication. Charles 
N. Talbot, Esq. (d. 1874), who had been a merchant in 
China for some years, was a member of the Committee on 
Finance and the Committee on Publication twenty-six years. 
Washington R. Vermilye, Esq. (d. 1876), an elder in the 
Presbyterian Church (who began his business life, by the 
way, as a clerk in the Society's house in Nassau street), well- 
known as President of the Greenwich Savings Bank, served 
in the Finance Committee twenty-three years. George W. 
Lane (d. 1883), a financier, was also a member of the Com- 
mittee on Finance. William G. Lambert (d. 1883), another 
member of the Committee, was a successful business man 
in New York City who for nineteen years had been a mem- 
ber of the Board. The finances of the Society were always 
in efficient hands. And when vacancies occurred the Board 
filled them with other men of the same choice type. 

Other Vice-Presidents prominent in the Board of Manag- 
ers were Marshall S. Bidwell, Esq. (d. 1872), eminent at 
the bar, distinguished for learning, culture, and intellectual 
power, as well as for a spotless Christian life, who served 
in the Committee on Legacies and the Committee on Dis- 
tribution; James Suydam, Esq. (d. 1872), of an old Hol- 
land family of New York, and a member of the Reformed 
(Dutch) Church, successful in business, during twenty- four 
years a member of the Committee on Legacies; Charles 
Tracy, Esq. (d. 1885), a member of the Protestant Epis- 
copal Church, a prominent lawyer in New York City, who 
during a whole generation used his special knowledge of 
the law of wills as Chairman of the Legacies Committee; 
Norman White, Esq. (d. 1883), who deemed it his highest 
honour to share in the work of Bible distribution and was 
prominent during forty years in all the affairs of the So- 
ciety; Richard P. Buck, Esq. (d. 1884), a true Puritan of 
the ancient stock in modern times, who during twenty years 
was rarely absent from a meeting of the Board ; A. Robert- 
son Walsh, Esq. (d. 1884), who became a Manager of the 
Society in 1844 and during forty years made his abilities 
felt especially in the Committee of Publication; Robert 
Carter, Esq. (d. 1889), who became a member of the Board 
of Managers in 1855. As he was a member of the well- 


known publishing house of Carter- and Brothers, he natu- 
rally found his work, too, in the Committee of Publication. 

Members of the Board of Managers passed away during 
this period who showed a variety of abilities and tempera- 
ments: George D. Phelps, Esq. (d. 1872), was a man out- 
spoken in his strong convictions, and very efficient in work 
for the Board. Edward J. Woolsey, Esq. (d. 1872), a 
Presbyterian of an intellectual ancestry, who served well the 
Bible cause during twenty-eight years. Jonathan Sturges 
(d. 1874), a successful merchant, warm-hearted and gener- 
ous, who concentrated his whole mind on the problems of 
the Committee on Distribution and of the Committee on 
Legacies. William H. Aspinwall (d. 1875), son of John 
A. Aspinwall, of the Society's first Board of Managers, a 
man of affairs, clear judgment, devotion and tact, worked 
with the Legacies Committee. A ruling elder in the Pres- 
byterian church, member of the State Legislature, and for 
twenty-three years a member of the Board of Managers 
was Chandler Starr, Esq., who died in 1876. The good 
work of Stephen Van Rensselaer of the first Board of 
Managers was taken up and carried forward during forty- 
five years by his son, Alexander Van Rensselaer (d. 1878). 
The Hon. Nathan Bishop, LL.D., member of the Board of 
Indian Commissioners, and Trustee of Vassar College, who 
served in the Board of Managers as one of the representa- 
tives of the Baptist Church, finished his useful life in 1880. 
Dr. James L. Banks (d. 1883), a physician long a member of 
the Committee on Publication, spent the last day but one of 
his consciousness in that Committee. William E. Dodge, 
President of the New York Chamber of Commerce, passed 
away in 1883. During twenty-five years he had shown in 
the Board the enterprise, sagacity, and integrity which won 
him a commanding position in business life. John Earle 
(d. 1 891) was connected with several important financial 
institutions in the city, a member of the Protestant Epis- 
copal Church, and gave his valuable time to the Society as 
a true missionary institution during eighteen years in the 
Committee on Legacies. 

Men's lives often consist of a round of simple activities 
important to a small circle of friends, but not notable to 


mankind at large. The members of the Board of Manag- 
ers, although making no noise or bluster about their work, 
were of a quality to give it weight in the city where they 
were known. Belonging to different denominations whose 
diversities formed a considerable safe-guard against unwise 
or careless action, their character imparted serious im- 
portance to all decisions of the Board. Such were the men 
who led the policy of the Society during the larger part of 
this period. 

The Board relies on the Secretaries of the Society for 
important information respecting past action of the Board 
or relations with Societies, churches or individuals. Hence 
it is a somewhat serious matter when an efficient Secretary 
resigns his office. In 1871 the Rev. T. Ralston Smith, after 
five years of service, resigned in order to return to the at- 
tractive duties of pastoral work to which he had been 
urgently invited. His capacity, his industry, and his affable 
manner, had won the regard of all. The Rev. Edward W. 
Gilman, D.D., pastor of the Congregational Church in 
Stonington, Connecticut, was then elected Secretary of the 
Society. It was no small privilege to Dr. Gilman to have 
during seven years the advantage of the counsel and ex- 
perience of Secretary Holdich. It was thought at the time 
that two Secretaries only might watch over the corre- 
spondence, but after a fair trial the Board decided that the 
work of the Society was too great for this, and in 1874 
the Rev. Alexander McLean, D.D., of Buffalo, was elected 
Secretary and given the supervision of the District Super- 
intendents and the Auxiliary Societies. 

With profound regret the Board in 1878 accepted the 
resignation of Rev. Joseph Holdich, D.D., for twenty-nine 
years Secretary of the Society. Dr. Holdich had been for 
some time unable to perform his duties because of partial 
blindness. He resigned because unwilling to be a Secretary 
in name only. If the Managers of the Society can rely 
upon receiving from a Secretary at a moment's notice a 
well-digested statement of policies or experiences of the 
Society, the Secretary must have been long in the service. 
In 1878 the service of three great Secretaries, Milnor, 
Brigham and Holdich, had covered the sixty-two years of 


the existence of the Society, each inheriting knowledge and 
experience from his predecessor almost as Elisha inherited 
his master's grace and power. Dr. Holdich believed that 
the Society must penetrate all the dark places of the home 
land, and to the Agencies abroad he was like a father. 
During seven years before his withdrawal he made known 
his hopes and his cherished plans to Secretary Gilman. 
Upon the resignation of Secretary Holdich the Board elected 
Rev. Albert S. Hunt, D.D., pastor of St. James' Methodist 
Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, Secretary of the Society. 
Dr. Hunt was an eloquent speaker, a warm lover of the 
Bible, and otherwise eminently fitted for this position. 

The Society has always been happy in its Treasurers. 
Vice-President William Whitlock was elected to that office 
in 1840. He was a vestryman and warden of St. George's 
Episcopal Church in New York, at the time of his appoint- 
ment as Treasurer being owner of a line of packets between 
Havre and New York. A picturesque incident of this part 
of his career was his providing and fitting out at his own 
expense the ship on which in 1824 Lafayette came from 
France to New York when he visited the United States as 
its guest. Mr. Whitlock's active service as Treasurer con- 
tinued, but for two years of absence in Europe, until his 
death in 1875. The Society was peculiarly dear to him and 
in its financial arrangements he did much to promote its 
prosperity. The actual handling of funds and keeping of 
accounts was the duty of an Assistant Treasurer; Henry 
Fisher, Esq., having served in this capacity from 1853 untu< 
his death in 1869, and A. L. Taylor, Esq., having been ap- 
pointed to the office in 1869. After Mr. Taylor had per- 
formed his duties with fidelity during seventeen years, in 
1886 he resigned. At this time an amendment was made 
in the Constitution of the Society by which the office of 
Assistant Treasurer was abolished. When the Annual 
Meeting took this action, William Foulke, Esq., a vestryman 
and Treasurer of St. George's Episcopal Church, was elected 
Treasurer and has given his whole time to the heavy duties 
of the office. At the time of his election he was a merchant 
in the West Indies trade as his father and grandfather were 
before him. 



In the early days of the Society its greatest work was the 
production of Bibles. The Society's work to-day would be 
simple if limited to the production of books to be handed out 
at the door of the Bible House. The Board very shortly 
felt, however, responsibility for seeing that the Bibles were 
circulated, and after the first year or two, distribution was 
added to production as the Society's essential duty. By and 
by, when American missionaries abroad began to wrestle 
with the difficulties of their undertaking as in a prize ring 
among thousands who hoped to witness their defeat, it was 
found that in a large part of the earth translation must 
have precedence over production and distribution. This 
was an almost unexpected revelation. 

These words therefore — production, translation and dis- 
tribution — stand in the history of the Society like mile- 
stones of development. Translation, printing, distribution 
are all equally essential enterprises of a Bible Society, mak- 
ing the beneficent scheme complete. The extent of the 
enterprise has ever led to confidence in the triumph of the 
gospel through enabling its words of power to penetrate the 
minds of people using the different languages. 

Language naturally lends itself to evil, and until it is 
Christianised it resists the translator like a living enemy. 
Translation of the Bible is the capture of a whole language 
by aliens who lay hands on it and force it to speak the mes- 
sages of God. The fitting words have to be almost torn by 
force from the speech of the common folk that the sentences 
may find welcome in the heart of the child even though they 
nourish the life of the sage. In the words of the Rev. W. 
J. Tucker, " Christianity is thus forcing itself into languages 



without letters, into languages elaborated and defended by 
pagan or Moslem literature, and the privilege of Pentecost 
is ours. By the patient effort of the church, Christianity 
tries to do what at Pentecost the apostles did through 
miraculous power. Those who succeed in this effort are 
men the fame of whose translations will exceed that of the 
greatest heroic deeds of arms ! " 

In pagan languages the translation of the Bible meets 
resistance perhaps most difficult to overcome. Words and 
phrases long hallowed in our thoughts by devout associa- 
tions, such as the names for God, grace, faith, sanctification, 
holiness, peace, love, joy, and the glories of the heavenly 
world, can be found perhaps in such a language, but have 
" very meagre meanings " put into them by many of the 
people who read them. In the Japanese there was a similar 
lack of words by which to express spiritual ideas. The 
Rev. Dr. Greene wrote, " Even the long and involved sen- 
tences of the Pauline Epistles are often easier to manage 
than some of the apparently simple verses of St. John's 
Gospel in making the translation." A further difficulty en- 
countered by the missionaries in Japan was a perverted 
taste of the Japanese literary men. They revered Chinese 
as the only language worthy of printing. It has no affinity 
to Japanese, but because it was regarded with veneration by 
Japanese scholars, it might easily be suffered to dilute the 
Japanese flavour of the version, besides being unintelligible 
to common folk. The same difficulty was encountered in 
Turkish, where there was no proper literary standard, 
Turkish writers regarding Arabic with profound respect, 
although it has no affinity to the Turkish language, so that 
it was brought into some early versions of Scriptures to 
such an extent as to make them unintelligible to the common 
people. Obstacles of this class require patient vigilance on 
the part of the translator. Dr. Gundert of the Basle Mis- 
sionary Society remarks : " Every language is a work of 
art and an inexhaustible mine. The missionary must listen 
with his ears pricked up. He must be swift to hear and 
slow to speak; and must learn to admire beauties in the 
language before he dares to finish any piece of translation." 
This implies that knowledge of the every day native idiom 


is most, important ; and only a native can handle the native 
idiom properly. 

An illustration of the method used to overcome the il- 
literacy behind which a language is often fortified, is seen 
in the story of the Dakota Bible. Rev. Dr. T. S. William- 
son went to Lacquiparle in 1835. He found himself in the 
midst of Indians, some of whom had a smattering of Eng- 
lish which enabled them to transact business, and the best 
instrument for acquiring the language ( for he had to make 
his own dictionary and grammar) was a half-breed fur 
trader named Renville. This man took an interest in Dr. 
Williamson's mission. The first question to be settled was 
how to write Dakota, which knew no alphabet. Dr. Wil- 
liamson took the Roman alphabet, threw out x, v, r, g, j, f, 
and c, which were not required for Dakota words, giving 
to the discarded letters sounds of " clicks," etc., which could 
not be rendered by Roman letters. As a beginning of Bible 
translation Dr. Williamson worked day after day for two 
or three winters in Mr. Renville's great warehouse warmed 
by a fire of logs standing on end in the huge fireplace. He 
would read verse by verse from the French Bible. Mr. 
Renville would then give the verse in Dakota, Dr. William- 
son writing it down from the trapper's lips. By that pro- 
cess translations of the Gospels of St. Mark and St. John 
were completed. Dr. Williamson had been joined in 1837 
by Dr. S. R. Riggs, and when both had learned some 
Dakota, they compared this tentative translation with the 
original Greek. It was not until 1843 ^ at they ventured 
to offer the Society a corrected gospel to be printed. The 
translation of the Dakota Bible from that uncertain be- 
ginning proceeded during nearly forty years. Dr. William- 
son did not live to see the work finished in 1879. As it 
approached its end, he remarked that in forty-four years 
he had built four houses. Two of those houses had fallen 
or been destroyed; the other two would soon go. But in 
his labour on the Bible he had shared in building up human 
souls. That work would remain forever. 

Another fact which resists the turning of an unwilling 
language to the service of the Bible is the great expense of 
the work. The translation of the Japanese New Testament 


was completed in 1879 an d ft was published early in 1880, 
when a public thanksgiving - service was held by Christians 
in Tokio. The American Bible Society had paid about 
$4,000 a year for some five years, for translation and edi- 
torial work alone, upon this Testament. The printing of 
it was also at the expense of the Society. 1 

In 1882 the Rev. I. G. Bliss, D.D., the Society's Agent 
for the Levant, reported that in twenty-five years since his 
taking up that agency the cost to the Society of translation 
and editorial work in Turkey upon different versions was 
$64,955. The "versions which entailed so great expense 
were Armenian, Turkish, Hebrew-Spanish, and Bulgarian. 
The last named Bible was translated by Rev. Dr. Elias 
Riggs with the assistance of two native scholars, and in 
the New Testament with the aid, as already mentioned, of 
the Rev. A. L. Long, D.D. The New Testament only was 
printed at the joint expense of the American and British 
Societies. The version as a whole was paid for by the 
British and Foreign Bible Society, the volumes required for 
the supply of American missionaries being bought from that 
Society as needed. 

The work of promoting translations for missionaries car- 
ries the Society far afield. In 1882, when Korea was be- 
ginning to open its gates a little, so that missionaries could 
hope for freedom to enter, an educated Korean, of whom we 
shall hear more in another chapter, was found in Japan who 
had been converted and was eager to make translations of 
the Gospels into his Qwn language. These were printed 
by the Society and served the earliest American mission- 
aries in Korea. At the same time the Society was helping 
Presbyterian missionaries in upper Siam to issue a trans- 
lation of the Gospel of Matthew in the Laos language, while 
nearer home steps were taken for a revision of the old 
Portuguese version in use in Brazil and the Rev. H. B. 
Pratt of Bucaramanga in Colombia was engaged in 1885 
after some attempts at revision of the Valera Spanish Ver- 
sion, to make a new Spanish translation. 

1 Of course the work was placed at the disposal of the other Bible 
Societies also. The Agent, in fact, was authorised to allow any re- 
sponsible party to reprint the Japanese Testament on condition of 
making no changes in the text. 


In 1873 a great work for China was accomplished in the 
completion of the Old Testament in Mandarin translated 
by the Rev. Dr. Schereschewski at the expense of the So- 
ciety, and printed for the Society on the press of the 
American Board's Mission in Peking. Bishop Stevens of 
Pennsylvania, in speaking of this achievement by Dr. Scher- 
eschewski, a minister of his own church, said : " The 
grandest conquests of the world's mightiest heroes sink 
into littleness beside the work which our faithful missionary 
had done when he made the Bible speak in Mandarin and 
herald out salvation over half a hemisphere." During this 
period besides some local colloquial versions, the Chinese 
New Testament in Easy Wenli was prepared as an experi- 
ment at the expense of the Society by Dr. Blodgett, Bishop- 
Burdon and others. In May 1890 a general missionary 
conference at Shanghai decided upon a revision of the 
Chinese styles known as Wenli, Easy Wenli, and Mandarin 
in order to have a union standard version of the Bible in 
these forms. This noble thought was approved by the 
American, British and Scottish Bible Societies which agreed 
jointly to share the expense of this new version of the 
Bible for China. 

One of the important translations in the promotion of 
which the Society has had a share is that already mentioned 
as proceeding in Japan during this period. After a good 
deal of experimental work by Dr. Verbeck, Dr. Hepburn, 
Bishop Williams, Mr. Goble and others, a conference of 
missionaries in 1872 set apart as responsible translators and 
revisers for the New Testament, Rev. S. R. Brown, D.D., 
of the Reformed (Dutch) Mission, Dr. J. C. Hepburn of 
the Presbyterian Mission, and Rev. D. C. Greene, of the 
American Board's mission. Rev. R. S. Maclay of the 
Methodist Episcopal Mission was added to the Committee 
and they finished the work in 1880, having had notable as- 
sistance from Mr. Matsuyama and other Japanese scholars. 
The year 1889 will always be marked in the church history 
of Japan as the year when, after fifteen years of patient 
waiting, the whole Bible was at last published in Japanese. 
Rev. John Piper and Rev. P. K. Fyson, both of the Church 
Missionary Society, were added to the Committee for this 


work. The great expense of translating the Old Testament 
was divided between the three Bible Societies ; two-fifths to 
the American Society, two-fifths to the British and Foreign, 
and one-fifth to the National Bible Society of Scotland. 

Another great translation aided and printed by the Society 
was the one made by American missionaries in South Africa 
for those tall black warriors known as the Zulus. The Zulu 
Bible grew up through many years' slow, careful work by 
different missionaries of the American Board. The New 
Testament was printed on the mission press in Natal at the 
expense of the Bible Society, while the covers for binding 
it were made at the Bible House in New York and shipped 
to Africa for native binders to apply. When the transla- 
tion of the Old Testament was complete, the manuscript 
was brought to New York to be printed at the Bible House 
under oversight of Rev. Dr. Pixley of the Zulu mission. 
This version was important not only for the missions of 
the American Board but for its use in various adjoining 
regions occupied by Norwegian, German and Scottish mis- 
sionaries. North of Natal during this period the American 
Board missionaries, B. F. Ousley and E. H. Richards, pre- 
pared a version of the New Testament in the Tonga 
language; and later some Gospels in the Sheetswa language 
translated by Rev. B. F. Ousley were accepted and published 
by the Society. 

In those groups of islands in the Pacific Ocean called by 
the one convenient name, Micronesia, a considerable trans- 
lation work was carried on by the missionaries of the 
American Board and in this period the New Testament in 
the language of the Mortlock Islanders, translated by the 
Rev. Mr. Logan, in the Ponape language translated by the 
Rev. Messrs. Doane and Sturges, and the New Testament 
in the language of the Marshall Islands translated by Rev. 
E. M. Pease, were made ready, and finally the translation 
of the whole Bible into the language of the Gilbert Islands, 
by Rev. Hiram Bingham, was finished in 1890. The Gil- 
bert Islands Bible was used by the London Missionary So- 
ciety stations in islands under their care besides the ones 
for which it was designed. Some copies were called for 
from Samoa. 


Some experiments were made in beginning a version of 
the New Testament in Kurdish by Rev. Dr. Andrus, who 
by long residence in Mardin, Turkey, had opened relations 
with various tribes in that vicinity. The Gospel of Mat- 
thew in Kurdish was sent to various scholars for criticism 
and after passing this test, it was approved for printing. A 
version needed for the Society's Persian field was in the 
dialect called Azerbaijan Turkish. Rev. Dr. Wright under- 
took the work but died before much had been done. The 
well-known " TennesSeean in Persia," Rev. Dr. S. H. Rhea, 
was then assigned by the mission to the task, but he too died 
shortly afterward. It almost seemed as if a divine hand 
had laid a ban on the undertaking, but Rev. Benjamin 
Labaree in 1882 translated the Gospel of St. Luke into 
Azerbaijan Turkish which was printed at Urumia at the 
expense of the Society. The 2,000 copies printed were sold 
almost immediately. Work upon this dialect was after- 
wards given up when it was found that the British and 
Foreign Bible Society had arranged for preparing the ver- 

The British and American Societies were pleased as 
builders of some splendid palace in uniting forces and means 
and prayers for translations such as have already been men- 
tioned or for a revision of a Bible long in use by mission- 
aries from both nations, as in the case of the version which 
spoke the musical language of the Telugus of the eastern 
parts of South India. Two scholarly men, Rev. Dr. Jacob 
Chamberlain, the American, and Rev. Dr. Hay, the British 
representative, and others carried forward this revision in 
this period. The high purpose of bettering the expression 
of gospel truths unites the men and no difference of na- 
tionality or of creed can limit their free sense of doing the 
Master's will, or their content in doing it together in His 
name. If natives of the country had possibly suspected 
two discordant sects in the Christian teachers from England 
and America this joint work upon the Telugu Bible re- 
moved the suspicion. 

When the Bible or any part of it is translated so as to 
speak in an alien tongue it has to be printed that it may give 
its message to the minds of thousands. The production of 


printed Scriptures turns one's thought toward the Bible 
House in New York. In common opinion the work of the 
Society is represented by the Bibles and Testaments in 
the salesroom window or continually passing out of the 
shipping office in boxes labelled for the ends of the earth. 
In the same way when a railroad is spoken of, people think 
only of the cars, the rails, and the signal lights at night. 
But in each case there is somewhere a center where may 
be found the mind and soul of the institution. Thence lines 
go out in all directions to execute plans carefully worked out 
at the center. The maintenance of a printing establishment 
is quite incidental to the work of the Society, but the main- 
tenance of the Bible House is essential, for there all plans 
for work are thought out and decided. 

The duty of studying and advising the Board respecting 
translation and printing various versions, for instance, is 
in the hands of a committee at the Bible House called the 
Committee on Versions. Of the choice men composing it 
during this period some were members of the American 
Company of revisers of the English Bible and all were Bible 
scholars and linguists from different religious denomina- 
tions. The undertaking by the Society of enterprises in 
languages largely depends upon the recommendations of 
this important Committee. 

Some plans of administration at the Bible House were 
changed during this period. Changes were made by the 
Legislature of New York in the charter of the Society giv- 
ing it the right to take real-estate given it by devise. A 
change was made in the Constitution of the Society, also, 
in consequence of a new law of the state which required 
that no person receiving salary from a benevolent institu- 
tion shall have a vote in its management. This amendment 
to the Constitution excluded the Secretaries and Treasurer 
from voting in the Board of Managers. 

Another amendment to the Constitution was introduced 
in 1877 because of changes in the character of the popula- 
tion since the organisation of the Society. The seventh 
article originally provided that Directors could attend and 
vote at all meetings of the Board of Managers, while the 
sixth declared that any « one subscribing $150 at one time 


should be a Director for life. A criticism of the Society, 
welcomed as it should be by men who are above seeking 
first the comfort of self-esteem, secured a change. Some 
one speaking disparagingly of the Society remarked that 
atheists or Roman Catholics by subscribing comparatively 
small sums could gain control of the Board and shut up the 
Bible House. The statement suggested the inference that 
mere payment of money does not qualify a man for direc- 
tion of a Bible Society. So this weak spot in the Consti- 
tution was mended, the seventh article being altered with 
notable haste. Directors by this amendment were entitled 
to attend and speak, and if constituted before June 1, 1877, 
to vote at meetings of the Board. 

During this period there was betterment, also, in the 
making of books at the Bible House. The Committee of 
Publication was composed of practical business men, some 
of them the heads of well known publishing houses. It 
aimed at efficiency as well as economy in the manufacture 
of books. As immigration caused increase in Scriptures 
in foreign languages, electro-plates of the Bible were im- 
ported from Europe ; newly perfected printing presses and 
machines for the bindery were bought and substituted for 
the older styles and finally in 1889 tne Bible House was 
fully repaired, elevators and other improvements were in- 
stalled, and an entire sixth floor was added to the building, 
without, however, using any money contributed for Bible 
distribution. A mortgage for $100,000 was executed as 
security for a loan to be repaid by rents from rooms not 
required by the Society. 

