Slaves and Slaveholders in the Choctaw Nation: 1830-1866 Page: 51
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had been passed before and potentially had no effect on missionaries as there were no black
students in missionary schools; however, the passage of laws controlling the actions of slaves
was hardly seen as an indicator of abolitionist sentiment that the ABCFM aspired to instill. The
ABCFM forced the missionaries to respond which they did one year later under the direction of
Cyrus Kingsbury and Cyrus Byington. The ten-item resolution stated a clear intent to avoid any
direct confrontation with the Choctaw government on the issues of education of slaves or slavery
in general. They claimed that education of slaves was a political question and missionaries have
"nothing to do with political questions and agitations." The resolution continued with a
comparison of slaveholders to soldiers in war, claiming "there can be no shedding of blood
without sin somewhere attached, and yet the individual soldier may not be guilty of it; so while
slavery is always sinful, we cannot esteem everyone who is legally a slaveholder a wrongdoer for
sustaining the legal relation." The ABCFM sent board member George Wood to investigate the
situation first hand and concluded that the missionaries were making progress and should be
allowed to continue their work. Despite the report, the ABCFM removed funding for missions
amongst the Choctaws four years later. Luckily for Kingsbury and other missionaries, the
Presbyterian Board for Foreign Missions (PBFM) agreed to replace the funding that had been
lost in response to the slavery debate. 93
In the process of maintaining a moderate position on slaveholding to pacifying the
Choctaw government and utilizing slave labor at missions, the missionaries sent the message that
there was no clear dichotomy between slaveholding and Christianity. This issue was one that
sectionally divided major religious denominations with Southern branches proclaiming biblical
endorsement of slaveholding. Thus, the work of missionaries in the Choctaw Nation, despite
93 Joel Spring, The Cultural Transformation of a Native American Family and Its Tribe, 1763-1995
(Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, 1996), 156-159; William McLoughlin, "The Choctaw Slave
Burning: A Crisis in Mission Work Among the Indians", Journal of the West (no 13), 1974, 114-115.
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Fortney, Jeffrey L., Jr. Slaves and Slaveholders in the Choctaw Nation: 1830-1866, thesis, May 2009; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28371/m1/57/?q=lucy: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .