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Settler Colonialism and U.S. Home Missions

Summary and Keywords

Home Missions in the United States was a white Protestant missionary movement within the geopolitical borders of the U.S. empire—both its contiguous states as well as its colonial territories—as they developed and shifted through a long history of U.S. imperial expansion, settlement, and conquest. From the beginning of the 19th century, Anglo-Protestants in the United States became invested in the home missionary movement to secure Christian supremacy on the land that made up their newly forming white settler nation. Home Missions was occupied with both the formation of a sacred homeland and the homes within that homeland. As a dual-homemaking endeavor, home missionary projects functioned as settler colonial technologies of space-making and race-making. They not only sought to transform the land into an Anglo-Protestant possession but also racialized people as foreign to maintain Anglo-Protestant sovereignty over the spaces mapped as a home through colonial conquest. Centering settler colonialism within an analysis of Home Missions denaturalizes home and foreign as taken-for-granted spatial categories by considering them colonial significations. Home Missions sought to remake conquered territory habitable for Anglo-Protestant settlement, using the concepts home and foreign to govern people differently within that conquered territory.

Gaining prominence in the postbellum United States, women’s societies for Home Missions cooperated across multiple Protestant denominations and between multiple missionary sites across the U.S. empire in forming a transcolonial network aimed at uplifting the homes of the nation. These colonial sites included missions to “Indians,” “Negroes,” “City Immigrants,” “Orientals,” “Mountaineers,” “Loggers,” “Porto Rico,” “Alaska,” and more. White women entered new public spheres by making the racial uplift of homes across the nation a practice of imperial domesticity. Women in Home Missions sought to create subject citizens of the U.S. nation by shaping the habits, tendencies, and racial constitution of people through the cultivation and management of Christian homes. Homes were spaces of both racial uplift and the maintenance of racial purity. Thus, missionaries were not only preoccupied with making Christian citizens for the nation but were also concerned with maintaining racial distinctions characteristic of the anxieties of U.S. colonial governance at the turn of the 20th century.

Through Home Missions, Anglo-Protestants participated in an imperial process that sought to transform the land and its inhabitants while also forming racializations, gender systems, and political economies that mapped onto an imaginary in which a particular vision of settled homes/homeland occupied a central analytic. By treating “home” in Home Missions as a critical category, one is able to reconsider the maneuverings of religion, empire, nation, race and gender/sexuality within the context of settler colonial conquest, possession, and settlement.

Keywords: Home Missions, home, Anglo-Protestant, Christian, race, nation, gender, empire, settler colonialism, domesticity, United States

From Foreign to Home: Introducing Missions within the Early Settler Empire State

Christian missions have long been present on the land that is now widely recognized as the United States of America. From early European contacts, the imperial forces of the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, and eventually British empires entered land they had never known and came face to face with people they had never seen. Christian missionaries were part and parcel of these transatlantic imperial assemblages that came to the Americas, that “discovered” America for Europe even as Europe in turn began to discover itself.1 For centuries, the imperial work of missionaries and their compatriots on Turtle Island came from across the seas, went out from slave ports and trading stations, and did their work among foreign nations that were indigenous to the land across the Atlantic. It was not, however, until British colonial settlers battled their imperial overlords in the Anglo-American Revolution of 1776 that the nationalistic fervor of a new racial nation-state enabled Anglo-Americans to imagine the land anew—no longer as foreign, but as home.2

In the aftermath of the Anglo-American Revolution, what had been a long history of British foreign missionary endeavors in an overseas colony transitioned into the founding of the nationally grounded American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in 1810. Samuel Mills, a young Protestant from Massachusetts, was one of the most influential figures in the creation of the ABCFM. When Mills applied for a foreign missionary station in British-occupied India, however, he was denied his request. Undeterred, Mills decided to dedicate himself to missionary work within “his own country.” In 1812, just nine years after the United States purchased the Louisiana territory from Napoleon, Samuel Mills ventured south to New Orleans to study the conditions of spaces newly imagined as his home. While Mills was unable to partake in “foreign missions,” the people that he encountered within his new homeland were nevertheless still considered “foreign” peoples. Missionary historians later lauded Mills’s early missionary work and travels, granting him the title of the first great “pathfinder” in Home Missions History.3

The sense by which Mills imagined himself a part of a national homeland—a land that had only recently been “purchased” and that still needed to be “discovered”—is a curious initial moment in Home Missions. Indeed, the distinctions between home and foreign marked in Mills’s initial 1812 journey are blurred in the aftermath of major imperial acquisitions and national events: the Louisiana Purchase in 1802, the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805–1806, the opening of “free lands” in Ohio, and the War of 1812. Thus, the story of Samuel Mills plays on the ambiguity of the category of “home” for the project of Home Missions. More succinctly, it highlights the intricate linkages between Christian nation-building and U.S. settler conquest. Home Missions articulated a project of Christianizing a nation that was at once a settler empire expanding into unknown lands inhabited by foreign peoples and yet continually subsumed into the imperial geographic imaginary of the U.S. nation. While the work of Foreign Missions, exemplified here by the ABCFM, would often go hand in hand with Home Missions throughout the long 19th century, especially to foreign Native American nations, Home Missions was distinctive in its close entanglements with U.S. nationalism and the aims, ideals, and practices of making lands they had previously never known into the homeland of Anglo-American Protestants.

In addition to more well-known organizations like the American Bible Society (f. 1816) or American Tract Society (f. 1825), many of the first Home Missions organizations were small subsets of their local denominational councils. In 1803, the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions was the first group founded to use the name “home” or “domestic” in its title. Others, like the Congregational Home Missionary Society and the Board of Domestic Missions of the Reformed Church in America, soon followed suit.4 After a number of local denominational home missionary organizations had been formed, they banded together to form the American Home Missionary Society in 1826.5

Home Missions in the United States was a white Protestant missionary movement for and to people located within the geopolitical borders of the United States empire—both its contiguous states as well as its colonial territories as they developed and shifted through a long history of U.S. imperial expansion, settlement, and conquest. From the beginning of the 19th century through the mid-20th century, Protestants of the European diaspora in the United States became invested in the home missionary movement in order to secure Christian supremacy on the land that made up their newly forming white settler nation. Their primary objectives were twofold. First, they supported the creation and maintenance of home churches throughout the nation, following white settlers where they were settling and preaching and ministering to them. This initial aim was more than merely a pursuit of individual souls, rather it was concerned with establishing white moral communities within the landscape where settlers were making homes.6 Whether it was Anglo-Americans of the former thirteen colonies or new settlers coming from across the Atlantic, the home missionary movement was preoccupied with securing Protestant influence among those Europeans who would occupy its emergent territory as settler citizens of a white racial state.

Second, Anglo-Protestants sent missionaries to peoples who were rendered foreign within the geopolitical borders of their imagined homeland. Home missions targeted “foreigners” for inclusion into Christian dominion in direct correlation to those same peoples’ always already demarcated exclusion. Unlike those Europeans arriving from foreign lands, “foreign” signified a racial designation for any group of people whose possibility for belonging to the nation as citizens of the new homeland was perpetually in doubt and/or cast into the future. This often depended on the perceived capacity of “foreigners” to be converted into civilized Christians and thus transformed in time into people capable of participation, as self-governing subjects, within the newly forming republican democracy.