The printing of Scriptures in the Bible House included 
in the main those necessary for use in the United States. 
From 50,000 to 100,000 volumes, however, were annually 
sent abroad, chiefly to Latin America in Spanish and Portu- 
guese. In 1876 a special reference Bible known as the 
Centennial Bible was issued as a souvenir of the one 
hundredth year of the American Republic. About the same 
time a beginning was made of publishing a new kind of 
embossed Scriptures for the blind by a system known as 
the New York Point Print. The presses were busy during 
the whole period with printing Scriptures for Africa in 


Zulu, Benga and Mpongwe. In June, 1883, the first large 
shipment of the Zulu Bible went out of the door of the 
Bible House on its way to South Africa. It consisted of 
12,000 volumes in all. There was also printing for the 
Indians, portions of the Muskokee or Creek, and Dakota 
Scriptures being printed as the translations of the Bible 
went on towards completion, and reprints of Scriptures in 
the Ojibwa of which the first edition was printed in 1844 
and the second in 1856, and also a reprint of the Gospel of 
St. Matthew in the language of the Nez Perces Indians. 
These were the Indians who in 1832 sent a deputation from 
the territory of Oregon 1,500 miles to St. Louis, vainly 
seeking there the " book of God " which they had somehow 
learned that the white man has. It was a point of interest 
that the proofs of this new edition as they came from the 
press at the Bible House were corrected by the Rev. H. H. 
Spaulding, the translator of the original edition issued in 
1845. A further illustration of the fact that Indian lan- 
guages had been made to praise God appeared in 1857 at a 
conference at Vinita in the Indian territory. One of the 
ministers read from the Bible in English, another the same 
verses in Chickasaw, the next in Cherokee, then one read 
in Muskokee or Creek, and another in the Delaware lan- 
guage. The version of the New Testament in Muskokee 
or Creek was finished in 1886. It was the work of Mr. 
and Mrs. A. E. W. Robertson. 

While the presses in the Bible House were thus kept un- 
ceasingly at work, it is worthy of note that Scriptures were 
being printed for the Society throughout this period at 
Constantinople, Beirut, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Bremen, 
Stockholm, Fuchow, Shanghai, Lucknow, Lodiana, Bang- 
kok, and Yokohama. These Scriptures were printed on 
local presses generally owned by missions and largely sup- 
ported by the Bible Society. An exception to the rule was 
the press at Beirut, where the Society owned an expensive 
electrotyping plant and a fine printing press with its equip- 
ment which had been sent out for printing the Arabic Scrip- 
tures. In 1878 the Board transferred by gift to the Pres- 
byterian Board of Foreign Missions this printing and elec- 
trotyping apparatus at Beirut, valued at $16,094.61. 


This class of the Society's labours, little known in any de- 
tail, was continually calling for money. The problem of 
cost constantly hampered the Board. But the Society was 
called into existence in order to solve just such problems 
which were beyond the ability of the separate and local 
Bible Societies. When, therefore, the appeals of the So- 
ciety are heeded, every contributor along with all workers 
of the Society who labour with brain or with hand is a trans- 
lator or producer or distributor of books. Each one shares 
with the men at the Bible House or at outposts on the 
other side of the globe the " Well done " which rewards 
every sincere effort for the glory of God. 



Bishop Janes of the Methodist Episcopal Church, for- 
merly Secretary of the Bible Society, was the author of an 
address to the people which on the decision in 1866 to 
undertake a third General Supply of the destitute in the 
land, was sent out from the Board of Managers. This 
address set forth the belief of Christians that to make uni- 
versal the knowledge of God, His will and His grace in 
Jesus Christ, is the first great interest of the nation; yet 
while the Society in fifty years had distributed, mostly in 
this country, over twenty-one millions of volumes of Scrip- 
ture; while more than thirty commercial publishers were 
sending out each year some 400,000 volumes of Scripture ; 
and while large importations of Bibles from England and 
Europe were constantly adding to the stock, a recent exam- 
ination showed an amazing and alarming destitution of 
Scriptures in the United States. The case of the coloured 
people in the South was an instance. Many thousands of 
former slaves were learning to read, ought to be supplied 
with Scriptures lest they forget that God is their Master, 
but faced a famine of the Word. The white people of the 
South were still unsupplied with Bibles, notwithstanding 
all efforts to help them. In three wards of such a city as 
Washington, D. C, 1,400 families had been found destitute 
of the Book of God. Immigrants, Indians, and further- 
more thousands of the old stock even in the oldest states, 
were living without association with the great teachers of 
the Bible. The rapid natural increase of population and 
the continuous arrival of immigrants explains in part why 
such destitution existed. If distribution is intermitted for 
one day destitution is visibly increased. 

The question sometimes arises, What is the real advan- 



tage of such strenuous effort to increase the circulation of 
the Bible in our land ? The answer of course is, Seed does 
not grow unless it is sown. This form of work supplies a 
need of the whole nation. John Bunyan used to say with 
what now seems prophetic insight, " Want of reverence for 
the word of God is the ground of all the disorders that are 
in the heart, life, and conversation of Christian communion." 
What happens when the people have not the Bible may be 
very properly deduced from investigations which social 
workers have made into the results of carelessness about 
moral and religious training. Dr. Harris produced a pro- 
found impression in 1875 by giving the history of a small 
girl many years before left homeless and without education 
in a country village in the state of New York. Her de- 
scendants in less than one hundred years numbered 673 per- 
sons, almost all of them criminals, paupers, or prostitutes. 
The neglect of that little girl cost the county and the state 
thousands of dollars, besides causing untold damage to the 
whole community in its morals as well as in its property. 

Such an investigation by contrast shows the beneficent 
quality of Bible distribution. The nobility of this work 
comes from above, but responsibility for effective distribu- 
tion of the Scriptures in the United States does not rest 
upon the Society and its Auxiliaries, but upon the Christian 
people of the land. 

The third General Supply of the destitute in the United 
States was completed as fully as such an enterprise can be 
completed, in 1872. The work had been done mainly by 
the Auxiliaries, the Society employing colporteurs under 
the direction of its agents in parts of the country where 
settlers were few and the idea of an Auxiliary Bible Society 
had not yet taken root. In 1872, at the end of five years 
of effort, it was found that 2,990,119 families had been 
visited, 283,186 were found destitute, of which 228,807 
families were willing to take up the reading of the Bible; 
not included in these families, 213,302 individuals more had 
been supplied with a Bible or Testament by sale or gift. 
These figures, large as they were, were admittedly incom- 
plete. Moreover, 253,757 volumes not included in the 
statement above had been granted by the Society and dis- 


tributed in different parts of the country by the American 
Sunday School Union, the American Tract Society, and the 
denominational book and tract societies. Five years of 
effort had accomplished a great work for the nation. 

In any extensive national enterprise, criticism of the 
workers is natural and not always cautious about its ground. 
Swift's apothegm applies in many cases : " Censure is a 
tax a man pays to the public for being eminent." Although 
the executive officers had no vote on the Society's policy, 
they felt keenly certain public strictures upon its manage- 
ment during the first decade of this period. In 1873 one 
such criticism advanced by an Auxiliary Society in New 
Jersey and shared by some ecclesiastical bodies in Central 
New York, was that the Board of Managers ought to let 
its books be distributed by pastors and by denominational 
Societies already engaged in book publication, so saving 
the expense of Agents and colporteurs. In actual fact, 
the Society had learned by painful experience that while 
help in distribution is always rendered by pastors and de- 
nominational Book and Tract Societies, large areas would 
be left untouched unless the Bible Society explored and 
supplied them. 

Nevertheless willingness to experiment with measures of 
economy led the Society in 1875 to diminish the number of 
its District Superintendents. In that year Rev. Dr. Ward 
and Rev. W. R. Long in New York State, Rev. Mr. Pearse 
in Kentucky, and Rev. S. P. Whitten in Western Tennessee 
and Northern Mississippi retired from the service where 
they had been remarkably successful. Rev. H. H. Benson 
of Indiana, Rev. C. A. Bolles of South Carolina, Rev. W. 
Herr of Ohio, Rev. J. Mosser of Illinois, Rev. W. A. Parks 
of Georgia, Rev. W. B. Rankin of Tennessee, and Rev. S. 
Reynolds of Wisconsin, retired the following year. More 
responsibility was thus thrown on the stronger Auxiliaries 
and the fields of the remaining Superintendents were en- 

Again the Society was assailed as wasteful of the people's 
money because the price at which its books were sold had 
never covered the cost of distributing them. The least 
reflection would reveal the injustice of such an attack. The 


very object of the Society is to supply the careless who 
neglect the Bible and the poor who do not patronise book 
stores which include in their prices profit as well as ex- 
penses. Pungent articles later attacked the Society be- 
cause it would not publish " helps " desired by Sunday 
School teachers. The crudeness of this criticism was ap- 
parent, also, for as soon as the Society should begin to pub- 
lish notes and comments on the Bible it would break the 
harmony between the Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, 
Baptist, and other members of the Board. 

A later series of strictures touched the character of mem- 
bers of the Board. The fancied grievance of a man in New 
England who had eaten the bread of the Society found ex- 
pression in a bald charge that the reports of the Society and 
the financial statements of the Treasurer were untrust- 
worthy, wilfully concealing assets. These charges which 
came, by the way, from parties not contributors to the sup- 
port of the Society, were repeated with keen enjoyment and 
impromptu variations by secular newspapers in New Eng- 
land. This gave opportunity to some of the New England 
Auxiliaries for criticising the rule that limits the Society's 
work to " increasing the circulation of the Scriptures. ,, In 
the eyes of the critics the Society's colporteurs were 
" mere book peddlers." One of these Auxiliaries employed 
men in behalf of the churches to take a religious census of 
country districts, and even sent missionaries on evangelistic 

A belittling of the value of Bible distribution underlay 
this turning of a local Bible Society to general Home mis- 
sion operations. The view of the men who organised the 
Society, on the other hand, was that supply of Scriptures 
to the needy and persuasion of the careless to read the 
Bible would fully occupy its energies.' A Bible Society, 
too, could not support preachers by contributions from dif- 
ferent denominations, since it would have to defend one 
and another from the charge of partisanship. Here a direct 
issue was made between the Board and its critics. From 
1878 to 1882 this campaign was pressed, now against the 
policy and now the personality of the Managers. As to 
the reports of the Treasurer, nothing in them was defective 


or unintelligible to men having some acquaintance with 
book-keeping. Yet the attacks undoubtedly had effect in 
diminishing current receipts. The Board could only go 
forward patiently following the course fixed by the Consti- 
tution, and approved by contributors. But like sincere men 
who put their best into all their doings, the members of the 
Board questioned every department of work at the Bible 
House from the point of view of the critics. The Publica- 
tion Committee called in important publishing houses to get 
their opinion of the efficiency of their manufacturing de- 
partment. It even induced publishers to consider on what 
terms they could contract to produce the Society's books. 
The Committees on Finance, Distribution, Publication, and 
Agencies jointly studied during many months the whole 
subject of production and distribution. 

Some members of the Board felt that the more finely 
bound Scriptures ought to be sold at a rate which would 
bring a profit to the Bible Society. The expression of this 
idea was : " The pearl itself is above all price. We should 
not make merchandise of that ; but only of the casket which 
contains it and which adds nothing to the intrinsic value of 
the treasure within. ,, The calm judgment of the Managers, 
however, obliged them to reject this suggestion. The re- 
port of 1884 showed that the issues of the Society in the 
United States were 1,357,051 volumes, costing $414,000. 
Out of this total 17,604 volumes, costing $29,747, were 
bound in cheaper leather or in cloth, with gilt edges, and 
1,235,460 volumes, costing $298,295, were in cloth binding 
with plain edges. This last named class of books repre- 
sented the attainment by the Society of its main purpose. 
This mass of books of the cheaper class supplied the desti- 
tute. Any attempt to make profit through elegantly bound 
Scriptures would tend to divert attention from the great 
needy class to supply which the Society was called into 
being. In its appeal to the public for support of the fourth 
General Supply the Board had this helpless class in mind 
when it said : " We are no longer a homogeneous people, 
but have gathered into our midst representatives of all na- 
tions. A grave responsibility rests on the Society at this 
time to enter upon a distribution of the Holy Scriptures 


largely in excess of any former effort of this kind under- 
taken in the United States." The country was rapidly be- 
coming a foreign mission field. 

A great obstacle to such a distribution of the Bible is 
diversity in language, little appreciated by the average by- 
stander. In St. Paul's Cathedral the Bishop of Bath and 
Wells once preached a sermon on the results of Bible So- 
ciety labours. After speaking of the great multitude which 
he saw in his mind's eye, and whom he could imagine speak- 
ing discordant tongues in his very ears, he said : " As I 
look, there arises in the midst of them a fair figure crowned 
with charity, girded with knowledge, and clothed with 
Christian Faith. A great chest is at her feet which she 
unlocks, and opens, and from which she draws forth count- 
less volumes of great price. Without distinction of race 
or creed, of barbarian or Scythian, bond or free, she dis- 
tributes them to all nations and peoples around her, and as 
each opens the book he has received he finds it a copy of the 
word of God, uttered many hundred years ago but now 
written in the tongue wherein he was born. And as I 
watch those who receive this precious boon — whether the 
process takes years or centuries matters not — I see a grad- 
ual and most blessed change. The knowledge of truth takes 
the place of ignorance, superstition and error. Oppression 
and cruelty yield to justice and mercy. Christian civilisa- 
tion springs up in the barren wilderness. Such an image 
represents I believe fairly the work of the Bible Society. ,, 

Something of what the Society was doing for foreigners 
in the United States was told as concretely if less beauti- 
fully to an audience at a Bible meeting in Philadelphia. It 
was with utter amazement that the congregation listened 
when different people, mostly foreigners, came to the front 
of the platform, read verses from the Bible in twenty-seven 
different languages, and thus made clear what the Bible 
could do for aliens both in America and in their own birth- 

For the fourth General Supply the Society sent colpor- 
teurs of its own into sparsely settled fields. A colporteur 
is a Christian who is convinced that the Bible can change 
the bent of mankind. From experience he knows that un- 


less the Bible is established in new settlements, the tavern, 
brothel, and gambling house will pre-empt the town-site. 
Like a homesteader in a primeval forest who has only an 
axe wherewith to clear his acres, he may be impeded but not 
discouraged by the magnitude of his task. A colporteur in 
Florida describes a typical day's work. He travelled 
twenty-five miles in woods full of undergrowth, stumps, and 
also snakes. In the first house he came to the family had 
an old Bible and did not need any of his. Five miles 
farther the family had no Bible and bought one for twenty- 
four eggs. Six miles beyond this no one in the house knew 
how to read and none could understand need of a Bible. 
At the next house the colporteur found a Testament, from 
which two-thirds of the pages were missing. To this fam- 
ily he sold a Bible for one hen. Some distance beyond was 
another house where the people were glad to buy a Bible, 
paid twenty-five cents on account and promised to pay the 
rest when they got some money. In the next house was a 
sick woman. After reading her some comforting verses, 
the colporteur prayed with her. A Bible was very much 
wanted in that house, but there was no money with which 
to buy. So the colporteur gave a Bible in the name of the 
Society and went his way. No task is so onerous as to out- 
weigh the privileges of the colporteur's life. 

Volunteer workers in this Fourth General Supply often 
took up Bible distribution with hesitation, but as in any 
form of evangelistic work, they found quick response, and 
wondered at the shrinking which had held them back. At 
Coleman, Texas, for instance, two ladies volunteered to 
distribute twenty-five dollars' worth of Bibles for a local 
committee. They placed a copy of the Scriptures in every 
family, store, and office where it was acceptable, and the 
dwellers in solitary places were made glad. Then the com- 
mittee wrote joyfully to the Society in New York remitting 
$22.50 receipts from sales and adding $2J to pay for an- 
other shipment of Bibles. 

One of the means used by the Society for reaching the 
careless with Scripture was the railroad companies. The 
Board proposed to put Scriptures in the cars on condition 
that the companies provide book-racks. Eighty different 


railroads availed themselves of this offer, and about 5,000 
volumes were placed in the cars for passengers to read as 
they journeyed. 

In 1876 President Grant wrote for a Sunday School 
newspaper a message to the Sunday Schools of the United 
States. This was the message : " Hold fast to the Bible 
as the sheet anchor of your liberties. Write its precepts 
on your hearts and practise them in your lives. To the in- 
fluence of this book are we indebted for all progress made 
in true civilisation, and to this we must look as our guide in 
the future. ' Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is 
a reproach to any people.' U. S. Grant." 

It was a similar earnest yearning to deal justly with 
children that led the Society in 1890 unanimously to ap- 
prove the Board's proposal to supply with a Bible every 
child in the United States under fifteen years of age and 
able to read. The number of Bibles issued in the United 
States during the year by the Society was 31,000 volumes 
more than the issues of the previous year. 

Unexpected help in the general task of making the Bible 
known was rendered by Roman Catholics who felt the 
strong impulse given to Bible reading through these efforts 
and could not resist or overcome the pressure. Even chil- 
dren sometimes thwart a parent by persistent asking. The 
result in this case was that for some time the Roman Cath- 
olic clergy tried to increase the use of the Douay Bible 
among their people. Another unexpected encouragement 
came to the Society during this period from Mormon con- 
gregations in Utah, which passed resolutions of thanks for 
Bibles sent into that territory. Colporteurs had met with 
opposition in Utah, and this was like the veering of the 
wind when a ship has been tossing on the billows of an 
opposing gale. 

After eight years of strenuous labour the fourth General 
Supply was concluded. The Society had employed some 
two hundred colporteurs to supplement the labours of sev- 
eral thousand persons sent out by Auxiliary Societies. 
During the eight years 8,146,808 volumes of Scripture were 
distributed by sale or gift throughout the United States. 
This total included books granted during this period to the 


Sunday School Unions, Tract Societies, etc., for distribu- 
tion through their regular channels. It is notable just here 
that while the Board of Managers in its first years looked 
forward with hope to having the Bible in four or five lan- 
guages, before the seventy-fifth year of the Society its dis- 
tributions included Scriptures in twenty-seven languages 
spoken in the United States. 

In these efforts of the General Supply it was estimated 
that at last 1,000,000 persons refused the Bible. Many 
were disbelievers in revealed religion, many were under the 
thrall of superstition, but a great many refused the Book 
because they could not read. The census of 1880 reported 
in the United States more than 6,000,000 children of school 
age who did not go to school. The number of people to 
whom the Bible was sealed up through inability to read was 
alarmingly great. Here the missionary society with its 
schools comes to the rescue and here the colporteur must 
wait on the missionary. The distribution work of the So- 
ciety is a partnership work with all who accept the Bible 
as the word of God and the foundation of true wisdom. 
Sometimes this work goes in advance of other agencies, 
but as a rule it is closely linked with the missionary. No 
report of the work of the Society is complete in itself for 
no evangelising agency stands alone; but every year piles 
up records that prove the maxim that " the power of truth 
is like the force of gravitation/' certain in its orderly, irre- 
sistible action although silent and invisible. 

Sometimes it is an immigrant, sometimes a man who 
ought to have Bible truth by inheritance, sometimes it is an 
Indian, sometimes a black man who supplies proof of this 
inspiring fact. Mr. Lambdin in Grundy County, Illinois, in 
one day distributed Bibles in eight languages at Coal City. 
One of the men, a Bohemian, the next day brought money 
for the Bible and to the astonishment of Mr. Lambdin he 
bought several Testaments for his children. Such an ap- 
preciation gives a colporteur rest from much weariness. 
In Lewis County, Kentucky, a colporteur met a man who 
asked, " Do you remember me ? " He could not remember 
him. " Well," said the man, " eight years ago don't you 
remember going toward a man who was cutting down a 


tree and who told you with an oath that you would be killed 
if you didn't look out? I was that man; you came on and 
gave me a Testament. I was a hard drinker, a gambler and 
a fighter; but that Testament held me up." For two 
months this " bad man " had read the Testament and judged 
himself by its standards. Of course, it led him into the 
Slough of Despond, but it led him out again, and he told 
the colporteur the joy which he found in trying to lead oth- 
ers to Jesus Christ. About 1830, during the first general 
supply, one of the Society's Bibles was given to a lad at 
work in a cotton factory. The book took hold of him, gave 
him aspirations. He determined to find some way to go to 
school and college. After completing his studies he was 
ordained a Baptist minister. In the Fourth General Supply 
he revealed himself to a Bible Agent. He had been twenty- 
six years a pastor and had welcomed into his church more 
than one thousand persons. All that he was, had done, 
or hoped to do he owed under God's favour to the 
Bible given to him in that first General Supply of the desti- 

One class of people reached in the distribution was the 
Indians. Often in their relations with white people they 
were like children who measure the love of a parent by its 
accord with their whimsical wishes. It was in 1876 that 
General Custer and his command were destroyed in Mon- 
tana by the Sioux; but the Sioux were among the eight 
tribes of Indians for whom missionary translators prepared 
the Bible in the tongue wherein they were born. Of the 
Dakotas or Sioux in 1881 about 1,500 professing Christians 
were connected with the Presbyterian and the Protestant 
Episcopal Missions, besides some 3,000 adherents. Hun- 
dreds of Dakotas had been changed in character : the worth- 
less made useful, and the ignorant wise, through the Bible. 
Buffalo Bill, on one of his tours, took his Wild West show 
to London. During the rest between the plays some Eng- 
lishmen noticed two of the Sioux Indians sitting by them- 
selves and reading. Curiosity led to inquiry what this book 
might be in which they were interested. " Why, it's the 
Bible," frankly answered the Indian. These two men, 
hired for the Wild West show, had brought their book with 


them, and that book had defended them from the vices of 
the so-called Christians who surrounded them. 

The story of the home distribution in the twenty years 
of this period can be summed up in the statement that 
through the simple instructions of a Bible " a nobler few 
have dared to stray upward " ; the interest of thousands had 
been aroused ; violence and license had been checked among 
thousands who influenced succeeding generations, and some- 
thing had thus been done to prepare a peaceful future for 
the land. In this respect Bible Distribution is entitled to 
unhesitating recognition in the history of the United States. 



Jeremy Taylor somewhere says: "All those strange 
things and secret decrees and unrevealed transactions which 
are above the clouds and beyond the regions of the stars 
shall combine in ministry and advantage for the praying 
man." The Board of Managers and the Executive Officers 
while struggling to perform their daily duties made prayer 
for guidance their habit; when acting in a case of uncer- 
tainty their humble assurance of receiving help was as far 
as possible from any such " tempting " of God as marks 
headstrong rashness in respect to divine promises. The 
book which it was their duty to send abroad was God's 
book : it was was sent abroad for His glory. In accordance 
with this habit the Board granted Scriptures yearly to Mr. 
John S. Pierson, the enthusiastic agent of the New York 
Bible Society labouring among the shipping in the harbour. 
Mr. Pierson placed considerable numbers of books in the 
hands of sea-captains willing to take Bibles or Testaments 
to the less accessible foreign countries. Rash as such ven- 
tures might appear they had results which justified this good 
man's faith that they had God's approval. 

Curiously enough, Mr. Pierson's daring to risk his books 
like a venturesome agent, carried a quantity of Spanish 
Scriptures in 1882 through the Roman Catholic barriers at 
the Philippine Islands. Three separate captains came 
thence rejoicing like the disciples who found that even un- 
clean spirits were subject to them. At Iloilo, workmen, 
stevedores, and government officials received the books 
gladly. At another of the island ports the captain managed 
to send a package of Spanish Testaments to the soldiers of 
the garrison who received them with thanks. A third cap- 



tain said that he had no peace after the people had received 
some of the Testaments. Every day they came on board 
begging for Testaments or Portions. The ease with which 
the books found readers seemed, like the thought of sending 
them, to come from the Lord. 

The same sense of a divine hand pointing to action ap- 
peared in other foreign distributions. For years the Society 
had been supplying through the American congregation in 
St. Petersburg the Esthonians of the district of Reval and 
the islands of Dago and Osel with the New Testament in 
their own language. The- Agent in this work for the So- 
ciety in St. Petersburg was Mr. George H. Prince, who 
supervised the printing and distribution of Esthonian Testa- 
ments as money came from New York. After the comple- 
tion of a revision of the Old Testament by the local clergy 
an edition of 20,000 copies of the Bible was printed for the 
Society in Berlin in a handy and cheap form which could be 
easily used by school children. In 1878 this school Bible 
was electrotyped in New York and 20,000 Esthonian Bibles 
were printed at the Bible House. Five years later 28,000 
copies of the school Bible had already been put in circulation 
by colporteurs. 

