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The Moral Unity of the Human Race

Date: 1851
Overall: 224 x 138 x 4 mm, 89.7 g
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Article
Object No: 00046023
Place Manufactured:New York

User Terms

    This article titled 'The Moral Unity of the Human Race: A Sermon preached at the ordination of Luther Halsey Gulick, M.D., as a Missionary to the Micronesian Islands' was written by Joseph P Thompson, Pastor of the Broadway Tabernacle Church. It focuses on the work of the Gulick family and The American Board for the Commissioners of Foreign Missions, and expresses early anthropological thinking on the fundamental biological unity of the human race - delivered with missionary fervour. Included in the publication are additional articles by Rev Swan L Pomroy and Rev John D Paris, of the Sandwich Islands Mission.
    SignificanceThis article is an important record of the immense influence of Christian missionaries upon indigenous peoples of the Pacific in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although most missionaries were well intentioned, their quest for saving souls was often based around a desire to convert as many indigenous people to their version of a Christian god. By teaching Pacific Islanders European languages such as English and French, the work of the missionaries paved the way for merchants and traders who exploited the region for sandalwood, pearl, beche de mer, whale products and later, forced labour.
    HistoryHeavily influenced by the Pacific voyages of Cook and other European explorers and the published accounts of sailors, scientists and gentlemen explorers such as Joseph Banks, European missionary activity commenced in the South Seas in 1774 with the arrival of two Franciscan friars in Tahiti. The friars' attempts to evangelise the Tahitians failed and they returned to Lima (Peru) in 1775.

    The Pacific Islanders saw no other missionaries for the next 22 years until the arrival of missionaries from the London Missionary Society (LMS) on board the missionary vessel DUFF in March 1797. Although the first contacts - aided by King Pomare I - were hopeful, the Tahitians quickly disregarded these new arrivals whose behaviour was so different from that of the Europeans they had met before and the LMS struggled to gain converts.

    The origins of the American Board for the Commissioners of Foreign Missions (ABCFM), the London Missionary Society (LMS) and other lesser known missionary societies lie in the late 18th century revival of Protestant Evangelism and the development of the Congregationalist movement in England and the United States of America.

    The ABCFM began informally with the 1806 'Haystack Prayer Meeting' of a group of Congregational ministers and students at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts. After graduating from Williams, several of the students enrolled at Andover Theological Seminary. In 1810 Samuel Mills, one of the students spoke with the General Association of Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts about missionary work in India and with Native Americans in the western United States.

    Commissioners were appointed to look into the matter, a method of operation common at that time. The Board was officially chartered on 20 June, 1812 in the Commonwealth of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. As stated in its original Constitution, the Board's purpose was to 'devise, adopt, and prosecute, ways and means for propagating the gospel among those who are destitute of the knowledge of Christianity'.

    The first missionaries of the American Board sailed for Calcutta in 1812. Missions opened in Sri Lanka in 1816, in Madura in 1834, and in Madras in 1836. The Board's first missions in Turkey were established in 1819, in Greece and China in 1830, and in Africa in 1834. Hiram Bingham Snr (1789-1869) and his wife and fellow missionary Sybil Moseley (1792 - 1848) were sent by the American Board of Missions to found the first Protestant mission in the Hawaiian and Gilbert Islands. Bingham (1789 - 1869) adapted the Hawaiian language to writing, published Elementary Lessons in Hawaiian (1822) and with his associates translated the bible into Hawaiian.

    The ABCFM were ardent and strident believers in God's work. They firmly believed that 'missions are instituted for the spread of scriptural self-propagating Christianity' and that all religious work, including translating the bible, building schools and hospitals, and establishing the press should be directed to building a mature local church which then evangelized and sent out other missionaries to convert the non-believers. In contrast to other missionaries at the time they believed that 'civilisation was not a legitimate aim of the missionary but would only come as an impact of the gospel'.

    One of the better known families associated with American Protestant overseas missions were the Gulicks. More than 30 members of the Gulick family served as missionaries from 1827 to 1964. The Gulicks were one of the first ABCFM missionary families in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and Micronesia with the Rev Peter (1796-1877) and Fanny Gulick (1798-1883) sailing from Boston on board the PARTHIAN on 3 November 1827 and arriving in Honolulu 30 March 1828.

    From 1835 - 1843, the Gulicks were stationed at Waimea, Kauai; and from 1843 - 1846 at Kaluaaha, where Rev Peter Johnson Gulick was the superintendent of Molokai schools; and from 1846 - 1857 at Wailua. Gulick retired in 1857 to live in Honolulu, where he was a trustee of the Punahou School. Six of their eight children, including Luther Halsey Gulick, became missionaries.

    Luther Halsey Gulick was born on 10 June 1828 in Honolulu, Oahu. He received his education at the Auburn Academy, New York and attended the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1847 where he studied tropical diseases. In 1850 received his doctorate of medicine from New York University, and went on to The Union Theological Seminary becoming ordained on 5 October 1851. He married Louisa Mitchell Lewis in October 1851 in New York, and they sailed from Boston on 18 November 1851 on board the ESTHER MAY to become ABCFM missionaries in Micronesia. They arrived in Honolulu 29 March 1852 where Luther founded the Hawaiian Mission Children's Society (HMCS).

    After the foundation of the HMCS, the Gulicks resumed their voyage to Micronesia, and in August 1852 landed on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, where they were stationed for the next six years. While on Pohnpei, Luther preached the Gospel, and inoculated the islanders (but not their priests) against smallpox. Luther and Louisa translated the Pohnpeian dialect into English, set up the first printing press in Micronesia, and subsequently wrote a number of articles about Pohnpei and its inhabitants. They were then transferred to Ebon in 1859 where they helped to initiate the ABCFM mission in the Marshall Islands.

    Due to failing health, Luther moved back to Hawaii in 1860 and then onto to California, to secure financial pledges for the missionary work in Micronesia. From 1862 - 1863 he continued his public speaking in New York and then returned to Hawaii to become the secretary of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association serving in that capacity from 1864 - 1870. From 1871 - 1874 the Gulicks were stationed in Europe (Spain and Italy) and from 1876 - 1890 they worked for the American Bible Society in Japan and China before returning to the United States. Luther died in April 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: The Moral Unity of the Human Race

    Web title: The Moral Unity of the Human Race

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