H. Res. 888 -- It's Got Lots of Footnotes!
Chris Rodda printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Feb 24, 2008 at 04:11:02 PM EST
Over the last few weeks, I've gotten a look at quite a few of the responses that people have received from their representatives after contacting them to oppose H. Res. 888, the resolution introduced by Congressman and history revisionist Randy Forbes (R-VA) for the "designation of the first week in May as 'American Religious History Week.'" Some of these letters have been posted on blogs and message boards, and others have been emailed to me. Based on what I've seen so far, it's apparent that some of our representatives just aren't getting that the objections to H. Res. 888 are about much more than the usual "difference of opinion" over the public expression of religion. The message that this resolution is packed with dozens of outrageous historical distortions and outright lies just doesn't seem to be sinking in, and in some cases is being blatantly ignored or dismissed.

One response that was emailed to me is particularly disturbing. On what is obviously a form letter, the representative, one of the resolution's co-sponsors, added a handwritten note suggesting that the constituent who contacted him "get a copy off the internet of this resolution and look up the specifics." I read the letter from the constituent who received this response -- a letter that detailed enough of the specific historical lies that I pointed out in my first post on this resolution to make this congressman's response a clear indication that he has no interest in whether or not its historical claims are true. The congressman ended his note by saying, "Sorry we disagree." Disagree? This is not a difference of opinion! Historical facts are not a matter of opinion!

I'd urge everyone who opposes this resolution, and whose representative is one of its co-sponsors, to contact that representative and ask them flat out if they even bothered to check its footnotes for themselves before adding their name to it. If you've already contacted your representative and received a response like the one described above, contact them again and put them on the spot by demanding an answer to this question. Let them know that continuing to co-sponsor this resolution after being informed of the lies it contains is nothing short of an admission that they are willing to be complicit in the perpetuation of these lies in order to further the Christian nationalist agenda.

The assumption that just because a book, or in this case a resolution, has a lot of footnotes automatically means that those footnotes support its claims is ridiculous. This quantity vs. veracity tactic seems to have begun with David Barton's boasting that his book Original Intent has 1,400 footnotes, and Barton's minions have certainly bought into the pseudo-credibility of this astounding number of sources, incessantly using it to defend his work, with comments like this one from a customer review on Amazon.com.

"This book has 55 pages of footnotes that reference original documents referred to in this book. The book only has 533 pages which means over ten percent of it is footnotes."

When Mr. Forbes was on Barton's WallBuildersLIVE! radio show last month to promote H. Res. 888, both Barton and Forbes made a point of letting their audience know that the resolution has lots of footnotes.

Mr. Forbes brought it up during his interview with Barton's co-host, Rick Green:

"I don't know of a resolution that has ever been introduced in Congress that is better documented than this resolution. As you know, most of 'em that are introduced don't have any footnotes, don't have any cites as to where they get the facts that they quote. In ours, we have documented every i, every t. We have cited the sources that people can go back and look for themselves and say -- my gosh -- how exciting it is that all of this exists."

And Barton brought it up again in the final comments at the end of the program:

"Yeah. It is 75 'Whereas' clauses, and then there are 4 resolve clauses. It is 15 pages -- or actually 13 pages long counting the footnotes. The resolution is 8 pages and then there are 5 pages of footnotes."

Well, one of Mr. Forbes's footnotes takes up over 4 inches of space, nearly half of the text on one of those five pages of footnotes. It's the footnote for the following "Whereas."

"Whereas throughout the American Founding, Congress frequently appropriated money for missionaries and for religious instruction, a practice that Congress repeated for decades after the passage of the Constitution and the First Amendment;"

As I noted in my last post, the impressive looking footnote for this particular "Whereas" lists sixteen separate sources, not a single one of which supports Mr. Forbes's claim. Seven of the sixteen all have to do with the same land grant -- a land grant for a particular group of Indians that, due mainly to the titles of the legislation regarding it, has spawned a number of popular revisionist lies. To show how the lies about this land grant evolved, and why none of the seven sources related to it support Mr. Forbes's claim, I decided to post, in two parts, the entire chapter on the subject from my book, Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History.

