A Resource for the Study of the Thai church

Home Links Search Blog


The Princeton Theology and the Practice of

American Presbyterian Missions in Northern Siam, 1867-1880

Herbert R. Swanson

A Dissertation submitted for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
The Melbourne College of Divinity, Melbourne University


Electronic Version 2012

Table of Contents AbstractIllust. & Tables Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Conclusion Appendices Bibliography


Theology, Ideology, and Education


Outline of the Chapter

2. Church Education
2.1 Theological Education
2.2 Literacy Education and Sunday School
3. Formal Education
3.1 The Burman School
3.2 The Interim
3.3 The Girls' School
4. Printing and Literature Distribution


Charles Hodge closes the Introduction of his Systematic Theology with a consideration of the role of the Bible in Protestant thinking and practice in which he argues that Protestants have both the right and the duty to study Scriptures for themselves in light of the church's common understanding of the meaning of the Bible. He maintains that Protestants must be "diligent" in their study, but that at the same time there are no impediments to their obtaining a correct understanding of the Bible's contents. The Bible itself, he states, enjoins the people of the church to study it and teach it to their children, and he makes a point of criticizing the "tyranny" of the Catholic Church in setting up the parish priest as the "arbiter of the faith and morals of his people."[1] Lodged at the beginning of 2,260 pages of theology packed into three densely argued volumes, Hodge's observations symbolize the importance of learning and education to Princeton's understanding of the Christian faith. In The Way of Life, he confirms that importance by claiming, as we saw in Chapter Three, that the Holy Spirit works in rational ways, appropriating the usual educational and evangelistic "agencies" of the church to work its divine influence on the people of God. These views provide some indication of the seriousness with which the Old School and Princeton took education.[2]

In the preceding chapters, we have seen that the Laos Mission frequently, perhaps even habitually, conducted its work on the basis of a system of meanings and doctrines that closely paralleled the Princeton Theology and was quite possibly influenced, to a degree, by that theology. McGilvary practiced Baconian evangelism. The mission advocated medical work on patently Baconian grounds. McGilvary and Wilson, in 1869, pressed for a Princeton-like observance of the Sabbath and public profession of faith in spite of clear political risks. That this same pattern holds true for the Laos Mission's educational work before 1880 should already be apparent, particularly in the case of the mission's evangelistic approach. The Laos Mission pursued evangelistic strategies that were patently educational in nature, including especially McGilvary's cosmological debates with northern Siam's educated elite and the mission's use of Western medicine to undermine the peoples' faith in traditional religious beliefs.

From a Princetonian perspective, moreover, the nature of the northern Thai context itself urgently reinforced the importance of education because of the negative impact "heathenism" is supposed to have had on both language and cognition. Green discerned an absolute contrast between those who speak "Christian" and "pagan" languages in terms of the "ideas and modes of thought" that they can express linguistically. He believed that language shapes people's judgment, character, and feelings to such an extent that, in the case of non-Christian languages such as Chinese,

An entirely new class of notions and associations must be waked up within [the Chinese], different from any they have ever had, and which there are no terms capable of conveying to them. It requires a slow process of elaborate training to eradicate or correct that concatenated system of false notions which is thus far the only thing that has ever entered their thoughts. The language needs to be christianized as well as the people; the work of transformation in the latter cannot be complete and thorough until the former shall be reached and purified.[3]

Green supposed that the Christianization of languages such as Chinese (and northern Thai, presumably) demands an elaborate, long-term, and necessary process of education, with emphasis on the importance of the process. One could not, apparently, be truly Christian until one has had ones thinking and speaking reformed to conform to Christian thought.

Green took biblical Greek as his model. Although classical Greek was a refined, polished language with its own high literature and cultivated modes of expression,

As the language of a Pagan people, however, it needed a thorough purgation. This was effected by causing it to circulate for centuries in the Jewish mind, until it was charged with ideas, and breathed a life drawn from the Old Testament, and from the divine training to which the people of Israel had been subjected for ages. The new idiom thus created by the transfusion of Jewish thoughts into the tongue of classic Greece, then stamped into uniformity and permanence by a special literature of its own, was finally wrought into its New Testament form by the lips and pens of the apostles, trained by Christ himself in the new truths which he came to communicate.[4]

The process of translating Hebrew ideas into Greek, thus, transformed Greek into a language fit for Christian expression.

Whether or not Wilson and McGilvary read Green's 1864 article in the Princeton Review on "modern philology," just quoted, they did create a set of educational activities for the Laos Mission well-adapted to his underlying principle that the evangelization of non-Christian peoples requires teaching them to speak and think in new ways. Northern Thai converts had to learn virtually a new manner of speaking, one based on new ideas and inculcating a new set of judgments, character traits, and emotions. The mission aimed at nothing less, as we will see, than the transformation of nearly every aspect of the converts' lives, and it established, or attempted to establish, a range of educational activities to achieve that end. Those activities divide themselves into three broad categories: first, church education, including theological education, Sunday school, and literacy education; second, formal education; and, third, printing and literature distribution. If we include the Laos Mission's Baconian evangelism among its educational activities, it is not too much to say that the mission used educational activities as the chief engine of its overall program both for reaching the general populace and for nurturing the emerging northern Thai church.

Church Education


The Laos Mission's Enlightenment trust in human knowing, the perception that as a Christian agency it knew the truth, Reformed views on the total depravity of the heathen, and an understanding of the Bible as the only source of saving knowledge played, as we saw in Chapter Five, a key role in the establishment of the northern Thai church. That Enlightenment-Reformed system of meanings and doctrines encouraged the mission to challenge the power of the state by insisting that the converts make public declaration of their faith and keep the Sabbath. It discouraged the mission from heeding the converts' advice on conversion in a northern Thai context and on participation in northern Thai ritual. That same theological and ideological complex convinced the mission that it had to retrain its converts in a process that amounted to a one-way transfer of information, attitudes, values, and beliefs. An intriguing passing comment by Wilson symbolizes the depth of the mission's concern for "one-way" education. In the mission's annual report for 1879-1880, Wilson emphasized the pressing need the mission faced in educating its converts, and he illustrated his point with the example of one convert who told Wilson that he believed that the Hindu god, Phra In, is the angel Gabriel. Wilson rejected such apparently fantastical thinking and called for more teachers for the converts and a still more long-suffering care of them. [5] He did not see the convert's ideas as an opportunity for dialogue or learning, but as an indication that the convert required more educating and that the mission had to place even more emphasis on training and oversight. The mission's system of doctrines and meanings, in short, guided its educational activities as surely as it determined the mission's evangelistic strategies.

Theological Education

The Laos Mission did not initiate a formal program of theological education until 1889, when it founded its Training School for evangelists and church workers,[6] but McGilvary felt a burden for preparing converts for ordained ministry from the earliest days of the northern Thai church. In July 1869, he reported that he planned to start up a theological training class for three of the seven converts as soon as possible; he wanted to prepare them as assistants with the hope that some of them would eventually become pastors.[7] The persecution of September 1869 cut short his plans for that class. In late 1875, however, when the Chiang Mai Church was showing signs of renewal, McGilvary informed the Board of Foreign Missions of his interest in one younger convert, Nan Chai, who had an educational background that made him well qualified to become an evangelist and minister. In stating his hopes for Nan Chai, he avows, "No burden weighs so heavily on my own mind now as the prayer that God will raise up laborers among the Laos themselves. From our distant and isolated position we cannot hope to have a large reinforcement of foreign laborers." He goes on to state that, “The substantial character of the Laos as a race will I have no doubt enable more to be accomplished thru native assistants than in many other heathen lands.”[8] In 1875, however, McGilvary was not yet in a position to act on his concern for developing the abilities of northern Thai Christians to assist in the work of the Laos Mission. The Chiang Mai Church showed only the first glimmerings of its coming modest renewal.

