For the Children of the Infidels

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For the Children of the Infidels: Precis and Evaluation

In “For the Children of the Infidels”?: American Indian Education in the Colonial Colleges, Bobby Wright argues against contemporary historian and literary glorification of colonial colleges’ attempt to educate Indians and convert them to the Christian faith. Instead, Wright claims that colonial colleges used the guile of educating and converting Indians to perpetrate their own success. In support of his claim, Wright referenced the Virginia Company, Harvard, William and Mary, and Dartmouth; all of which, he argued, used the contrived cause of Indian missions as a way to obtain funds from England. The Virginia Company began in 1609 as a mandate by King James I with a charter to fulfill England’s aim of Christianizing the Indians. The colonists realized that in order to convert the Indians to Christianity; they must first educate them. By 1617, King James I secured the funds to begin this task, and by that time the colonists had selected land to erect an Indian College. However, Wright exerts after the Virginia Company received the finances to build the college, the treasurer of the Virginia Company found it more profitable to keep the money for his economic plan; rather than use it for the Indians. Wright states that only three years after the Virginia Company received the money for the college, three-fourths of it was gone and none was used to Christianize the Indians (Wright, 1988, p 72-74). Another example Wright uses to support his argument is Harvard. Harvard was established in 1636; and in 1643, the college sought contributions from England for the support of Indian work. However, Parliament refused the funds, and only agreed to finance schools with the specific mission to teach and spread Christianity to the natives. Therefore, in 1650, Wright indicates that the Harvard president amends the college’s charter to include “education of the English and Indian Youth.” By doing this Harvard’s...
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