In the opening years of the white settler state, the revolutionary claims of Anglo-Protestants to the land as their homeland was co-dependent on the asserted “foreignness” of both Black and Indigenous peoples. Codified by the sovereignty of a new legal regime, the Naturalization Act of 1790 made the United States the new imagined homeland for all “free white persons” who, out of an imperial white diaspora, came to settle the land in allegiance to the newly formed nation.7 The foundational significance linking “free” and “white” had already been laid in a slave society whose transatlantic networks long predated the United States. Nevertheless, the question of who, as free settlers, could possess the lands still occupied by Indigenous peoples—who, in other words, could, through conquest, make the land their home—was only given meaning in the architecture of a society that dominated African peoples through slavery. Thus, the migratory transition from an estranged space in the Anglo-diaspora to a space made home was, in the opening years of U.S. nation-building, a condition of both the dispossession of Indigenous peoples from their land and the institution of freedom made legible though transatlantic slavery.8 As Home Missions in the United States was occupied with the nationalist project making this new space habitable as a homeland—as a white Christian possession—these dual modes of colonial conquest were co-constitutive within the possibilities and prospects of home missionary work.9 Thus, while missionaries would later seek inclusion for Blacks and Native Americans into the U.S. nation (among other people rendered “foreign”), this endeavor was always already preconditioned by the logics and practices of colonial conquest.10

The fact that home missionaries continually worked among people rendered foreign within home missionary literature highlights the complex spatial and colonial procedures of nation-building in U.S. history. The United States was simultaneously both a white racial state and a settler colonial empire. Settler colonialism can be distinguished from other forms of colonialism in that it seeks territory as its fundamental mode of conquest. Rather than governing people, land, and resources from afar, as is common of external modes of colonialism, it collapses the spatial distance between the imperial center and the colonial periphery through the conquest of the territory as its own possession. In other words, it is a mode of conquest where the colonists never intend to leave: “Settlers come with the intention of making a new home on the land, a homemaking that insists on settler sovereignty over all things in their new domain.”11 Settler colonialism is, in other words, a project of homemaking.

Home Missions can be distinguished from other forms of Protestant Missionary projects for its close relationship to the aims and ideals of settler colonial homemaking. As an explicitly nationalist Christian project, Home Missions was tied up with the settler colonial technologies of both geographic space-making—that is, of making a land “home” through settlement and Christian conversion—and of race-making—that is, of rendering colonial divisions of humanity to manage the pristine relation to the nation-state as a white Christian possession.12 While the marked categorical distinctions between “home” and “foreign” for Protestant missionaries was often a spatial difference supplied by (ever-morphing) national borders, it was also a colonial difference supplied by the logics and practices of racialization. In short, it is imperative to note that despite their normalcy as referents to the spaces and borders of nation-states, the categories of “home” and “foreign” were, in fact, colonial significations.13 They were mapped onto both spaces and persons in tandem with the logics and practices of colonial conquest.14

Thus, Home Missions was a project that sought to transform people and land into moral communities whose allegiance was tied to both to God and to their newly forming nation. The close interlinkage between nationalism and Christian missions was born in the prospect and projects of colonial homemaking. It is important to note, however, that the objectives of Home Missions were not always aligned to those of the U.S. government, or to many settlers hungry for land and wealth. For example, many home missionaries were bitterly opposed to the Indian Removal Act, signed by President Andrew Jackson in 1830. After years of attempting to transform peoples of the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, and other nations into “civilized” Christians, many missionaries had interconnected their lives, livelihood, and families with Native peoples. Home Missions often sought more inclusive forms of conquest through conversion and assimilation, tactics that sometimes clashed with and sometimes cohered to the actions of the U.S. government. Later 19th-century assimilation policies, for example, not only aligned with home missionary objectives but were often connected through organizational management or financial support by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Home Missions organizations, while technically being distinct from the state, were nevertheless part and parcel of the U.S. imperial assemblage of commercial, military, and civic actors who worked toward converting new U.S. states and territories into a U.S. homeland.

“To Uplift the Homes of the Nation”: Domesticity and the Dual Meaning of Home in the Era of Reconstruction

The role of Home Missions in settler colonial homemaking is given still further meaning when one considers the dual meaning of “home” in Home Missions. “Home” referred to both the space of the nation—home as opposed to abroad—and to the homes of families being erected, cultivated, and protected across the new settler nation. Exemplary in this regard was the role of women in Home Missions illustrated by the 1903 publication by Alice Guernsey Under Our Flag. Guernsey opens what she claims is the first interdenominational study of women in Home Missions by making the dual meaning of home explicit: “It should never be forgotten,” she wrote, “that the end and aim of Women’s Home Missionary work, aside from the personal salvation of those brought under its influence, is to uplift the homes of the nation—and, thereby, its citizenship. The proudest distinction of America is that it is a land of homes.”15

Guernsey’s preoccupation with uplifting “the homes of the nation” for women’s home missionary work at the beginning of the 20th century is better understood in the aftermath of a long 19th century whose settler project of homemaking had pushed the U.S. homeland from sea to shining sea and beyond. Women’s work in Home Missions first took on particular prominence in the aftermath of the Civil War through government-sanctioned Reconstruction efforts aimed at the racial uplift of former slaves in the South.16 Women’s work grew still more palatable as Home Missions organizations combined forces once again with the U.S. government in the formation of residential schools for Indigenous children as the United States pursued the “end of the frontier” through the dual process of reservation confinement and assimilation policy.17 While these projects were being undertaken, floods of white settlers from both the United States and Europe began erecting homes in states and colonial territories across the continent.

Perhaps the most significant event in this regard occurred in 1862. Just one year before Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation, he signed into law the Homestead Act of 1862, granting free land to claim, cultivate, and erect a home in Western territories just recently claimed from Mexico and still occupied by numerous sovereign Indigenous nations. With a stroke of the pen, Lincoln gifted 160 aces of free (already occupied or stolen) land to any white settler who would erect a home and cultivate their land for five consecutive years. Titles were given out for a $10 fee, and additional land could be purchased for $1.25 an acre. Homesteaders eventually claimed up to 985 million acres of land over a seventy-year period.18 Home missionaries followed homesteaders and began projects that attempted to convert land into spaces—that is, into homes—habitable for Christian nationhood.

This expansion of territorial claims and increase in settlement also inaugurated the rise of industrialization and the inflow of migrant labor particularly from China and southern and eastern Europe into rapidly expanding urban spaces, labor colonies, and mining camps throughout the continent. Indeed, the simultaneous industrial demand for and xenophobic fear of immigrant labor provided a crisis of the home, the homeland, and the spaces of dwelling for Anglo-Protestants. It raised questions about who could belong, who could dwell—as citizen, migrant laborer, or otherwise—on land conquered as a white possession.