This to the Board was like working blindly; but it was 
not headstrong rashness. One thing had already been 
learned; there was a missionary's work which each Bible 
might do in the narrow circle of interests of the Esthonian 
peasants. A labourer testified to the colporteur concerning 
the grip the Testament gained upon his heart. " I did not 
want to buy a Testament/' he said, " but now I must. Last 
Sunday I asked a neighbour to go with me for a walk and 
for a drink of vodka. He was reading the New Testament. 
He sat as though fixed on the spot and said to me, ' Have 
you no book like this ? ' I said, ' I have no time to read.' 
He said, * If you had a book like this you would not care to 
go about drinking vodka ! ' ' I am not an old man/ said I, 
' that I should sit all Sunday/ He said to me, ' Just listen 
to what this book says.' I sat down and he read. It was 
good. My wife, surprised that I was not drunk when I 
got home, asked me where I had been. I told her. She 
asked where my neighbour got his New Testament. I was 


ashamed to tell her, lest she would ask why I had not got 
one for myself. I am glad to meet you and want one for 
myself. Now I shall read my own New Testament on 

Rev. Mr. Bidwell of Boston had suggested to the Society 
work among political prisoners in Siberia and aided in 1877 
in making arrangements for it. At the first there was a lit- 
tle difficulty on account of red tape. The books were 
shipped from Boston 17,000 miles to Nikolaievski at the 
mouth of the Amur River. After permission had been 
granted for the first shipment a change of military officials 
and ecclesiastics made it necessary to go over the whole 
ground again. A sample book had to be sent from Niko- 
laievski where the books were, 1500 miles to the archbishop 
at Blagovestchensk on the opposite side of the Amur River 
from Aigun in China. But when the books finally reached 
the exiles in their banishment the comfort and patience 
which the Master's words brought to those friendless, lonely 
souls repaid all the labour, anxiety and expense. The sol- 
diers guarding the convicts were equally joyful. " We have 
lived here like animals," said one to the colporteur ; " we 
have no church, and we have quite forgotten about God. 
Then you come with your books as if sent from heaven. 
We begin to read and somehow the more we read the more 
glad we become ! " 

When Secretary Gilman was in St. Petersburg in 1879 ar- 
rangements were made through Mr. George H. Prince with 
the Imperial Bible Society of Russia by which a new work 
of distribution by colporteurs was undertaken in Siberia at 
the expense of the American Bible Society, two of the Rus- 
sian Society's colporteurs being detailed for the work of the 
American Society. The life of these colporteurs was stren- 
uous, now taking a ton of Scriptures from St. Petersburg to 
Odessa and thence by sea through the Suez Canal to Vladi- 
vostock and the Amur River; now riding 7,000 miles on 
horseback across the whole continent of Asia, and back; 
and once returning to St. Petersburg by way of San Fran- 
cisco and New York where Colporteur Golubeff was an 
interesting and picturesque visitor at the Bible House. 
About 300,000 volumes of Scripture were distributed by 


colporteurs in Siberia at the expense of the Society during 
this period. They delighted and comforted prisoners, ex- 
iles, soldiers, civilians, officers of high rank. The Society 
spent upon this great and beneficent work $79,563 ; the ex- 
tent of the blessings dispensed will never be written. The 
glad story of the wagoner on the road from Tomsk to Ir- 
kutsk is typical. He never had seen a New Testament but 
the colporteurs had left Testaments in every station road- 
house. By reading what he could at each halt and finding 
the book again at the next station, at the end of his thou- 
sand miles' journey, out of some scores of different volumes 
he had read the whole New Testament. Since the book 
thus blessed thousands of people who were out of sight and 
forgotten, the cost of the distribution was not to be be- 

Just across the Baltic Sea west of Reval and the Esthon- 
ias, at Stockholm in Sweden the American Baptist Mission- 
ary Union had a flourishing mission in aid of which the 
Society made a number of grants at this time. The Rev. 
Per »Palmquist received the grants and had Swedish Scrip- 
ture^ printed as required, following the version of the Bible 
authorised by the Lutheran state Church. Here, too, the 
Bible sought out hungry souls and fed them, although many 
felt no pressing need of it. The whole amount granted 
during this period to the Baptist mission in Sweden was 
$21,512. To Methodist Episcopal missions in Denmark, 
Sweden and Norway $6,150 was granted, making $27,662 
for efforts to increase use of the Bible among these Scandi- 
navian populations. 

A work of the Society already alluded to was that of the 
Methodist Episcopal mission at Bremen. During twenty- 
two years from 1850 Rev. Dr. Jacobi, the superintendent, 
distributed at the expense of the Society 300,000 copies of 
Scriptures mostly printed at the Methodist Episcopal Mis- 
sion Press. In 1872, full of years, he retired from active 
work, receiving the honorary appointment of Life Director 
of the American Bible Society for eminent services ren- 
dered. Rev. Dr. Doering then took charge of the mission 
and although the British Society was pressing its own Bible 
distribution with great vigour, $136,692 as help from the 


American Society was granted American missionaries in 
Germany during this period. In addition to this money 
grant to the Methodist Mission, Rev. Dr. Oncken of the 
Baptist Mission in Hamburg in 1872 printed for Baptist 
missionaries at the expense of the Society 35,000 German 

Two little incidents must be mentioned lest we forget that 
all of these ventures abroad were merely designed to place 
the Bible in contact with the hearts of men. One of Dr. 
Doering's colporteurs encountered a Jew on a railway train. 
The man wanted a Bible but had not money enough to pay 
the full price. A German fellow-traveller sneered at him. 
" The Jew wants," said he, " to buy the Bible cheap so as 
to sell it again in half an hour." Four months later this 
colporteur stopped at a house in a country village and lo 
and behold, there was the Jew ! In answer to the colpor- 
teur's question he smilingly took down the Bible from a 
shelf, and said: "Yes, the Bible is my Bible; it has given 
me light, and Jesus is my Messiah also." The Book had 
accomplished that whereto it was sent ! The other incident 
shows the recognition of the missionary quality of the Bible 
accorded by the great as well as by the small. 

Miss Heye of Bremen sometimes received small grants 
from the American Bible Society. The New York Female 
Bible Society gave her a pulpit Bible for a chapel in the 
Tyrol at Bad-Gastein, belonging to the German Emperor. 
Miss Heye ventured to ask the emperor to write in the pul- 
pit Bible a message to the congregation. He wrote this 
verse : " For Thou art my hope, oh Lord God ; Thou art 
my trust from my youth." And then he added his own word 
of testimony: "Hope cometh by faith/ Gastein, August 
21st, 1872, Wilhelm Imp. Rex." The German believer and 
the American believers were thus united in the expression 
of their common faith. 

The American mission at Innsbruck in Austria was an- 
other field gladly aided by the Society. Rev. Mr. Bissell 
had reported the difficulties of the situation, but he under- 
took to support one or more colporteurs with aid from the 
Society. The Austrian law did not prohibit the circulation 
of the Bible. It did not prohibit selling the Bible. In its 


efforts to prevent union of aims between its diverse peo- 
ples, it forbade colporteurs to deliver the Bible when a cus- 
tomer was found. The purchaser must give a written or- 
der and the book must not be delivered the same day. In 
the meantime clerical friends of the purchaser would try 
to dissuade him from buying it. One of the colporteurs 
made the mistake of giving the Bible to a poor woman who 
wanted it, without first taking her " subscription." He 
was arrested and fined for his " crime." In his pocket the 
police found a tract ; his license permitted him to carry the 
Bible but made no mention of tracts. For this aggravation 
of crime the colporteur's license was revoked, and word was 
sent to the surrounding districts that he was an unworthy 
man. Traps were continually set by the police in the path 
of the colporteurs. 

But all such troubles served to reveal the desire of the 
people for the Scriptures. They were forgotten when the 
colporteur could see with his own eyes the comfort rendered 
by the book which he carried. One day a colporteur called 
upon a family living in a stable. After a few pleasant words 
he remarked, " Our Saviour was born in a stable, and I have 
brought you here His own precious words." The book 
for which these poor people had longed had come into their 
abode and they were delighted. The copy they wanted cost 
forty kreutzers (twenty cents) ; but they had only thirty 
kreutzers, which was their reliance for food for the next 
two days. But rather than fail to secure the words of 
Jesus, they chose to suffer hunger. They gave the colpor- 
teur ten kreutzers, keeping twenty to live on for two days. 
The colporteur was only too glad to let them have the book 
they needed. The aid rendered by the Society to the Amer- 
ican mission in Austria during this period amounted to 
about $10,000. 

The struggles of Protestants of France to maintain their 
own evangelistic institutions always called out the sympathy 
of the Society for they were embarrassed by poverty and 
opposed both by the Roman Church and by its bitterest ene- 
mies. In 1872 the Protestant Bible Society of Paris re- 
ceived a grant in aid of printing the Osterwald Version of 
the French Bible and the Bible Society of France rejoiced 


in a grant of $5,000 for printing New Testaments and 
Portions. There was in France great opportunity to cir-' 
culate Scriptures notwithstanding a chorus of opposition 
and ridicule. When a reactionary ministry came into 
power colporteurs' licenses were revoked without waiting 
until the next day. When the reactionaries were over- 
thrown, the granting of colporteurs' licenses was resumed 
but slowly. Often the vexatious conditions laid down seri- 
ously delayed the work. The steps necessary to obtain a 
license began with obtaining a certificate of good life and 
manners from well-known people. Secondly, a passport 
must be obtained. Thirdly, the colporteur must get a local 
license costing from three to eight dollars, according to the 
rule in vogue in the region where he was to work. In each 
Department (district) the colporteur had also to take out 
a special authorisation good only for that particular dis- 
trict. This was always delayed and sometimes rejected on 
the ground that no additional book sellers were required in 
the district. 

Notwithstanding these restrictions, warm-hearted Chris- 
tians were always eager to become Bible colporteurs. The 
return of Liberals to power removed the most senseless of 
the restrictions of colportage. This produced a curious re- 
sult. The French Roman Catholic clergy obtained from the 
Pope permission to print a French New Testament trans- 
lated from the Vulgate; avowedly in order to combat the 
circulation of Protestant versions. During the next ten 
years the Bible Society of France printed more than 300,000 
volumes, chiefly Testaments and Portions, at the expense 
of the American Bible Society. The grants during the 
twenty years to French Bible Societies amounted to $53,531. 

During this period the Society made grants to the Geneva 
Evangelical Society amounting to $27,105 for specially se- 
lected colporteurs in France. The Bible men met many dif- 
ficulties, but they also probed the hearts of the common peo- 
ple. A colporteur was arrested because the Bibles which 
he carried were bound in black while the one which bore the 
stamp of authorisation was bound in brown. But his trou- 
bles seemed light by the side of those of a day-labourer who 
had been won by the savour of the verses which the colpor- 


teur read aloud. He wanted to get a copy of the Gospel of 
Matthew which friends might read to him. His wife ob- 
jected; the priest had said that the book was bad. On his 
hesitating she said that he ought to obey the priest at any 
price because he holds the key of Heaven. The husband 
said : " Who gave him that key ? " The poor fellow had 
to yield to his wife's logic although he had tasted the savour 
of the book. He said helplessly : " Perhaps the priest lies ; 
but I cannot read and I have to do what the priest says for 
I cannot instruct myself in these matters." 

A well-to-do lady told Mr. Dardier, the agent of the 
Geneva Society, that she did not care for the New Testa- 
ment. He responded by reciting verses which breathe spe- 
cial comfort for the afflicted. She then admitted that her 
heart was sorrowful ; she could not worship the God of the 
priests ; she had not been inside of a church for eight years. 
But she thirsted for God ; She said to Mr. Dardier : " You 
must have known what was in my heart when you read 
those verses. I would like to buy your book, and I too will 
believe on Jesus Christ." Time and again the colporteurs 
received from unexpected quarters testimony to the habit 
which this book has of rooting its words in the mind and 
heart of the serious reader. One day a clerk in a govern- 
ment office hailed a colporteur with some friendly salutation 
and said to him : " You once gave me a Testament. For 
a long time I carried it in my pocket and did not look at it. 
But now for three years it has been in my heart ! " 

Spain, closely linked to France in one sense, was sharply 
separated from it in actual fact. The quality of a govern- 
ment, and the character of a people may mark frontiers 
more sharply than mountains. Shortly after the revolution 
that unseated Isabella of the Golden Rose, the American 
Bible Society sent to the missionaries of the American and 
Foreign Christian Union in Spain 7,500 volumes of Scrip- 
ture. It was the first large consignment of Bibles to reach 
the home of the Inquisition. Shortly the British and For- 
eign Bible Society began to print Scriptures in Madrid and 
issued in one year over 87,000 volumes. The National 
Bible Society of Scotland also arrived in Spain, not to print 
but to circulate Scriptures. The Trinitarian Bible Society 


of London also commenced an extensive work of distribu- 
tion by means of a Bible coach. The eagerness of Span- 
iards to lay hold upon the Scriptures when some degree of 
liberty had been introduced was pathetic. Mr. Lawrence, 
the Agent of the Trinitarian Bible Society, wrote to Secre- 
tary Holdich, " No little chick just liberated from its shell 
more instantly seizes upon its proper food than does the 
heart set free to do so instantly turn to the incorruptible 
seed which is its own food." 

Rev. William H. Gulick, missionary of the American 
Board at Santander, wrote to Dr. Gilman in 1878 about the 
method of the work. He said : " Our method is that of 
the disciples of old. When persecuted in one city we flee 
into another." The reports of the American Board's mis- 
sionaries showed seven or eight colporteurs employed and 
five or six thousand volumes put in circulation in Spain 
each year after the overthrow of the reactionary ministry 
of Canovas del Castillo. The grants to the American mis- 
sions in Spain during the twenty years amounted to $21,142. 

Another country offering difficulty and opposition to Bible 
colporteurs was Italy, a neighbour to Spain upon the Medi- 
terranean. In 1873 Dr. Cote of the Baptist Mission in 
Rome, bought at the expense of the Bible Society 300 New 
Testaments printed in that city by the Italian Bible Society. 
Dr. Cote took great pleasure in circulating them. In 1874 
the Rev. H. C. Waite announced the distribution for the 
American Bible Society of 5,000 Portions, 500 Testaments, 
and 200 Bibles in Rome and vicinity. It was pleasant to 
know that as a result of this work of the mission, 115 Ital- 
ian soldiers were converted and received into the church 
during the year. 

The Rev. L. M. Vernon of the Methodist Episcopal Mis- 
sion, writing from Rome in September, 1878, pictures 
graphically the method of the clergy in depriving the peo- 
ple of the Scriptures. A labourer returning from Bolsena 
met a colporteur and bought a Testament of him for half 
a franc. He opened the book and walked along reading 
here and there, saying to himself : " Half a franc ; why, 
this is worth two worlds ! " After he got home to Molise 
one day he met the parish priest. " Oh," he said, " I want 


to show you a little book I have. It is wonderful. It con- 
tains the secret for becoming good," and he handed the 
priest his treasure. " Miserable man," said the priest, " this 
book — either you burn this book or you will be excom- 
municated and damned forever ! " "What in the world ? " 
said the labourer. " It only speaks of God ; it is not an 
excommunicated book ; it cannot be." " Great blockhead ! " 
cried the angry priest, " how do you know whether or not it 
is excommunicated? Either you burn it, or you will not 
receive absolution ! " Upon this the labourer decided to 
take chances with the book rather than with the priest 
whose absolution was of doubtful quality. 

So the gospel made its way in Italy through all of this 
period, often cursed and destroyed by rabid priests, but 
sometimes greeted with joy and often read with faith. To 
aid the missions to circulate the Scriotures in Italy the So- 
ciety granted during this period $13,741. 

As in these European lands so in the islands of Latin 
America in this period the Bible was sent to many places to 
do by itself its own work as a missionary. These islands 
were notable as among the nearest of the Society's foreign 
fields and as the most repellent. The Society for years 
seemed to hang upon the verge of access to them. In 1870 
communications were received from J. W. Zaccheus, a 
teacher doing some independent missionary work in the 
island of Vieques, one of the dependencies of Porto Rico. 
When he went from this island to the town of Fajardo in 
Porto Rico he sent earnest requests to the Society for Scrip- 
tures to be furnished him there. The receipt of the books 
he acknowledged in these unstudied words December 10th, 
1873 : " Halleluiah ! Yesterday afternoon I had the joy 
not only to receive but to unpack the box of books. I im- 
mediately sold three Bibles. Joy inexpressible! Only 
think — the first box of Bibles ever brought to Fajardo! " 

Another field which was attractive and yet most difficult 
was the Spanish section of the island of Hayti known as 
Santo Domingo. Here the terrible illiteracy of the people 
was a main obstacle to Bible work. In 1871 when "an- 
nexation " was in the air, the Rev. W. H. Norris was sent 
as special Agent and commissioner to Santo Domingo. He 


was greatly delighted with the appearance of the island, its 
natural beauties and riches, and pleased with several flour- 
ishing though small missionary establishments. His report 
did not encourage the planting of a permanent agency in the 
island. Nevertheless the small groups of Evangelicals at 
the mission stations gave a certainty that Bible distribution 
would be carried on by these loving hands as the Society 
supplied them. 

In Cuba there was a distinct relaxation of opposition to 
the Bible as a result of the revolution in Spain. Scriptures 
were sent from New York to several of the seaports and 
distributed thence by the good offices of parties interested 
in the extension of the Kingdom. It was not until 1882 
that the Board decided to establish a permanent Agency in 
the island. After Rev. Thomas L. Gulick had made for the 
Society a careful examination of conditions, the Rev. A. J. 
McKim in 1884 was appointed Agent for the island. He 
found immediately a welcome for his books and at the end 
of the first year reported that 6,400 volumes had been put 
in circulation chiefly by sale. A serious difficulty, however, 
hampered his enterprise, in the scarcity of material to draw 
upon for his colporteurs. As Baptist and other missions 
grew congregations were formed at Havana, Matanzas, and 
Cienfuegos and from these came forth devoted men for 
colporteurs. During the five years from 1882 to 1887 about 
22,000 volumes of Scripture were put in circulation in Cuba, 
chiefly by sale. 



Mr. Andrew Milne was appointed Agent of the Society 
in 1864 for the District of Entre Rios, between the Parana 
and Uruguay Rivers, in South America. In Chili, on the 
west coast of the continent, Rev. Dr. Trumbull maintained 
a missionary enterprise aided by the American Bible Soci- 
ety * and to some extent by the British and Foreign Bible 
Society, through the Valparaiso Bible Society. This work 
was cosmopolitan in character, reaching not only the native 
Chilians as opportunity offered, but carrying books into the 
coast towns of Peru when it seemed safe to do so, and con- 
tinually offering Scriptures to the sailors of all nations 
whose ships brought them to Valparaiso or to Santiago. To 
different parts of Chili mining and railroad construction 
had brought numbers of German, Swiss, Italian, and other 
workmen who were also reached by the colporteurs of the 
Valparaiso Society. At that time this enterprise of Dr. 
Trumbull was deemed to be a separate unit. 

Mr. Milne's field, beginning at Rosario and Montevideo, 
was slowly extended during twenty years to include the vast 
expanses of Argentina, the war-devastated fields of Para- 
guay, the wide grassy plains of Uruguay and the little 
known mountain regions of Bolivia. From Montevideo on 
the Rio Plata to La Paz near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia is a 
distance of about 2,500 miles within the limits of this 
Agency ; and difficulties of transportation at that time made 
the distance almost a two months' journey. 

Travel and its incidents were leading characteristics of 
the operation of this great Agency. In its earliest days Mr. 

1 During the period 1871-1891 this aid amounted to $11,540. 



George Schmidt was a devoted explorer who made long 
journeys with his Bibles until in April, 1872, to the great 
grief of his associates and friends, his life came to an end 
at Asuncion in Paraguay. Mr. Milne wrote of him at this 
time, " No one ever laboured more devotedly or with purer 
motives than he. If any one has deserved a monument it is 
Mr. Schmidt in return for his labours in behalf of the La 
Plata Republics." 

Mr. Milne, too, made long and fatiguing journeys to learn 
the needs and to plan the supply of this field that extended 
right across the continent. It was not until 1884 that he 
was able to say that in one year all the different countries 
covered by the agency had been visited. He had a band of 
well-chosen and faithful colporteurs occupied continually 
in scattering the Scriptures despite opposition which was 
fierce and cruel. In the early eighties he took into his serv- 
ice an energetic Methodist minister from Peru, the Rev. 
Francisco Penzotti, who after some years of arduous jour- 
neys sometimes alone and sometimes with Mr. Milne, was 
appointed Assistant Agent of the La Plata Agency with a 
special field in Western Bolivia and Peru. All these jour- 
neys made by Mr. Milne in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, 
Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru, convinced him that 
no part of the world can possibly have a greater claim upon 
the loving attention of the Society than the countries of 
Central and South America. 

In 1888 Mr. Penzotti was arrested at Arequipa for selling 
Bibles, but after nineteen days he was released and contin- 
ued his work in Peru and Bolivia. In July, 1890, he was 
arrested at Callao upon the charge of having conducted re- 
ligious worship which was not that of the Roman Catholic 
Church. The case was tried, and Mr. Penzotti was de- 
clared not guilty, but appeal was taken to a higher court. 
The prosecution was so clearly malicious and unjust that 
secular newspapers and numbers of persons not sympathis- 
ing in any way with Mr. Penzotti's Bible enterprises joined 
in a general clamour of protest. This agitation failing to 
get him freedom, men began to demand a sweeping reform 
in the laws and even in the constitution of the republic so 
as to secure religious liberty. After seven months of im- 


prisonment, and after remonstrances from the United 
States and the British Ministers, Mr. Penzotti was released 
by decree of the Supreme Court. His sufferings in prison, 
like those of St. Paul, were deemed light because of the re- 
sult. By the good providence of God the outrages and con- 
tumely showered upon him went far to work out full re- 
gious liberty in several Latin American countries where 
priests still held in their clutch many officers of the law. 

In 1884 the central depository of the La Plata Agency 
was moved into the city of Buenos Aires and the govern- 
ment of Argentina recognising the purely benevolent char- 
acter of the Bible enterprise granted freedom from customs 
duties on Bibles imported from abroad. About $400 was 
the saving which this franchise brought to the Society in 
one year. 

The work of the Agency was disturbed again and again 
by revolution* by war, and the train of evils which such 
disturbances bring in their train. But during this period, 
in spite of all obstacles and the vehement opposition of 
clergy in different parts of the field, 281,199 Bibles, Testa- 
ments and Portions were distributed mainly by sale. 

The growth of the field of the Agency has been suggested 
only. But it will be admitted that such a growth is a cogent 
argument for placing capable and broad-minded Agents in 
charge of the Society's enterprises in lands too distant for 
direct supervision from New York. The better knowledge 
of results where an Agent is on hand to report growth is 
another argument. Cases continually come to light which 
invite the Society to urge greater diligence in distribution. 
The results of Bible reading are uniform among all the dif- 
ferent races with whom we have to do. In the first place 
the book always gains more or less of a hearing. Secondly, 
its influence is thus certified. Thirdly, among the people 
the Bible is granted a real monopoly not only of truth but 
of intellectual might. And in the fourth place, in all the 
regions to which it goes, the Bible finally becomes a leader 
of a more or less considerable group of people. It does its 
work slowly, perhaps, but when it gains a hearing the gain 
is permanent. 

In one of his letters Dr. Trumbull describes the process 


by which the Bible makes its own way among the people. 
The beginning of an endless chain was with an English- 
woman who advised a Chilian to read the Bible. The Chil- 
ian bought a Bible, read it, and then casually recommended 
a friend to read it also. This friend borrowed the book 
which had been commended to him. The Chilian then 
bought himself another book, lent it to another friend and 
bought a third Bible. By that time the others had read suf- 
ficiently to wish to buy the Bibles which they had borrowed. 
In the meantime the original mover in this matter had be- 
come thoroughly convinced of the truth. He invested the 
money from the sale of the two books in two more Bibles, 
and openly urged all his friends to read the Bible. " You 
will acknowledge," said he, " that this is gold. Get it, then, 
fresh from the mint. Do not content yourselves with coins 
which have become defaced from long circulation." The 
appreciation of the Bible shown in this Chilian's argument 
comes to some with surprising celerity. 

Mr. Milne wrote of one of his colporteurs who gave a 
copy of the Gospel of St. John to a girl. A week later the 
colporteur was offering his books in a coffee shop when an 
elderly gentleman bought a Bible, saying: "You gave a 
Gospel to one of my girls. It was lying on the table, when 
a priest came in and put it in his pocket. I want this Bible 
to take the place of that Book. The priest will not get 
this ! " The Bible thus produces radical changes in the 
thought and belief of many people. In Peru the Rev. Dr. 
Drees of the Methodist Episcopal Mission organised a 
church at Callao of thirty-one members and ninety-five ad- 
herents which had been built up entirely through Bible dis- 
tribution, no missionary having ever spent any time in or- 
ganising or any money in sustaining this little congregation. 

Mexico afforded many instances of the same kind of a 
result. At Ville de Cos, in the state of Zacatetas, in a min- 
ing community fifteen people who had received the Scrip- 
tures through Mr. Hickey or Mr. Westrup agreed in 1868 
to worship together and study the New Testament. Later 
a missionary from Monterey visited this band, administer- 
ing the rites of baptism and of the Lord's Supper, and or- 
ganised an evangelical church. In 1872 out of this begin- 


ning had grown a strong church of one hundred members 
with a meeting house. which they had constructed them- 
selves. General Casey of the United States Army, who had 
served in Mexico and had become interested in the begin- 
nings of Bible work there, wrote to a friend his views as 
to the future. One sentence of this letter touches the root 
of the whole matter and applies to all the countries in Latin 
America. " What Mexico needs/' said he, " above every- 
thing else, is that religion which is drawn solely from the 
word of God. Let it have that and material prosperity will 
come in like a flood/' Systematic, continuous dissemination 
of the Scriptures is essential in a field which is in this con- 

Various experiences in other fields of the Society served 
in this period as reasons for the establishment of permanent 
Agencies abroad. The overthrow of the French Empire 
in Mexico was the beginning of American missions on a 
large scale in that country. As we have already mentioned, 
Mr. Riley of the American and Foreign Christian Union 
established himself in Mexico City and received liberal help 
from the Society in fitting out his workers with Bibles. 
The Society of Friends established a mission in 1871 at 
Matamoras, in the state of Tamaulipas, and Mr. S. A. Pur- 
die, the leader, was very glad indeed to receive from the So- 
ciety grants of books or of money. By the time that Presi- 
dent Laredo (who succeeded to power after the death of 
Juarez) was ousted by General Diaz in 1877, so that quiet 
was established for a time in Mexico, there were American 
missions of seven different denominations receiving aid 
from the American Bible Society in that country. It was 
clearly impossible for any single denomination to represent 
the Bible Society in supplying the others. Yet it was not 
an efficient method to ship small grants to several missions. 
The time was ripe for sending out an Agent. 