McGilvary took the mission's first, tentative step towards establishing a formal system of theological education when he began to tutor Noi Intachak in theology; we have already met this young convert in Chapter Five, where his plans to marry Kam Tip resulted in the Edict of Religious Toleration. Elected an elder in 1879, he shortly thereafter became McGilvary's private student. In October 1880, McGilvary reported that he was a conscientious and reliable student who was making good progress in his studies. He states that Noi Intachak, " is a young man of great worth, and bids fair to well repay the time & expense in teaching him."[9] He possibly had Noi Intachak in mind when he wrote a few months earlier that, "Our work here has been progressing as we have prayed it might, mainly through native agency. In all mission fields, this should be the one great object, to raise up a native ministry, particularly in distant fields of difficult access like ours." McGilvary concludes, "A native ministry and a working church should be our motto."[10]

From McGilvary's comments in 1869, 1875, and 1880, it is clear that he saw the significance of training converts for ministry and felt anxious to set the process in motion. In 1883, he founded a more formal training class that involved four full-time students, stating in two letters in April 1883 that, "The great work of the mission is to raise up a native ministry, and I am glad that I have taken the first step towards it," and, again, that theological education was "the work that I regard of most importance just now." The class itself did not work out, but the effort reinforces our appreciation for the significance McGilvary attached to educating church workers.[11] He returned to this same theme in his autobiography, where he chides the Laos Mission for its failure in theological education; he writes, "I frankly confess that our greatest mistake has probably been in doing too much of the work ourselves, instead of training others to do it, and working through them."[12]

McGilvary had one clear goal for theological education: to equip northern Thai converts to complement the missionary force, perhaps with an eye to their one day supplanting the missionaries entirely. While he did not make a clear connection between theological education and his system of meanings and doctrines, such as he did for evangelism, his alma mater's historical experience throws light on that connection. We will remember that the Presbyterian Church established Princeton Theological Seminary in 1812 at a time when it felt beleaguered by dangerous social and religious forces. The church intended to use the seminary to train pious clergy in the defense of the faith, an inherently conservative and apologetical agenda bent on preserving Reformed orthodoxy.[13] Noll states,

The Princeton Theology was conservative, at least in part, because the founders saw the creation of a seminary as one means to combat cultural chaos. It was conservative, at least in part, because the spirit of the founders was preserved with unusual fidelity throughout most of the century.[14]

For McGilvary, as a Princetonian, theologically trained northern Thai church leaders offered the mission the same advantages of a conservative, orthodox church leadership. The Laos Mission's "heathen" context made the whole matter of preparing a properly educated leadership even more pressing. Because of that supposedly godless, immoral context, they faced a social and cultural situation more potentially dangerous to the fledgling northern Thai church, if anything, than the one conservative American Presbyterians faced earlier in the nineteenth century.

As it turned out, the Laos Mission failed during its pioneer period to put into place a program of theological training for potential church leaders. McGilvary's concern for theological education, however, still highlights the importance of education for the work of the Laos Mission. Where some other American evangelical churches emphasized a sense of calling and piety over formal theological training, McGilvary adhered to the Old School's insistence that education is a primary prerequisite for the clergy.

Literacy Education and Sunday School

McGilvary extended his concern for Christian education to include every member of the church, not just those he hoped would one day lead it. As a self-conscious Calvinist, he naturally centered that concern on teaching the converts to know and cherish the Bible, which, as we have seen, he took to be the authoritative source of Christian truth and faith. He shared this concern for biblical education with American orthodox evangelicals generally, who used public (state) school systems as well as Christian education to inculcate their values, moral standards, and beliefs in the whole of American society. They believed that education actually made people more intelligent as well as more receptive to Christian truths, so that education became, in orthodox evangelical hands, a tool for evangelism, apologetics, and social uplift. Presbyterians gained for themselves a particular reputation for advocating education, especially higher education, as a key tool for the advancement of the Christian cause.[15] During its early years, however, the Laos Mission faced serious obstacles in its efforts to conduct biblical education because it had yet to translate the Bible into the distinctive northern Thai alphabet. When Nan Inta began his intense study of the Christian faith, he first had to learn to read central Thai before he could read the Bible or the other Christian literature that the Protestant missions in Bangkok had prepared over the years.[16] Central Thai literacy education soon developed into one of the mission's most important educational tasks.

McGilvary once again took the lead in teaching church members and potential converts to read central Thai as well as in emphasizing the importance of a literate membership for the Chiang Mai Church. He consistently paid attention to the literacy skills of the converts. He noted, for example, that all three of the young men who received baptism in the opening months of 1877 had learned to read central Thai as part of their preparation for church membership and that more than half of the church's sixteen members at that date could read central Thai capably. He predicted that central Thai would eventually become the "Christian dialect" and, beyond that, the language of all of northern Siam. He also observed that it was easiest to teach illiterate people to read central Thai, but the mission still needed to develop a northern Thai literature for those who were already literate in that script. [17] During the course of the year 1877, McGilvary had opportunity to teach central Thai literacy to other new converts and potential converts, including some in-patients at Cheek's bamboo and thatch hospital and individuals from outlying communities.[18] After 1877, he continued to teach central Thai literacy as opportunities arose, and while at Rahang (modern-day Tak) he even taught English to the children of government officials.[19]

Literacy education, be it in central or northern Thai, remained an important part of McGilvary's ministry throughout his life. At the time of his death, Dr. James W. McKean wrote,

No one who has done country evangelistic work with Dr. McGilvary can ever forget the oft-seen picture of the gray-haired patriarch seated on the bamboo floor of a thatch-covered Lao home, teaching some one to read. Of course, the book faced the pupil, and it was often said that he had taught so many people in this way that he could read the Lao character very readily with the book upside down.[20]

Literacy education, then, did not represent a passing fancy or expediency for McGilvary. It amounted to a serious educational commitment based on a system of doctrines and meanings that emphasized the role of the Bible as a source of both doctrinal truth and enlightened insights in Christian living.

Perhaps nothing symbolized McGilvary's commitment to biblical and literacy education so much as the establishment of Chiang Mai Church's first Sunday school. In December 1876, he reported that he had found the task of teaching new converts and a few others to read a burden, and he organized a Sunday school that met after worship to assist him in that work. He recruited several literate members of the church to teach those members who could not yet read and write; they used the “Shorter Catechism,” one of the classic statements of Presbyterian doctrine, as their text.[21] This Sunday school seems to have remained generally informal until 1880, when the other members of the mission put it on a more regular footing by organizing a set of classes. Dr. Cheek served as the superintendent and took charge of a boys' class. Sarah Cheek taught a women's literacy class, Cole and Campbell conducted a class for younger women, and three older girls from their school supervised an infant class. Wilson taught a Bible class, and two Christian men taught two men's literacy classes. Wilson reported an average attendance of about eighty.[22]

Given the small size of the mission and the church in 1880, the reorganized Sunday school represented a major programmatic development involving all of the missionaries. In spite of its new format, however, it did nothing more than recapitulate the theological, biblical, and literacy education emphases of earlier years. The expanded Sunday school also embodied, yet again, the mission's overall strategy of importing Western forms and strategies to accomplish its ends in northern Siam. Seymour notes that during the last four decades of the nineteenth century, the international Sunday school movement reached its "heyday" in the United States and other English-speaking nations. After 1860, that movement experienced rapid growth, the establishment of an international organization, the development of a widely used international curriculum, and the emergence of many different training programs for Sunday school teachers.[23] In the United States, evangelical churches of all stripes established Sunday schools as one of a set of key programs aimed at transforming local churches into complex institutions.[24] Orthodox evangelicals in both the United States and Chiang Mai, in sum, found the Sunday school movement especially important as an embodiment of their central concern for education.


In one sense, the Laos Mission's educational work up to 1880 does not seem to amount to much. McGilvary took on one young man as a theological student. He spent an indeterminate amount of time teaching an unknown number of people to read central Thai. He set up a Sunday school, which his colleagues later expanded and reorganized. When viewed from the difficult situation the mission faced in the 1860s and 1870s, however, when for long periods McGilvary was the only healthy missionary able to work full time, his efforts take on much greater importance. The Laos Mission's commitment to theological, literacy, and local church educational programs symbolizes, furthermore, the importance of placing the Princeton Theology's relationship to the mission in a broad context. For, as Johnson points out, orthodox evangelicals from several denominations and traditions grounded their educational concerns, as did the Princetonians, in their traditional Protestant emphasis on the Scriptures as the sole source authority over Christian faith. Johnson observes of the orthodox evangelicals that,

Given their belief that God spoke only through the written word, formal [orthodox] evangelicals saw it as their duty to spread institutions of literacy, which made it possible for common folk to read and understand the Word of God. These believers were also committed to an orderly, productive, and modernizing society and saw themselves, the best-educated evangelicals in the land, as arbiters of the new order.[25]

Princeton and the Laos Mission comprised two overlapping circles enveloped by this larger American orthodox evangelical context, Princeton best articulating what we might call "evangelical scholasticism" on paper and the mission in programs.

Formal Education


Given the considerable amount of its limited time and resources that the Laos Mission invested in educational activities, it may not be overstating the case to argue that the mission looked upon itself and on the Chiang Mai Church as being, first and foremost, educational agencies. McGilvary, at key moments in the church's early history, sought to institute rudimentary programs for the theological education of its leadership. The whole mission concerned itself with literacy education and the instruction of new members, especially in the Bible. In keeping with its conservative American evangelical heritage, then, the mission invested a great deal in the process of education as the best way to establish a strong, intelligent church. It also relied on education as yet another tool for evangelistic outreach, and from nearly the beginning aimed at the establishment of formal educational institutions to the end that it could reach northern Thai society with Christian and Western learning. It believed, we will remember, that Western learning must inevitably drive out traditional knowledge just as the Christian religion must necessarily drive out traditional religion.

In the years up to 1880, the Laos Mission made two major efforts at establishing a school. The first one, undertaken in 1871, failed. The second attempt succeeded, leading not only to the establishment of the mission's first school but also to the beginnings of formal women's education in northern Siam.

The Burman School

On the last day of 1870, McGilvary reported to the Board that some princes wanted the mission to open a school to educate a number of the princes' followers and that the mission hoped to respond in the near future. He also asserted, as an inarguable principle, the statement that the mission could not build up the church without the aid of schools.[26] McGilvary did not see the projected school simply as a way of influencing the larger society or for gaining converts, but he also saw it, specifically, as a tool necessary for "building up" the church. In the end, however, this first school did not live up to the mission's hopes for it, and we have almost no information about it. It appears to have lasted for roughly one year, from some time early in 1871 until either late 1871 or early 1872. The school had only a few students, most of them evidently children of "Burman" parents, although a few northern Thai students also attended. Wilson took charge of the school, and the mission hired a young Burmese who spoke English to teach, hoping that the prospect of learning English would entice more northern Thai students to enroll. They did not, and eventually some or all of the students themselves withdrew from the school, leaving the mission no choice but to close it. As far as McGilvary and Wilson could tell, parents of students and potential students were reluctant to become associated too closely with the missionaries, fearing official displeasure and possible retaliation.[27] Wilson later observed that Chao Intanon, Chao Bunthawong, and other top political leaders saw no need for education or for Western-style schools and Wilson asked, rhetorically, “Unable to read themselves why should they wish the common people to know the advantages of a school?”[28]

Apart from official indifference, the Laos Mission failed to establish a school in 1871 because it lacked a Christian constituency as the core around which a school could coalesce. The mission also lacked the staff and the educational resources necessary to take advantage of what seemed to be an opportunity for mission outreach. Premature as it was, however, the mission's eagerness to grasp this opportunity to initiate formal educational work suggests how close education was to the missionary heart. Over the course of the next few years, the Laos Mission continued to work towards the founding of a school, and in the larger scale of things, it did not take long for it to attain that goal.

The Interim

After the initial effort at founding a mission school wound its way to a dismal end, McGilvary wrote to the Board in late 1872 concerning yet another of his dreams and schemes, namely the appointment of single women to the mission. He cited the fact that women were nearly the equals of men in northern Thai society and the political influence of Chao Mae Tip Keson, the "Princess" of Chiang Mai, as evidence that "enlightened Christian women" could exert great influence over northern Thai women.[29] McGilvary did not mention the possibility of a girls' school, but whether he had such an eventuality in mind at the time, his letter anticipated events of just seven years later. In the mission's annual report for 1874, in the meantime, Wilson noted that Chao Intanon's son had visited Burma and came back to Chiang Mai impressed with the Baptist missionary schools he saw there; his enthusiasm inspired a brief flurry of educational interest in the palace that soon died down. Chao Intanon and Chao Bunthawong remained completely indifferent and unsupportive.[30]

In Chapter Five, we saw that the Chiang Mai Church did not begin to recover from the persecution of 1869 or win any number of new converts until 1875. The church's modest renewal that began in that year and gained momentum in the following years created the conditions that made it possible for the mission to start its first permanent school. Although the exact date is uncertain, Sophia McGilvary took the first step in that direction at some point during the year 1875 when she gathered a small group of Christian girls into what we might today consider a tutoring center. The six to eight students involved lived with the McGilvarys, and Sophia gave them as much time as her health and family responsibilities allowed. She apparently worked with the students individually as much as in a class and, at the beginning at least, she taught them primarily to read, presumably in central Thai. By September 1876, the mission was laying firm plans to start a girl's school and applied to the Board for two women missionary teachers for it.[31] Mission records for roughly the next two years are silent about developments in Sophia's tutoring class, but then in later 1878 her husband reported to the readers of the North Carolina Presbyterian that, “More has been done than ever towards a school. We have the nucleus of a girls' school of ten pupils, started in part to educate the children of the church and preparatory to the teachers who have been promised to carry it on a larger scale.”[32] All the mission lacked was the promised teachers, and that problem was soon remedied.

If we recall the time Daniel McGilvary devoted to literacy work and his Sunday school, by 1876 he and Sophia together were investing considerable effort in educational activities. During most of this period, the Wilsons were on furlough and Dr. Cheek tended to spend large blocks of time in Bangkok, leaving only the McGilvarys to carry out the work in Chiang Mai. Where other missionaries in other evangelical missions devoted their time to literature distribution, house-to-house visitation, and public evangelistic campaigns, Daniel McGilvary gave an important part of his attention to teaching people to read, tutoring a potential theological student, and organizing a Sunday school. Sophia McGilvary tutored young girls. Even when McGilvary distributed medicines, he ultimately hoped that the local citizenry would learn to trust Western science and religion. He was still educating the people.