Part one explained why the legislation regarding this land grant, which had nothing to do with religion, contained the name of a religious society, and why the group of Indians entitled to this land were nicknamed the "Christian Indians." Part two will demonstrate that far from this being an appropriation for missionary work, the trustees of this land grant, when accused of mismanaging the trust, had to prove to a Senate committee that they weren't using the proceeds from the land for missionary work. As a further example of just how deceptive H. Res. 888's footnotes are, keep in mind while reading the true history of this land grant that three of the seven land grant related sources used by Mr. Forbes to bulk up his footnote are nothing more than appropriations for annuity payments, made decades after the "Christian Indians" accepted a $400 annuity in lieu of their land grant.


Propagating the Gospel Among the Heathen? (continued)

Chief Justice Rehnquist, in his 1985 dissent in Wallace v. Jaffree, also played with the dates, omitting any mention of the Continental Congress and beginning the story in 1789. Rehnquist misleadingly called the trust an "endowment," gave no reason for the land being put in trust, and, going even further than Cord, actually claimed that the act of June 1, 1796 was the act "creating this endowment." 

According to Justice Rehnquist:

"From 1789 to 1823 the United States Congress had provided a trust endowment of up to 12,000 acres of land 'for the Society of the United Brethren, for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen.'...The Act creating this endowment was renewed periodically and the renewals were signed into law by Washington, Adams, and Jefferson."

In addition to the acts of 1802 and 1803, Jefferson signed a third act extending parts of the military land grant act of June 1, 1796. Most Liars for Jesus don't bother with this third act, signed by Jefferson in 1804, because, unlike the acts of 1802 and 1803, the title of this one didn't contain the words "propagating the gospel among the heathen." This act is usually only counted in the vague claims, like David Barton's "...Jefferson signed into law three separate acts setting aside government land for the sole use of Christian missionaries to evangelize the Indians and others." Robert Cord, on the other hand, tries to squeeze a religious purpose out of the act of 1804.

According to Cord:

"This, the last renewal, had a new statutory name: 'An Act granting further time for locating military land warrants, and for other purposes.' The 'other purposes' were in part the propagating of 'the gospel among the heathen.'"

Cord's claim is based on nothing more than the fact that the titles of the three prior extensions, the one signed by Adams and the two signed by Jefferson, appear in this act. The reason for this is that the "other purposes" were amendments to or continuations of various provisions from each of these earlier acts. The other purposes were related to the location of new warrants, and the requirement that the Secretary of War endorse all new warrants, certifying that they didn't duplicate any warrants already issued. This act, like the others, had no purpose that had anything whatsoever to do with propagating the gospel.

The 1796 order to survey the Christian Indians' land was not the first attempt to survey this land. Bishop Ettwein had obtained the warrants to have it surveyed in 1788, and wanting to have this done as quickly as possible, had even offered to pay for it and be reimbursed by Congress later. John Heckewelder, appointed by the United Brethren as their agent for the Indians' land, made three separate attempts to have it surveyed, all of which were halted by the Indian war. The first attempt was stopped when the area became so dangerous that the Governor of the Northwest Territory temporarily forbid all surveying. A second attempt was made as soon as it was allowed, but the surveying party was stopped by Indians who stole their surveying equipment. A third attempt was called off when information was received that the Indian confederation had put out an order to treat surveyors as enemy combatants.

During the time that Heckewelder was trying to get their land surveyed, the Christian Indians were still living at New Salem, where they had gone in 1786 after being scared away by the white settlers. When the Indian war escalated in 1791, they evacuated New Salem and fled to British Territory, building temporary village in Ontario. Because of this move, Thomas Jefferson, as already mentioned, almost made the Christian Indians' land available for sale.

In November 1791, Jefferson submitted a report to Congress in response to their request for an estimate of the amount and location of unclaimed lands in the territories. Since the Indians for whom the grant was intended had chosen to leave the country, Jefferson categorized their reservation as unclaimed land belonging to the United States. Jefferson obviously considered the United Brethren's trust to be irrelevant because, without the Indians, the purpose of this trust could not be carried out. The following is the section of Jefferson's report regarding the Christian Indians' land.

"7th. The same ordinance of May 20th, 1785, appropriated the three towns of Gnadenhutten, Schoenbrunn, and Salem, on the Muskingum, for the christian Indians formerly settled there, or the remains of that society, with the grounds round about them; and the quantity of the said circumjacent grounds for each of the said towns was determined by the resolution of Congress of September 3d, 1788, to be so much as, with the plat of its respective town, should make up four thousand acres. This reservation was accordingly made out of the larger purchase of Cutler and Sargent, which comprehended them. The Indians, however, having chosen to emigrate beyond the limits of the United States; so the lands reserved for them still remain to the United States."(22)

Within a month of Jefferson's report, Bishop Ettwein petitioned Congress, requesting that the grant made by the Continental Congress be confirmed by the new government, and that new warrants be issued to survey it. This was referred to the committee on establishing land grant offices. The committee tended to agree with Jefferson that the trust created by the Continental Congress required the "occupation" of the land by the Christian Indians. However, no actual decision was made at this point because the Indian war caused Congress to put any legislation regarding land grants on the back burner.

Meanwhile, the Christian Indians, still in Canada, were granted fifty thousand acres of land by the British. In 1793, the community of a hundred and fifty-nine, some from the original group that had been driven from their land in 1781, and others who had joined them, built a permanent settlement at Fairfield. In spite of some problems with white settlers and passing Indian war parties on their way to defend Indian land in the United States, the Christian Indians lived in relative peace and safety in Canada, developing a somewhat profitable business selling corn and maple sugar.

In 1794, with the end of the Indian war in sight, Congress resumed its work on establishing land grant offices, appointing a new committee for this purpose. Bishop Ettwein immediately submitted a new petition, repeating the request made in 1791. This time, he filled the committee in on the history and current situation of the Indians, and explained that by not confirming the trust, this Congress would recreate the problem that caused the Continental Congress to put the land in trust in the first place. As soon as the Indians tried to return, they would be driven away by white settlers who would once again have hopes of getting their land. Those Indians who wanted to return would be far fewer than the number successfully driven away in 1786, and would not even consider leaving the safety of Canada until they knew their land was secured. The problem was that their land would not be secured until it was surveyed and the patents issued.

Despite Bishop Ettwein's explanation of the situation, the committee was still reluctant to confirm the United Brethren's trust. Several members of the committee proposed alternatives, such as giving the Indians money in lieu of their land grant. The argument in favor of this was that, based on their past problems with white settlers, the Indians might be safer in Indian territory. Another proposal was that the land remain the property of the United States, but that the Indians be allowed to occupy it. Eventually, however, after it was suggested that the Moravian settlements on the frontier might be useful to the United States in the event of another Indian war, the committee decided in favor of confirming the trust, and Congress, of course, did this in the act of 1796.

The Christian Indians' land was surveyed in 1797, and the patents were issued to the United Brethren in February 1798. That spring, John Heckewelder traveled to Fairfield with the news that the Indians could return. Of the hundred and seventy Christian Indians at Fairfield, only seven families, totalling thirty people, chose to leave. This group of thirty, accompanied by David Zeisberger and one other missionary, included only a few of the original Christian Indians.

According to the society's plan, which had been approved by the Continental Congress in 1788, and reluctantly agreed to, with some revisions, by the Congress of 1795, the Indians would settle on only one of their three tracts. The other two would be leased to white tenant farmers, carefully screened by the Moravians, with the rents from these lands going to support the Indians. The Indians picked the Schoenbrun tract, where they built the town of Goshen.

The next lie about this story is that the United Brethren, with the approval of Congress, used the money from the leased land to go out and evangelize other Indians.

According to Robert Cord:

"As is evident from its name, this Society was concerned with more than merely controlling and using land set aside, in trust, for the Indians who were already Christians. In addition to exercising their trust in the interest of the Christian Indians living on portions of this land, the Society used some of the resources derived from the cultivation of these lands, and the land leases sold to white tenant farmers, to convert souls 'from among the neighboring heathen' and to send out missionaries to proselytize."

The source that Cord cites and quotes out of context to create this lie is the report submitted by C.G. Hueffel to Congress in 1822, when the United Brethren were under suspicion of mismanaging the trust. Hueffel, after stating that only thirty of the Indians returned from Canada in 1798, gave the following account of Goshen's population from that time until 1820.