The Board from the beginning of its history had shrunk 
from supporting Agents abroad if circulation could be in- 
creased by any other means. It had not avoided the ap- 
pointment of Agents to supervise the work of the Auxil- 
iaries in the United States ; but up to this time it had ap- 
pointed but two permanent Agents in all the vast expanses 


of its foreign field. It clung to the idea that missionaries 
would naturally be glad to take some trouble in distributing 
books freely given them by the Society. 

The missionary's side of this question after a time began 
to assume importance. As the work of missionaries in- 
creases the difficulty increases of finding time for efficient 
distribution of the Scriptures which the Society has granted. 
A time may come when any offer to relieve him of the duty 
will be accepted like help from the angel of God. 

Out of the seven or more denominations having mission- 
aries in Mexico two or three denominations had their head- 
quarters in Mexico City. It came to pass that an Agent 
of the British and Foreign Bible Society came up from the 
South and opened a depository. He thus began to make 
himself useful to all these denominations; they would not 
have to write separately for small consignments of books 
from New York, but could obtain books as they needed them 
in Mexico City. 

Whether this object lesson had effect in New York is not 
absolutely sure. The perplexity of dealing with different 
denominational missions at such a distance was sufficient 
to account for the fact that in 1878 Dr. Arthur Gore of 
Boston was appointed Agent of the American Bible Society 
for the republic of Mexico and established himself in the 
City of Mexico with a depository in an eminently suitable 
place for representing effectively his Society. 

Dr. Gore felt obliged to resign his office before a year 
had passed; and Rev. H. B. Hamilton, who had just gradu- 
ated from Union Theological Seminary in New York, was 
appointed Agent in his place. In 1826 Rev. Mr. Brigham 
had estimated that no more than 2,000 Scriptures had ever 
gone into Mexico. During the twenty years before Mr. 
Hamilton took up the Agency the Society had sent to that 
country more than 250,000 volumes of Scripture. In 1883 
there were connected with the American missions in Mexico 
264 Evangelical Congregations with 40,000 adherents. 
Since the Society's Bibles had much to do with the building 
up of these congregations, it was a happy thought which 
came to the British and Foreign Bible Society about this 
time leading it to offer to withdraw its Agent from Mexico, 


the American Bible Society taking over his stock of books 
at cost. The arrangement was very pleasantly made in 
1879, and the question as to whether the Bible Society can 
do without an agent in Mexico has never since been raised. 

Another of the fields where the Society had been distrib- 
uting Bibles by the aid of missionaries and other friends 
during some forty years but without any permanent agent 
was Brazil. After the opening of the Presbyterian mission 
at Rio Janeiro and Sao Paulo, through Rev. Mr. Simonton 
and later Rev. Mr. Blackford, a considerable number of 
Scriptures were sent out each year from points where the 
Presbyterian mission established its outstations. In 1876 
Mr. Blackford was appointed Agent of the Society. He 
travelled some 3,000 miles in the next year, visiting thirty- 
two cities and towns and putting in circulation several thou- 
sand volumes chiefly by sale. 

Meanwhile Mr. Milne had visited the southern province 
of Brazil, reporting a great opportunity for Bible work and 
confirming the statement of Mr. Van Norden that new 
doors of usefulness were opening all over Brazil, since so 
soon as people receive the Bible and begin to read it they 
call for preachers to tell them what to do. Under the lead- 
ership of Mr. Milne an Auxiliary Bible Society was formed 
in Rio Janeiro which took up the supply of the city and vi- 
cinity with considerable enthusiasm. Members of this So- 
ciety were for the most part European Protestant residents. 
Mr. Blackford resigned his position as Agent in 1880 
and was succeeded by the Rev. William M. Brown, a young 
minister just graduated from Union Theological Semi- 

Rev. Mr. Brown did not long endure the strains of his 
undertaking. In 1886 he reported that changes in the social 
conditions of the people were hindering in some degree the 
progress of Bible distribution. Since the suppression of 
slavery in Brazil, German immigrants and Italian labourers 
had begun to pour into the country. Various other influ- 
ences were at work to diminish the number of Scriptures 
^distributed in Brazil. The Society's Agency seemed 
founded on sand. Some weight must be given to a curious 
incident. The Emperor Dom Pedro appeared, after the 


fashion of Haroun al Rashid, upon the platform of a village 
schoolhouse to criticise the teachers for slackness in failing 
to teach the children the Roman Catholic Catechism and in 
allowing a Protestant Bible on the desk. He made a defi- 
nite statement that energetic measures would have to be 
taken to put an end to the Protestant propaganda. It so 
happened that for family reasons Mr. Brown withdrew 
from the field the same year. His successor as Agent, Rev. 
H. C. Tucker of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 
in 1889 wrote with a keen sense of a wonderful and com- 
forting change : " Sending away the Emperor and estab- 
lishing a republic in Brazil have greatly agitated the public 
mind. One act of the provisional government has already 
been to separate the church and state and to proclaim liberty 
to all religions." The permanence of the Brazil Agency co- 
incided with the fall of the Empire. 

The Central American republics had not received much 
attention from the Bible Society up to the year 1880, not 
because of lack of interest, but because of inaccessibility. 
The Panama Railroad had directed a steady stream of travel 
across the Isthmus and various missionary organisations 
had sought to care for the souls of the employees on the 
railroad and of the travellers passing across the Isthmus. 
At the beginning of this period Mr. W. L. Thompson at 
Panama was a correspondent of the Society, receiving small 
grants of Scriptures in Spanish as well as in English which 
he distributed as best he could. He was also in charge of a 
school at Panama for children of the people connected 
with the railroads. In 1873 he said : " My work is going 
on slowly, but steadily and surely, and I now hope by the 
grace of God to succeed. I must also state that I do believe 
the time is approaching for this people." But no Agency 
was yet in mind for Central America. 

Closly adjoining the district of Panama are the moun- 
tainous regions of Colombia which were a challenge as well 
as an invitation to missionaries and to Bible Societies. 
There was very little possible in Colombia because of con- 
tinual political disturbances, and, even after missionaries 
began to establish themselves in Guatemala and other points 
in Central America, it was years before an approach could 


be made to the interior of Colombia by any other route than 
the line of the Magdalena River. 

Venezuela attracted the sympathy of the Society during 
this period by reason of the persistence of General Guzman 
Blanco, the President, in his sharp and liberalising contro- 
versies with the Roman Catholic hierarchy. In 1876 the 
Board sent Mr. Joaquin De Palma to Venezuela as a com- 
missioner to open communication with the friendly members 
of the Government and to report upon the general aspect of 
affairs. General Guzman Blanco told Mr. De Palma that 
while personally interested in having the Bible or at least 
the New Testament introduced in the public schools as a 
text book, he was then approaching the end of his presiden- 
tial term and did not feel disposed to make any radical 
changes which might embarrass his successor. Mr. De 
Palma waited until the new administration was installed 
and found plenty of encouragement in their courtesies. All 
this, however, seems to have amounted to very little in the 
way of Bible distribution. Ten years later Mr. Milne from 
Montevideo, with Mr. Penzotti, his assistant, visited Ca- 
racas and were shocked to discover no trace whatever of 
certain " Bible Committees " hopefully organised by Mr. 
De Palma. Mr. Milne and his companion lost about a 
month of precious time through allowing themselves to trust 
the empty promises of ministers of government. They ap- 
pointed as colporteurs of the Society some members of the 
Presbyterian church, but insisted that Bible work in Vene- 
zuela could not be effectively pressed unless an energetic 
Agent was placed in charge. This urgent advice was 
heeded by the Board. 

In 1887 the Rev. W. M. Patterson. D.D., of the Metho- 
dist Episcopal Mission in Mexico was appointed Agent for 
Venezuela. Dr. Patterson found the country more difficult 
as a field for Bible work than had been imagined. Men, 
women, and children had been carefully taught by the 
priests not only to resist offers of the Scriptures, but to 
answer the arguments of colporteurs who pressed Scriptures 
upon them. The case called for missionaries to be sent to 
Venezuela, at least to Caracas. Once more the Society 
suffered disappointment in its plans for this territory where 


so long it had sought an opening for its Bibles. Dr. Pat- 
terson officiated at the funeral of an acquaintance in Mara- 
caibo. The man had died of yellow fever. After his re- 
turn to Caracas, Dr. Patterson was attacked by the disease 
and died August 19th, 1889. But happily there was no dis- 
position on the part of the Society to cease its efforts. In 
1890 the Rev. Joseph Norwood, formerly a missionary in 
Peru, of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, was ap- 
pointed Agent of the Society for Venezuela. 

Curious problems in due course emerged in other coun- 
tries where missionaries attended to the distribution of the 
Society's books, emphasising the need of some direct 'care 
of such work by the Board when missions grow. For years 
the Board had made liberal grants of money to American 
missions in Ceylon, in South India, in the Bombay Presi- 
dency and in some parts of North India. At the time of 
the opening of the American missions thus aided there was 
great need of help for Bible work. In fact, for a time the 
largest proportion of the money used in Ceylon by the Jaffna 
Auxiliary Society (British) came from the American Bible 
Society. Somewhat the same situation existed during the 
early years of the Madras Auxiliary of the British Society, 
for it was glad to get at least half of the money for certain 
publications from the grants made to American missionaries 
by the American Bible Society. Similar needs led to the 
grants to American Missions for printing in Marathi, and 
in Punjabi, Hindustani, etc. (in North India). The grants 
of money to American missions in India during this period 
amounted to $44,225. 

But it came to pass during the present period of our story 
that the American missionaries in South India began to 
find colporteurs of the local British Auxiliaries so vigor- 
ously canvassing the American mission fields as to leave 
hardly any opportunity for missionaries to sell books. 
Similar word came from the region of the Punjab where 
a vigorous Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible So- 
ciety had been formed. There, finally, about 1886 the Brit- 
ish Auxiliary bought from the Presbyterian Lodiana mis- 
sion the whole stock of Scriptures remaining in hand from 
those printed with the aid of the American Bible Society. 


One of the missionaries put the case of the mission as to 
distribution of books in an entirely new light when he men- 
tioned how great a relief it was to be delivered from the 
burden of book distribution which hitherto had rested heav- 
ily upon his shoulders, but which hereafter would be car- 
ried by the local Auxiliary of the British and Foreign 
Bible Society. 

In «each of these cases the question naturally arises 
whether it was wise on the part of the American Society 
to* overburden missionaries already perplexed by the multi- 
plicity of their cares — educational, pastoral, and evangelis- 
tic — in rapidly growing fields, merely for the sake of sav- 
ing the sum which would have been necessary to provide an 
Agent capable of handling the enterprises which the Society 
had been so eager to initiate. However this may be, these 
experiences offered their own proof of the necessity of the 
appointment in every large field of a man able to see ac- 
curately, report clearly, and execute faithfully instructions 
from the Board — a man, in fact, whom the Board could 
fully trust as its envoy and ambassador. It was during this 
period, then, that decisions were finally taken which led to 
the establishment of the most of the Society's foreign Agen- 
cies. 1 

1 In 1891 the foreign Agencies of the Society with the dates of 
their organisation were as follows : 

Levant 1836 Mexico 1878 

La Plata 1864 Persia ! . . 1880 

Japan 1876 Cuba 1882 

China 1876 Venezuela 1888 

Brazil 1876 Siam 1890 



The decision of the Society to appoint an Agent to su- 
perintend Bible distribution in China was reached after 
several very urgent appeals from missionaries. The gen- 
eral missionary work was growing. It was beyond the 
strength of the missionaries to guide inquirers in their home 
station and also to press distribution of the Scriptures in 
outlying regions. In 1875 Rev. Dr. N. G. Clark, Secretary 
of the American Board of Missions, urged the Board of 
Managers to realise what might be accomplished at that 
stage of affairs if 500,000 copies of the Scriptures in Chi- 
nese could be put into circulation at once. Such a sowing 
of seed, he judged, could only be executed by Bible Society 
men, devoted entirely to the one work. 

Partly because of this appeal, Rev. Luther H. Gulick, 
M.D., formerly a missionary of the American Board in 
Micronesia, was appointed Agent of the American Bible 
Society for Japan and China, and reached Yokohama early 
in 1876, full of interest in the project of increasing the cir- 
culation of the Scriptures in these two wonderful countries 
of the Far East. Dr. Gulick's first impression of Ningpo, 
China, was characteristic. " This city," said he, " was 
founded about the time of the prophet Isaiah and now, 
about twenty-six centuries later, the prophesies of Isaiah are 
only beginning to reach Ningpo/' 

At this time the Society had been giving grants in aid to 
American missions in China during some forty years. The 
missions were of eight denominations, besides the China 
Inland Mission which was international and interdenomina- 
tional. The American Missions which had printing presses 
were the Methodist Episcopal at Fuchow, the Presbyterian 



mission at Shanghai (then unquestionably the finest print- 
ing house in China), and the American Board's mission in 
Northern China at Peking. At all of these places and many 
others the missions had important congregations. The 
American Protestant Episcopal mission at Shanghai had ex- 
tended its work up the Yangtze River to Hankow. The 
American Board's mission at Peking, Tungchow and'Tient- 
sien, had reached out to the gateway of Mongolia at Kal- 
gan, there supplying Arabic as well as Mongolian Scriptures 
to the people of the caravans from the desert. American 
missionaries had also reached out into West China as far 
as to Si Ngan f u, the outpost of ancient Nestorian missions ; 
distributing large numbers of Scriptures by sale in the prov- 
inces of Shansi and Shensi, and everywhere being courte- 
ously received. The prospect for Bible distribution was in- 

The missionaries had employed a few colporteurs at the 
expense of the Bible Society, but it was very difficult to find 
suitable men; men with really spiritual insight and able to 
understand thoroughly the object of the Gospel or other 
Portion which they were sent to sell to the people. Much 
of the work of the missionaries in the line of Bible distribu- 
tion for this reason was as uncertain as the steering of a 
ship at sea in a fog. One satisfaction of the missionaries 
at this juncture was the fact that the Bible in some degree 
pre-empted the field of literature so far as the common peo- 
ple were concerned. In different parts of China the Holy 
Scriptures had been circulated in Chinese before any other 
work whatever brought from Western nations had been 
translated into Chinese. 

By this time realisation had come to the most of the mis- 
sions that in a country like China gratuitous circulation of 
Scriptures was not wise. To decide what proportion of 
the cost of the Scriptures should be fixed as the price of 
the books, then became a serious matter. In many cases 
the price was one-fifth, sometimes one-half of the actual 
cost of the books, and sometimes a merely nominal sum. 
Such a course is the only one practicable in countries where 
money is scarce or entirely absent. In Micronesia payment 
for Scriptures has been made in cocoanut fibre and oil. 


Dr. J. P. Chamberlain on one tour in India accepted shells 
from the seashore instead of coin as payment for Bibles. 
In Western Africa Presbyterian missionaries have accepted 
fish, fowls, fruit, building materials, and anything that the 
people can give as payment for books. The two volumes 
of the Mpongwe Bible which cost in New York $4.50 were 
sold on the field for one dollar. But there was no dollar on 
the Gaboon. Four yards of print worth in America seven 
or eight cents a yard, were rated as a dollar. The cheapest 
edition of the Society's Mandarin Version of the Bible cost 
thirty-eight cents. The single Gospels in Chinese cost one 
and one-half cents apiece; but to the poor they were sold 
at half a cent each or less. Before the end of this period, 
when the number of Christians was multiplied, one edition 
of the Bible in Chinese was printed on foreign paper with 
elegant binding and was sold at two dollars a copy. The 
same book printed on Chinese paper in the Chinese style 
was sold at twenty-five cents a copy. In fixing prices for 
the Scriptures the general principle is that books are prized 
by those who pay something; but in dealing with poverty- 
stricken people those who circulate the Bible have to use 
great discretion, however large a draft the distribution may 
make upon charitable funds. 

Greater than poverty as an obstacle to Bible distribution 
in China was the illiteracy of the people. The missionaries 
had found by experience a living hope for the country in 
the willingness of the people to learn to read, although there 
was no widespread ability to do so. A man would pass as 
" literary " who knew only a few Chinese characters. But 
such a one on getting a Gospel would proceed like a child 
with a picture puzzle. By persistently trying and asking, 
he could little by little master a whole line, and then a whole 
page ; and by that time some idea of the subject of the book 
would encourage him to analyse still more of the unknown 

Two things took place in China upon the arrival of Dr. 
Gulick. In the first place a number of foreign colporteurs 
were engaged, men of ability and tested Christian character 
who would go into the field themselves to sell books and who 
would each take charge of a band of native colporteurs to 


whom they could impart something of the energy and hardi- 
hood necessary for the work. In the second place, the 
number of colporteurs working under the direction of mis- 
sionaries was increased in different parts of the field. With 
this introduction of system also commenced a full and ac- 
curate accounting for all books distributed. Before long 
there had been organised a band of eight foreign colpor- 
teurs, each one of them superintending six or eight natives 
who steadily gained skill in Bible distribution. Dr. Gulick 
also employed fifty-two colporteurs supervised by Ameri- 
can missionaries in different parts of the country. By 
these means the circulation of Scriptures in China increased 
six fold during the twelve years of Dr. Gulick's service. 

The experiences of the colporteurs were varied, but their 
enthusiasm was always at a high point. One of these men, 
Mr. Gordon, went up the Yangtse River on a Bible Society 
house-boat named in Chinese, "The Glad-tidings Ship.". 
His line of distribution was immediately along the shores 
of the river. He carried with him three months' supply 
of books, travelled more than a thousand miles and dis- 
posed of more than two thousand Gospels. 

In 1887 Mr. Prothero, another colporteur, with six na- 
tives was the first successfully to. distribute Scriptures in 
Changte, the capital of the fanatical province of Hunan. 
The province had many times previously been entered by 
missionaries and Bible Agents, who had been politely but 
speedily turned away. Mr. Prothero took six picked men 
into Hunan by way of the Tung Ting Lake and sent them 
to canvass the country. Three of the men sprinkled the 
city of Changte with a shower of Gospels before the authori- 
ties observed their presence. In the course of three months' 
work this expedition put into circulation in Hunan ten 
thousand Gospels and one hundred New Testaments, almost 
all of them sold and paid for. Mr. Copp, another of the 
Bible Society colporteurs, in 1886 marched westward to the 
confines of Thibet, leaving his family at Chungking in the 
province of Szechuan where were several other missionaries' 
families. When he came back from his adventurous tour 
it was to find his house and in fact all the missionary houses 
in Chungking looted and destroyed in one of those sudden 


and inexplicable outbreaks which are not rare in Chinese 
annals. Happily the inmates had escaped to Ichang. 

In the province of Kansuh the colporteurs were rather 
disheartened by passing over districts where one might 
travel the whole day without seeing a man or a house. 
Mr. Thorne, another of the Society's colporteurs, gives a 
suggestion in regard to work in such places. He observes 
that the most forbidding looking people in the most wretched 
of places are sometimes just those whom God would not 
have the colporteur turn his back upon. Those who live 
off from the road, on the side of a higher hill, or deep 
below, where the hills divide ; far enough away to make it 
an effort and loss of time to climb — the colporteur has to 
think of the possibility that just such a place is the one 
which he should visit. 

Mr. Thorne was a rare character. He served the Bible 
Society nine years as a colporteur, Dr. Gulick having found 
him working in connection with the American Mission at 
Nanking. He had made a fortune in California and lost it, 
had been a merchant prince in Shanghai, where he lost 
another fortune. Finally he had attached himself to the 
mission station with the desire of doing something for the 
good of the Chinese, learning the language, and taking up 
with enthusiasm the distribution work which Dr. Gulick 
placed in his hands. In some of the villages along the 
canal in the region of Tsingho, the multitude of people in 
the street was such that no one could stop moving a moment 
without cries of protest from others whose way was 
blocked. Mr. Thorne was a tall, conspicuous figure and 
some of the people made it very disagreeable for him by 
taking small children and throwing them in his way in hope 
that he might stumble over them. One child who had 
fallen against his feet was crying. Mr. Thorne picked him 
up, and at the same instant another child used as a projectile 
was caromed from his side into a tub of fish. Happily, Mr. 
Thorne was able to see and catch the man who had thrown 
the second child, and him he presented to the fish-peddler. 
The altercation which followed between the two Chinamen 
left Mr. Thorne free to go his way unmolested. But his 
heart was deeply moved at the apparently sincere desire of 


the people to get his books. In one village, after he had 
left, having distributed all that he had, he heard a voice 
calling after him, " Oh, Foreign Devil ; Foreign Devil ! 
PleaSe come back. More men are coming to get your 
books. ,, 

Another colporteur describes his sensations in going 
through the streets of the city jostled on one side by a 
small-pox patient and on the. other by a poor creature white 
with leprosy. In such a crowd he might perhaps meet no 
adventure, but on the other hand a man inclined to trick 
foreigners might come up behind him, speaking over his left 
shoulder, and at the same time removing a good handful 
of " cash " from the colporteur's right hand pocket. Never- 
theless, it was the universal testimony of the missionaries 
that foreigners could sell more readily than natives in those 
beginnings of the Society's China Agency. Dr. Fitch of 
Suchow said that native colporteurs were apt to be despised 
and railed at by the crowd, whereas a foreigner would be 
listened to and treated with more or less respect. Mr. 
Porter of the American Board's mission said that the mere 
fact of the foreigner's being able to talk Chinese was 
enough to win buyers. Native help, however, was always 
necessary to handle the money taken in, although the sum 
was often ridiculously small. A colporteur on a prosperous 
day will sell Scriptures for 3,000 " cash," paid five or ten 
cash at a time. Rev. Mr. Du Bose of Suchow notes that 
it commonly took his assistant two hours to count the re- 
ceipts of such a day of book selling ; the three thousand cash 
being worth about three dollars. 

For this great undertaking the men chosen by the Society 
were always men of special ability, tested in missionary 
work, cultured, acquainted with the language, ready to turn 
to any branch of the service. Mr. James Ware employed 
in distribution by the Society for many years was valuable 
not only as a colporteur and as manager of the Society's 
office at Shanghai, but was a skilled translator of the Scrip- 
tures in one of the colloquial dialects. 

Two acts of permanent importance marked the missionary . 
history of this period. In 1877 the missions of all de- 
nominations working in China held a conference at Shang- 


hai. Including the Bible Societies, about twenty mission- 
ary bodies were represented in the conference. The mere 
ability to spend fourteen days in discussing aspirations and 
methods encouraged a spirit of fraternity, while the inter- 
change of thought and the comparison of methods stimu- 
lated greater endeavour. The second of the two important 
missionary acts was another conference held at Shanghai 
in 1890. About 430 persons, men and women, coming from 
every part of China and representing forty-two missionary 
organisations, were members of the Conference. Such an 
act as the assembling of the conference was of great signifi- 
cance. The reports presented at this conference of 1890 
showed a greater growth than was expected in the Chinese 
Christian community. The number of native communi- 
cants at 520 church centres was 37,287. The unanimous 
agreement of this body upon the question of unifying the 
Chinese versions favoured yet more rapid growth. 

The range of the Society's work of Bible distribution was 
far greater than would at first appear. Every sale of a 
single Gospel in China might be deemed a step toward the 
conversion of the nation. From the widely distributed por- 
tions of Scriptures, thousands of people in all parts of the 
Empire learned the name of Jesus. An experienced Bible 
Society colporteur in China could reach places where a 
foreign missionary could not and a native preacher would 
not go. Those engaged in such distribution, though num- 
bered by the hundred and the thousand, must each feel in 
that teeming population like a lone farmer undertaking 
to seed a section of 600 acres of land. How is it to be 
done? Who will care for its culture? Who will garner 
the fruit? 

The seed of the word was often slow to show any green 
blade of promise. The case of Li of the province of Honan 
was a type of the long waiting that China imposes upon the 
missionary. He was unsettled in his mind, dissatisfied with 
the religious teachings of his ancestors ; then he found at a 
wayside book shop a copy of the book of Acts which he 
carried home. It took him a year or two to find an intel- 
ligible or sane idea in the little book ; but after seven years 
he had pieced together the various strange statements and 


found that he had a wonderful record of the teachings of 
Jesus Christ. His old mother was also interested in what 
he found in that book, and she finally told her son that he 
must go ask the foreigners at Hankow. He must make 
haste because she was growing old and must know more 
about this matter. The man travelled twenty days to 
Hankow. In some perplexity he was going along the street 
of the city when he came to a chapel where a preacher 
was setting forth the gospel. It did not take him very long 
to perceive that here was what he had come to find. In 
due time he was baptised. Provided with a Bible he 
tramped back the twenty days' journey to give his mother 
the news for which she longed about the " Jesus religion." 