The Girls' School

Returning from his own furlough, Wilson escorted Edna Cole and Mary Campbell on their trip from the United States through Bangkok to Chiang Mai, the party finally arriving there in April 1879, after a trip of four and one-half months. Cole and Campbell, we will remember, had just graduated from Western Female Seminary, Oxford, Ohio, where, in the grip of an intense religious revival, they each decided, separately, to respond to the Laos Mission's call for single women missionaries. Cole was 25 and Campbell 21 years' old—young, dedicated women filled with a deep sense of their calling to serve God and their students, "their girls," in Chiang Mai.[33] The new missionaries' educational efforts met with immediate success. They took over Sophia's class and within a week doubled the number of students from six to twelve; they counted among their students Kam Tip, whose wedding plans had led to the Edict of Religious Toleration just the year before. They also had an assistant teacher, Chantah. Cole and Campbell entered into their work enthusiastically and experienced an immediate love for their students.[34] By September 1879, they had 18 girls living and studying with them full time, plus another 11 students who studied at home but spent some time each day at the girls' school. Cole and Campbell anticipated another one or two full time day students, making a total of 30 or 31 students under their care. Wilson insisted on turning his home over to the school, and he moved into a temporary bamboo house.[35]

Campbell wrote home that most days she and Cole had numerous visitors who came to observe both how the two young missionaries lived personally and how they conducted their educational work, recalling the McGilvarys and Wilsons' experience of the 1860s. She claimed that these visitors were especially taken with the students' singing, which had become quite good and which impressed them with the abilities of their own people. She further noted that the singing at Chiang Mai Church's worship also improved under the influence of the girls. The two young missionary teachers exercised a decided influence over their students, introducing to them the same evangelical, revivalist piety that they themselves had experienced as students. By the end of 1879, several of the girls had begun to seek membership in the church. The first of them to be received was among the ten who joined the church on the last Sunday in December of that year.[36] In a letter to Mary's parents written in 1881, McGilvary praised both Campbell and Cole for the astonishing success they experienced in such a brief period. He wrote of the students that, "Many of their pupils are already recorded on the church’s roll, and give evidence of a new heart by a new life."[37] We will remember from Chapter Two the emphasis both Princeton generally and McGilvary in particular placed on the importance of reaching the heart through the mind. The new girls' school became one of the mission's chief agencies for achieving that end.

None of the pioneer members of the Laos Mission, as we also saw in Chapter Two, were more thoroughly evangelical in their revivalist fervor than Cole and Campbell. Campbell captured the depth of that evangelical ardor in a letter she wrote about their trip up to Chiang Mai; along the way, their party set a small brush fire "after the fashion of the Siamese." In her letter, she exclaims, "How we long to see the spiritual fire spread as rapidly, sweeping every thing before it."[38] Reflecting the more critical side of their fervor, Cole complained, while still in Bangkok, that, "We have seen so much of heathenism since coming here that our hearts are sick and we long for the time when our Lord shall come and claim this kingdom."[39] There is nothing to distinguish these sentiments, positive and negative, from the outlook of millions of American evangelicals of all stripes and sects, but what does capture our attention is the manner in which the Laos Mission took two zealous young evangelicals and "stuck" them in a formal educational setting. No one in the mission, including Campbell and Cole themselves, seems to have felt it a strange or inappropriate place for them. On the contrary, these Old School Presbyterians—heirs to Reformed "scholasticism" and the Scottish Enlightenment—would have argued that in a "heathen land" a school was the very best place the mission could have placed them. In a school, they could educate the minds and prepare the hearts of their students in that blend of evangelical piety and Old School intellection exemplified by the Princeton Theology. It might be argued that nineteenth-century American thinking concerning the place of women limited the work Cole and Campbell could do to education. The Laos Mission, nonetheless, went out of its way to recruit them specifically to that work, still seeing no contradiction between it and their revivalistic inclinations.

Princeton said, as we have already seen, that one best reaches the heart through the mind. It is important in the context of the Laos Mission's educational program, however, to emphasize the manner in which the Princetonians made that point by clothing this essentially scholastic approach to religious conversion in evangelical garb. Hodge states in his celebrated, widely read treatise, The Way of Life, that faith is a gift from God and that, "The evidence indeed is presented to all, or there would be no obligation to believe; but men are morally blind, and therefore the eyes of their understanding must be opened that they may understand the things which are freely given to them of God." He goes on to state that, "believers are the recipients of an influence, an unction, from the Holy One, which convinces them of the truth, makes them see and know that it is truth."[40] The whole process of conversion, that is, begins for Hodge with the presentation of evidence. Although he would have disagreed in theory, in practice it seems as if God did not enter into the process of conversion until the potential convert received information through one agency or another. Later in The Way of Life, Hodge argues that those in search of faith must assent to certain facts and integrate that assent into their very consciousness. The search for faith requires, he says, a certain "state of mind," and he writes, "Whatever may be the particular occasion, the mind is led to fix itself on its responsibility to God and the conviction of its guilt becomes settled and confirmed." Hodge insisted that the human heart resists this process and rises up against the very idea that it stands under God's condemnation. Only strict adherence to the truth can change the heart, which means that pious judgment and sentiment must conform themselves to the objective truths revealed in the Bible.[41] At each turn, Hodge grounds all other aspects of the Christian life in the process of receiving and understanding data and integrating that data into one's consciousness.

Hodge's scholastic approach to the Christian life and the point already made in this chapter that he believed that one acquires faith through normal means and agencies take on added significance in light of Cole and Campbell's educational approach to the evangelization of the northern Thai. In The Way of Life, Hodge states explicitly that religious knowledge and experience do not come by way of some mysterious, extra-mundane means. He writes, "What has been said hitherto is designed to illustrate the nature of saving faith, as it is represented in the Scriptures. It differs from all other acts of the mind to which the term faith is applied, mainly on account of the nature of the evidence on which it is founded." He also states that, "There is one general truth in relation to this point which is clearly taught in the Bible; and that is, that all true repentance springs from right views of God." He concludes, as was quoted more fully above, "The in-dwelling of the Spirit, therefore, in the people of God, does not supersede their own agency."[42] Faith, in sum, differs from other forms of knowledge primarily in terms of the data it draws upon, data taken from the Bible and orthodox theological doctrines. The Holy Spirit does not appear (to Old School Presbyterians, at any rate) in the midst of wild, ecstatic frenzy or deep mystical experiences, but it appropriates, rather, the normal processes of learning to its own spiritual ends. McGilvary made the same point in the first of his series of articles on missionary medicine, cited in Chapter Four. He observes that Jesus and the apostles relied upon miraculous powers of teaching and healing that have since been withdrawn from the church. The nineteenth-century church therefore had to rely upon less spectacular methods, for, as he states, "…the extraordinary and temporary have given place to the permanent and ordinary means which God has ordained to employ and bless for the temporal and spiritual welfare of man."[43]

Campbell and Cole themselves relished the prospect of engaging in educational work. They could not wait to get to Chiang Mai and take up founding the girls' school. After they had been at the task for six months, Campbell told the Board how Christ had "claimed" three of their students "for his own," and she enthused, "Oh, how we thank Him and pray that he will not leave us until all are His!" She prayed that God would be their strength, wisdom, and source of guidance and blessing.[44] In December 1879, she reported still greater results from their first year's efforts, writing,