Finally, in 1898, the United States went to war with Spain, and, in addition to having laid claim to Cuba, Hawaii, and Alaska, it also began occupying the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. While some of these imperial territories were judged more appropriate than others for settlement, and while imperial logics began to shift and reform away from territorial acquisition at the turn of the century, home missionaries nevertheless imagined these spaces as internal to the geopolitical borders of the U.S. homeland.19 They were “under the flag” of their nation.20

It was here, at the beginning of the 20th century, that the concerns of women in Home Missions culminated into what became a vast interdenominational network of primarily Anglo-Protestant Women’s Home Missionary societies. Women from a variety of denominational backgrounds, missionary sites, and humanitarian concerns linked up and together performed the cooperative work of “uplifting the homes of the nation.” Ultimately, this late 19th-century fervor produced for the first time female-specific missionary organizations in partnership with denominational Home Missions boards that had previously been controlled solely by men. This culminated in the formation of the Council of Women for Home Missions in 1908 (in addition to the male-led Home Missions Council that same year). Like the American Home Missionary Society nearly a century before it, these early 20th-century councils functioned as a cooperative space for home missionary organizations from a large variety of church denominations to join together in their efforts at Christianizing the nation. While each denominational society had its own particular local projects, together they formed a network that included a variety of home missionary sites and concerns from “Indians,” “Negroes,” “City Immigrants,” and “Orientals” to “Mountaineers,” “Loggers,” “Porto Rico,” “Alaska,” and more.

Alice Guernsey’s 1903 publication Under Our Flag was self-identified as the first inter-denominational study of women’s home missionary work. Before the formation of the 1908 councils, the pan-Protestant unity that united women across a number of different concerns, church bodies, and frontier spaces had already been at play. Under Our Flag, nevertheless, was the first of many books produced particularly for interdenominational study classes on Home Missions in white Protestant denominations in the United States. The books that followed in the next two decades ranged from the more comprehensive accounts of Women in Home Missions such as Guernsey’s Under Our Flag and Edith Allen’s Home Missions in Action to specialized studies such as Mary Helm’s account of so-called “Negro” progress in her book From Darkness to Light to Julia Johnston’s Indian and Spanish Neighbors and Isabelle Horton’s The Burden of the City.21

The study of women in Home Missions also highlights the growing role of women within church and extra-church social organizations at the end of the 19th century and the preoccupation of Protestant women with the concerns and practices of imperial domesticity. The dual homemaking of Home Missions implicated white women as central actors in the management of both their homes and the settler colonial state. Not only did home missionary projects racialize the space they sought to make home, they also contributed to the gendering of that space through a preoccupation with domesticity and an attention to the family home. While men, on the one hand, were mapped into the public sphere and, thus, considered the primary actors of empire, the role of white women in the domestic spheres of their homes was, nevertheless, deeply integral to the logic and practices of U.S. empire.22

Guernsey’s book was telling in this regard. “To uplift the home requires effort along many and varied lines,” Guernsey wrote. Along with “housekeepers trained in all deft and womanly arts of housewifery,” doctors, nurses, teachers and schools were also needed for the work. “Hence, for the development of a race, or a nation, there must be industrial Homes, normal classes, advanced education for young men and young women, that they may keep step together as makers of homes.”23 For Alice Guernsey, the home was not just the proper sphere of women in the life of Christian society, it was also of racial and national concern. Guernsey called for white women in Home Missions to help “primitive and dependent peoples” become proper “makers of homes.”24 This thrust the responsibilities of white women into more public spaces as bearers of social and not just individual gospels meant to transform the person in their relation to God and to society—to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.

The growing importance of women’s work in Home Missions took place in the same years broadly outlined by historians as first-wave feminism. As “separate spheres” logics began to codify, white women where seen vaunting new public roles by making domesticity a national as well as private concern. White women were able to maintain the domesticity proper to respectable Christian women, all the while living lives outside the confines of their family homes by ministering to children of “darker races.” In the work of Home Missions, this white maternalism enabled white women to travel, to enter new professions, to write and publish books, to debate and influence public policy, and more.25 White women working with “foreign” children enabled them to become public actors essential toward the formation and protection of not just homes but of the homeland.

“Alien” and the Transcolonial of Home Missions

The interdenominational study of women in Home Missions occupied itself with a multiplicity of sites where women were ministering within the homeland of the nation, thus revealing the transcolonial nature of Home Missions. By transcolonial I refer to the interdenominational networked relations across and between the multiple distinct yet overlapping “frontiers,” as Edith Allen referred to each of them—those particular colonial contact zones between Anglo-Protestant missionaries and those peoples who were signified and governed as alien to the U.S. nation-state.26

Julia Johnston highlights this quite poignantly in her book Indian and Spanish Neighbors: “these [peoples],” she says, “are our own, in close neighbourhood, ‘under our flag.’ By way of distinction, we call them alien races, but ‘the Lord hath made of one blood’ all of these [my emphasis].”27 Johnston’s placement of “alien” alongside “neighbors” speaks to both the intimate proximity and the imagined distance between those peoples mapped as “home” and “foreign” in the context of settler colonialism. The racial distinction alien, in other words, speaks to the colonial relation of power wherein a people group is governed, controlled—indeed, “owned”—under the flag of another sovereign power. Home missionary efforts at inclusion through conversion, here alluded to by Johnston’s “but the Lord hath made of one blood,” were, then, constitutive of this colonial relation, this relation of possession.

As the study series showed, however, there were multiple missionary “frontiers” around the United States. “Indian and Spanish neighbors” were the subjects of missionary efforts alongside other groups like the Inuit of Alaska, the “City Immigrants” and the “Negroes in the North.” Many of these sites parallel what was discussed as the social/racial “problems” of the day by white Americans (the “Indian problem,” “Negro problem,” “Immigration problem,” etc.), but they also point to the multiple colonial relations that encompassed the United States at the turn of the 20th century. As each of these sites illustrates, multiple groups of people were imagined as outsiders within the settler nation. While these “alien” peoples were often governed (and racialized) in ways particular to the pragmatics of their specific colonial relations, their demarcated incapacity for freedom and citizenship marked each of them differentially for displacement, confinement, labor camps, assimilation policies, and, of course, Christian conversion.

Highlighting the transcolonial in frontier Home Missions illustrates that, while homemaking was everywhere a settler colonial project, it was not solely, especially by the 20th century, a Western frontier project. Homemaking as a settler missions project was present anywhere people rendered foreign were perceived as a threat to the nation’s stability: cities, countrysides, mountains, labor camps; Negros, Indians, immigrants, Catholics, etc. In other words, frontier home missionary projects were not only present at the contested Western borderlands (seen by many U.S. historians as completed after Wounded Knee in 1890) or in the reservation sites scattered throughout the West, they were at multiple contact zones already designated home via settler conquest.

This dynamic becomes more clear in a study of the frontier written by Katharine Crowell entitled The Call of the Waters.28 Crowell split her “frontier” missions analysis into “old” and “new migrations.” Turning to the second of the two eras in Home Missions, Crowell provocatively wrote, “Thus the wild land was tamed and possessed, and now the old frontier is gone! Can there be a twentieth century ‘frontier’?”29 Despite the U.S. empire’s continuing expansion in foreign lands at the turn of the 20th century, the large immigration of foreigners onto U.S. soil posed a new type of colonial problem for missionaries bent on Christianizing the nation. In a move characteristic of Anglo-Protestants at the turn of the 20th century, Crowell marks a historical (and a racial) break where the Anglophone newcomers of the long 19th century had completely possessed a land as their own homeland—while, on the other hand, the more recent non-Anglo newcomers constituted, as Crowell wrote later, “alien elements.” This historical break rendered recent and ongoing migratory events of settler conquest into spaces like Hawaii and Alaska into a distant origin myth—binding them ahistorically to the very constitution of the nation. Meanwhile, all “new migrations,” from this purview, were then seen as aberrations within the homeland, as alien elements. As Crowell’s “new frontiers” illustrates, non-Anglo immigrants were rendered alien by Anglo-Protestants by positioning the national space succinctly as an Anglo-Protestant possession.