A colporteur from Peking travelling through the country v 
stopped at a village inn and mentioned that he was selling 
books of the "Jesus religion." The inn-keeper said, 
" There is an old crank here in the village who will not bow 
down to idols and is all the time talking about Jesus." The 
colporteur sought the man out and found that he had pos- 
sessed for twelve years some Christian literature. He did 
not know where to find any one that could inform him about 
it, but all alone, in that unsympathising, jeering crowd, he 
had done what he could to conform his life to the gospel 
teaching. As Rev. Mr. Du Bose of Suchow said : " Grant 
that a large number of these books will be destroyed, some 
burned, some unread, some laid aside on shelves and for- 
gotten ; it will not be so with all of them ! " 

It is worth noting just here that all the hindrances met by 
this work do not have their source in China. In 1890 one 
of the Vice-Presidents of the American Bible Society called 
the attention of the Board to the Chinese Exclusion Bill 
then pending in Congress which must necessarily have effect 
in limiting freedom of movement of Americans in China. 
In fact about the same time an American Bible Society col- 
porteur found himself unable to sell any books in Hongkong 
because a boycott was declared against American goods 
when the Chinese Exclusion laws went into effect in the 
United States. 

In 1 88 1 the Agency was divided, Japan being assigned to 
Rev. Henry Loomis, while Dr. Gulick was transferred to 


Shanghai to develop the China Agency. Dr. Gulick threw 
his whole strength into the work for China. It was barely 
seven years later that his health gave way. During his ad- 
ministration 2,000,000 volumes were issued by the Society 
in China, almost all of them being sold; and in each case 
with some acquaintance on the part of the purchaser with 
the Christian quality of the colporteur who sold them. 
Such acquaintance may be a vivid interpretation of the 
teachings of the book when a pagan cautiously inclines to 
buy it. In May 1889 Dr. Gulick escaped from China for 
a vacation rest; he resigned his commission as Agent in 
June 1890, and in March 1 891 he passed to the better land. 
Mr. James Dalzell who had served as book-keeper in the 
office at Shanghai, took charge of the Agency until the ap- 
pointment of Rev. L. L. Wheeler, D.D., in 1890 as succes- 
sor to Dr. Gulick, but Mr. Dalzell died before Dr. Wheeler 
arrived, leaving Mr. James Ware and Mr. A. A. Copp to 
care for the Agency affairs. 

The Southwestern frontier of China reaches down in an 
almost unknown loop to the borders of Burma and Siam, 
and the Laos people of Siam are near of kin to the moun- 
taineers of those Chinese borders. In 1876 Siam was in- 
cluded in the field of the China Agency. The American 
Board had the initiative in work for Siam, but the mission 
later had been transferred to the Presbyterian Church. 
Missionaries freely went about the country, although travel 
was difficult. It used to be said that a longer time was re- 
quired to go from Bangkok to the northern part of the Laos 
district than from Bangkok to New York. The extent of 
the country and the interest shown by the people, especially 
in its northern part led the Society in 1889 to constitute 
Siam a separate Agency. The Rev. John Carrington, pas- 
tor of a Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, was selected 
to be the Society's Agent. He had spent about six years 
as a missionary in Siam, submerged, as it were, in the 
masses until he had absorbed knowledge of the Siamese 
and of their tongue. He rendered important aid in printing 
the Scriptures in Siamese and in Laos; and his devotion to 
Bible distribution was a beautiful illustration of utter self- 
abnegation in the name of Christ. 

410 THE CALL OF THE FAR EAST [1871-1891 

The record of these Agencies, while showing growth as 
the missionary enterprise grew, cannot but emphasise the 
quality of the men supplied by the missions for the service 
of the Society. Through the consecration and efficiency of 
these men the Society was able to hear and heed the call of 
the far East. 



Long before Dr. Gulick had finished his first year at 
Yokohama as Agent for the Society, he was chafing at the 
smallness of the trifles which occupied his time every day. 
He had arrived at Yokohama in January, 1876; and it 
seemed as if the whole year was occupied in getting his 
bearings, learning what he must not do, and in waiting for 
some clearly important work to occupy his time. As many 
others have done in similar circumstances, Dr. Gulick did 
whatever came to his hand, reassuring himself by reflect- 
ing that the seemingly futile activities of every day might 
have importance in the use made by them by his Divine 
Master. At the beginning of his work he learned the lesson 
of " waiting on the Lord." 

One of the pleasant experiences of his first year was the 
printing by the Society of the Gospels of Matthew and 
Mark in the revised form prepared by the Committee of 
Missionaries. A part of the edition was furnished to the 
British and Foreign Bible Society and a part to the National 
Bible Society of Scotland; and it was noted in the report 
that the number of Japanese Scriptures stated as issued did 
not include 14,000 volumes sold to the British Societies. 

The New Testament was published in four different 
forms: one to fit conservative classical scholars who loved 
the Chinese style ; another for less cultured readers ; a third 
for the lover of plain Japanese writing; and a fourth with 
the Roman letters for the benefit of Japanese who were 
newly learning to read and for foreigners newly learning 
the Japanese language. Rev. Dr. Davis of the American 
Board's Mission said that the publication by the Society of 
the New Testament in Japanese and of the whole Bible in 
" Kunten " Chinese * has made it possible at last for all 

1 This was the Chinese Bridgman-Culbertson Version, with Japa- 
nese diacritical marks to indicate the pronunciation and the order of 


412 JAPAN AND KOREA [1871- 

Christian workers in- Japan to press on the work of preach- 
ing which they came out to do. 

In May, 1877, the depository of the Society was opened 
in Yokohama. This step was approved by all the American 
missionaries, and the site selected was the very best possible 
in the whole city. Up to the first of January, 1880, Dr. 
Gulick reported that thousands of Chinese Testaments and 
hundreds of Bibles had been put in circulation in Japan, 
besides 100,000 New Testament portions. 

The question of Bible circulation in Japan became im- 
portant even before the Japanese New Testament was fin- 
ished in 1880. The repeal of the anti-Christian laws in 
1872 opened the way for Bible colportage. The first col- 
porteur sent out by the Society was the Rev. J. Goble of the 
American Free Baptist Mission. Mr. Goble had translated 
into Japanese and published in 1871 the first version of the 
Gospel of St. Matthew in Japanese. Printing the Scrip- 
tures was a somewhat dangerous occupation in Japan at 
that time. Mr. Goble wrote of his experience : " I tried 
in Yokohama to get the blocks cut for printing, but all 
seemed afraid to undertake it. I was only able to get it 
done in Tokio by a man who, I think, did not know the na- 
ture of the book upon which he was working. " 

When the books were printed Mr. Goble induced a few 
people to accept Gospels and he was happy. But his hopes 
were dashed. Every volume was carefully secured by the 
police authorities and returned to him with the injunction 
to refrain from circulating such books. The demand was- 
even made that Christian Scriptures in Chinese belonging to 
the missionaries themselves should all be given up to the 
native authorities. But, with the assistance of the Ameri- 
can Consul, that demand was successfully resisted. 

During October and November, 1879, Mr. Goble made 
two tours for the Society, one of twenty-four days and one 
of eighteen, in regions to the north and east of Tokio. He 
had with him a Japanese convert well-known for his piety 
and Christian zeal. They went from town to town and 
village to village perched on the top of queer pack saddles, 
or riding in jinrickishas or making use of small river 
steamers whenever practicable. They made arrangements 


with 120 different parties, mainly book-sellers, to take Chris- 
tian Scriptures on sale. Several times they were cheered by 
meeting little bands of Christians. " One day, while walk- 
ing quietly along the dark road a number of farmers sprang 
up and almost frightened us by their eagerness to know who 
we were and what was our business. Before answering I 
asked, ' Who are you ? ' and they promptly replied ' We are 
Christians/ and when we told them our errand they seemed 
very much pleased." Only once did the colporteurs meet 
with any decided opposition, but they were sure that in 
due time that city, Mito, would become one of the most 
interesting mission fields. 

It was a surprise to find that book-sellers were willing 
to keep the Scriptures in stock and that as the number of 
Christians in the country increased, they also aided the wide 
dissemination of the book which they loved. At Okayama 
the American mission had the New Testament for sale in 
its little book shop on a side street. Few purchasers ap- 
peared and some one suggested that perhaps a Japanese 
book-seller on the main street would be willing to handle the 
book. He was glad to try the experiment, took the New 
Testament at a venture, advertised it, and immediately 
began to sell considerable quantities. Few remember, when 
talking of Bible circulation in one of the missionary fields, 
that the vogue of the Scriptures is something like the growth 
of a snowball which the children roll until it becomes a 
splendid mass high as their heads. In the case of the Bible 
it is not only the missionaries and the colporteurs who cir- 
culate it in Japan. When the New Testament was pub- 
lished there were in the country 2,700 church members, be- 
sides considerable numbers of attendants at the mission 
services. There were 183 missionaries, men and women, 
in the country, of whom 140 were Americans. All of these 
people were possible disseminators of the Scriptures, in 
widely separated districts of Japan. 

The Bible has begun to win a permanent place in any 
language when it is assimilated by many of the people. In 
Japan the man or the woman who is a self-seeker has pre- 
cisely the same emotions toward other people (or the same 
lack of motions) as the self-seeking man or woman in 

414 JAPAN AND KOREA [1871- 

America. In either country, by the side of the self-interest 
which a materialist deems worthy as an aim, any champion 
of the duty of subordinating self to the interest of others is 
admired as wonderful for greatness and power. Something 
of this early began to be seen in Japan. Before ten years of 
free Bible circulation had passed, natives began to say that 
the Bible was exerting a notable effect in the development of 
Japanese intellectual life. Its ethical axioms and illustra- 
tions began to be used by Japanese writers. Before the 
end of this period Baron Ito, a member of the Japanese 
Imperial Privy Council, ventured to recommend to the 
Mikado some study of the principles and the theory of 
Christianity, pointing out that Bismarck and his Imperial 
master were believers. The fact was curious, and it illus- 
trated the degree to which the Book was gaining a hold 
upon the minds of the people, even if this recommendation 
had little root and no after result. 

An epoch in the history of missions in Japan then, dates 
from the time when the Bible began to take a place in the 
native literature of that country. The Japanese Mail in 
speaking of the translation of the New Testament into Jap- 
anese, said it was like the building of a railway through the 
national intellect. A good translation of Scripture does not 
veil its ideas, but lets the word unmarred, reach all. Dr. 
Verbeck spent seven years upon the book of Psalms in Jap- 
anese assisted by capable Japanese scholars. The result 
was that the book of Psalms was a gem. The standard 
form of the Japanese Bible was in the simplest style of the 
book language, and it resembled the English Bible in its fit- 
ness to suggest the happiest phrase to speaker or writer who 
is seeking expression. 

As an instrument in opening the minds of men to spiritual 
aspirations, the Bible from the very first showed that it 
knows the way to Japanese hearts. In 1871 Captain James 
of the United States Army was engaged by a great Daimio 
(Prince) of Kumamoto to teach the young men of his re- 
tainers English — and the art of war. It so happened that 
Captain James was a warm-hearted Christian and his wife 
was a daughter of the Rev. H. M. Scudder, D.D. Neither 
had any knowledge of the Japanese language; and the 


Japanese young men whom they were to teach had no 
knowledge whatever of English. About three years passed 
before they could communicate with any facility. But the 
Captain had meantime won the confidence of his pupils by 
his kindly deportment. 

The young men of Kumamoto school had been taught to 
hate the very name of Christianity, but when Captain James 
suggested Bible readings they were glad to take tham up for 
his sake. Captain James did not make personal application 
of the verses read, but after about a year of study of the 
Bible, several of the young men said that they felt obliged 
to follow its teachings. Only then did the Captain explain 
and urge the demands of the book upon all. In 1876 about 
forty students in the Daimio's school went to a neighbouring 
hill-top where they could be by themselves. There they 
made the momentous decision that having received a great 
blessing from God, it was their duty to make it known 
to their own people. The people of Kumamoto were hor- 
rified. Some wished to kill Captain James; some wished 
to kill the young men. The school was broken up and 
Captain Jamea had to leave. But after study in Mr. 
Neesima's Christian Institute these young men became 
leaders in many departments of Christian work in Japan. 
The Kumamoto young men owed to the Bible alone, inter- 
preted by the Spirit of God, their change from hate to eager 
service of Jesus Christ. 

This story from Kumamoto suggests the influence which 
the Bible may exert upon a number of persons together. 
Let us also follow the influence of the Bible upon a single 
obscure individual, who fights his spiritual battles alone. 
In 1883 Rev. Dr. Ballagh described a curious incident of a 
Christian fellowship meeting in Japan. At the thanks- 
giving service a timorous man of some means confessed 
that for ten years he had been studying Christianity. He 
now wished publicly to declare himself a believer. He said 
that his testimony to the truth of the Christian religion was 
stronger because he was not a baptised person and no blind 
partisan of Christianity. He was a Buddhist. As a 
Buddhist he could bear testimony to the unsatisfactoriness 
and the untruthfulness of the Buddhist system. He had 

416 JAPAN AND KOREA [1871- 

studied the Scriptures during ten years and was so thor- 
oughly satisfied with the truth that he wished his testimony 
to the Bible to be practical. He then pledged himself to 
pay any amount up to the extent of his whole fortune to 
supply copies of the Scriptures to those who wished them 
and could not afford to buy them. 

These two types, the solitary, silent man who absorbs 
nourishment for his soul and ponders the truth by himself, 
and on the other hand the associated group that cannot be 
still, but declares the truth far and wide — these two types 
might be cited in innumerable instances of the living power 
of the Bible then and since illustrated in Japan. There is 
neither room nor need for multiplied instances. There is 
need, however, to remind the reader that instances of bitter 
hostility also mark each chronicle of Bible work. During 
the year 1889 a reaction appeared in Japan against foreign 
influences. Patriots raised the slogan: "Japan for the 
Japanese ! " There seemed to be at once a dampening of 
interest in the Holy Scriptures and for some time the in- 
fluence of this popular outburst, encouraged in various ways 
by the Buddhists, was shown in a diminution in the circula- 
tion of the Bible. This falling off in the circulation was 
not by any means permanent nor did its symptoms excite 
alarm. It was simply a difficulty natural enough in such a 
country, and calling for an unlimited stock of patient en- 

This falling off in circulation of the Bible was one ele- 
ment of a decision taken about this time for a better organi- 
sation of Bible work in Japan. A Committee of mission- 
aries was formed belonging to different denominations, 
which the Agents of the three Bible Societies were invited 
to join, and the whole enterprise of printing and distribut- 
ing the Scriptures in Japanese was placed under supervision 
of this committee. This experiment was the subject of 
correspondence between the three Bible Societies and the 
arrangement went into effect in July, 1890. In the new 
arrangement, since the Agency of the American Bible So- 
ciety was the first to be housed in a Bible House of its own, 
and since Mr. Loomis' dwelling place was in the same build- 
ing, it was agreed that the main depository of the General 


Committee should be the American Bible Society's house 
in Yokohama. The care of the books and the plates be- 
longing to the Society now passed under control of the 
Bible Committee, it being understood that of all expenses 
one-half should be paid by the American Bible Society, 
one-quarter by the British and Foreign Bible Society, and 
one-fourth by the National Bible Society of Scotland. In 
1891 the Committee published its first year's report, full of 
hope for a more extended work in consequence of the co- 
ordination of all forces. 

In 1882 the Rev. Henry Loomis began to take Korea 
within the sphere of his vision as Agent. The land could 
not as yet be visited by foreigners : in fact in 1883 the Amer- 
ican Legation requested American missionaries not to at- 
tempt as yet to enter the country. The Korean Govern- 
ment, however, was beginning to show signs of willingness 
to be led by Japan. 

The story of the opening of Korea to the Gospel can 
only be outlined at this point. But the outline would be 
incomplete without mention of a strange series of circum- 
stances reported by Mr. Loomis about this time. At the 
great exposition at Vienna a gentleman named Tsuda was 
among the officials of high rank sent from Japan. Mr. 
Tsuda happened to have his attention called to an exhibit 
of one book which had been translated into two hundred 
different languages. The fact of these numerous trans- 
lations was singular, not to say startling. Enquiry showed 
that the book was the Bible, and that it was translated, in 
part at least, into Japanese. When he returned to his own 
country study of the Bible led Mr. Tsuda to believe in 
Jesus Christ. 

In 1881 an embassy from Korea arrived in Japan to study 
the new sciences and industries of that country. A member 
of this embassy was directed to Mr. Tsuda for information 
on scientific agriculture. On the wall of the room where 
Mr. Tsuda received the Korean official was a scroll written 
in Chinese containing the Sermon on the Mount. This the 
Korean read with profound interest. Mr. Tsuda explained 
to him that these were the words of Jesus Christ. The 
Korean dared not take the written scroll home with him, 

418 JAPAN AND KOREA [1871- 

for at that time the death penalty was attached to accept- 
ance of Christianity or of Christian documents. He told 
one of his friends in Seoul, however, who was about to be 
sent by the king of Korea on another mission to Japan, to 
go and see the scroll on the wall of the reception room of 
Mr. Tsuda. This second Korean official was named 
Rijutei. The result of his reading the scroll on the wall 
was ardent desire to know more; and finally, through Mr. 
Tsuda, he made the acquaintance of the Japanese pastor of 
a Presbyterian church, was baptised, and began an entirely 
new 'life. 

The conversion of Rijutei was a link in a chain which 
cannot now be traced to its end. First there was Mr. 
Tsuda at the Vienna Exposition, then the Korean magnate 
in Mr. Tsuda's reception room, next the private information 
given to Rijutei in Seoul, and next the journey of Rijutei to 
Japan which led ultimately to his conversion. The first 
service that Rijutei undertook for the Lord Jesus Christ 
was the preparation of a New Testament in Chino-Korean 
and the translation into Korean of the Gospel of St. Mark. 
Meanwhile, in July, 1883, Rijutei wrote an impassioned ap- 
peal to the churches of America beseeching them to send 
missionaries to Korea. 

The Korean Embassy to Japan was sent out in 1880. 
In 1883 Korea sent an embassy to the United States and 
following the appointment of the Embassy the American 
Presbyterian Board and the American Methodist Episcopal 
Church took steps to send missionaries into Korea so soon 
as the country was able to receive them. It was not until 
1885 that it was considered safe for Americans to go to 
Seoul the capital of Korea. In that year Rev. Mr. Under- 
wood of the Presbyterian Mission and Rev. Mr. Appen- 
zeller and Dr. Scranton of the Methodist Episcopal Mission 
took up their abode in the Korean capital. The books which 
they could take with them were the Gospels translated by 
Rijutei and printed by the Society. 

At this time but one other attempt had been made to 
translate the Scriptures into Korean. The Rev. John Ross 
of Manchuria in 1875, when Li Hung Chang abolished the 
"neutral strip" between Manchuria and Korea, travelled 


in that region and met Koreans. With their aid he made 
a version of the New Testament which was printed in 1885 
by the National Bible Society of Scotland. Unfortunately 
the dialect of Mr. Ross* teachers was not very intelligible 
as far south as the capital of Korea. At the beginning of 
the American mission in Korea, then, Rijutei's translation 
of the Gospels was used to the extent of several thousand 
copies. In 1887 the Scottish National Bible Society re- 
published the Gospel of Mark of this version with some 
improvements, but it was plain that the first duty of the 
missionaries must be to take from the original tongues an 
entirely new version of the Scriptures in Korean. 

Mr. Loomis, the Society's Agent for Japan and Korea, 
spent two months of 1885 in Korea and returned to Japan 
full of enthusiasm for work in this new field. At this time 
there were only three missionaries in the Hermit Kingdom 
— all Americans. Three Bible Societies were also repre- 
sented there: the American, which was first to visit Seoul, 
the Scottish National Bible Society, which arrived later, and 
finally the British and Foreign Society. A committee of 
the missionaries was soon formed to take up the work of 
Bible translation. It w r as quite impossible to do much in 
the way of Bible distribution, not only because of- the slender 
stock of Scriptures on hand, but because the lack of trust- 
worthy material for colporteurs as well as the stern laws 
of Korea made an almost insurmountable obstacle to Bible 
distribution. At the end of 1890 the chief feature of the 
story of the year for Korea was the fact that the transla- 
tion of the New Testament under a competent Committee 
had begun in earnest and was steadily progressing. Here 
again the Japan Agency had to exercise that " waiting on 
the Lord " which the Bible so often sets forth as a means 
of strength. 



The enterprise of the Society in the Levant resembled 
the work of a colonisation Society in a land whose people are 
backward in civilisation. The Bible Society, however, had 
but one colonist — the wonderful Book which had now gone 
into thousands of homes in the Levant. Some part of the 
story of this colonisation of the Bible will form the topic 
of this chapter. In actual fact it prepares a basis for mutual 
understanding between the West and the East. 

In 1872 the Bible House in Constantinople was completed, 
marking an epoch in the history of Christian work in the 
Turkish capital. Formerly Bible and mission work had 
their separate centres in the European quarters of the city. 
Little by little the American Board's missionaries ventured 
to open book-rooms in.Stamboul, the old city, and finally, 
about 1853, they experimented with residence there, in spite 
of the Turkish prejudices which had long excluded foreign 
residents from that part of Constantinople. The mission 
had an extensive publication work and its editorial rooms 
and sales rooms needed to be in Stamboul among the people 
for whom the books were intended, instead of being hidden 
away in the European quarters among the people with whom 
missionaries were classed. As the work grew the mission- 
aries in consultation with the Agents of the two Bible Socie- 
ties hired a large stone building near the Golden Horn, in 
which the mission and the Bible Societies had offices and 
storage rooms, and a salesroom jointly maintained. 

The Bible House was built partly because this hired build- 
ing was too small for the growing work, and partly because 
the unobtrusive quarters of the mission, changed when leases 
expired, were compared by the common people with the fine 
permanent buildings of Roman Catholic missions. People 


1871-1891] TO HINDER BOOK SALES 421 

thought that the American missions had no permanent basis. 
The money for constructing the Bible House was raised 
chiefly in America by Rev. Dr. I. G. Bliss, Agent of the So- 
ciety, with the approval of the Board of Managers, but with- 
out its assuming any responsibility in the matter. 1 

The building was one of the finest commercial buildings 
in the city, being four stories high with eighty feet front on 
one of the most important streets in old Stamboul. The 
American Board's mission with its publication department, 
which issued school books, weekly and monthly periodicals, 
religious books, commentaries and tracts in four or five lan- 
guages, occupying the time of five or six missionaries, leased 
the larger portion of the building. The American Bible 
Society Agency with its storage-rooms was established on 
the second floor, and the British and Foreign Bible Society 
Agency with its store-rooms occupied a considerable portion 
of the third floor. One of the large shops fronting on the 
street was the salesroom jointly maintained by the mission 
and the two Bible Societies. 