But I have not told you how the Saviour is still with us, calling our girls to Himself. Last Sabbath, five presented themselves to be received into the church with two of our day scholars. We have sufficient evidence for believing that part have really given their hearts to the Saviour, but it was thought best to give them another month, until our next communion, and if at that time they still wish to publicly confess Him, we can hesitate no longer. In other hearts there is the quiet, deep working of the Spirit. Oh, how unworthy we are of all our Saviour is doing for us! Pray that we may be brought nearer, and work more earnestly for Him.[45]

Her words contain a full measure of revivalist ardor, but subsuming her evangelical piety were the grand Reformed themes most clearly articulated for Old School American Presbyterians at Princeton: God's activity, election, the quiet and orderly working of the Holy Spirit, the unworthiness of the worker, and the deep sense of God's grace in Christ.[46]

Whether or not, furthermore, we can demonstrate a clear connection between Hodge's theology and Campbell and Cole's perception of their work, the two new missionaries shared his reliance on knowledge, under the guidance of the Spirit, to bring the unconverted to Christ. Commenting in a letter written at the very end of July 1880 concerning the admission to the church of still more of her students, Campbell writes, "Oh, for a tongue to teach them more of the Saviour they have confessed, for they are such babes in their knowledge." The problem was not merely with the students, however. She continues, "We understand enough of the language to teach the story of Genesis, but are often puzzled to convey the spiritual meaning."[47] Campbell, the deeply committed evangelical teacher, had begun to wrestle with the pedagogical issues involved in transferring her knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith to her students. Although baptized Christians, her students still knew too little about that faith and lacked vital spiritual information, while she and Cole found it difficult to convey the Bible's deeper meanings to northern Thai students in the medium of their own language. Later, after Mary Campbell's death in the muddy waters of the Chao Phraya River, Cole struggled on alone and felt even more keenly how truly difficult it was for her students to understand the Christian faith. In an undated letter published in December 1882, she reported that another five girls' school students would join the church. She felt, however, that they still did not understand the fact of their own evil natures or God's plan of salvation. She writes, "I want to see a thorough repentance for sin and a real longing for the new life in Jesus. They have a little life; they move and breathe; but oh, for real life in Jesus!" In another letter, published in March 1883, Cole seems to have felt somewhat more optimistic, but still troubled. She had been teaching the Bible to eight of her students and reported that she sometimes felt encouraged by their answers to her questions; those answers showed a degree of thoughtfulness and "awakening." Still, heathenism's ignorance appeared to infect them and all of the converts. They did not understand the "vital points" of the Christian faith. She concluded that the situation would improve if the Laos Mission could translate, publish, and distribute northern Thai Bibles.[48]

Where the epistemological deficiencies of her students depressed Cole, her correspondence contains no similar criticisms of their behavior, the depth of their affection for her, or their level of commitment to their new faith.[49] In the letter published in March 1883, mentioned just above, she noted with a hint of pride the substantial sacrifices converts had to make when they became Christians. She fixed, however, on the supposedly plain fact of their ignorance of the key doctrines of the Christian faith and seems to have assumed that true faith is dependent upon understanding the meaning of those doctrines. We will recollect from earlier chapters that Princeton had a relatively broad conception of "understanding" that included spiritual insight as well as the accumulation of factual knowledge. Cole and Campbell, from what we have said of them so far here and in Chapter Two, shared that broad understanding and sought to teach their students a vital way of living as much as to instruct them in any particular set of facts. Cole, in particular however, also shared the Princetonians' concern for the objective, factual base on which both she and they believed all faithful Christians must ground their faith. A student once came to Cole to consult with her about a difficult home situation in which the girl's family rejected her new religion; she was afraid and uncertain. Cole told her about Jesus' suffering in this world. She described how Jesus now resides in heaven and intercedes for Christians. Cole then told her to go home and face the problems there, hoping that her student had understood the lessons she taught her and would take her strength only from Jesus.[50] Cole rested her counsel on the premise that, if her student understood what Jesus had done on earth and who he is now, she would gain the ability to withstand the problems she faced in her home. In her simple, loving wish for the well being of her student lay what we can only call a scholastic evangelicalism: know, she enjoined this student, and from that knowledge take strength in Jesus, the personal Saviour. Edna Cole's evangelical and scholastic instincts, that is, paralleled Princeton's: know, and in that knowing, believe.

Cole and Campbell's approach to their missionary tasks, when compared to that of Wilson and McGilvary, reveals a somewhat different juxtaposition of the confessional, commonsensical, and evangelical elements that informed all of the missionaries' systems of doctrines and meanings. Without denying the influence of evangelical piety on their thinking and behavior, McGilvary and Wilson demonstrated a strong reliance on the grand doctrines of the Reformed faith and a strong inclination towards Common Sense Realism. They were what we might term "classical scholastics" in that they drew their emphasis on the importance of the mind as the channel for reaching the heart from post-Reformation orthodoxy and the Scottish Enlightenment. Evangelical piety appears to take something of a "backseat" to these other elements, particularly in McGilvary's writings. Cole and Campbell, as we have already seen in Chapter Two, represented a less classical, more evangelical approach, one that fully valued an educational approach but grounded that approach in a warmer, more exuberant piety. Their writings reveal much less of a Reformed base and the direct influences of Common Sense Philosophy, although substantial traces remain once one knows to look for them. A number of factors contributed to these differing emphases. Campbell and Cole were young and they were new to the field; one expects a certain amount of exuberant piety from them, almost as a matter of course. The two senior missionaries, moreover, had theological training, which they received at the hands of several key representatives of the Princeton Theology. Campbell and Cole did not have formal theological training as such. In the end, however, one suspects that these two sets of missionaries, one older and one younger, simply represented two different eras. Wilson and McGilvary grew up during the Antebellum, a time when the engines of Reformed and Scottish Enlightenment thinking still pulled great weight on the American scene. The split between radical and conservative evangelicals was only gradually narrowing. The Old School was a separate denomination and had a distinct identity of its own. Cole and Campbell grew up in a much different social and theological climate. The Old School merged with the New School while they were still children. The distinction between radical and conservative evangelicals, meanwhile, counted for less, and the drift away from interest in formal systems of theology was accelerating. Different times and training led to different emphases, but in spite of these differences both sets of missionaries, senior and junior, shared a profound commitment to education as the way to convert the northern Thai people to Christianity.

These comments on the differences between McGilvary and Wilson in comparison with Cole and Campbell reinforce our sense that it is impossible to claim that the Princeton Theology had a profound impact on the work of the Laos Mission during its pioneer period. The sources of missionary behavior are too dependent on a variety of factors, including age, background, and theological training, to allow the easy assertion of any direct links of significance. At the same time, even Campbell and Cole acted like Princetonians would act and their correspondence contains a nascent, unsystematic theology something like the Princeton Theology.


