Protestants Negotiate the Ohio River Valley
This chapter examines the range of approaches that Protestant missionaries took to their work in Ohio. In particular, it shows how Presbyterian Joseph Badger brought redemption to Ohio. Beginning in 1800, he made several journeys to proselytize in the region. Aggressively confronting the inhabitants of this “unbroken wilderness,” Badger made Ohio his own spiritual and physical frontier, a place to be transformed by the religion and culture he would impose. His approach contrasted with most immigrants to Ohio who dismissed Indians as pagans, strangers, and enemies, objects to be transformed or removed. Badger, however, detoured from the path many other Protestant proselytizers followed by sometimes befriending Native American neighbors and defending them against the onslaught of other American settlers. His efforts preserved a remnant of Ohio before it became a frontier for missionaries and settlers. Badger sustained the past compromises that had made Ohio a “middle ground,” a place where negotiations among various Europeans and Indians trumped the purposes of any one party. Badger’s competitors ran roughshod over his designs and efforts as they charged into Ohio and trampled any hope of preserving compromise.
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