During the score of years of this period many attempts 
were made by the Turkish government to restrict the sale of 
Scriptures by colporteurs. It proposed to have the Scrip- 
tures marked " For Protestants only," in order to prevent 
Mohammedans from buying. Here a compromise was 
reached by the agreement of the Bible Societies to put upon 
the title page the words " Published by the American (or 
" the British ") Bible Society/' The wish to restrict these 
sales resulted in a law requiring every book to be specially 
licensed by the censor before being printed. Here, how- 
ever, what was intended to be a hindrance favoured circula- 
tion, for thereafter every Bible printed in Turkey bore on 
its title page an official declaration that its publication was 
authorised by the Imperial Department of Public Instruc- 

The reason why Turkish officials could not strike directly 
at the enterprises of the Bible House was the restraint put 
upon them by treaties of commerce. Any illegal interfer- 
ence with the book business of the mission or of the Bible 

1 It is owned by incorporated Trustees in New York who hold 
the property for Bible and mission work. 

422 EUROPE AND ASIA [1871- 

Societies was resented by both the British Embassy and the 
American Legation, for the business carefully conformed to 
the law. A year or two after the Bible House was opened, 
the Turkish police entered the sales room and undertook 
without process of law to seize the Turkish Bibles. By the 
time the Turkish government Ministers had got through 
hearing remarks on the case by Mr. George H. Boker, the 
United States Minister, they were willing to apologise, and 
to promise that such an outrage should not again be perpe- 

Great was the progress which by this time the American 
Board's mission had made in Turkey. There were 195 
preaching places scattered over the empire with an average 
Sunday attendance of 13,744 while the persons connected 
with these congregations numbered 19,660 registered Protes- 
tants. The mission maintained 225 schools with 7,623 
scholars. This respectable little community constituted a 
fraternity of warm supporters of Bible work, since upon 
the Bible it was built up. That such a body existed at this 
time with its small groups in almost every province of 
European and Asiatic Turkey, accounts for the rapid de- 
velopment of Bible distribution during the period ending in 

The field of the Agency in 1871 embraced the eastern 
half of Turkey in Europe, Turkey in Asia, Persia, Syria, 
Egypt, and Greece. The position of the Agent at Constan- 
tinople was, however, something such as would be that of a 
single Secretary planted at the Bible House at New York 
and instructed to supply the needs of the United States. Dr. 
Bliss had under his control at this time about thirty-five 
colporteurs, scattered through all of this immense territory. 
These men had to have in hand Scriptures in a score of lan- 

This variety of tongues was pleasantly alluded to by Rev. 
Dr. Hogg of the American Mission in Egypt, in an address 
telling what the Bible does for the missionary. In the first 
place " it endows him with the gift of tongues/' People 
come to the depository and get Scriptures in almost any lan- 
guage they ask for ; immediately they assume that the mis- 
sionary can speak and write all the languages; one of the 


most wonderful things that they ever heard of. Then " the 
Bible gives the missionary a lodging and an audience " wher- 
ever he goes. As a stranger he arrives at a village where 
he wishes to pass the night. Looks are surly and suspicious 
but he announces that he has the word of God in his saddle 
bags. He is immediately conducted to the chief men of the 
village who treat him politely, if not cordially, and all the 
householders come together to hear what he has to say. 
Again " the Bible provides him with a text and gives him a 
hearing " among these people. The sleepy Christians of the 
old Oriental churches look with superciliousness upon a man 
from the New World of the West who wishes to talk to the 
hoary East about Christianity. But the Bibles taken from 
.the saddle bags immediately provide a subject of conversa- 
tion. The people are interested and the missionary can ad- 
minister to them the kind of a sermon which they all need, 
while trying to sell them Scriptures. Finally " the Bible 
Society enables the missionary to leave preachers at each 
place " to which he goes. A single missionary is sent to a 
district perhaps as large as the state of Pennsylvania and as 
populous as Pennsylvania and New York taken together. 
He cannot provide preachers for the different towns, but by 
a little labour he can leave the book in hundreds of thousands 
of copies in all parts of this great field. It is in such ways 
that the Bible Society is an indispensable aid to the mission- 

Colporteurs of the Society sent out under supervision of 
missionaries travelled throughout this vast field; in most 
cases the colporteur being jointly sustained by the Bible So- 
ciety and the mission. In this way the most distant portions 
of Asiatic Turkey were reached, even through Mesopotamia, 
eastward into Persia and southward as far as Bagdad. The 
Society maintained colporteurs in that distant city until 
about 1883 when the Church Missionary Society of England 
occupied Bagdad as a station, and it seemed proper to pass 
over the Bible work there to the British Society. In North- 
ern Mesopotamia, at Mardin and Diarbekir, was a very 
eager demand for Bible distribution joyfully supplied by 
Rev. A. N. Andrus of the American Board's mission. In 
1872 Mr. Andrus reported that the sales of Scriptures in 

424 EUROPE AND ASIA [1871- 

Mardin and vicinity had increased forty per cent, in four 
years. It was Mr. Andrus who took up the work of trans- 
lating the New Testament into Kurdish, numbers of Kurds 
having won his sympathy in Northern Mesopotamia and on 
the borders of Persia. In such ways the splendid linguistic 
equipment of missionaries and Bible Agents furthered Bible 

The Agent in Constantinople found it very difficult to 
make regular visits to the distant Persian field of the Soci- 
ety, there being no railroads and practically no wagon roads. 
In 1879 the Rev. W. L. Whipple was appointed Agent for 
Persia, that field being separated from the Levant Agency. 

The period of which we treat in this Agency was a 
stormy, not to say dangerous period of clash between Asiatic 
and European ideas of the science of government. In 1875 
an insurrection against the Turkish authority broke out in 
Herzegovina, and war followed with Montenegro and Ser- 
via. In the following spring took place terrible massacres 
of Bulgarians on the excuse that if left alive they might plan 
insurrection. The situation in Turkish government circles 
at this time was graphically outlined by Dr. Bliss in one of 
his reports. In 1876 two sultans were dethroned in rapid 
succession. " Men in and out of power played their games 
of chance with fiery energy. The hazards were desperate, 
and terrible the winnings — to most of the players, con- 
fusion, exile or death; to the lookers on — the people who 
bear the consequences — dismay, bankruptcy, ruin in every 
section of the land. Wars, famines, pestilences followed 
with their desolating trail." The war with Russia com- 
menced in 1877 and ended with a triumphant Russian army 
inside of the fortifications of Constantinople, when Great 
Britain and other European Powers intervened to save the 
Ottoman Empire from destruction. 

At such a time it seems a matter of wonder that any Scrip- 
tures could be sold, but those put in circulation in 1877 num- 
bered 29,237 copies, and in 1878, 39,183. The account of 
issues for this last year contains the item, " Sixty-nine vol- 
umes stolen from and lost by colporteurs." This item re- t 
veals the strict accountability to which the colporteurs were 
held. On the whole, this war time permitted a wonderful 


distribution. Some thousands of the books were gratui- 
tously circulated among prisoners of war and soldiers, both 
Russian and Turkish. 

At the end of the period (1891) the Levant Agency had 
in the field about one hundred colporteurs, some in Euro- 
pean Turkey among the Bulgarians, some in Egypt, some in 
Syria; but the greater portion in that immense field of 
Asiatic Turkey where the American Board's missionaries 
have so long been working to bring the ideas of Bible Christi- 
anity from the West into the slow and listless East. 

The colporteurs in all this Levant region did a work trying 
to body and mind. The fatigues of travel were greater 
than Americans can well imagine, and fanatical religionists 
often stirred the people to attack the Bible men, so that, like 
St. Paul and his friends in some of their journeyings in 
pagan Asia Minor, they had to escape as best they might. 
In one of the villages of Sivas, Turkey, a colporteur was 
thrown down stairs, dragged out of the village and severely 
beaten. The memory of this cruelty remained in the mind 
of the ringleader until it became an appeal to conscience of 
such force that the man went out of his way to find a col- 
porteur who could supply him with a New Testament. Be- 
fore many years had passed the man and his wife had both 
revolutionised their ideas of life and joined the Evangelical 

The work of the Agency was not merely the difficult work 
of Bible distribution. It included a continual labour in 
Bible translation or revision. Rev. Dr. Riggs was at work 
on the Bulgarian version and on the large Armenian Refer- 
ence Bible ; Rev. Dr. Schauffler was building up a new Turk- 
ish version, and Rev. Dr. Christie of the Scottish mission to 
the Jews was revising for the Society the Hebrew- Spanish 
Bible. His work was arrested, by the way, for some months 
by a curious quarantine inside of the city against cholera. 
This entirely cut off his compositors from access to the Bible 
House presses. 

- In 1 87 1 efforts were made to revise the Armeno-Turkish 
Version of the Bible, translated by Dr. Goodell many years 
before. A question which continually thrust itself forward 
was whether it would not be possible to unify the Turkish 

426 EUROPE AND ASIA [1871- 

versions. For now the Turkish language was changing so 
as to tolerate the substitution of many Turkish for Arabic 
and Persian words in literary work. The Rev. A. T. Pratt, 
M.D., with a competent native assistant, experimented in 
this direction, consulting with Rev. Dr. Elias Riggs and 
Rev. Dr. George F. Herrick. After Dr. Pratt's death in 
1872 a committee was formed to carry on the work of re- 
vision of the Turkish version with the idea of striving to 
make a version intelligible to the common people, and yet 
acceptable to educated Turks. The committee commenced 
its work in June, 1873. It was composed of Rev. William 
G. Schauffler, D.D., Rev. Elias Riggs, D.D., Rev. R. H. 
Weakley, of the Church Missionary Society (of London), 
and Rev. G. F. Herrick, D.D. Dr. Schauffler was not able 
to meet with the committee regularly and to the great disap- 
pointment of his colleagues, as well as of the British and 
American Bible Societies who jointly met the expenses of 
this work, he resigned. The work was then carried to com- 
pletion by the other three members, assisted by Armenian 
and Mohammedan literary men. To meet with this Bible, 
revision committee brought a thrill to the heart. The Mo- 
hammedan masters of Turkish expression joined heartily 
and reverently with their " Amen " in the prayer for the 
guidance of the Holy Spirit with which every session was 
opened. The work was finished in 1878 and with some 
slight additional revision to make the book more clear to the 
uneducated reader, this has become the Union version in 

We have said nothing about the office staff of this great 
agency. Rev. I. G. Bliss, D.D., became Agent in December, 
1857. In October, 1872, his son, Rev. E. M. Bliss, was 
appointed Assistant Agent. Prof. Porter took charge of 
distribution in the Syrian field, and Rev. Mr. Alexander or 
at times some other of the missionaries of the American 
United Presbyterian Church in Egypt acted as sub-Agent of 
the Society for that great section of the field. The burden 
was too great for Dr. Bliss' health and early in 1888, when 
Mr. E. M. Bliss was obliged to resign on account of the fail- 
ure of his wife's health, the Society lost no time in appoint- 
ing the Rev. Marcellus Bowen of Hartford, Conn., Asso- 

1891] DEATH OF REV. DR. L G. BLISS 427 

date Agent for the Levant. Mr. Bowen had been for some 
years a missionary of the American Board in the region of 
the " Seven Churches of Asia " and had a good knowledge 
of Turkish. Reaching Constantinople in September, 1888, 
he immediately took up the Agent's burden by making a 
journey of some months through Asiatic Turkey to inspect 
and animate the work of distribution. 

Upon the American missions, the Society, and the newly 
appointed Associate Agent, Mr. Bowen, deep sorrow fell 
when Rev. Dr. I. G. Bliss, while making a tour of upper 
Egypt* sickened and died at Assiout in February, 1889. He 
had been thirty-two years the devoted, unresting and suc- 
cessful representative of the American Bible Society in the 
great field which during more than a quarter of a century 
received fully one half, and even at the time of his death 
one third, of all moneys appropriated by the Society for for- 
eign work. 1 During the thirty-two years of Dr. Bliss* serv- 
ice the Agency under his charge put into circulation 875,849 
volumes of Scripture in some thirty different languages. 
It had been a great privilege to Dr. Bliss to throw all of his 
powers into the work of sowing seed, but it was character- 
istic that he never claimed achievement for himself. He 
believed that the Bible work in Turkey was given to him as 
his life work, and that any man called of God to do a work 
has strength, not his own, for its performance. In his view 
whatever was done by the Agency was done by the Divine 
help. Results belonged entirely to the Master who pro- 
tected and fostered the work. 

Among the Greeks of Turkey the clergy objected to the 
circulation of the Bible more strenuously than did the Ar- 
menian clergy. A large proportion of the Greek subjects 
of the Sultan lived in the central part of Asia Minor and 
had lost entirely the use of the Greek language. In those 
parts of Asia Minor the Seljoukian Turkish sultans who 
ruled from the eleventh to the thirteenth century had 
stamped out all languages excepting the Turkish. The 
memory of this piece of savagery was perpetuated among 

1 The sum expended on the foreign agencies in the year ending 
March 31, 1891 was $134,918.25. Of this amount the sum expended 
in the Levant Agency was $45,156.92. 

428 EUROPE AND ASIA [1871- 

Armenians and Greeks of the region by those curious liter- 
ary cenotaphs known as Armeno-Turkish and Greco-Turk- 
ish writings. A considerable Greek population along the 
coasts of Asia Minor and of European Turkey bordering on 
the Egean Sea used the Greek language, and Scriptures in 
Greek were circulated among them to some extent. 

The mission Board of the Presbyterian Church in the 
United States (South) had established a mission to the 
Greeks in Athens, Volo, and Salonica. Much was done by 
the missionary, Rev. Mr. Sampson, in introducing the Scrip- 
tures in the Greek schools in the neighbourhood of Salonica. 
An interest in the pure gospel which was full of promise 
was shown by the remark of a prominent member of a 
Greek school board : " I have ordered the New Testament 
to be read regularly, and have strictly forbidden all observa- 
tions or interpretations. This will cut the root of all false 
traditional leaching which I have found it so hard to free 
myself from, while the truth will be left to do its proper 

This period was also a time of wide circulation of the Bul- 
garian Scriptures. The usual fruit from sowing the Bible 
appeared in every part of Bulgaria. It seemed particularly 
suited to hold and shape the lives of some people in every 
town or village. One of the labourers in the American 
Methodist Episcopal mission said : " If I can sell one copy 
of the Scriptures in a Bulgarian village I can see moral 
improvement in the whole village within six months." In 
1886 there was war between Servia and Bulgaria in which 
the Servians were defeated. In the Bulgarian Army the 
usages of what is styled " civilised warfare " were observed, 
but not in the Servian Army. This difference was so 
marked that the missionaries were inclined to attribute it to 
the circulation of the Bible in Bulgaria. Its circulation had 
not been permitted in Servia. 

From the Koran Mohammedans of Turkey derive some 
true notions of God. It is one of their favourite exercises 
to repeat audibly God's " beautiful " and " terrible " attri- 
butes. These, however, are so diluted in interpretation that 
a common weakness with Mohammedans is to say, " Lord ! 
Lord ! " but to omit doing the things which the Lord has 


said. The habit of thinking worshipful thoughts of God 
forms a basis, however, in the Mohammedan mind for in- 
terest in the Bible. During the whole of this period some 
thousands of copies of Scripture in Turkish (written with 
Arabic letters and used, in general, by Mohammedans only), 
were sold every year. It became quite common for colpor- 
teurs to meet Mohammedans who were interested in Bible 
instruction. Here and there throughout the country were 
men who came like Nicodemus, secretly, to learn more 
about Christianity. Some of these ceased coming after a 
time, finding the demands of the Bible too hard for their 
easy-going morality, or perhaps finding the pressure of rela- 
tives or of the police too fierce to be braved. 

At the same time there were Mohammedans in Turkey, 
Syria, Egypt, and Persia who cordially adopted the Chris- 
tian faith. For example, an officer in the Turkish army 
suffered imprisonment for a year for insubordination. His 
disobedience was a refusal to obey the command of his su- 
perior to cease reading the New Testament. At the end of 
the year the officer was released and allowed to resign, and 
he lost no time in escaping for his life to a foreign land. 
The lot of any Turkish Mohammedan convert to Christian- 
ity was bitter. Even if the government regarded his case 
as too trivial to be taken up, fanatics might consider it a 
duty to God to slay the apostate; or at best his relatives 
would fret his soul with perpetual menaces. The number 
of such converts during this period was comparatively small 
and yet there were sufficient in all ranks of society to show 
the overwhelming influence of the word of God interpreted 
by the Holy Spirit. 

The case of one of the Mohammedan converts is pe- 
culiarly interesting because he became acquainted with the 
New Testament through his desire to refute its teachings. 
He lived not far from an American mission station in a town 
in the eastern part of Turkey where he was the imam (or 
pastor, as we might say), of a Mohammedan parish. The 
New Testament taught him many things, with the result 
that he had to believe on Jesus Christ. As soon as the 
change in his views became known, men banded together to 
kill him and he fled across the Russian frontier. This man, 

430 EUROPE AND ASIA [1871-1891 

when he was baptised in a Christian church in Turkey, 
selected for himself the name which he would take. The 
naipe was " John, Son of the Gospel," or in Armenian, 
" Hohannes Avederanian." At Tiflis in Russia the fleeing 
convert fell in with some Swedish missionaries, was sent to 
Sweden, received a theological education, and went forth 
as a missionary to Mohammedans in Central Asia. He has 
proved the reality of his conversion to Jesus Christ by many 
years of service in Eastern and Western Asia and among 
Mohammedans in Bulgaria (after the independence of that 
country made it safe for him to return to work among his 
own people). 

In the Levant, as in all other fields of the Society, un- 
counted instances prove that the Bible as a colonist or mes- 
senger for Christ is both suited to men of every race, and 
powerful to enlighten their consciences; it brings together 
even those who have been too far apart to tolerate each 



With gratitude for life, for success, for memories of a 
past that has left no lasting pain, and for inspiring hopes 
for the future, people gather to celebrate any anniversary. 
Whether at an anniversary of birthday greeting, of appre- 
ciation toward a faithful worker, or of general thanksgiving 
and benediction these elements enter into it. Such was the 
celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the American 
Bible Society, held on the 13th day of May, 1891. 

There was an assembly in the afternoon of that Thursday 
at the Bible House, the Hon. J. L. Chamberlain of Maine, 
Vice-President of the Society, presiding. In warm and 
graceful terms greetings were presented to the Society from 
the American Board of Missions by its President, Rev. R. 
S. Storrs, Jr., D.D. ; from the Mission Board of the Re- 
formed Church by Rev. Dr. J. M. Ferris ; from the Mission- 
ary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church by Rev. J. 
Kimber; from the Missionary Society of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church by Rev. Dr. J. O. Peck ; from the Ameri- 
can Tract Society and the American Sunday School Union 
by Rev. Dr. J. M. Stevenson and Rev. Dr. M. H. Williams. 

The evening session was held in Chickering Hall, Presi- 
dent E. L. Fancher in the chair. After a formal report of 
the progress of seventy-five years by Secretary Alexander 
McLean, an eloquent and powerful address on the " Vitality 
of the Bible " was made by the Rev. Dr. Phillips Brooks of 
Boston. Addresses of greeting followed by the Rev. T. 
Aston-Binns, from the British arid Foreign Bible Society, 
Rev. James Stalker from the National Bible Society of Scot- 
land, and the Rev. J. Burton, B.D., from the Upper Canada 
Bible Society. These addresses pleasantly emphasised the 



singleness of purpose which unites different denominations 
and different nationalities in the Bible cause, belittling the 
differences which might hinder union. 

The record of the third quarter of a century of the Bible 
Society's labours was one that quickened faith. The men 
of the Society had worked under pressure; they had suf- 
fered disappointment in the support given by the home 
churches, but they had also been carried to heights from 
which the outlook gave them enthusiasm for labours to 
come. In the home field two general efforts to supply the 
destitute had occupied the minds of the Board; the first 
being the completion of the Supply ordered in 1866 and the 
other having been commenced in 1882. These were the 
third and fourth occasions when the Society threw its 
strength into supply of those destitute throughout the 
United States who would accept the Scriptures. In the 
third supply 5,454,778 families were visited, and in the 
fourth supply 6,309,628 families were visited and furnished 
books whenever they were willing to buy or to accept them. 

Great numbers of immigrants had landed upon our shores, 
and the Society was obliged to keep in stock Scriptures in 
thirty languages for use in*the United States, and to grope 
for means of putting them in the hands of the new-comers. 
It was a time of steady work for the Board, the Secretaries, 
and the twenty district superintendents. In looking back 
over the period one seemed to perceive a great depression 
which was a hindrance if not a barrier. The nature of this 
barrier, as due apparently to the Christians of the homeland 
themselves, was brought to light on examining statistics of 
contributions to the Society as noted in detail in the 39th 
Chapter. The total receipts of the Society in seventy-five 
years from all sources were $20,864,962, but on analysing 
the receipts an extraordinary fact appeared. The field of 
the Society's operations had been extending but there had 
been no corresponding increase in contributions for this 
work. The gifts from Auxiliary Societies and from 
churches in the third quarter century amounted to $1,378,- 
000 and $353,000 respectively. These amounts were prac- 
tically the same as those from these two sources in the So- 
ciety's second quarter century. Gifts from individuals in 


the third quarter century ($594,575) were actually less than 
those from the same source in the second ($655,643). 

Yet the number of books issued in the third quarter of 
the century was 32,448,136 volumes. This was nearly 15,- 
000,000 volumes more than the number issued in the second 
quarter century. In the 39th Chapter it was shown that 
legacies carried the Treasury over the troubles of this pe- 
riod. This fact, however, did not make the failure of con- 
tributions from the living any less serious as a feature of 
the Society's history. There is nothing to be said in criti- 
cism of the decisions of Christians as to the amount which 
Bible work requires them to give for its support. It is nec- 
essary, however, for every Christian to bear in mind each 
year that gifts to the Bible cause must increase in due pro- 
portion to the growth of Christian missions throughout the 
world. After what has been written in past chapters, argu- 
ment on this truth is superfluous. 

Mention of Christian missions carries the thoughts back 
to the chapters on the work of the Society abroad. The 
retrospect suggests one extraordinary feature of that work 
during this period. The history of current events abroad 
embraces catastrophes, wars, revolutions, and famines like 
that in China in 1878 where people were starved to death by 
millions. Monarchs were dethroned like the sultans of Tur- 
key, and like the Emperor of Brazil, and hereditary heirs to 
vacant thrones were sometimes expelled by the people. 
During ten years from 1876 to 1886 there seemed to be a 
continuous record of bloodshed and fighting in different 
parts of the Society's Levant Agency, ranging from the in- 
surrection in Herzegovina and the Bulgarian massacres and 
the war with Russia, to the Egyptian revolt against Euro- 
pean methods, and the attempt of the Mahdi of the Soudan 
to make the sword of Mohammed again a terror to Europe. 
The marvel is that these events which affected a consider- 
able portion of Asia and large sections of Africa did not 
anywhere permanently block the extension of Bible circu- 
lation. Distribution was checked, the men engaged in it 
were often placed in danger, but such disturbances were only 
temporary, and no impassable barriers were built up. 

All these great events concerned the home churches as 


well as the Bible Society. They represented the throes of 
nations seeking to find themselves, and Christians cannot 
refuse sympathy to such. Contact of the Society with such 
convulsions and with missions passing through similar ex- 
periences interpreted it to the missions, and also gave a bet- 
ter understanding of the missions to the Society. In the 
quiet of the afterglow it appears that these experiences 
brought the Society into the fullest fellowship with all 
American missions which it aided. The relation of the ten 
foreign agents with the missionaries was that of trusted and 
beloved co-labourers under God. To all kindred Societies 
the American Bible Society was a coadjutor, ready to work 
by gifts, by prayers, and by toils, as well as by striving in 
virtue of the special object of its existence to make the Bible 
everywhere the most easily obtained and the cheapest of all 

We have rapidly recounted the means by which the So- 
ciety sought to increase knowledge of Jesus Christ and His 
Gospel in many communities in Europe. We have told how 
the " seals have been broken " from the Bible among many 
nations speaking many tongues. We have delighted in the 
growth of Christian ideas and in the revelation of the power 
of the cross of Christ in the vast pagan realms of China, 
Korea and Japan. Glimpses of the influence exerted by the 
Bible in the great Mohammedan Empire have rejoiced our 
hearts. It is a blessed thing to know that those who by 
the Scriptures are lifted up and united in the knowledge of 
Jesus Christ are of every colour and every race found in 
any part of the world. 

The minds of the speakers at the Anniversary meeting 
were much occupied with the great lesson of past experi- 
ences ; namely, that the faith of the founders of the Society 
has been justified by the results of distribution of the Bible 
in many lands. Indelibly should this truth be impressed on 
the minds of all supporters of the Society and of bystanders 
in Christian churches. None can afford to be without 
knowledge of how the Bible has taken hold of all races. 
Three instances must suffice to illustrate the significance of 
this part of the story. 

In 1879 a colporteur in his journeyings reached the town 


of Guarapuava in the Brazilian province of Parana. He 
had no particular success in finding purchasers for his Bibles 
and Testaments. Men did not care for such books. A 
merchant in that town seeing that they were cheap, finally 
took all the books, thinking he would make money in selling 
them. When customers came in he would open the Bible 
and read a little to show them that the book was good. He 
sold the books for three or four times what they cost, and 
Scriptures were thus scattered throughout the region. Five 
years later Rev. Robert Leamington made an evangelistic 
tour through the province and in Guarapuava many people 
came to hear him, among them this merchant, without show- 
ing particular interest in the gospel. Afterwards colpor- 
teurs and other Christian labourers stopped at this town 
several times, and finally that merchant, as though he had 
bathed in some pool of Siloam began to see the Bible for the 
first time. He shut up his shop on Sundays; he spent the 
day in reading the Scriptures, first by himself, but later to 
people who could not read, for he thought they ought to 
know these beautiful truths. Out of this custom grew an 
evangelical reading club. Finally in April j 1888, the Rev. 
G. A. Landes found more than seventy persons in Guara- 
puava who wished to make a profession of faith in Jesus 
Christ as their Saviour. Fifty-three of them seemed to be 
fit to be received into the church and when at the end of two 
weeks he left the place, he left as many more studying the 
Scriptures and looking forward to his next visit as a time 
for making public profession of their faith. The Bible had 
broken down old superstitions and lifted the whole group to 
a higher level of spiritual understanding and aspiration. 
In the providence of God the beginning of the movement 
was the merchant made as by a galvanic shock to see the 
crucified One in the Bible and then to feel drawn to frater- 
nal interest in others who ought to see the light. 

Let us turn from Brazil to its antipodes. One day in 
January, 1883, a ship bound for Japan sighted a canoe rid- 
ing easily upon the surface of the ocean. It was curiously 
decorated after the fashion of the islanders of the South 
Seas. In the canoe were five dark-skinned men who lay at 
the point of death from starvation. Not unfrequently a 


canoe passing between two islands of the Pacific is blown 
out of sight of land by some storm and becomes lost on the 
trackless ocean. These poor fellows were rescued by the 
sailors, and kindly nursed back to life. 

As soon as the islanders were able to move about, they 
knelt on the deck together and offered prayer, evidently of 
thanksgiving. The sailors were astonished; still more did 
they wonder on seeing that among the few things saved 
from the canoe were books, from which these men read 
every morning and evening in their strange language. To 
rescue Pacific islanders always classed with savages and 
cannibals, and to see them piously praying together every 
day was to the sailors like being witnesses of a miracle 1 

When the ship reached Yokohama the remarkable five 
men were found to be Gilbert Islanders who when picked 
up at sea were five hundred miles to the westward of their 
island of Apemama. The Scriptures which they had were 
the fruit of the life labour of Dr. Hiram Bingham, printed 
by the American Bible Society ; and the naturalness and sat- 
isfaction with which these men used the Bible in their daily 
worship was a sure token that the gospel was rooted in their 
hearts. In their canoe, buffeted by the waves, starving, 
hopeless and about to die, those men showed themselves as 
stubborn in the faith as Job, who said, " Though He slay me 
yet will I trust in Him." Here again the effect of this faith 
drawn from the Bible was to lift them into fellowship with 
all of us who believe. Far from home these Gilbert Islands' 
waifs in the Christian circles of Yokohama were still in 
the fraternity to which they belonged ! 

Let us give another incident which occurred during this 
same period, in Persia. In the city of Hamadan, the re- 
puted home of Esther and Mordecai, some Armenian women 
in 1885 heard the story of Rijutei of Korea and of his ear- 
nest appeal for missionaries and for Scriptures in Korean. 
These women in far off Hamadan had received Armenian 
Bibles supplied to the missionaries in Persia by the Society's 
Levant Agency. They well knew how precious a possession 
the Bible is and how destitute those are who have it not. 
Their hearts ached for the people of Korea ; they put their 
pennies together and so they sent a donation of twelve dol- 


lars and sixty cents to the Society in New York to help give 
Bibles to the Koreans. 

It is some 15,000 miles from the province of Parana in 
Brazil, by way of the Gilbert Islands, to Hamadan in Per- 
sia. A Persian Armenian, a South Sea islander, and a Bra- 
zilian merchant have neither aim nor environment approxi- 
mating one another. Yet these far separated and widely 
differing people by means of the Bible were brought into a 
fraternity whose members are slowly becoming conformed 
to the image of the Son of God ! There is no conceivable 
service more glorious than that for which the Bible Society 
was formed and by God's grace performs. 

The successes of the Society were not, however, a subject 
chiefly to be celebrated at its seventy-fifth anniversary. It 
had issued in seventy-five years 54,233,712 volumes of Scrip- 
ture. The fact was to be borne in mind, but the great sub- 
ject of thanksgiving and praise to God at such festivals of 
the Society is the fact which these incidents and thousands 
of the same nature attest; namely, the power of the Bible 
to win people of all races to permanent union in Jesus Christ. 
At the end of a Marathon race the winner, if he has recov- 
ered the power of speech, tells of the bursts of speed by 
which he was able to overcome his competitors at different 
parts of the course. But no spirit of rivalry is possible in 
the labours of a Bible Society. The Society tells in its re- 
ports what it has been called to do and in what places ; but 
this is no ground for boasting. Its reports have nothing 
resembling the spirit of the man in the temple who thanked 
God because he was so good. What fills the thought of the 
officers and Agents and colporteurs of the Society at such a 
time of accounting is wonder at the changes which the Bible 
is bringing about in all parts of the world. From all parts 
of the United States, from all parts of Latin America, from 
Asia, from Africa, from the islands of the Pacific, has 
come evidence in literally uncounted sheets that the Bible 
can move men everywhere, and that the object of its exist- 
ence is to win men to faith in Jesus Christ and Him cruci- 

The universal living ministry of this book was beautifully 
unfolded by Rev. Dr. Brooks in his address at the Anni- 


versary celebration. Referring to the varied company 
which had been blessed with the word of God in the seventy- 
five years, he said : " With what various colours of bright 
and dusky skin, with what various voices and tongues, and 
various words, would they speak in your ears the words of 
gratitude for what they and their friends have received 
through the ministry of this great Society 1 

..." It is possible for us, as we look back over those 
seventy-five years, to see in them the representation of the 
great life stories of years in which the Bible has been dear 
to the hearts of men and doing its beneficent work, in every 
age and nation. We look back into the past, and can seem 
to see the Bible almost as if it were a great majestic person 
walking through the history of human life. We can seem 
to see it going up and down, doing its blessed work every- 
where, with outstretched hands, and a blessing dropping out 
of those hands, in every age through which it walked, look- 
ing at this life of ours in all its richness and misery, and 
greatness and sin, and everywhere giving it inspiration and 
hope. That great being which we think of as the Bible has 
come to us through these years, has come to us through the 
long history of the human race, and at the heart and soul 
there is that great spirit of hope for mankind, that great be- 
lief in human nature, which comes from every association 
with our human race. 

" And so, as it stands to-day, this Bible, bearing, as it has 
moved on through the past, this thought, has been full of 
promise, anticipation, and hope. . . . The works that are 
done for the progress of humanity are ever changing their 
form, but are ever the same, and therefore it is impossible 
to understand, on a jubilee evening, and think what the Bible 
has done as it has been spread abroad by our Society and 
other Societies, without looking forward into the future and 
asking ourselves, as men who belong more to the future than 
to the past, what the Bible has to do in the future? If 
human life is to go on, if man is to be the same great living 
creature, with more and more vitality in his existence, then 
surely our Bible, which is the Book of Life, has a great 
work to do in the future, and the time shall never come, 
until the vitality of our humanity $hall be completely fin- 


ished, in which the Bible shall not have its work to do, and 
they who can put the Bible into any hands that have not re- 
ceived it, or spread it before any eyes that have not read it, 
shall not have their great inspiration and duty before them." 
What the Society rejoiced in at this seventy-fifth anni- 
versary, then, was that it had a story to tell of how it had 
been used by Almighty God to place this book in the hands 
of millions who had to be reached in accord with the gra- 
cious plans of God Himself. 



The end of a year often brings serious and perhaps mourn- 
ful reflections. The end of a century may be expected to 
recall and emphasise numbers of sad occurrances. The end 
of the nineteenth century brought to the men at the Bible 
House a sense of calamity almost overwhelming. During 
the three last years of the century, the President, three Cor- 
responding Secretaries and the General Agent died. This 
distressing loss, unusual in the history of any institution, 
had to be entered upon the last page of the Bible Society's 
record of the nineteenth century. 

On the 19th of March, 1898, Rev. Alexander McLean, 
D.D., was taken from this life, after twenty-four years of 
service as Secretary of the Society. Dr. McLean was called 
in 1874 to the office of Corresponding Secretary. At first 
he had oversight of the District Superintendents and the 
colporteurs of the Society in the West and South, and later 
was given charge of the correspondence of four important 
foreign Agencies. He was a man of generous sympathies, 
and easily won the love of his associates and the esteem of 
the members of the Board. His familiarity with methods 
and procedure in ecclesiastical bodies, his methodical habits 
as well as his energy eminently fitted him for an office so 
full of perplexing details. His death left a vacancy which 
seemed to his associates most appalling. 

In September, 1898, Rev. A. S. Hunt, D.D., Correspond- 
ing Secretary, passed away, having served the Society with 
devotion during twenty years. Dr. Hunt had served on 
committees of the Society during twelve years before this, 
so that his high abilities were well known. On the resig- 
nation of Secretary Holdich in 1878 Dr. Hunt, then pastor 
of St. James* Methodist Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, was 
called to the vacant post. His literary taste and power of 
expression made him a most welcome representative of the 


1891-1916] DEATH TAKES GREAT MEN 441 

Society at conferences, synods, and other public gatherings, 
while his tact and wisdom and his unsullied life made him 
an honour to the Society which he loved. 

A year later, in November, 1899, Mr. Caleb T. Rowe, for 
forty-four years General Agent of the Society, finished his 
long and useful career. In 1854 he came to the manufac- 
turing department at the Bible House from the publishing 
business in New York City. His conscientiousness and 
close attention to detail made him a most valuable officer of 
the Society. During his long period of service 42,000,000 
volumes of Scripture went forth from the Bible House. 
Upon the death of Mr. Rowe his larger duties were? passed 
over to the Treasurer, Mr. William Foulke. 

Three months later, in February, 1900, President Enoch 
L. Fancher finished his earthly career. The work of the 
Bible Society had been familiar to him for more than forty 
years, since he became a member of the Board of Managers 
in 1859. In only one instance has a President served the 
Society longer than the fifteen years allotted by Providence 
to Judge Fancher. His Presidency, through his influence 
in the community, his large legal knowledge and experience, 
and his warm love for the Bible was of great benefit to the 

In December, 1900, Rev. Edward Gilman,. D.D., Corre- 
sponding Secretary of the Society for almost thirty years, 
passed away. Dr. Gilman had acquired repute as a pastor in 
the Congregational denomination, his last charge, as already 
mentioned, having been the Congregational Church in Ston- 
ington, Conn. On removal to the Bible House he revealed 
rare fitness for the office of Secretary. All of the foreign 
Agencies, excepting the one in the Levant and the one in 
the La Plata region, were developed under his supervision. 
He wrote a large part of every annual report during the 
whole term of his service. With rare linguistic ability he 
closely watched over the versions which the Society took 
up, and his love for literary pursuits made tender care of 
the Biblical Library an essential part of his duties. Twice 
Dr. Gilman represented the Society at important gatherings 
in Europe, and papers prepared by him for promoting the 
interests of the Bible cause and for special public occasions 

442 AT THE BIBLE HOUSE [1891- 

in the United States brought honour to the Society as well 
as to himself. 

As we have said, these afflictions smote heavily the men 
at the Bible House and in fact they were felt as bereave- 
ments not only in the United States but in its Agencies and 
among its correspondents in Europe, Asia, and Africa. To 
many of these old and tried friends it seemed as if the old 
order of things must change when these great leaders were 
stricken. It is always the case, however, in a work which 
is dear to our Master that a vacancy among leaders is quickly 
and thoroughly filled. Upon the death of Dr. McLean the 
Rev. John Fox, D.D., pastor of the Second Presbyterian 
Church of Brooklyn, was elected Corresponding Secretary, 
and to the vacant chair of Dr. Hunt the Rev. William I. 
Haven, D.D., was called from St. Mark's Methodist Episco- 
pal Church in Brookline, Mass. To the place left by Dr. 
Gilman the Rev. E. P. Ingersoll, D.D., pastor of Immanuel 
Congregational Church in Brooklyn, was invited. In his 
early years he became a lawyer, but after an inward struggle, 
he later decided to study theology and enter the ministry. 
For years he had been well known in the Board as a mem- 
ber of the Committee on Agencies. His courtesy and tact 
and broad-minded way of dealing with affairs won him the 
respect and affection of all his associates. In 1904, Dr. 
Ingersoll represented the Society at the Centennial Celebra- 
tion in London of the British and Foreign Bible Society. 
The state of his health soon gave concern to his associates, 
and at the end of 1906 he resigned his office after five years' 
service, feeling that he could no longer do justice to its 
demands. Two months later in February, 1907, his days on 
earth came to an end, to the profound regret of his 

The choice of a new President for the Bible Society is 
a serious duty, and it was not until 1903 that the Board 
elected Dr. Daniel Coit Gilman, one of the Vice-Presidents 
of the Society, to the office of President. Dr. Gilman's fame 
was national. His brilliant career included a professorship 
at Yale, the Presidency of the University of California, and 
afterwards, for twenty-five years the Presidency of Johns 
Hopkins University in Baltimore; and when he stepped 

President of the American Bible Society, 1916 


from his throne at Johns Hopkins he had become the first 
President of the Carnegie Foundation at Washington. He 
was also President of the American Oriental Society and 
had been deeply interested in Bible work for many years as 
a member of the Board of Managers of the Maryland Bible 
Society. Dr. Gilman's tenure of office was cut short at the 
end of five years. His death in October, 1908, was very 
sudden and unexpected. 

• In May, 1909, Mr. Theophilus Anthony Brouwer was 
elected to succeed Dr. Daniel Gilman as President of the 
Society. Mr. Brouwer was of an old Dutch family whose 
records run back to 1626. He belonged to the Dutch Re- 
formed Church, being Treasurer of the Collegiate Church 
of New York City. For sixty years he had been connected 
with Bible work in the city, eighteen years as Manager of the 
Young Men's New York Bible Society and its President 
after it became the New York Bible Society, and for forty- 
two years a member of the Board of Managers, and twenty- 
three years a Vice-President of the American Bible Society. 
The Society was bereaved by the death of Mr. Brouwer in 
June, 191 1. 

In November of the same year Vice-President James 
Wood was elected President of the Society. He had been 
at that time for fifteen years closely connected with the ad- 
ministration of the Society's affairs? and for many years 
President of the Westchester County (N. Y.) Bible Society. 
He occupies the highest official position in the Society of 
Friends, being chairman of the Five* Years Meeting, and 
for many years he has been the presiding officer of the New 
York yearly meeting of that Society. 

Among the Vice-Presidents taken from the Society by 
death were Ex-Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes (d. 1893) 
and Benjamin Harrison (d. 1901). Hon. David J. Brewer, 
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, died in 1909. He 
inherited the missionary spirit which kept warm his interest 
in the Society from his father, an early missionary in Tur- 
key. In 1909 also died Major-General O. O. Howard, a 
Vice-President during thirty-eight years, and a thorough 
Christian gentleman. Vice-President J. H. Taft (d. 1905) 
was a man of systematic benevolence and spotless character 

444 AT THE BIBLE HOUSE [1891- 

and was for thirty years a member of the Board. Vice- 
President Robert C. Winthrop, pupil and successor in states- 
manship and oratory of Daniel Webster, died in 1894. He 
was for thirty years Vice-President of the Society and was 
also President of the Massachusetts Bible Society. In 1896, 
Hon. G. G. Wright passed away, the " Patriarch Statesman " 
of Iowa, and during twenty-five years a Vice-President. 
Vice-President Elbert A. Brinckerhoff died in 1913, after a 
long and valued service as member of the Committee ori 
Finance. Another member of the Committee on Finance 
was Vice-President E. B. Tuttle (d. 1914), an influential 
member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and twenty 
years a Manager of the Society. In the same year the Hon. 
S. B. Capen, President of the American Board of Missions, 
died at Shanghai, China, in the midst of a visitation to the 
missions abroad. In the same year, too, died the Hon. J. L. 
Chamberlain of Maine, forty-three years Vice-President of 
the Society which he loved, who during the Civil War was 
promoted on the battlefield by General U. S. Grant for dis- 
tinguished service. John L. Williams, Esq., warmly inter- 
ested in Bible work, having been during forty-one years a 
Manager of the Virginia Auxiliary Bible Society, died in 
1914. He was of unique personality and great in his Chris- 
tian influence. 

Among the Managers taken away by death during this 
period we ought to name A. D. F. Randolph, Esq. (d. 1897), 
whose long experience as a publisher made him a very valu- 
able member of the Committee on Publication. In 1904 
F. Wolcott Jackson, Esq., died, for twenty-five years member 
of the Board of Managers. He was a descendant of Oliver 
Wolcott, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 
1908 the Board of Managers lost three valuable members: 
Dr. H. D. Nicoll, an eminent surgeon, Chairman of the 
Committee on raising the Endowment under Mrs. Russell 
Sage's offer; J. S. Pierson, Esq., for twenty-one years a 
member of the Board, deeply interested in the welfare of 
sailors, having served the New York Bible Society effec- 
tively in its marine department, and also the New York Port 
Society ; and G. E. Sterry, Esq., a successful merchant, for 
seventeen years a member of the Board and of its Distribu- 


tion Committee, a man of strong influence and wise in coun- 
sel. In 191 1 the Society lost Frederick Sturges, Esq., for 
thirty-six years a member of the Board, a banker most valu- 
able in the Finance Committee, and W. T. Booth, Esq., one 
of the last of the older group of Managers, who had been 
for thirty-six years a member of the Committee on Distribu- 
tion. E. P. Tenney, Esq., died in 1912, greatly valued in the 
Committee on Agencies during fourteen years. T. G. Sel- 
lew, Esq., a prosperous business man, for twenty-four years 
a member of the Board, died in 191 3. Alexander E. Orr, for 
thirty years a member of the Board, eminent in financial 
circles in New York City, died in 1914. The same year 
James A. Punderford, Esq., for twenty-six years a mem- 
ber of the Board, finished his useful service on earth. 

Appointments to the staff of the Society were Rev. H. O. 
Dwight, LL.D., for thirty-two years a missionary of the 
American Board in Turkey, who was elected Recording 
Secretary in 1907; and in preparation of the Centenary of 
the Society, Dr. Dwight having been set apart to prepare a 
history of its operations, the Rev. Henry J. Scudder, B.D., of 
the Arcot Mission of the Reformed Church in America, at 
home on furlough, was elected in 1914 Acting Recording 
Secretary of the Society. In 191 5, as the work increased of 
preparing a proper celebration of the Centennial, the Rev. 
L. B. Chamberlain, M.A., also of the Arcot Mission of the 
Reformed Church in America, and a son of the Rev. Dr. 
Jacob Chamberlain, long a correspondent of the Society in 
India, was elected Assistant Corresponding Secretary. 

Early in 1896 an arrangement was made with the New 
York Public Library by which the Society's collection of 
books and manuscripts was transferred to the custody of that 
institution as a special deposit. At the Bible House were 
retained only those books which are necessary for reference 
in the ordinary work of the Society. The object of the 
Board in proposing this arrangement was in the first place 
the protection of this precious collection from danger of fire, 
and secondly, the convenience of access by scholars and the 
public to its accumulated treasures. The collection, which 
consists of between 5,000 and 6,000 volumes, will continue 
to be known as the Library of the American Bible Society. 

446 AT THE BIBLE HOUSE [1891- 

By far the larger part of the Biblical Library consists of 
Scriptures in many languages, beginning with English Bibles 
antedating the Authorized Version, as well as issues of 161 1 
and subsequent reprints. Histories of the Bible, of Bible 
translation and of Bible Societies, and biographies or 
memorials of men of renown in Bible work, especially of 
those connected with the American Bible Society, are also 
found among these treasures. 

The Secretaries of the Society perform one important 
service of which the difficulty is rarely appreciated by those 
who profit thereby. This is the preparation and distribu- 
tion through the country of literature of information. 
Some 30,000 life directors and life members of the Society, 
and literally thousands of churches are thus supplied with 
little documents showing the story of the Society in the mak- 
ing. There are between twenty and thirty of such leaflets 
or booklets, always fresh from fields in which any particular 
pastor or church is interested. What is known as the 
" Story of the American Bible Society " tells, mainly by in- 
cidents, about the Society's work each year. The Annual 
Report is a great book of over five hundred pages containing 
details and statistics from the home and foreign fields. This 
is sent at the cost of postage on request to members of the 
Society, to libraries, and to pastors and other individuals who 
wish to keep up with the march of progress. Besides all this 
literature the Bible Society Record, an illustrated monthly, 
goes to the members of the Society and to friends and sub- 
scribers who pay a merely nominal price to cover postage. 

The work of printing at the Bible House is always inter- 
esting. One of its new features is the steady increase in the 
number of Scriptures in the English language absorbed by 
the United States. The report of 1891 stated this number 
as 850,139, and that of 1915 as 1,862,754 volumes. In 1904 
the Society at its annual meeting adopted a modification of 
the Constitution by which the revisions of the Authorized 
Version of the English Bible as well as that version can here- 
after be issued by the Society. With this permission an ar- 
rangement was made with owners of the copyright by which 
certain editions of the American Standard Revision were 
added to the Society's list of English Bibles. 


From the Bible House constantly issue strange tongues. 
If the books could speak aloud as they go forth it would 
seem to the multitude like chattering magpies. During 
this period the African languages, Mpongwe, Benga, Tonga, 
Bulu, Sheets wa and Zulu have been jostling each other h> 
the press rooms and have gone forth to the different parts of 
Africa where the languages are spoken ; the Sheetswa and 
the Zulu including the whole Bible, and the others going out 
in portions as the translation proceeds. By far the greatest 
circulation attained by African Scriptures of the Society is 
that of the Zulu. During the period from 1891 to 1915 cov- 
ered by the statistics in hand, Zulu Scriptures printed at the 
Bible House were shipped to Africa to the amount of 220, 
179 volumes. 

For the American Indians the Muskogee Bible translated 
for the main part by Mrs. A. E. W. Robertson, has been 
printed, and sent out to the Indians anxiously awaiting it. 
Other new Indian versions were the Arapahoe, of which the 
Gospel of Luke was prepared by the Rev. Mr. Roberts, 
printed in 1902, and the Navaho of which some portions pre- 
pared in co-operation with the Presbyterian Board of Home 
Missions, were printed in 191 1. 

All of these versions are the result of consecrated talents. 
The names of many missionaries engaged in translation or 
revision will be found in the appendix. That the work of 
these missionaries is not improperly called a work of genius 
is clear when one considers the difficulties of a task success- 
fully completed. The words, " I am the bread of life," seem 
to form one of the easiest of sentences to translate ; but what 
shall be done in Micronesia or in Korea where there is no 
bread? It requires much thought to discover a way of re- 
producing with exactness in the translations the force and 
the life of the words of Scripture. 

An interesting incident of the supply of the Micronesian 
Islands was the aid given by the Society to the publication of 
the New Testament in the language of the Island of Nauru 
(Pleasant Island), if that lonely pile of rocks may be con- 
sidered a part of the Micronesian field. Mr. P. A. Dela- 
porte, missionary of the American Board, made the transla- 
tion. The Hawaiian Missionary Society gave him a print- 

448 AT THE BIBLE HOUSE [1891- 

ing press ; the Nauru Islanders connected with the mission 
school did the typesetting; the translator's salary was paid 
by the Central Church in Honolulu, while the binding of the 
book, as well as the cost of the paper was supplied by the 
Society. This new book began its work in 1907 among the 
Nauru people. Another language of the islanders of the 
Pacific was placed upon the Society's list in 1908. The 
Island of Guam which seems to be an appanage of the Navy 
of the United States, was occupied as a mission station by 
the American Board, and Rev. Mr. Price, the missionary, 
translated the Psalms, the four Gospels, and the Acts into 
the Chamorro language spoken in that Island. These also 
were issued from the Bible House. 

An inspirational story is connected with the translation 
of the Bible into the language of the Gilbert Islands. This 
was the life work of the Rev. Hiram Bingham, Jr., D.D. 
Dr. Bingham's missionary life in Micronesia began in 1857, 
when he and his wife from the little boat of a sailing vessel 
were landed like marooned sailors on an island just below 
the Equator. They had come to teach the islanders the gos- 
pel. Neither of them knew a word of the language spoken 
on that island, and of course the islanders knew no Eng- 
lish. By the familiar method of taking hold of something 
and getting the people to tell its name, a vocabulary was 
built up. As soon as possible Dr. Bingham followed the 
charge given to him at ordination by his father : " Acquire 
the language of the people to whom you go; reduce it to 
writing ; translate the Scriptures." Thirty-four years after 
that lonely couple was left on that island Dr. Bingham com- 
pleted the translation of the Bible into the Gilbert Islands 
language. Dr. Bingham tried to print the first Gospel which 
he translated at his little palm-clad island 5,000 miles from 
San Francisco. A printing press, type, and material had 
been sent to him from the United States, but he could not 
make it work. The two American exiles were almost de- 
spairing, when a small boat appeared at the lagoon bringing 
shipwrecked sailors who had rowed a thousand miles in 
search of land and at last found this island. One of these 
sailors had been a printer. He readily consented to stay 
and show the missionary how to set up and use the printing 


press. In that strange way the Gilbert Islanders received 
their first glimpse of the Gospels. 

A very pleasant circumstance was the completion of the 
printing of the Bible in New York. On the nth of 
April, 1893, Dr. Bingham and his wife, the Secretary of 
the American Board, with the Secretaries of the Bible So- 
ciety, and others, gathered in the composing room on the 
sixth floor of the Bible House. There a short service of 
prayer was held. Then the composer put in type the last 
verse of the book of Revelation. Dr. Bingham read the 
proof to see that all was right; the page was taken down 
to the press room and the last pages of the first complete 
Bible in the Gilbert Islands language were printed. In 
October, 1908, this arduous but noble and joyous life came to 
an end; not, however, until the painstaking missionary had 
watched over the issue of eight editions of the Bible to the 
preparation of which he had given his heart and his whole 

In 1897 the American Board of Commissioners for For- 
eign Missions, which had occupied quarters in the Bible 
House during forty-three years, decided to remove its of- 
fices to Twenty-Second Street. Sacred memories cling to 
the rooms which this Society so long occupied. Perhaps the 
most of the 2,000 missionaries sent out by the American 
Board since its organisation had been welcomed there as they 
returned for rest after years and years of toil, or as they 
newly went out to the field. 