The Burman school proved itself a dead end. The girls' school was an immediate success, and in spite of having to face many future obstacles eventually evolved, under the name of Dara Academy, into one of the two premier Christian educational institutions of northern Siam. The Laos Mission, more generally, invested a large portion of its time, personnel, and resources in the establishment of an elaborate educational system that placed boarding schools in all of its stations and, after 1900, inspired the emergence of numerous local church parochial schools. In the process, the mission played a substantial role in women's education and the fostering of new social roles for northern Thai women. Mission schools also produced many of the first teachers for the Bangkok government schools in the North and otherwise provided models for government educational efforts. As the years passed, meanwhile, the mission itself depended more and more on its schools to train church leaders and provide resources for church life.[51] The "scholastic," "enlightened," and institutional approach to church life and evangelistic outreach remained thus a key mark of the mission's life throughout its history. Like the Earth's molten core, the mission's Reformed, Enlightened, and Evangelical system of doctrines and meanings lay deep within everything its members wrote and did.

Printing and Literature Distribution

No one, as we have already observed, went through a process of evaluation and planning in anticipation of the founding of a new mission in northern Siam. Later, during the Laos Mission's pioneer era, the missionaries never instituted a formal, or even informal, process for evaluating the lessons they could learn from their early experience in Chiang Mai. The McGilvarys and Wilsons came with a clear set of cognitive blueprints already in place, ones that included a large place for Baconian evangelism and medicine, churches founded along the lines of Presbyterian congregations in America, the establishment of key American Presbyterian liturgical and pietistic practices, and the creation of Western educational institutions. The theological and ideological assumptions the pioneer members of the mission brought with them preclude the necessity of "thinking through" the use of Western, American, and Presbyterian methods and forms. They knew the truth of their religion. They understood the evils of heathenism. They believed God inspired them and their methods. They discerned the presence of the Holy Spirit carrying them forward even under the most trying circumstances. Given this set of meanings and doctrines, the mission felt no motivation to rethink any aspect of its work.

So far as the Wilsons and McGilvarys could see, then, their system of doctrines and meanings provided them with a clear plan of action for Chiang Mai, one involving the usual set of evangelistic, educational, and medical activities. Printing took its place on this list of unquestioned, assumed activities as having a special importance in the missionaries' drive to re-educate the northern Thai. As early as 1864, McGilvary ranked the establishment of a printing press high on the list of the future Laos Mission's priorities, and, under his leadership, the Siam Mission formed a committee to acquire northern Thai script type.[52] The Laos Mission had to wait until the 1870s, however, before it took its first concrete steps towards setting up a printing establishment. At some point before the end of 1870, it acquired a lithographic press but then faced the serious obstacle of carting its large and extremely heavy containers upriver from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Boat captains refused to undertake the task, and it was some time before the mission finally got the press up to Chiang Mai. There is no record of when it actually reached the city, and we only hear about it again when McGilvary informed the Board in February 1872 that Wilson had closed the Burman school and planned to begin working on the press instead. Wilson himself reported that he had opened the boxes the press arrived in and begun to set it up.[53] After this hopeful beginning, however, the reality of trying to run a press in Chiang Mai set in. The lithographic press itself seemed to be in fine working condition, but Wilson found it impossible to make good impressions using the ink that came with it. He tried to read the machine's German manual, but could not understand enough to solve the ink problem. He even tried to make a substitute ink himself, but he eventually informed the Board that the mission lacked both the materials and expertise needed to operate the press successfully. In his 1873 annual report to the Board, Wilson also observed that he simply did not have the time or the physical strength to invest in the press when there was so much else to be done.[54] Several years later, in 1877, McGilvary admitted to the Board that the lithographic press was a "dead loss" that had wasted $400 to $500.[55]

Meanwhile McGilvary looked in other directions for a solution to the problem of how to set up a press in Chiang Mai. While on furlough, he had asked the American Bible Society (ABS) for financial assistance in obtaining a northern Thai font. Although the ABS granted him the funds, he was unable to make use of them because he had made no progress towards getting that type font made. In May 1875, after his return to Chiang Mai, McGilvary alerted the Board of Foreign Missions that he still wanted to obtain a font of type if possible. He suggested that his brother-in-law in the United States, Cornelius Bradley, might be willing to help. Bradley knew central Thai well and had a scholarly bent of mind, and his father, Dr. Bradley, had trained him as a printer. McGilvary sent along with his letter to the Board samples taken from well-known northern Thai scribes, including Chao Tamalangka, reputed to be the best scribe in the North.[56]

In spite of their repeated failures, then, both Wilson and McGilvary had not changed their mind about the necessity of establishing a working press in Chiang Mai; and while all of this talk of stones and ink seems to be far removed from the mission's "system of doctrines and meanings," in reality Wilson and McGilvary pursued the establishment of a printing press for largely theological reasons. Cole made that point when she claimed, above, that printed northern Thai Bibles offered the best hope for teaching the northern Thai converts to understand the Christian faith. The mission wanted a press so it could create a northern Thai Christian literature and especially so it could publish a northern Thai Bible. Translation work, however, was also not progressing very rapidly. McGilvary reported in May 1875 that he had not been able to revise his preliminary translation of the Gospel of Matthew because of the press of other work. Thus, he could not send it to be printed as soon as a font was available. Nine months later McGilvary was still struggling to finish the revision of Matthew. At that time he acknowledged that even his revision was of limited quality because he lacked the critical and linguistic tools needed, such as a Greek text of the New Testament as well as access to the latest in textual criticism.[57] The two senior missionaries, nonetheless, remained committed to a press.

By their own admission, both McGilvary and Wilson confessed that they lacked the time, tools, and skills to put a printing establishment into place and the time and tools to carry out translation work; in spite of these facts, they persevered. Dr. Cheek, meanwhile, had growing doubts about the wisdom of the whole printing venture. He informed the Board in 1875 that setting up a press in Chiang Mai would be an expensive task, and he doubted that the benefits would justify that expense. Cheek advised the Board that it would be better to use the Siam Mission’s press in Bangkok for printing northern Thai materials and invest the money saved in other, more worthwhile ventures. He also correctly predicted that it would take many years to translate the Bible.[58] Events over the next five years generally confirmed his skepticism. In 1876, Wilson returned to the United States on furlough with plans to acquire a northern Thai font, but nothing seems to have come of those plans. Four years later, in 1880, the mission did succeed in acquiring a font, but part of it was lost in shipping. Wilson, meanwhile, continued to lament the technical obstacles he faced in setting up a functioning press, complaining to the Board that he felt "outside" the world. McGilvary made some progress on his translation of Matthew during the last years of the pioneer era, but still had to ask the Board to send him some very basic translation helps.[59] Meanwhile, the other 65 books of the Bible awaited translation. In the years after 1880, the Laos Mission continued to struggle with the profound difficulties involved in trying to import a completely new modern technology in the face of nearly insurmountable technical and transportation obstacles. It finally did succeed in 1893, and eventually the Chiang Mai Mission Press developed into a major printing establishment, printing millions of pages of religious literature and "secular" job work each year. Although by 1914 the mission managed to publish a complete northern Thai New Testament, it only finished translations of 34 books of the whole Bible and never did manage to put a complete northern Thai Bible in the church's hands.[60]

In spite of the fact that Cheek surely gave a more realistic assessment from a strictly business point of view of the impracticability of setting up a press in Chiang Mai, Wilson and McGilvary never wavered in their determination to achieve that goal. They would have rejected any suggestion that they themselves were unrealistic and surely would have argued that Cheek failed to see the urgency of translating and publishing the Bible for the sake of the mission's work. Relying on the Siam Mission's press, located weeks and weeks away from the North, simply would not do. Cheek, presumably, accepted the premise that publishing comprised an important adjunct to the mission's overall strategy, but his comments suggest a more "hard-headed" approach to the matter. Cheek accepted the Old School system of meanings and doctrines only in a general, somewhat indifferent manner and, as we saw in Chapter Two, eventually withdrew from the mission entirely to pursue his private business ventures. The two senior missionaries took a far more serious view of the question of doctrine, while also accepting whole-heartedly the meanings implied in the Old School theological system they studied at Princeton. Faith in the Bible as the literal, unquestioned Word of God comprised an important element of that system for the mission as well as the seminary, as we saw in both Chapters Two and Three.