What Crowell refers to as the “new frontiers” can also be read as a theory of internal colonialism (often described as “domestic colonialism”).30 Internal colonialism is produced through, and indeed maintained by, the structure of settler conquest. Through the acquisition of territory for colonists to settle and then control, settler conquest produces colonial relationships internal to a new national territory all the while continuing to govern people as “foreign,” that is, external to the state, despite their often confined and displaced internal spatial locations. Internal colonialism in the United States has involved numerous modes of colonial control—displacements, imprisonments, reservations, missions, labor camps, segregations, etc.—each of which operates on the logics and practices of race to manage the homeland as a white possession. Home missionary schools, churches, settlement homes, and medical centers could all be found alongside any number of sites where people were being governed through these practices of colonial control.31

Accounts in missionary literature of the “immigrant problem” are illustrative. While the “immigrant problem” was marked by what was perceived as un-American influences, it was also a concern due to the unsuitability of home life in tight urban spaces where merely a shelter and not a proper home was afforded to its growing migrant populations. In a parallel to Julia Johnston’s concerns about the degrading effects of reservation life for Indians, Katharine Crowell insisted that “There is no national stability in a citizenship born and reared in tenements.”32 For Edith Allen, on the other hand, the problem with large-scale immigrant-labor was due to its potential as a “retarding effect” on the racial constitution of the nation.33 According to Allen, people in “large foreign colonies in mining and industrial centers” were not in her homeland to become citizens, but only to earn enough money to return to their own homelands. In this sense, these groups of people were “largely a mobile migratory and disturbing, unskilled wage-earning class.”34 On the other hand, despite their designation as “mobile,” these “aliens” were being confined into what Allen described as “large foreign colonies”—also labeled by Isabelle Horton as “Cities Within Cities.”35 As an example, Allen discusses the “two cities” of Granite City and Madison, Illinois, which “join each other and for practical purposes are one.” One city was made of up hundreds of “native Americans” (by which she means Anglo-American settlers) and the other a whole host of Eastern and southern Europeans, including what she describes as “the largest Bulgarian colony in the United States.”36 The problem with these immigrant colonies, for Allen, is that rather than assimilate, they “tend to establish in modified forms the standards and customs of the communities from which they have come.” They created establishments that while on U.S. soil were characterized by customs and standards that are foreign to the nation.

Home Missions in the United States attended to a multiplicity of colonial relations with people who were governed as “alien” to the nation. Each of these groups contested differently their desired belonging or non-belonging within the nation. While many sought national inclusion through performances of Christian respectability, many others rejected this possibility in favor of alternative political and religious collectives.37 While each case of colonial contestation was unique in its local particularities, Home Missions organizations, especially those interdenominational networks like the Council for Women in Home Missions, crossed and linked multiple colonial relations as they sought, to use the words of Edith Allen, “to [reclaim] . . . our nation into a land over which Christ shall reign and that from Him it shall also draw its ideals and its power.”38

Missionary Conversion, Racial Uplift, and the Possibilities of Citizenship

Alice Guernsey’s introductory study, besides highlighting the dual meaning of “home” for Home Missions, also alludes to one of the primary functions of home missionary projects during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. “To uplift the homes of the nation” was not only a settler colonial project of homemaking, it was also an attempt at racial transformation. Race-making and race uplift went hand in hand as missionaries sought to Christianize the nation through the transformation of people racialized as foreign into Christian subjects capable of citizenship. Indeed, the colonial strategies of racial uplift practiced by Home Missionaries were deeply tied to the concerns of democracy, citizenship, and freedom.39

Like much of the colonial literature during the so-called Progressive era, missionaries racialized Black and Indigenous peoples (alongside a whole host of others, white and non-white) through evolutionary theories of the human that rendered them “savage” people of a “primitive” racial past. Meanwhile Anglo-Saxon Protestants were mapped as the most highly evolved form of human and, hence, the most capable of self-governance within a democratic Republic.40 Religions, in this evolutionary formula, were understood as disciplinary forces that molded people into particular kinds of racial subjects—primitive and civilized alike. While Islam, “Hindooism,” “Voodoo,” or “Animism” might have been agential in fashioning people into less developed races, Christian missionary projects were often lauded by Europeans (Christian and non-Christian alike) as a privileged method for uplifting races into more civilized forms of humanity.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S. government was teaming up with Protestant denominations and missionary organizations to create large-scale networks of mission homes, residential schools, industrial training schools, and settlements for mostly Black and Indian racial uplift.41 As home missionary projects, these institutions of continual colonial conquest did not just seek to convince Black and Indigenous peoples to believe in Christian doctrines, but aimed at the total transformation of the constitution of their personhood—that is, their racial states—into Christian subjects capable of Republican citizenship. In this sense, Christian conversion practiced by missionaries utilized intensive, highly disciplinary, and often brutal methods for transforming people’s racial constitution.42 In the case of missionary boarding schools, for example, Christian conversion included the separation of indigenous children from their parents and the imposition of strict standards of Anglo-Protestant dress, language, manner, labor, and cleanliness. The home was ultimately key to this highly involved process because it was in the intimacies of the home where the “habits,” “propensities,” and “tendencies” of a people, indeed, of a race, were cultivated.43 In this sense, Christian homes were seen as an agential force, a power that, as Edith Allen wrote, was “molding the citizenship which makes the very life of the Republic.”44 And while in an age of eugenics, lynching, and white terrorism, many people were beginning to doubt, even scorn the attempts of Home Missions to perform such transformations, women like Mary Helm remained hopeful that Christian training was successfully transitioning the dark races from their so-called savage and semi-savage origins into capable members of a Christian Republic.45

Mary Helm’s From Darkness to Light filled readers in on what had been nearly four decades of missionary projects to the “southern Negro” during Reconstruction. These missionary campaigns are notable for their focus on domesticity, a process that vilified blacks as sexually deviant and in need of training in sexual and moral decency for proper Christian homes. In reflection on the mistakes of the past four decades of Reconstruction, Helm asserted, “The franchise might well have waited, for the freedman’s sake, until he had acquired the knowledge to use it creditably to himself. The ballot-box should have given first place to the home and school.”46 For Helm, the responsibilities of citizenship, including the right to vote, could not be cultivated without the help of disciplined home life. Helm went on, “The home is the heart of Christian civilization. From it flows the life blood of a nation or a race. The centre of the home is the woman, and its existence for good or bad depends largely upon her as a wife and mother. Therefore the right education and training of the Negro woman is of the greatest importance for the future of the race.”47

Helm’s assumptions about the home as the most fundamental unit of national life and the importance of women for that work were typical of women’s Home Missions. As such, much of the literature from the interdenominational study on home missions was occupied with analyzing the home life of the “Negro,” the “Mountaineer,” the “Inuit,” the “Immigrant,” etc., in order to better understand what it will entail to “uplift the homes of the nation, indeed, its citizenship.”