"...Their number was augmented by some new converts from among the neighboring heathen, and a family or two joined them from Fairfield; so that, at the close of the year 1800, they amounted to about sixty souls. In the following year, the Brethren there were induced, by the pressing solicitations of the Delaware on the Wabash, to send a missionary thither, accompanied by some of the best of their flock from Goshen, who hoped thus to gain their relations there; and it was not till after some time that it became apparent that these solicitations were part of a plan to draw all the Christian Indians thither for their destruction.

"This removal caused a dimunition of the number at Goshen, never replenished; a number which, from 1801 to the close of 1810, continued vacillating between forty-five and thirty-five souls; some returning to Fairfield, as before observed, and several of the most respectable completing their course here below by a happy death. From that year to the end of the year, their number was still further reduced by deaths and removals; so that, at the close of this year, there were but twenty-six persons left."(23)

Cord completely disregards the fact that Hueffel made a point of clearly explaining elsewhere in the same report that it was not the practice of the Moravians to go out evangelizing, and plucks a few words from this account to support his lie. The Moravians never established more than a few small communities, and, even then, only when invited to do so by the Indians. Other Indians who joined these communities were not solicited by the Moravians. Some were local Indians who approached the communities on their own. Others were friends and relatives invited by those Indians who were already there.

Hueffel explained in his report that, although the published histories of the Christian Indians at Goshen described numerous settlements, these were all successive settlements of this one particular community, not a number of separate communities that had existed concurrently or continued to exist. This explanation, of course, was included by Hueffel to show Congress that the money from the leases on the trust land had not been used to fund other missions.

"It, however, becomes proper to remark, in the outset, that this success of the united Brethren was, at all times, a limited one; and that they never attempted to convert or civilize whole nations. The inadequacy of their means, depending exclusively on the voluntary contributions of the members of their church, and such other friends as, without solicitation, thought proper to render them aid; and the tenor of their principles, which require a vital conversion from heathenism, not unto a professed belief in the Christian doctrine alone, but chiefly unto a practically moral Christian life and demeanor, at all times forbade extensive attempts, and necessarily confined their endeavors to planting and preserving one or more select communities of Christian Indians.

"Hence, it is evident that they never pretended to such an extension of missions as some have been induced to represent, from overlooking the circumstance that the numerous stations of which their missionary histories make mention were not contemporary establishments, but successive abodes of one and the same community of persons."(24)

It was also pointed out to Congress that it was strictly against the Moravians' principles to use any money for a purpose other than that for which it was intended. This was made very clear by John Heckewelder in the statement he supplied for Hueffel's report.

"Neither do the United Brethren, as a body, amass to themselves any thing that belongs to others, or is intended for the benefit of others; nor beguile their consciences, or bring a reproach upon themselves, by appropriating gifts of benevolence intrusted to them for others, to themselves, or for their interest or use. All acts of this kind are held sacred with them."(25)

The only money from the Christian Indians' land that was spent to support religion was used to support the religion of the Indians in the community. There was absolutely nothing unconstitutional about this, of course. The Indians had the same right to have their church supported by money earned from their lands as recipients of military land grants had to support their churches with money earned from theirs.

Only a few religious right versions of the Moravian land trust story mention that the United Brethren were eventually divested of this trust. None of these, however, mention that this was prompted by allegations that the trust had been mismanaged and a Senate investigation into these charges. Although the United Brethren were cleared of any wrongdoing, this investigation doesn't fit very well into the story that Congress granted the society this land to aid them in their missionary efforts, particularly since one of the things the society had to prove to Congress was that they hadn't used any of the proceeds from this land to fund missionary efforts.

The religious right version of this part of the story is that the United Brethren, due solely to financial problems, asked Congress to divest them of the trust, and Congress quickly granted this request.

According to Robert Cord:

"Due to the unreliability of white tenant farmers -- who incurred debts and then abandoned them and their leased farms -- the Society, over a period of years, lost large sums of money. Increased expenses for the Society also resulted from Ohio state land taxes. Because of continuing growth of indebtedness, the Society asked to be divested of its 'trust Estate' in the early 1820s. Shortly thereafter an agreement was reached on August 4, 1823 whereby the Society of the United Brethren, for Propagating the Gospel Among the Heathen agreed to 'retrocede to the United States the three several tracts of lands...which had been patented to the Society by the United States' in consideration of $6,654.25 and several tracts of land on which existed churches, parsonages and graveyards."