Princeton and Chiang Mai's shared faith in the Christian Scriptures also was grounded in their larger Old School system of doctrines and meanings. Marsden points out that Antebellum American evangelicals of all persuasions, furthermore, shared an unquestioning reverence for the Bible founded on two Western intellectual and epistemological assumptions: first, the Bible can be clearly and correctly understood by all individuals; second, all truth is one. He then highlights the important role Common Sense Philosophy played in reinforcing evangelical faith in the Bible by providing evangelicals with a sure defense against speculative philosophies and any interpretations of the Bible that did not accord with their own theological views. Common Sense Philosophy assured them that humanity shares a common consciousness, that the Bible reflects and addresses that consciousness, and that it transcends cultural or social differences. It communicates God's commonsensical truths with equal facility in all languages and settings. American evangelicals also affirmed that the Bible speaks to the heart as much as the mind and that the Holy Spirit confirmed objective biblical truth. Marsden argues that Antebellum evangelicals combined romantic emotionalism and subjectivism with Baconian, scientific objectivism to create an integrated view of the Scriptures.[61]

Building on this evangelical, commonsensical, Reformed heritage, Hodge's Systematic Theology outlines the rationale for emphasizing the Scriptures as an indispensable tool for the Christian life. He equates the "word of God" with the Bible and then issues two key theological maxims than virtually mandate obligatory Bible study. He states, "The word of God, so far as adults are concerned, is an indispensable means of salvation. True religion never has existed, and never can exist, where the truths revealed in the Bible are unknown." He goes on to write, "The word of God is not only necessary to salvation, but it is also divinely efficacious to the accomplishment of that end."[62] Hodge also addresses the particular condition of the heathen, asserting that, "…it remains a fact patent to all eyes that the nations where the Bible is unknown sit in darkness. The absence of the Bible is just as distinctly discernible as the absence of the sun." He elaborates, "a second fact on which the testimony of experience is equally clear is, that true Christianity flourishes just in proportion to the degree in which the Bible is known, and its truths are diffused among the people." Finally, he claims, "A third important fact equally well established is, that true religion prevails in any community, in proportion to the degree in which the young are instructed in the facts and indoctrinated in the truths of the Bible."[63] Hodge had not yet published these thoughts when McGilvary first proposed the need of a press, in 1864, for the future Chiang Mai mission, and it would strain credulity in the extreme to believe that he or Wilson thumbed through their old Princeton lecture notes seeking a rationale for their persistent quest for a mission press. Hodge, on the other hand, does reveal the issues at stake in that quest and provides some insight into why McGilvary and Wilson stayed the course in establishing a mission press as well as why the mission emphasized literacy and education as key activities and commitments. There was a great deal at stake. Hodge's views suggest that if the missionaries failed to provide northern Thai society and the northern Thai church with the Bible, they could not hope for lasting success. If they did not train the church to the use of the Bible and, in the process, provide their members with literacy skills, the mission had little hope for the future. Northern Thai society would remain in darkness. The church would not flourish. Christianity would not prevail.

Hodge's comments also tie the Laos Mission's emphasis on printing and translation back into its inherited system of meanings and doctrines. He articulated a rigidly dualistic epistemology, based on the asserted truism that spiritual truth is found only in Christianity and known only to faithful Christians. In keeping with his dualism, Hodge believed that salvation is found in Christianity alone and contained exclusively in the Bible, the word of God. He seasoned his exclusivist dualism with a strong dash of Scottish Enlightenment universalism, holding that his principles apply to every community in every condition. When taken together as an interlocking system, Hodge's principles concerning the centrality of the Bible in Protestant life virtually demanded precisely the emphasis on translating and printing the Scriptures, as well as teaching reading and writing, found in the mission's records from the 1860s onwards.


If Kosoke Koyama could have addressed his question concerning whether the people of Chiang Mai understood what the mission was attempting to teach them directly to McGilvary and his colleagues (see the Introduction), they quite possibly would have answered, "No, they do not understand, but they will. They must, if they are to be saved." Even before 1880, the mission invested a substantial portion of its limited time and resources to the end that they would understand, and by that year, it had embarked on a formal educational enterprise that would make it the leader in modern education in northern Siam for decades to come. Aside from the girls' school, the pioneer members of the mission invested themselves in literacy education, theological education, and several unsuccessful attempts to introduce printing technologies into Chiang Mai. The Laos Mission, that is, made a concerted effort to communicate Western learning, including its system of doctrines and meanings, to the people of Chiang Mai.

In the early 1880s, as we saw, however, Edna Cole fretted over the inability of the converts to grasp the heart of the mission's religious message to the satisfaction of the missionaries. Some thirty-five years later, in 1915, several members of the mission continued to complain that the northern Thai lacked intellectual skills, administrative ability, and ambition. They painted an especially dismal picture of the administrative and cognitive ability of northern Thai church leadership and argued that the missionaries would have to remain in charge of the northern Thai church for years to come. Leaders and local church members had only a limited understanding of the Christian faith.[64] McGilvary himself, in later years, regretted the fact that the vast majority of Buddhist monks refused to engage him in theological discussion and debate, thus preventing him from finding openings to convince them of the truth of the Christian religion.[65] Which is to say, the Laos Mission's emphasis on educational activities and a cognitive approach to religious life seemed, as far as the missionaries themselves could tell, to have achieved few results. Northern Thai church members still struck them as being ignorant of the Christian faith. Northern Thai Buddhists, furthermore, showed little inclination to enter into intellectual debate on religious subjects with the missionaries. The Laos Mission, however, continued to pursue the course charted for it by McGilvary and his colleagues in the 1860s and 1870s, one that sought to transfer saving information through Western forms and thought ways.

The Laos Mission's sense of educational failure brings us full circle to the mission's Old School Presbyterian and American evangelical system of doctrines and meanings and the role of the Princeton Theology in clarifying that system. By 1883, as we noted above, Cole felt that the converts were not receiving the religious message the mission was sending them, at least not fully. Even earlier, Cheek alerted the Board to the massive obstacles the Laos Mission faced in setting up a press; he warned that the cost of such a press would far outweigh its benefits, even if they succeeded. Why, in the face of many discouraging circumstances did the mission initiate these activities and why, in the face of apparent programmatic failures, did it persist in pursuing them long after 1880? This is precisely the question we started with at the beginning of this study. The answer, however, is clearer than before. The Laos Mission depended upon a system of doctrines and meanings that influenced every significant facet of its work up to and well beyond 1880. Where a hardheaded realist, such as Cheek, thought McGilvary and Wilson's vision for a Chiang Mai press an expensive, impractical dream, the two senior missionaries never once wavered in their determination to see the Bible translated, printed, and accompanied by a substantial pious and printed literature. They were as hardheaded and realistic as Cheek. They simply looked at reality in a different manner.