For Alice Guernsey, a race’s home life was telling of their evolutionary state. “The one-room house is the primitive and original form of the home,” she remarked, “as illustrated by the wigwam of the Indian and the topek of the Eskimo.”48 Similarly, for writer Julia Johnston, these one-room wigwams were telling of the primitive nature of Indian life. Rather than separating into family units through a male-owned homestead, Indian kinship networks “are gregarious,” writes Johnston, “preferring to huddle together in groups of wigwams.” Even when Indians were able to bear the fruits of newly acquired business practices, she complained, they continued the stubborn “custom of having all things common.”49 Johnson was quick to acknowledge the mistreatment of indigenous nations by the U.S. government. Nevertheless, she was convinced the only possibility for indigenous citizenship still rested on their ability to cultivate Christian homes. Johnston’s summary of the stakes of missionary work is telling: “The possibilities may be thus summed up: Enlightenment, citizenship, self-support, usefulness, through the proper solution of educational problem, with Christianization as the ultimate aim. The Indian cannot remain a roving barbarian, antagonizing American civilization. The latter type must prevail, and will.”50 Johnston depicted the “Indian problem” in terms of their perceived incapacity for settled life. The only hope for cultivating “usefulness” was to transform them from their “roving” nature, one that was antagonistic to American civilization, into a “type” of people properly disciplined by Christian education.

White Anxiety and Racial Regress

Home missionary concerns with Christianizing the nation were tied not only to projects of racial uplift but also to broadly discussed anxieties about racial purity and fears of race mixing. On the one hand, foreign people were feared because of their potential to dilute the purity of the racial stock “original” to the nation. On the other hand, foreign groups were criticized for being unwilling to assimilate themselves into American culture, a process that would necessitate a form of racial uplift. The debates between racial progress and racial eugenics produced policies that aimed at assimilation, on the one hand, and at segregation, removal, and immigration bans, on the other. While Anglo-Protestants could be found on both sides of the debate, U.S. missionaries, both home and foreign, tended to argue for a type of multicultural inclusion through racial uplift. The possibilities for this inclusion were conditioned by the optimism of Christian missions to transform peoples’ racial constitution through conversion to Christianity.51 On the other hand, especially after a large multiplicity of so-called “less developed” white races began to enter the United States from southern and eastern Europe, Anglo-Protestants themselves also began to fear the possibilities of racial regression.52

This anxiety can be further illustrated by the case of Mountaineers and Mormons. Unlike those non-Anglophone races coming from parts of Europe who historically, it was believed, had not evolved along the same highly developed lines as Anglo-Saxons, Mormons and Mountaineers were two groups of people whose backward racial constitutions were feared to have devolved from their Anglo-Saxon beginnings. Indeed, they were examples of, in the eyes of Anglo-Protestant Missionaries, what could happen to them if home life were not maintained, managed, and protected in accordance with proper Christian teachings.

Mountaineers were early Anglo-Saxons who settled their own land and raised their own homes but, either through lack of education or by means of their isolation, had not kept up homes with the standards and care befitting respectable Anglo-Protestants. Alice Guernsey points out in Under Our Flag, “Mountaineers are always freeman . . . Men of these mountains fought with honor and distinction on both sides of the Civil War. At its close they returned to their homes, dropping communication and contact with the outside world, and for them the hands of the clock of Christendom and civilisation stood still.”53 In their isolated mountain homes, eventually these “freeman” lost contact with the civilized world, but home missionary efforts were quickly raising them back up into people worthy of their “Anglo-Saxon stock.” Guernsey was optimistic that through the “lessons received in house-keeping,” mountaineers would eventually return to their status as the most advanced white race.54 Despite Guernsey’s optimism, however, the belief that Anglo-Saxons could regress was telling of the racial anxieties and prospective solutions of Home Missions. Missionary women taught not only Christian doctrines but the practices, habits, and disciplines of a racial advancement.

Another example is the case of Mormons. Founded by Joseph Smith in New York in the early 19th century, Mormonism was a movement consisting originally of Anglo-Protestant settlers who, because of their practice of polygamy, a “degraded” practice of home life, were believed by some to have regressed into an inferior white race.55 In 1844, less than a year after Mormons were removed by the U.S. government from Illinois and Missouri to Utah, they found themselves back on U.S. soil through the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ceded over half of Mexico Territory to the United States. By the turn of the 20th century, especially after the “Mountain Meadows Massacre” of 1857 and the publication of John Doyle Lee’s notorious autobiography Mormon Menace in 1905, popular depictions of Mormons painted them as wreaking havoc on U.S. soil, turning the “homes of the nation” into polygamous spaces unbefitting a Christian republic.56 Guernsey’s language is telling: “Another and a more serious danger threatens the girlhood and womanhood of these homes. Mormon elders, wolves in sheep’s clothing, traverse the mountains, ‘seeking whom they may devour.’” According to Guernsey, Mormon missionaries were roaming the land, “poisoning the mind of the people,” luring mostly women to leave their homes “for the pollution and degradation of Utah.” They were “undermining [the] heritage of Christian liberty and true civilization.”57 Other women authors were equally alert to the dangers of Mormonism. D. B. Wells described Mormonism as “a vicious attack upon the sanctity of her home and the integrity of the nation.”58 Edith Allen argued that Mormonism was the greatest challenge to the faith and accomplishments of women in Home Missions.59 Even Bruce Kinney, writing on behalf of the women’s interdenominational study course on Home Missions, contended that “there was no other body of people” with which Anglo-Protestants “had so much to fear.” His book was provocatively titled Mormonism: The Islam of America.60

The big stain on Mormonism was that the Mormon version of homemaking did not align with the nuclear-family model made normative through Anglo-Protestant colonial settlement. While Utah had finally been admitted into the union as a state in 1896 after it officially decided to ban the practice of polygamy just six years earlier, it was still feared by Anglo-Protestants to be an essential, even if hidden, piece of Mormon doctrine and practice. Not only was polygamy believed to be oppressive to women, it also was believed to encourage miscegenation in an age when race-mixing was a cardinal sin for both Anglo-Protestant religion and U.S. law. Furthermore, Mormon polygamy produced anxiety through the success of its missionary work. Edith Allen wrote: “The Mormon church, with its great foresight, has established strong colonies in many states.”61 Allen believed their recruitment of uneducated immigrants through missionary work to be an urgent political concern. Furthermore, in his comparison to Islam, Bruce Kinney accused Mormons of “trying to set up an imperium in imperio” (empire within an empire, state within a state, or “deep state”) or, he says, “to control either the state or national government.”62 Ultimately, for women in Home Missions, Mormonism was a threat to both the homes of the nation and the nation as a home. Its missionary practices were creating, as Alice Guernsey wrote, “communities where the homely virtues that are a part of the Anglo-Saxon’s birthright have been overgrown by lust and sin.”63 The cases of Mormonism and the Mountaineers highlight the fact that Home Missionaries were not only concerned with projects of racial uplift, they were also anxious about the possibilities for racial regress. The home was central in this regard. Christianity’s guidance of home life, then, was the ultimate concern of Anglo-Protestant women involved in Christianizing their nation.