It is true that the United Brethren lost a great deal of money because of this trust, but the unreliable tenant farmers and Ohio state land taxes accounted for only part of this. By 1822, the trust had cost the society over $32,000 that they could provide receipts for, and a significant amount beyond this that they had not kept records of. Only about $2,000 of this was due to unpaid tenant farm rents. Much more of it was from the expenses incurred by the society between 1788, when the trust was first created, and 1800, when the first farms were leased. These initial expenses, for which the society had to borrow money, included the roads and mills that had to be built before any of the land could be leased to farmers. The society had also borrowed the money to pay for the early surveying attempts. According to the act of 1788, the money spent by the society to survey the grant was to be reimbursed by Congress, but this was never done.

From 1800 to 1806, the society sold a number of twenty-one year leases to tenant farmers. The terms of these leases were that no rent would be charged for the first year, and after that the rent would increase gradually over the time of the lease, anticipating that the farmers' incomes would increase proportionally over this time. The other condition was that at the end of the twenty-one years, the society would reimburse the tenants for their investments in buildings and other improvements on the land. Some of the tenant farmers did skip out on their leases, mainly because Congress, in 1804, made it easier for them to buy their own land by reducing the minimum number of acres that an individual was required to purchase. Although this contributed to the society's financial problems, most of their losses up until this point were the result of borrowing money for their initial expenses, and the interest on those debts.

The situation was made worse in 1814, when the state of Ohio began taxing the land. The taxes on the two tracts that were being leased were not the problem. The society, when it leased these lands, had anticipated that they might be taxed, and had included a clause in the leases stating that any future taxes would be the responsibility of the lessees. They had not, however, anticipated that the tract the Indians were living on, none of which, according to the terms of the trust, could be leased, would also be taxed.

Adding to the society's expenses was the fact that they were also supporting the original Christian Indians, the majority of who had remained at Fairfield. Although these were the Indians that the land grant on the Muskingum was intended to support, the Moravians, throughout this entire time, had been supporting them with their own funds. In 1814, the same year that the state of Ohio began taxing the trust lands, the settlement at Fairfield, which was in British territory, was destroyed by American troops in the War of 1812, and a new settlement had to be built there.

In 1821, the United Brethren petitioned the Ohio legislature, asking that the tract that the Indians were living on be exempted from taxes, but their request was denied. By this point, in violation of the trust, the society had already been forced to lease part of this tract. The income from leasing only part of this tract, however, was not enough to cover the taxes on the entire tract. The combined rents from all three tracts were not enough to pay the interest on the existing debts, let alone the interest on the new debts that resulted from the society then having to borrow more money just to supply the Indians at Goshen with necessities.

It was the society's 1821 petition for tax relief that led to the 1822 Senate investigation. The Ohio legislature didn't understand how anyone with eight thousand acres of farmland to lease could be having problems paying their taxes. The opinion of the committee that reviewed the society's petition was that the property must be yielding "a considerable revenue," and that they had "no means of ascertaining whether that revenue is faithfully disbursed in effecting the original object of the grant."(26) This prompted the Governor of Ohio, Ethan Allen Brown, to pay a visit to Goshen. What he found there made him understandably suspicious that the income from the leases was not being used to carry out the purpose of the trust.

When Governor Brown made his 1821 visit, there were only twenty Indians at Goshen, all of them living in poor conditions, and most of them drunk. Most of the twenty were members of the families of Killbuck and Captain White Eyes, and one was a member of original group of Christian Indians that the land was granted to. The others were a handful of individuals who had joined the Christian Indians sometime after they were driven from their settlements in 1781. The few original Christian Indians who had returned in 1798 or afterwards had either died or gone back to Fairfield. All but one of the missionaries had also gone to Fairfield. This one remaining missionary was recalled to Bethlehem by the United Brethren later in 1821, but was still there at the time of Governor Brown's visit. Unaware of the United Brethren's debts and the circumstances that had led to the decline of the Goshen settlement, Governor Brown naturally suspected that the income from the leases was being used by the society for purposes other than that intended by the trust.

In January 1822, Governor Brown was elected to fill a vacant seat in the Senate. One of the first things he did when he got to Washington was to bring what he had seen at Goshen to the attention of the Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. In February 1822, Senator Benton launched an investigation, moving the following resolutions, which were passed on February 22.

"Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to lay before the Senate a copy of the patent (if any such there be in the Treasury Department) which issued under an act of Congress of June 1st, 1796, conveying to the Society of United Brethren for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen, three tracts of land, of four thousand acres each, to include the towns of Gnadenhutten, Schoenbrunn, and Salem, on the Muskingum, in the state of Ohio, in trust to said society, for the sole use of the Christian Indians formerly settled there.

"Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to cause to be collected and communicated to the Senate at the commencement, of the next session of Congress, the best information which he may be able to obtain relative to the said Christian Indians, and the lands intended for their benefit in the above-mentioned grant; showing, as correctly as possible, the advance or decline of said Indians in numbers, morals, and intellectual endowments; whether the said lands have inured to their sole benefit; and, if not, to whom, in whole or in part, have such benefits accrued.

"Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate furnish a copy of the above resolutions to the Society of United Brethren for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen, addressed to the President of the Society, at Bethlehem, in Northampton county, in the state of Pennsylvania."(27)

In answer to these resolutions, C.F. Hueffel, in September 1822, submitted the report referred to throughout this chapter. In the statement he provided for Hueffel's report, John Heckewelder, who lived at Goshen from 1798 to 1810, explained how the settlement deteriorated. According to Heckewelder, the problems began in 1802. With Ohio about to become a state, new settlers quickly began pouring into the area. Because the three tracts in the grant were not contiguous, the lands lying between them were sold, placing all sorts of settlers between the Goshen tract and the tracts where the tenants were selected by the Moravians, and bound by their leases not to interfere with the Indians. Back in 1788, when the Continental Congress first created the trust, the United Brethren had tried to buy the lands in between the three grant tracts, intending to keep undesirable white settlers away from the Indians. The society, however, which had to pay Congress the same price for land as anyone else, could not afford these other tracts.

By 1810, the Indians were surrounded by white settlers, some of whom wanted to lease land on the Goshen tract. The Moravians, although later leasing this land to raise money for taxes, would not lease it at that time. Knowing that the Indians didn't fully understand what a trust was, the white settlers convinced them that they would be rich if the Moravians weren't cheating them out of rent money that was rightfully theirs. The Indians were told that they could lease any part of their land to anybody they wanted to, collect the rent money themselves, and never have to work again. Believing that they were being taken advantage of by the Moravians, the Indians refused to continue working. Many began drinking, and what little interest, if any, they still had in the Moravians' religion was gone.

The United Brethren, after explaining what happened, and presenting the Senate with the society's books from 1800 to 1821, and documentation of all expenses going back to the early surveying attempts in 1788, were cleared of any wrongdoing.

After the investigation was over, the United Brethren asked to be divested of the trust. Here, however, they ran into a bit of a problem. The Committee on Public Lands reported on February 7, 1823 that Congress, without the permission of the Indians for whose benefit the trust was created, did not have the authority to put an end to it.(28)

On March 3, 1823, An act making further appropriation for the military services of the United States for the year 1823, and for other purposes was passed, which included an appropriation of $1,000 to enable the President to take the necessary measures to purchase the tracts.(29) Lewis Cass, the Territorial Governor of Michigan, was appointed to negotiate with the United Brethren for the purchase of the land, and then to negotiate with representatives of the Christian Indians to get their assent to the sale.

The date of August 4, 1823 given by Robert Cord was the date of the contract made between Cass and the United Brethren. Cord, minimizing the fact that this land was granted to the Christian Indians, and only in trust with the United Brethren, omits that there was a second agreement, between Cass and the Indians on November 8, 1823. At this time, the representatives of the Christian Indians agreed to give up the right to their land in exchange for an annuity of $400, to be paid from the sale of the land. The Indians were also given the option to apply to the President for a reservation of twenty-four thousand acres in exchange for this annuity if they wished to return to the United States at any time in the future.