American Historical Review
American Presbyterians
American Quarterly
Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review

Church History
Journal of American History
Journal of the Early Republic
Journal of Presbyterian History
Journal of Social History
North Carolina Presbyterian
North Carolina Presbyterian New Series
Laos News
Presbyterian Quarterly and Princeton Review
Sixteenth Century Journal
Westminster Journal of Theology
Women's Work for Women

[1] Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, 185-86.

[2] Hodge, Way of Life, 228.

[3] Green, "Modern Philology," 639.

[4] Green, "Modern Philology," 640.

[5] Wilson to Brethren, [Annual Report], 30 September 1880, v. 4, BFM.

[6] See Swanson, Khrischak Muang Nua, 80-4.

[7] McGilvary, “For the Little Folks,” NCP New Series 3, 107 (19 January 1870): 4.

[8] McGilvary to Irving, 1 November 1875, v. 3, BFM.

[9] McGilvary, Rahang Substation Report, 1 October 1880, v. 4, BFM; and McGilvary to Lowrie, 12 October 1880, v. 4, BFM. See also Sessional Records, 103.

[10] McGilvary, “Letter from Siam,” NCP New Series 13, 665 (6 October 1880): 1.

[11] McGilvary to Cornelia, 23 April 1883, McGilvary Papers; and McGilvary to Irving, 26 April 1883, v. 4, BFM.

[12] McGilvary, Half Century, 416.

[13] See, Calhoun, Princeton Seminary, 27ff; and Noll, "Founding of Princeton Seminary."

[14] Noll, "Founding of Princeton Seminary," 109.

[15] Swanson, "This Heathen People," 138ff.

[16] McGilvary, Half Century, 98.

[17] McGilvary to Irving, 11 March 1877, v. 4, BFM.

[18] McGilvary to Irving, 10 August 1877, v. 4, BFM; and McGilvary to Irving, 1 October 1877, v. 4, BFM.

[19] Wilson, “Annual Report of North Laos Mission for the year ending Sept. 30th 1879," 30 September 1879, v. 4, BFM; and McGilvary to Lowrie, 12 October 1880, v. 4, BFM.

[20] Quoted in Arthur J. Brown, "Appreciation," in McGilvary, Half Century, 3-4.

[21] McGilvary to Irving, 4 December 1876, v. 3, BFM.

[22] Wilson to Irving, 12 February 1880, v. 4, BFM; and Wilson to Brethren, 30 September 1880, v. 4.

[23] Jack L. Seymour, From Sunday School to Church School: Continuities in Protestant Church Education in the United States, 1860-1929 (Latham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1982), 55.

[24] Johnson, Road to Civil War, 13-4.

[25] Johnson, Road to Civil War, 23-4. See also, Marsden, Evangelical Mind, 30.

[26] McGilvary to Irving, 31 December 1870, v. 3, BFM.

[27] Wilson to Irving, 24 October 1871, v. 3, BFM; McGilvary to Irving, 5 February 1872, v. 3, BFM; and Wilson, undated letter, FM 31, 10 (March 1873): 307-08. See also, McGilvary, Half Century, 177.

[28] Wilson to Irving, 15 March 1875, v. 3, BFM.

[29] McGilvary to Irving, 4 December 1872, v. 3, BFM.

[30] Wilson to Executive Committee, 30 September 1874, v. 3, BFM.

[31] McGilvary, “For the Family,” NCP New Series 9, 417 (7 January 1876): 4; McGilvary, Laos Mission Annual Report, 1 October 1875 to 1 October 1876, v. 3, BFM; and McGilvary, Half Century, 177.

[32] McGilvary, “For the Little Folks,” NCP New Series 12, 579 (12 February 1879): 1.

[33] Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 16ff; McGilvary, Half Century, 221-22; Cole, letter dated 25 January 1872, WWW 9, 6 (June 1879): 205-06; and Campbell, letter dated 19 April 1879, WWW 9, 11 (November 1879): 389-91.

[34] Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 26; and Campbell, undated letter, WWW 9, 12 (December 1879): 424-25.

[35] Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 28-9.

[36] Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 29-32.

[37] Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 49.

[38] Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 21-2

[39] Cole, letter dated 25 January 1879, WWW 9, 6 (June 1879): 205-06.

[40] Hodge, Way of Life, 62.

[41] Hodge, Way of Life, 108-10, 113.

[42] Hodge, Way of Life, 159-60, 167, 228.

[43] McGilvary, "Medical Missions and Missionary Physicians - No. I," 1.

[44] Campbell to Irving, 20 October 1879, v. 4, BFM.

[45] Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 31-2.

[46] See also, Cole, undated letter, WWW 9, 12 (December 1879): 425-26; and Campbell, letter dated 18 December 1879, WWW 10, 6 (June 1880): 210-11.

[47] Peabody, Mary Margaretta Campbell, 32-3.

[48] Cole, undated letter, WWW 12, 12 (December 1882): 411; and Cole, undated letter, WWW 13, 3 (March 1883): 83.

[49] See, for example, Cole to Irving, 1 October 1880, v. 4, BFM.

[50] Cole, undated letter, WWW 11, 7 (July 1881): 224-26.

[51] See, Swanson, "Advocate and Partner," 299-301; Vachara, "Modern Education," 125, passim.; and Herbert R. Swanson, "A New Generation: Missionary Education and Changes in Women's Roles in Traditional Northern Thai Society," Sojourn 3, 2 (August 1988): 187-206.

[52] McGilvary to Lowrie, 10 May 1864, v. 2, BFM; and McGilvary to Brethren, 5 December 1864, v. 2, BFM.

[53] McGilvary to Irving, 7 October 1870, v. 3, BFM; McGilvary to Irving, 31 December 1870, v. 3, BFM; McGilvary to Irving, 5 February 1872, v. 3, BFM; and Wilson to Irving, 8 February 1872, v. 3, BFM.

[54] Wilson to Irving, 28 September 1872, v. 3, BFM; and Wilson, “Annual Report of the North Laos Mission,” 30 September 1873, v. 3, BFM.

[55] McGilvary to Irving, 11 March 1877, v. 4, BFM.

[56] McGilvary to Irving, 2 May 1875, v. 3, BFM.

[57] McGilvary to Irving, 2 May 1875, v. 3, BFM; and McGilvary to Irving, 22 February 1876, v. 3, BFM.

[58] Cheek to Ellinwood, 21 August 1875, v. 3, BFM.

[59] McGilvary to Irving, 1 November 1875, v. 3, BFM; McGilvary to Irving, 22 February 1876, v. 3, BFM; McGilvary to Irving, 15 April 1876, v. 3, BFM; and Wilson to Irving, 5 October 1880, v. 4, BFM

[60] See Herbert R. Swanson, "This Seed: Missionary Printing and Literature as Agents of Change in Northern Siam, 1892-1926," in Changes in Northern Thailand and the Shan States 1886-1940, ed. Prakai Nontawasee (Singapore: Southeast Asian Studies Program, 1988), 175-207.

[61] George M. Marsden, "Every One's Own Interpreter? The Bible, Science, and Authority in Mid-Nine-teenth-Century America," in The Bible in America: Essays in Cultural History, ed. Nathan O. Hatch and Mark A. Noll (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 79-94. See Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, 15-6.

[62] Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 466-67.

[63] Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 469-70.

[64] Speer, Report of Deputation, 86-7, 104ff.

[65] McGilvary, "The Buddha or Christ," LN 1, 4 (October 1904): 109.

Table of Contents AbstractIllust. & Tables Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Conclusion Appendices Bibliography