Numerous issues arise through a critical analysis of the “home” of home missions. In addition to the concerns of empire, race, nation, and religion, the home was also telling as a space for the cultivation of particularly gendered/sexed subjects. Managing the boundaries of sexuality and maintaining gendered divisions of labor were key elements in a movement emerging in the same circles as first-wave white feminism, muscular Christianity, and Prohibition. In this same vein, health, cleanliness, and medicine were important concerns for Anglo-Protestant home life. Indeed, Home Missions was active in medical missions, and, in addition to the gifts of Christian healing, white women had the opportunity to uplift what were considered to be backward races by developing in them the habits of cleanliness, order, and healthy living—maintaining a proper diet, caring for a garden or crops, and learning the value of a strong work ethic.

Home Missions was also concerned with the formation of industrious subjects in a nation being transformed by industrialization and capitalist relations to the land and resources. Homes that were producing laziness or failed to discourage participation in saloons or drinking were derided for their inability to produce subjects that would contribute to the economic future of the United States. Home Missions sought to transform people into industrious subjects that formed a particular vision of land, labor, and economy—centered around the privately owned home as a family unit for the nation. Christian missionary religion cannot be seen, then, as separate from the constitutive processes of industrial capitalism within the horizon of U.S. imperial nation-building.

This article has examined the interdenominational literature of women in Home Missions in order treat the “home” in Home Missions as a critical category. When attentive to the go-between from the homes of the nation to the nation as a home, what becomes clearer is the way Home Missions has operated in the context of settler colonial homemaking. Home Missions, as a transcolonial project of both space-making and race-making, created networks of missionary organizations that sought to “uplift the homes of the nation” across multiple colonial relations. It distinguished between “home” and “foreign” not only to mark the land as a white Christian possession but to racialize any peoples within that land more or less capable of citizenship within the Republic. These multiple colonial relations, as enumerated by women’s home missionary literature, often utilized dissimilar logics and differential practices, each in accord with the particular pragmatics of colonial governance. Nevertheless, a particular vision of homes/homeland occupied each of their frames of reference for transforming the land and inhabitants into a Christian nation. Women’s role in Home Missions also linked the domesticity of the national homeland to the domesticity of family homes. In their goal of “uplifting the homes of the nation,” women in Home Missions participated in often government-sponsored projects of racial uplift, seeking to craft people’s racial constitutions and create subjects suitable for republican self-governance. Their preoccupation with the home, in this regard, speaks to the highly agential space of the Christian home for shaping people, and indeed a nation, into racial, gendered, and industrial subjects of a young settler nation. By treating “home” as a critical category, one is able to evaluate the maneuverings of religion, empire, nation, race, and gender/sexuality within the context of settler colonial conquest, possession, and settlement. In this way it becomes clearer the ways in which Home Missions functioned as a nationalist project of settler colonial homemaking, making the landscape into a Christian homeland, and managing and protecting that space as an Anglo-Protestant possession.

Review of the Literature

Most of the literature thus far on Home Missions, especially any that engages the context of U.S. empire, has historically been subsumed into the work of foreign missions. Furthermore, the majority of scholarship on women in Protestant missions, despite careful attention to domesticity at the turn of the 20th century, have also almost exclusively engaged foreign missionary work. Much of this scholarship began in the 1980s, when a postcolonial turn and a gender turn combined to inform a large swatch of historical scholarship on women, missions, feminism, and the emerging notion of “cultural imperialism.”64 First, Pierce Beaver’s American Protestant Women in World Mission (1980) connected women’s role in worldwide missionary endeavors to what she calls “the first feminism movement in North America.”65 Following Beaver came publications by Jane Hunter (1984), Patricia Ruth Hill (1985), and Ruth Tucker (1988).66 By 1989, this early wave of scholarship culminated into an edited volume by Leslie Flemming entitled Women’s Work for Women.67 Finally, the 1990s included Ian Tyrrell’s Women’s World, Woman’s Empire (1991) and the widely acknowledged work by Dana Robert, American Women in Mission (1996).68

While women’s roles in imperial foreign missions abroad were being highlighted in some circles, elsewhere scholars began highlighting elements of race and gender in missionary work within the United States, although with less attention to U.S. empire. This scholarship has primarily followed U.S. histories of Reconstruction, as women’s work was especially prevalent in reforging the white republic in the aftermath of Civil War.69 In this regard, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham’s Righteous Discontent (1993) has become a classic at the intersections of race and gender as it explores the impact of the “politics of respectability” for the women’s movement in the Black Baptist Church during the “nadir” in American race relations.70 Another notable Reconstruction work is Michele Mitchell’s Righteous Propagation (2004), an exploration of the politics of “racial destiny” for African Americans.71 Mitchell’s work contextualizes the Reconstruction through contemporary racial theory that valorized Anglo-Saxon destiny in the formation of American nationalism. Finally, Derek Chang’s Citizens of a Christian Nation is a comparative project that examines Baptist Home Missions both in the South to free Blacks and to Chinese immigrants in the West.72 Chang’s work is vital in two ways. First, he is explicit in theorizing home missionary projects as racial projects.73 Second, Chang’s book highlights the agency of Chinese and Black communities as they negotiated “the problem” of the color line and the promises of nationhood for each of their communities.

While Chang’s work on Home Missions should be lauded for its contributions, his linking of Home Missions to U.S. imperialism followed those before him in understanding the “imperial” of the United States primarily in terms of that which lay outside the U.S. nation-state. This popular mode of subsuming the women’s movement for Home Missions into the work of foreign missions is not completely an elision, however. As has already been noted, many home missionaries fully expected the “foreign” peoples they worked with to ultimately return back to their countries of origin, granting home missionary work a global reach.74 In this sense, Home Missions should indeed be seen as part and partial of the global imperial ambitions of Protestant Missions at the turn of the 20th century. In response to the worldwide call of the Great Commission, Home Missions in the United States was merely a local Jerusalem, the first stop on the way toward Judea, Samaria, and, ultimately, the ends of the earth.75

Nevertheless, despite the overseas and global implications of home missionary work, there were also particular stakes in the case of Home Missions for making, cultivating, and protecting the homes/homeland of Anglo-Protestant settlers. While missionary work has commonly been understood as an “imperial civilizing mission,” this imperial work cannot simply be linked to the “foreign” or the “abroad” of the U.S nation-state, lest the borders of the United States be naturalized or, worse, ahistoricized. Protestant missions “at home” was still a project of empire. Rather, what distinguishes Home Missions from foreign projects abroad is the context of the United States as a settler colonial empire. The homemaking of Home Missions helped create and naturalize a space that was domestic, and with it a space that was foreign. And this was foremost an endeavor of empire.

One of the most important works to articulate these geographical dynamics of Home Missions is that of Amy DeRogatis.76 Her book Moral Geography helpfully articulates Home Missions as a space-making endeavor, concerned not just with souls but perhaps even more centrally with the conversion of the landscape on the Western frontier into a space habitable for Protestant homes. The most articulate understanding of Home Missions in the context of settler colonialism, however, has been Margaret Jacobs’s White Mother to a Dark Race (2009). Jacobs highlights the decades of work by indigenous and Native American scholars who have insisted on the colonial, and not just racial, nature of U.S. nationalism. Jacobs’s is a comparative project between women’s missionary work in Australia and the American West. In this way, it highlights the transnational nature of Anglo-Protestant projects at the turn of the century, explicating the ideology of white “maternalism” in the context of two distinct, yet related examples of Anglo-settler colonialism. Finally, in a 2010 collected volume, Competing Kingdoms, on women, missions, and the “American Protestant Empire,” an essay by Betty Ann Bergland centers settler colonialism in its articulation of the U.S. empire.77 What is unique about Bergland’s essay is that it examines a settler mission site in Wisconsin operated by Norwegian women, highlighting the complicating role of non-Anglophone white missionaries in settler colonial homemaking.