The assembling in New York of delegates of missionary 

Societies from the whole Protestant world was an event of 

the year 1900 in which the Society was deeply concerned. 

Ex-President Benjamin Harrison, a Vice-Pfesident of the 

American Bible Society, was honourary chairman of the 

Conference. Secretary Gilman made a telling address on the 

Bible Cause entitled " The Gift of the Nineteenth Century 

to the Twentieth," and Secretary Fox and Secretary Haven 

were members of Committees and otherwise contributed to 

the success of the Conference. The British and Foreign 

Bible Society was nobly represented both in the persons of 

its delegates and in their utterances. The meetings were 

held in Carnegie Hall and in several neighbouring churches 

450 AT THE BIBLE HOUSE [1891-1916 

during ten days and created a profound impression. Includ- 
ing many other addresses on the Bible cause, besides those 
just mentioned, six hundred and fifty-one addresses were 
made during the conference. It is needless to add, the Bible 
Societies stood in this great meeting as a symbol of the unity 
of Protestant denominatons throughout the world. One re- 
sult of this great missionary conference was the formation 
of what is known as the Foreign Missions Conference of 
the United States and Canada, composed of representatives 
of more than forty different missionary Societies, including 
the American Bible Society, which meets annually to con- 
sider the means of securing greater efficiency by united action 
throughout the world. 

The year 1903 was the one hundredth year of the British 
and Foreign Bible Society, and, on the suggestion of that 
Society, its American co-labourers secured the observance 
of March 6th, 1904, throughout the United States as Bible 
day. At the Centenary Meeting in London, May, 1904, the 
Hon. Joseph Choate, a life Director of the Society and 
Ambassador of the United States, and Secretary Ingersoll 
were the representatives of the American Society, both mak- 
ing addresses which were enthusiastically received by the 

In 191 1 a celebration of the three hundredth anniversary 
of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible 
was promoted in the United States by the Society. Celebra- 
tions were held in different parts of the country culminating 
in a great meeting at Carnegie' Hall in New York, when let- 
ters of greeting were read from the President of the United 
States and the King of Great Britain, and addresses from 
distinguished men on different phases of the influence of the 
Bible upon the English speaking world held the attention 
of a great audience until a late hour. 

One of the salient features of the period was the organisa- 
tion of special Home Agencies of distribution intended to 
do a work of supply of the destitute which the increase of 
population made it impossible for the Society to achieve by 
the old method of periodical efforts at general supply. Nine 
of these Home Agencies have been established which are 
more fully described in another chapter. 



All of the great cities of this country give constant illus- 
tration of the processes of reconstruction going forward 
without serious interruption to the use of ancient methods. 
New terminals are erected and trains are kept on schedule 
time. Subways are dug beneath great avenues without 
any apparent diminution of the ceaseless traffic on those 
thoroughfares. This is true the world around. 

It seems characteristic of human nature to rebuild its shell. 
As the Bible Society is an intensely human institution it is 
not strange that this characteristic should reveal itself in its 

The story of the Auxiliary Societies has been recounted 
in these pages. The Society was founded by Societies, many 
of whom became its Auxiliaries. Some abide in strength to 
this day. The spirit of the beginnings spread all over the 
republic until every state was dotted with local Bible Socie- 

The record of the achievement of these Societies would be 
a notable contribution to American History. In our grow- 
ing cities and towns the most influential men were Presi- 
dents and Vice-Presidents and Secretaries and Treasurers of 
these Societies. The list of these well known and well be- 
loved men and women ( for the Deborahs and the Hannahs 
and the Marys have had their part in this local work as con- 
spicuously as the judges and the rulers of the land) would 
prove a veritable " Who's Who " through the decades. 

A local Bible Society meeting was for years one of the 
events of the year in these communities. Friends would 
drive in from the surrounding country. Some local church 
would provide an entertainment, and a bounteous feast it 
would be. The election of officers and the report would be 



the feature of the morning and then would come the social 
hour in which neighbours of different communions and of 
different communities would mingle as at some high festival, 
and later a preacher of distinction would exalt the place of 
the Bible in the life of the people. A New England town 
meeting, a Southern barbecue was not more democratic or a 
better centre for the neighbourhood interest than the County 
Bible Society Annual Meeting. 

When one realises that at one time there were more than 
two thousand of these Auxiliaries, each with their retinue 
of memorable names in the laity and the ministry, one real- 
ises what a power they were. Would that the golden age 
could be repeated! 

Nearly two decades ago the Board of Managers awak- 
ened to the fact that the spirit of the times had changed; 
that many of these Societies were like the Church at Laodi- 
cea which had a name to live and was dead. In 1893 out 
of 2000 Auxiliaries only 107 reported as conducting can- 
vasses of their communities. In 1895 only 116 Auxiliaries 
supported workers in their field. In 1900 out of nearly 2000 
Auxiliaries only 113 reported any general operations and in* 
1902 only 46. A printed blank was annually sent from 
the national office to each of these Auxiliaries with columns 
prepared in which to report the general operations in the 
canvassing of the local field. One of these returned bore 
this significant message, " These things are not done here." 

A part of the explanation of the somewhat rapid dissolu- 
tion of many of these local Societies which often existed in 
one person alone or in some local store where a few Bibles 
were kept for sale; sometimes a meat shop; sometimes a 
millinery store; sometimes as by the following advertise- 
ment : " The Legget Store on Main Street has been receiv- 
ing necessary repairs, decorations and general cleaning up, 
in anticipation of its being opened by Jose Gallardo. Gal- 
lardo will continue to carry on the hair-dressing and shaving 
business, and in addition the manufacture of the hair and 
sale of the works of The American Bible Society " — lies in 
the removal of the staff of workers known as District Super- 

The work of these representatives of the Society has al- 


ready been explained. Their main function was to assist 
the local officers in the care of their accounts ; the handling 
of their books and in general to keep them in vigour where 
possible. The cost of these superintendents became a notice*- 
able burden on the Society's funds as compared with the in- 
come from the Auxiliaries. The expense of these District 
Superintendents was between $50,000 and $60,000 a year. 
It had been reduced to $30,000, but the outlay had not been 
met by satisfactory results even in Bible circulation, to say 
nothing of the collection of funds. 

Twenty-one District Superintendents represented the So- 
ciety during the year ending March 31st, 1898. Gradually 
these Superintendents had been given the care of colporteurs 
which were supported not by the Auxiliaries, but by the 
national Society. In 1894 the Society employed thirty such 
colporteurs. In 1895 twenty-seven colporteurs in twelve 
states and two territories carried forward their work under 
the supervision of the District Superintendents. The Dis- 
trict Superintendents in the latter years were instructed to 
direct their energies also to the collection of money from 
churches which the Auxiliaries failed to reach. It was 
clear that this method had failed owing to the changed condi- 
tions. A general notice, therefore, was sent out to all the 
Auxiliary Societies in 1897 that no District Superintendent 
would be commissioned for the fiscal year opening April 1, 
1898. For seventy-five years a devoted body of men had 
performed the duties of this office. With this prop gone 
the whole structure collapsed as a continental organisation 
for meeting the needs of Bible distribution in this great 

Many notable illustrations of continued vitality existed and 
still exist. Certain Welsh Societies, born out of the en- 
thusiasm which made Thomas Charles of Bala and Joseph 
Hughes the creators of the British and Foreign Bible So- 
ciety ; here and there Female Bible Societies in which grand- 
daughters kept alive the memory of their grandmothers, 
gracious ladies of an earlier day ; and certain County Socie- 
ties blessed with the leadership of families that had con- 
tinued their homesteads, generation after generation, on the 
same acres or in the same cities ; together with a few State 


Societies ; were fruitful in advancing years locally, and lib- 
eral, according to their resources, to the national Society. 
As a system the machinery had ceased to turn because its 
popular support had failed. 

Facing this situation and realising that the Society had 
been created to meet the needs of this great nation, the Board 
of Managers decided in 1899 t0 ca ^ a conference of the 
Auxiliaries. Already a special circular had been sent re- 
questing these local Societies to enter into closer relations 
with the Secretaries of the national Society after the dis- 
continuance of the District Superintendents and a special 
arrangement had been entered into with the Brooklyn Bible 
Society and the New York Bible Society in which the offer- 
ings were to be taken in both communities in the name of 
both Societies and a definite proportion guaranteed for the 
local work whch should equal the average income for a num- 
ber of preceding years. October 10, 1900, this Conference 
of Auxiliaries was held at the Bible House, New York. 
Representatives came from regions widely enough scattered 
to make it a genuinely representative gathering. 

The following series of resolutions were adopted which 
the Board of Managers of the American Bible Society were 
requested to present to the Annual Meeting of the Society 
to be held the following spring. In view of the consequences 
of the action of this Conference, this series of resolutions 
is presented as adopted entire : 

1. Resolved, That we recognise the fact that the system 
of transacting business between the American Bible Society 
and the local Societies throughout the country, while it has 
worked successfully in the past, owing to the changes that 
have taken place, has become unsuited to the present require- 
ments ; and this Conference asks the American Bible Society 
to carefully consider the whole question of its relation to the 
Auxiliary Societies, and to formulate and present to the 
Annual Meeting of the American Bible Society such plans as 
may appear best suited to existing conditions. 

2. Resolved, That we recognise that correct business 
methods should be observed in the transaction of business 
between the American Bible Society and the Auxiliary So- 
cieties, and in the judgment of this Conference all books 


shipped by the national Society to the local Societies should 
be distinctly under the heads of gift or of sale, and that the 
ownership of, and responsibility for, such shipments are, 
and must be, with the local Societies. 

3. Resolved, That special communities and exceptional 
populations throughout the country should be supplied with 
the Scriptures by the local organisations if there are such, 
but where there are no local Societies, or where such Socie- 
ties are unable to do the work required, the business should 
be undertaken by the national Society. 

4. Resolved, That the Conference recognises the identity 
of interest of the Bible cause, whether promoted by national 
or local agencies, and that every district of our country 
should contribute to both these agencies. Each has a right 
to solicit for its support, the local Society in its territory, and 
the national Society everywhere. In this work there should 
be entire harmony of action. 

5. Resolved, That in the judgment of this Conference the 
depositories through the country should be much reduced in 
number and continued only in those places where the judg- 
ment of the local Societies deems them required. 

6. Resolved, That the Auxiliary Societies should en- 
deavour to induce all the churches in their territory to de- 
vote one service in the year to the presentation of the Bible 
cause, and that the closest relations between the churches 
and the Bible Societies should be fostered by every practica- 
ble means. 

7. Resolved, That we recognise that the foreign mission 
work of the American Bible Society is among the great and 
efficient agencies for the spread of the Gospel throughout 
the world, and that the missions of all the churches are 
greatly aided thereby. The importance of this work should 
appeal to the Christian people of our country and should 
have universal support. In the judgment of this Conference 
this feature of the work should be presented by the local 
Societies and in the churches everywhere. 

8. Resolved, That, as representatives of Auxiliaries of 
the American Bible Society, in Conference assembled, we 
gratefully acknowledge the cordial reception given us by 
the representatives of the Parent Society, and we hereby re- 


assure the Society of our cordial sympathy and readiness to 
co-operate in all departments of its great work to the extent 
of ouf ability. 

The whole Conference was a most cordial and satisfactory 
gathering. At the Annual Meeting of the Society in May, 
1901, the resolutions were unanimously adopted. 

At this time the following provision was made for the re- 
vision of the roll of the Auxiliaries. Where local Societies 
sent no report of their activities for three years to the na- 
tional office, or forwarded no contribution for the general 
work of the Society, it was decided that they should cease to 
be regarded as Auxiliaries. Here and there a local Society 
might continue to buy books from the Bible House, but this 
was not a sufficient nexus. If no contributions were made 
to the world-wide interests of the national Society and there 
was not sufficient life to report local activities, it seemed to 
the Society that the local institutions could not properly be 
considered auxiliary. 

Under the operations of this new arrangement, the total 
of Societies reported very soon fell from the thousands to 
the hundreds. In the year, 1904, 804 Auxiliaries were re- 
moved from the list because they frad either ceased to be liv- 
ing Societies, or at least had failed to have any part in the 
work of the American Bible Society. In every case com- 
munications had been sent to these Societies and they had 
been urged to take on new life. " The smoking flax He did 
not quench," was the text of the Society in these relations 
with its Auxiliaries. In too many instances there was 
neither fire nor smoke,* and in very many cases the letters 
sent out to the Auxiliary officers came back like Noah's dove 
to the ark. 

Various reasons had brought this about. The immense 
changes in transportation which had united the whole coun- 
try into one big community so that the local isolation that 
gave a " raison d'etre " for the local Society in the earlier 
days had passed away. The development of the use of the 
mail; the distribution effected by great department stores 
and mail order establishments ; the change in the character 
of American communities, where the permanent ministry 
that had given strength to any local Societies existed no 


longer, the pastorate of thirty and forty years being as ex- 
tinct as the stage coach ; the moving about from place to place 
of families so that the old-fashioned homestead remained 
chiefly in story books; the demands upon the churches for 
the support of new enterprises ; and the spirit of the times in 
which the thing that was new appealed more than that which 
was old, all worked together to bring about the new condition 
of things. 

There was nothing to be done but return thanks for all 
the years and look forward to the new day. We would not, 
however, in drawing this picture, fail to recognise the dis- 
tinguished Societies which abide and in their loyalty sup- 
port the general Society, not only in its work of meeting the 
necessities of this nation, but in its greater work of minister- 
ing to the world. The Society now has 206* Auxiliaries. 

In one year, namely 1909, The Massachusetts Bible So- 
ciety, the Connecticut Bible Society and the Bible Society 
of Maine each held its Centennial. In 1912 the New Hamp- 
shire Bible Society had its Centennial. In 1913 the Rhode 
Island Bible Society had its Centennial. Earlier in its or- 
ganisation than any of these, the Pennsylvania Bible Society 
in 1908 celebrated its Centennial. Certain of these Societies 
are not Auxiliary to the American Bible Society, but are 
intimate and effective co-labourers. In two or three in- 
stances the Auxiliary relationship has been terminated. 
That of the Connecticut Bible Society in 1900 and the New 
York Bible Society in 1913. Mention should also be made 
of certain illustrious County Societies that still abide in 
strength as those in Westchester, Orange and Rockland 
Counties in New York ; Sussex, Hunterdon, Cumberland and 
Somerset Counties in New Jersey. 

The office of District Superintendent did not cease alto- 
gether with the discontinuance of the District Superintend- 
ents in 1898. The Society recognised that it was necessary 
that it should have some representatives in the field, who 
could visit the churches and assist the Corresponding Secre- 
taries in informing the people as to the importance and neces- 
sity of its work. Two of the District Superintendents were 
continued as Field Agents, the Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Law of 
Spartanburg, South Carolina, and the Rev. Dr. George 


French of Morristown, Tennessee. Dr. Law was a member 
of the Southern Presbyterian Church and Dr. French a 
Southern Methodist. To these there were added three 
others — The Rev. Dr. Henderson, a member of the Presby- 
terian Church, with headquarters in Chicago ; the Rev. Dr. 
John Pearson of Cincinnati, Ohio, of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church ; and the Rev. Dr. Dickinson of St. Paul, Minne- 
sota, a Congregationalist. Two other officers were added at 
this time : One, a Financial Agent for Greater New York, 
the Rev. Frederick D. Greene, the son of a veteran mis- 
sionary of the American Board in Turkey ; and the Rev. A. 
E. Colton for Massachusetts, by an arrangement of courtesy 
with the Massachusetts Bible Society. Later both of these 
gentlemen became Field Agents, and for a number of years 
Mr. Colton throughout all New England, Mr. Greene 
throughout New York City and State, Dr. Law in the South 
Atlantic region, Dr. French in the Mississippi Valley, Dr. 
Pearson and Dr. Henderson throughout the Central States, 
and Dr. Dickinson in the Northwest, visited church gather- 
ings, represented thfc Society on association and conference 
and synod platforms, held " Bible Days " in all the more im- 
portant centres at which large gatherings of people were at- 
tracted to listen to papers or addresses by various representa- 
tive ministers on " The Bible in the Home," " The Bible as 
a Comfort in Sorrow," " The Bible as a Support for Na- 
tional Ideals," etc., in an afternoon session ; and then in the 
evening to the presentation of the general cause, showing 
the needs throughout the nation and in the great mission 
lands. Through the efforts of one of these workers, Dr. 
Law, a Permanent Committee on the Bible Cause was ap- 
pointed by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church 
in the United States. By the initiative of another, Dr. 
French, each Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South, created a Bible Board to represent the So- 
ciety at District gatherings. 

This field-agency plan, however, was only tentative, and 
when the Board of Managers recognised that the work of 
distribution in the United States must be cared for by the 
General Society, as well as the task of informing and edu- 


eating the people in Bible Society matters, and the new 
Home Agencies were established, the office of Field Agent 
ceased to exist. In 1907 all of the Field Agents were re- 
tired and this chapter in the Society's work concluded. 



Following the methods that had proven so effective in 
foreign lands, the Society determined to meet the needs of 
this country by establishing, as opportunities might open, 
large agencies covering many states. It was expected that 
the agent would study the field assigned to him, present an 
estimate of its needs to the Board of Managers, and under 
the appropriation given him carry forward the work of the 
distribution of the Scriptures according to the need. This 
would require that he should employ a staff of colporteurs 
and arrange with correspondents who could give only a por- 
tion of their time to this work and come in touch with all 
volunteer distributors wherever he could discover them. 
Each agency was to have its headquarters to which books 
would be sent from the Bible House in New York and from 
which they would be distributed throughout the agent's field. 
It was also expected that these new representatives of the 
Society would carry forward the function of the field agents 
in visiting preachers' meetings, conferences, synods, pres- 
byteries, associations and all sorts of gatherings wherever 
they might obtain a hearing. It was believed that with the 
story of work accomplished locally they would be given a 
hearing that would be particularly acceptable, and from the 
description of local work they could very easily lead their 
hearers to an interest in the world activities of the Society. 

The special Agency among the Coloured People of the 
South had proven so satisfactory in reaching this needy 
population that it encouraged the Society in the formation 
of other similar agencies. 

In November, 1906, after continued conference with the 
Chicago Bible Society that organisation became the nucleus 
of the new Northwestern Agency which included the states 
of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, 
Nebraska, North and South Dakota. The Secretary of the 


1891-1916] THE HOME AGENCIES 461 

Chicago Bible Society was appointed as the Secretary of 
the new Agency. The two states of Dakota which were in 
this field had enjoyed their statehood less than ten years. 
Hundreds of thousands of new citizens, coming through the 
great portal at New York, had found their way to these wide 
prairies. Forty-three languages were represented in the 
distribution in this field. The Rev. J. F. Horton, the 
Agency Secretary, employed nineteen colporteurs who, taken 
together, spoke more than twenty different languages. One 
of these colporteurs, an Italian, named De Luca, found an 
Italian colony at Ladd, Bureau Co., 111., interested to read 
the Bible in their own language and he succeeded in estab- 
lishing a night school for Italians in connection with the 
Presbyterian Church. He then went on to Spring Valley 
where he found similar opportunities for instructing the 
Italians, and the Congregational Church there asked Mr. 
Horton to allow Mr. De Luca to remain for some months 
to build up an Italian work in connection with that church. 
A successful mission was soon established and when Mr. De 
Luca left Spring Valley, after five months, the Presbyterian 
and Congregational Churches had permanent Italian Mis- 
sions with Italian missionaries to carry on the work in 
Bureau and adjacent counties, all this the outgrowth of one 
Bible Society colporteur. 

In January, 1907, in co-operation with the Virginia Bible 
Society, one of the oldest and most distinguished of the 
State Societies, the South Atlantic Agency was organised, 
covering the states of Virginia, West Virginia, North and 
South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The Rev. M. B. 
Porter, a Southern Presbyterian minister became Agency 
Secretary in September and during the balance of that year 
put into circulation 11,824 volumes. 

The same year, the Western Agency was created in the 
vast empire embracing Missouri, Kansas, Arizona, Colorado, 
Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico. The 
Rev. S. H. Kirkbride, D.D., was placed in charge and re- 
ported in five months a circulation of 3,678 volumes. His 
comment was only too true a statement of the facts, " The 
Bible Society is unknown to churches and people. It must 
be put on the map." 


On the Pacific Coast from the first days of the settle- 
ments there, Bible work had gone forward which had been 
organised into the California Bible Society. In co-operation 
with the trustees of this Society, the Pacific Agency was 
opened late in 1907. Its field was the states of California, 
Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The Rev. G. A. Miller, 
who had had charge of the work in the Philippines for a 
year or two, was fortunately in California and became the 
Agency Secretary temporarily. He reports, " There are 
more Chinese, Japanese and Koreans in this field than in 
any other part of the United States and thousands of Mexi- 
cans, Portuguese and Italians." 

Toward the close of the year 1907 another Agency cover- 
ing a most extended region, was organised in the Southwest, 
with headquarters at Dallas, Texas. The states of Louisi- 
ana, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma, " the Beautiful Land " 
which had been purchased by the government from the In- 
dians and opened to settlement less than ten years, formed 
this new field. Here were large Spanish speaking popula- 
tions and those who used French and Italian. The Indian 
dialects were still in use in Oklahoma. The Rev. Glenn 
Flinn, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 
was made the Agency Secretary. 

In the following year the Eastern Agency was organised 
to minister to New York State and adjacent states where 
the field was not supplied by Auxiliary Bible Societies. 
The Rev. W. S. Elliott, at home on furlough from his sub- 
agency in China, was appointed Agency Secretary. 

The Central Agency, covering the states of Ohio, Ken- 
tucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, with head- 
quarters in Cincinnati, was organised in co-operation with 
the Young Men's Bible Society of Cincinnati, in 1909, and 
the Rev. George S. J. Browne, D.D., was appointed Agency 

On the 2nd of December, 1909, in co-operation with 
the Pennsylvania Bible Society, the oldest of the existing 
Bible Societies, the Atlantic Agency was established, em- 
bracing the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jer- 
sey. The Rev. Leighton W. Eckard, D.D., Secretary of the 
Pennsylvania Bible Society, became the Agency Secretary. 


In 1910 the Rev. S. H. Kirkbride, D.D., was transferred 
from the Western Agency to the Northwestern Agency to 
take the place of Mr. Horton, resigned ; and the Rev. George 
E. Farnam, a Congregational minister, was appointed Secre- 
tary of the Western Agency. 

The Brooklyn Bible Society, in 1910, became a part of 
the Eastern Agency, and its General Secretary, Rev. W. H. 
Hendrickson, was appointed Agency Secretary, Rev. Mr. 
Elliott having gone back to China. That same year Mr. 
Flinn resigned to enter the pastorate in Texas, and the Rev. 
J. J. Morgan, formerly the President of Wesley College, 
Terrell, Texas, was appointed in his place. 

On the Pacific coast, the Rev. A. Wesley Mell, who had 
had charge of the English-speaking Methodist Episcopal 
Church in Bombay, India, became Secretary in 1908. 

Mr. Farnam, of the Western Agency, died November 2, 
1912, and on the first of April, 1913, the Rev. Arthur F, 
Ragatz, D.D., was appointed Secretary. 

The Rev. W. H. Tower succeeded the Rev. Mr. Hendrick- 
son in charge of the Eastern Agency in 191 1. 

This is the outline of the organisation of these nine (9) 
Home Agencies. 

Peculiar conditions prevailed in the United States at this 
time owing to the unexampled increase in immigration and 
the character of it. A student of these problems has said, 
" A striking fact is the close sympathy between immigration 
and the industrial prosperity and depression of this country. 
Indeed, so close is the connection that many who comment 
on this matter have held that immigration during the past 
century has been strictly an industrial or economic phenome- 
non, and that the religious and political causes which stimu- 
lated early immigration no longer held good." x We think 
there are very great exceptions to this fact, however true it 
may be as a general proposition. 

" Between 1820 and 1906," the latter date being about the 
time of the creation of the Home Agencies, he goes on to 
say, " there entered our ports more than 5,200,000 Germans, 
while Ireland was sending 4,000,000. Beside the Germans 

1 " Races and Immigrants in America," by John R. Commons, 
pages 67 and 69 and 70. 


and the Irish, the largest numbers of immigrants during the 
middle years of the nineteenth century were English and 
Scandinavians. About this period, however, a great change 
occurred. In 1882, Western Europe furnished 80% of 
the immigrants and in 1902 only 22%, while the share of 
Southeastern Europe and Asiatic Turkey increased from 
13% in 1882 to 78% in 1902. During twenty years the 
immigration of Western races most nearly related to those 
which fashioned American institutions declined more than 
75%, while the immigration of Eastern and Southern races, 
untrained in self-government, increased nearly six fold. 
For the year 1906 the proportions remain the same, although 
in the four years the total immigration had increased two- 

By 1909, the immigration records show that more than 
6,000,000 immigrants had come to the United States in the 
preceding seven y