It was determined by Congress that the society, although having lost well over $30,000 on the trust, was only entitled to repayment of those expenses that the Continental Congress had promised to reimburse in their act of 1788, and the interest on this amount. These expenses totaled, with interest, about $18,500. As mentioned by Cord, the society retroceded the land "in consideration of $6,654.25 and several tracts of land on which existed churches, parsonages and graveyards." This religion related property alone did not, of course, account for the difference of almost $12,000. The United Brethren also kept a few non-religious properties. The United States, by taking over the existing leases, became responsible for other expenses, such as reimbursing certain tenants, as stipulated in their leases, for their houses and other buildings when their leases expired. These future expenses, as well as the cost of the deed conveying the land back to the United States, were also deducted from the money owed to the United Brethren.

The agreements made by Lewis Cass were approved by the Committee on Public Lands on April 2, 1824.(30) An Act providing for the disposition of three several tracts of land in Tuscarawas county, in the state of Ohio, and for other purposes, passed on May 26, 1824, authorized the contract with the United Brethren and the agreement with the Christian Indians to be executed.(31)

Another popular United Brethren story, found in several religious right American history books, involves a letter written to the society by George Washington.

According to William Federer, in his book America's God and Country:

"In July of 1789, in a letter to the Director of the Society of the United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen, President Washington committed that the government should:
Co-operate, as far as circumstances may admit, with the disinterested endeavors of your Society to civilize and Christianize the Savages of the Wilderness."

Washington didn't commit the government to anything in this letter. He knew the role the Moravians had played in keeping the Delaware neutral as long as possible during the Revolutionary War, and considered their relationship with the Indians to be extremely valuable for the protection of the United States. This was also the argument, as mentioned earlier, that convinced Congress to confirm the United Brethren's trust in 1795.

The following is one example of how the Moravians were used in the Revolutionary War. Early in the war, the Continental Congress decided that the best way to keep the Delaware from joining the British was to make them think the British were losing. The only problem was that the British were actually winning. Knowing that the Delaware council trusted the Moravians, Congress used them in a propaganda campaign. Whenever the United States won a battle, Congress sent the Moravians newspapers reporting the victory to read to the Delaware council. Congress couldn't ask the Moravians to lie, so they were only asked to report the real victories. When the United States lost a battle, Congress sent an Indian agent to lie and tell the Delaware that the United States had won, making it the Indian agent's word against that of any British soldiers the Delaware came into contact with. But, because the Delaware were hearing about enough real victories from the Moravians, who never lied to them about anything, the Indian agents' lies sounded more believable, and the Delaware were convinced for quite a while that the United States were winning every battle.

The quote used by William Federer is taken out of context from Washington's reply to a letter from the United Brethren congratulating him on being elected president in 1789. In this letter, the society took the opportunity to inform Washington of the situation of the Christian Indians, who were then at their New Salem settlement in the middle of the Indian war. The following was the context of the quote, in which Washington clearly said that his reason for offering to cooperate with the society was the protection of the United States.

In proportion as the Government of the United States shall acquire strength by duration, it is probable that they may have it in their power to extend a salutary influence to the Aborigines in the extremities of their territory. In the meantime, it will be a desirable thing for the protection of the Union to co-operate, as far as circumstances may admit, with the disinterested endeavors of your Society to civilize and christianize the Savages of the Wilderness.(32)

22. Walter Lowrie, ed., American State Papers: Public Lands, vol. 1, (Washington D.C.: Duff Green, 1834), 20.
23. Walter Lowrie, ed., American State Papers: Indian Affairs, vol. 2, 376.
24. ibid., 372.
25. ibid., 390.
26. ibid., 391.
27. The Debates and Proceedings of the Congress of the United States of America, vol. 38, 17th Cong., 1st Sess., (Washington D.C.: Gales & Seaton, 1855), 229.
28. Walter Lowrie, ed., American State Papers: Public Lands, vol. 3, (Washington D.C.: Duff Green, 1834), 537.
29. Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, vol. 3, (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846), 749-750.
30. Walter Lowrie, ed., American State Papers: Public Lands, vol. 3, (Washington D.C.: Duff Green, 1834), 615.
31. Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, vol. 4, (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846), 56-59.
32. George Washington to Directors of the Society of the United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen, July 10, 1789, George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 2, Letterbooks; Letterbook #38.


Unlike the Christian nationalist history revisionists, I want people to check my sources for themselves. To make this easy, there is a footnote archive on my website where readers can view images of the actual documents and book pages cited in my footnotes. All of the documents cited in this chapter can be found at http://www.liarsforjesus.com/footnotes_4.htm.




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