It remains to be seen where scholarship on Home Missions will go from here. Nevertheless, scholars would do well to follow Amy Kaplan’s call for historians to challenge the “central geographic bifurcation between continental expansion and overseas empire.”78 It is imperative not only to consider “foreign” as a racial descriptor, formed in the historical and material violences of settler colonial conquest, but also to treat the “home” of the U.S. territory as a critical, and indeed a contested, category.

Further Reading

Arvin, Maile, Eve Tuck, and Angie Morrill. “Decolonizing Feminism: Challenging Connections between Settler Colonialism and Heteropatriarchy.” Feminist Formations 25, no. 1 (2013): 8–34.Find this resource:

    Chang, Derek. Citizens of a Christian Nation: Evangelical Missions and the Problem of Race in the Nineteenth Century. Politics and Culture in Modern America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.Find this resource:

      DeRogatis, Amy. Moral Geography: Maps, Missionaries, and the American Frontier. Religion and American Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

        Devens, Carol. Countering Colonization: Native American Women and Great Lakes Missions, 1630–1900. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.Find this resource:

          Goldstein, Alyosha, ed. Formations of United States Colonialism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

            Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks. Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880–1920. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.Find this resource:

              Hurtado, Albert L. Intimate Frontiers: Sex, Gender, and Culture in Old California. Histories of the American Frontier. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999.Find this resource:

                Jacobs, Margaret D. White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009.Find this resource:

                  Jacobson, Matthew Frye. Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876–1917. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001.Find this resource:

                    Jacobson, Matthew Frye. Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.Find this resource:

                      Kaplan, Amy. “Manifest Domesticity.” In The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture. Convergences, 23–50. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.Find this resource:

                        Mason, Patrick. The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

                          McClintock, Anne. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Conquest. New York: Routledge, 1995.Find this resource:

                            Mitchell, Michele. Righteous Propagation: African Americans and the Politics of Racial Destiny After Reconstruction. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.Find this resource:

                              Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. The White Possessive: Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.Find this resource:

                                Niezen, Ronald. Spirit Wars: Native North American Religions in the Age of Nation Building. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.Find this resource:

                                  Paddison, Joshua. American Heathens: Religion, Race, and Reconstruction in California. Berkeley: Huntington Library Press & University of California Press, 2012.Find this resource:

                                    Reeves-Ellington, Barbara, Kathryn Kish Sklar, and Connie A. Shemo, eds. Competing Kingdoms: Women, Mission, Nation, and the American Protestant Empire, 1812–1960. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

                                      Snow, Jennifer C. Protestant Missionaries, Asian Immigrants, and Ideologies of Race in America, 1850–1924. Asian Americans. New York: Routledge, 2007.Find this resource:

                                        Stoler, Laura Ann. Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.Find this resource:

                                          Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, no. 1 (September 8, 2012): 1–40.Find this resource:


                                            (1.) Tzvetan Todorov and Anthony Pagden, The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other, trans. Richard Howard (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).

                                            (2.) Sylvester A. Johnson, African American Religions, 1500–2000: Colonialism, Democracy, and Freedom (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

                                            (3.) William Robert King, History of Home Missions Council, with Introductory Outline History of Home Missions / by William R. King (New York: Home Missions Council, 1930).

                                            (4.) Robert King, 9.

                                            (5.) American Home Missionary Society et al., The Home Missionary (New York: Executive Committee of the American Home Missionary Society, 1843).

                                            (6.) Amy DeRogatis, Moral Geography: Maps, Missionaries, and the American Frontier, Religion and American Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

                                            (7.) Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).

                                            (8.) For more freedom as an institution, see Orlando Patterson, Freedom in the Making of Western Culture (New York: Basic Books, 1991).

                                            (9.) Aileen Moreton-Robinson, The White Possessive: Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015).

                                            (10.) For more on my use of “conquest,” and the relation between slavery and settler colonialism, see Tiffany Lethabo King, “New World Grammars: The ‘Unthought’ Black Discourses of Conquest,” Theory & Event 19, no. 4 (October 12, 2016).

                                            (11.) Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, no. 1 (September 8, 2012).

                                            (12.) Critical in this regard is the work of Amy DeRogatis, who has shown how Home Missions, while attendant to souls and people, also served a geographic function transforming and orienting moral space into a homeland—see DeRogatis, Moral Geography; “In essence, the mission project, through a language of religion, culture, nation, and transformation, made race”; and Derek Chang, Citizens of a Christian Nation: Evangelical Missions and the Problem of Race in the Nineteenth Century, Politics and Culture in Modern America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 9.

                                            (13.) Charles H. Long, Significations: Signs, Symbols and Images in the Interpretation of Religion (Aurora, CO: The Davies Group Publishers, 1999).

                                            (14.) For the language of “mapped,” see DeRogatis, Moral Geography.

                                            (15.) Alice Margaret Guernsey, Under Our Flag: A Study of Conditions in America from the Standpoint of Woman’s Home Missionary Work (New York: F. H. Revell, 1903), 9.

                                            (16.) Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880–1920 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994).

                                            (17.) Margaret D. Jacobs, White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009).

                                            (18.) Jacobs, White Mother to a Dark Race, 18.

                                            (19.) Ian Tyrrell, Reforming the World: The Creation of America’s Moral Empire, Reprint ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013).

                                            (20.) To refer once again to the title of Alice Guernsey’s Under Our Flag.

                                            (21.) Edith H. Allen, Home Missions in Action, Interdenominational Home Mission Study Course (New York: F. H. Revell, 1915); Mary Helm, From Darkness to Light: The Story of Negro Progress (New York: F. H. Revell, 1909); Julia H. (Julia Harriette) Johnston, Indian and Spanish Neighbours, Home Mission Study Course [Inter-Denominational] (New York: F. H. Revell, 1905); and Isabelle Horton, The Burden of the City, 4th ed. (New York: F. H. Revell, 1904).

                                            (22.) Amy Kaplan, “Manifest Domesticity,” The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture, Convergences (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 23–50.

                                            (23.) Guernsey, Under Our Flag, 9.

                                            (24.) Allen, Home Missions in Action, 31.

                                            (25.) Jacobs, White Mother to a Dark Race.

                                            (26.) I am utilizing “transcolonial” from two sources: (1) critical indigenous scholars out of Australian whiteness studies to think through the voyages across and between multiple colonial spaces in the formation of the discourses and practices of whiteness; (2) through the transnational approach to the study of black Atlantic religions as articulated by James Matory; Leigh Boucher, Jane Carey, and Katherine Ellinghaus, eds., Re-Orienting Whiteness (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); J. Lorand Matory, Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomble (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009); Allen, Home Missions in Action, 14; for more on colonial “contact zones” and the practices of “signifying,” see Charles Long, Significations; for more on missionary frontiers as spaces that utilized “rhetorics of control” that “reinforced colonial containment” and other types of “control over the people and the land,” see David Chidester, Savage Systems: Colonialism and Comparative Religion in Southern Africa, Studies in Religion and Culture (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996), 2.

                                            (27.) Johnston, Indian and Spanish Neighbours, 11.

                                            (28.) Katharine R. Crowell (Katharine Roney), The Call of the Waters: A Study of the Frontier (New York: F. H. Revell, 1908).

                                            (29.) Crowell, The Call of the Waters, 85.

                                            (30.) Michael Calderón-Zaks, “Domestic Colonialism: The Overlooked Significance of Robert L. Allen’s Contributions,” Black Scholar 40, no. 2 (Summer 2010): 39–48.

                                            (31.) Chidester, Savage Systems.

                                            (32.) Crowell, The Call of the Waters, 104.

                                            (33.) Allen, Home Missions in Action, 22.

                                            (34.) Allen, 109.

                                            (35.) It is useful to consider Horton’s descriptor “Cities within cities” in parallel to what W. E. B. Du Bois wrote in 1935 by describing the colonial condition of blacks in America as a “Nation within the Nation.” While the anti-blackness that would accompany the type of internal colonialism characteristic of Black Ghettos during the Great Migration is incommensurable to the practices and logics of the “foreign colonies” of Eastern and Southern Europeans, it is nevertheless notable that these were both racializations that accompanied a colonial mode of governing. Isabelle Horton, The Burden of the City, 11; William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, A Negro Nation Within the Nation (New York: The New York Times, 1935).

                                            (36.) Allen, Home Missions in Action, 109.

                                            (37.) Carol Devens, Countering Colonization: Native American Women and Great Lakes Missions, 1630–1900 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992); Chang, Citizens of a Christian Nation; Noenoe K. Silva, Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004); and Judith Weisenfeld, New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity During the Great Migration (New York: New York University Press, 2017).

                                            (38.) Allen, Home Missions in Action, 8.

                                            (39.) Chang, Citizens of a Christian Nation.

                                            (40.) Ronald T. Takaki, Iron Cages: Race and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Knopf; distributed by Random House, 1979).

                                            (41.) In one interesting case, the Tuskegee Institute, most well associated with Booker T. Washington, trained both Indian and black students. For more see Jacobs, White Mother to a Dark Race.

                                            (42.) Clyde Ellis, To Change Them Forever: Indian Education at the Rainy Mountain Boarding School, 1893–1920 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996).

                                            (43.) Albert L. Hurtado, Intimate Frontiers: Sex, Gender, and Culture in Old California, Histories of the American Frontier (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999); and Jennifer C. Snow, Protestant Missionaries, Asian Immigrants, and Ideologies of Race in America, 1850–1924, Asian Americans (New York: Routledge, 2007). Racial formation via family units and genealogies itself has a long genealogy one could trace back to the assumptions of Augustine that sin was passed down through the sexual act itself. For more on this in its European permutations, see María Elena Martínez, Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre, Religion, and Gender in Colonial Mexico (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008).

                                            (44.) Allen, Home Missions in Action, 38.

                                            (45.) Helm, From Darkness to Light.

                                            (46.) Helm, From Darkness to Light, 105.

                                            (47.) Helm, From Darkness to Light, 109.

                                            (48.) Guernsey, Under Our Flag, 16.

                                            (49.) Johnston, Indian and Spanish Neighbours, 19.

                                            (50.) Julia H. (Julia Harriette) Johnston, Indian and Spanish Neighbours, Home Mission Study Course [Inter-Denominational] (New York: Revell, 1905), 48.

                                            (51.) Snow, Protestant Missionaries, Asian Immigrants.

                                            (52.) Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race, Or, The Racial Basis of European History (New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1918).

                                            (53.) Guernsey, Under Our Flag, 34–35.

                                            (54.) Guernsey, Under Our Flag, 35.

                                            (55.) Paul Reeve argues that Mormons became “less white,” but I would use slightly different language, saying as I do here that they were perceived to be an inferior white race. Whiteness isn’t a color that can be lessened but a political designator that accompanies long histories of global European colonization and transatlantic slavery; W. Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

                                            (56.) John D. (John Doyle) Lee, The Mormon Menace (New York: Home Protection, 1905); and Patrick Mason, The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

                                            (57.) Guernsey, Under Our Flag, 36–37.

                                            (58.) D. B. Wells, Conservation of National Ideals (New York: F. H. Revell, 1911), 18.

                                            (59.) Allen, Home Missions in Action, 72.

                                            (60.) Bruce Kinney, Mormonism: The Islam of America (New York: F. H. Revell, 1912).

                                            (61.) Edith H. Allen, Home Missions in Action, by Edith H. Allen, Interdenominational Home Mission Study Course (New York: F. H. Revell, 1915), 72.

                                            (62.) Kinney, Mormonism, 9.

                                            (63.) Guernsey, Under Our Flag, 39.

                                            (64.) For more on “cultural imperialism,” see Ryan Dunch, “Beyond Cultural Imperialism: Cultural Theory, Christian Missions, and Global Modernity,” History and Theory 41, no. 3 (October 1, 2002): 301–325.

                                            (65.) R. Pierce Beaver, American Protestant Women in World Mission: A History of the First Feminist Movement in North America, Rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1980).

                                            (66.) Jane Hunter, The Gospel of Gentility: American Women Missionaries in Turn-of-the-Century China (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984); Patricia Ruth Hill, The World Their Household: The American Woman’s Foreign Mission Movement and Cultural Transformation, 1870–1920, Women and Culture Series (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1985); and Ruth Tucker, Guardians of the Great Commission: The Story of Women in Modern Missions (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie, 1988).

                                            (67.) Leslie A. Flemming, ed., Women’s Work for Women: Missionaries and Social Change in Asia (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1989).

                                            (68.) Ian Tyrrell, Woman’s World/Woman’s Empire: The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in International Perspective, 1880–1930, Reprint ed. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); and Dana Lee Robert, American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice, The Modern Mission Era, 1792–1992 (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1996).

                                            (69.) Edward J. Blum, Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865–1898 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2007).

                                            (70.) Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent.

                                            (71.) Michele Mitchell, Righteous Propagation: African Americans and the Politics of Racial Destiny After Reconstruction (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).

                                            (72.) Chang, Citizens of a Christian Nation.

                                            (73.) Another recent work in this regard is Joshua Paddison, American Heathens: Religion, Race, and Reconstruction in California (Berkeley: Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, 2012).

                                            (74.) Chang, Derek, “Imperial Encounters at Home: Women, Empire, and the Home Mission Project in Late Nineteenth-Century America,” in Competing Kingdoms: Women, Mission, Nation, and the American Protestant Empire, 1812–1960, eds. Barbara Sklar Reeves-Ellington, Kathryn Kish Sklar, and Connie A. Shemo (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 299.

                                            (75.) Matthew 28:16–20.

                                            (76.) DeRogatis, Moral Geography.

                                            (77.) Reeves-Ellington, Sklar, and Shemo, Competing Kingdoms.

                                            (78.) Reeves-Ellington, Sklar, and Shemo, Competing Kingdoms, 6; and Kaplan, The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture.