“We Cannot Be Indifferent”: Native Americans and the Students of the Bethlehem Boarding School

  • Gregory D. Specter


In this chapter the author draws from extensive research using the Bethlehem Boarding School archives, housed at the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, PA. Examining the students’ oration of 1793, student records, periodicals, and publishers’ receipts demonstrates that the inclusion of the female students in the 1793 service in the Old Chapel represents an important liminal space of contact between Native Americans and the newly established Republic. The author argues that a collaborative classroom exercise of dialogue and poetry written by the female students, entitled “On the Aborigines of America from Carver, Morse, Smith, and Bartram,” presents a subversive model of white relations with Native Americans that seeks to counter genocidal policies towards America’s indigenous peoples. The students’ oration, which cites numerous injustices culled from personal experience and the readings of books and periodicals, presents an alternative model of Native American and European American relations.

Works Cited

  1. Anonymous. “To a Lady, Who Expressed a Desire of Seeing an University Established for Women.” The American Museum, or, Universal Magazine, vol. XI, appendix I, 1792, p. 3.Google Scholar
  2. Beachy, Robert. “Manuscript Missions in the Age of Print: Moravian Community in the Atlantic World.” Pious Pursuits: German Moravians in the Atlantic World, edited by Michelle Gillespie and Robert Beachy. Berghahn Books, 2007, pp. 33–49.Google Scholar
  3. Bidwell, John. American Paper Mills, 1690–1832: A Directory of the Paper Trade, with Notes on Products, Watermarks, Distribution Methods, and Manufacturing Techniques. Dartmouth College Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  4. Cornell, Thomas C. Adam and Anne Mott: Their Ancestors and Their Descendants. A. V. Haight, 1890.Google Scholar
  5. Eastman, Carolyn. “The Female Cicero: Young Women’s Oratory and Gendered Public Participation in the Early American Republic.” Gender & History, vol. 19, no. 2, 2007, pp. 260–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. ———. “The Indian Censures the White Man: ‘Indian Eloquence’ and American Reading Audiences in the Early Republic.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 65, no. 3, 2008, pp. 535–564.Google Scholar
  7. Engel, Katherine Carté. Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.Google Scholar
  8. “From George Washington to the Five Nations, 23 March 1792,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified December 6, 2016, [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 10, 1 March 1792 – 15 August 1792, edited by Robert F. Haggard and Mark A. Mastromarino. University of Virginia Press, 2002, pp. 148–150.]
  9. Haller, Mabel. Early Moravian Education in Pennsylvania. Moravian Historical Society, 1953.Google Scholar
  10. Kelly, Catherine E. “Reading and the Problem of Accomplishment.” Reading Women: Literacy, Authorship, and Culture in the Atlantic World, 1500–1800, edited by Heidi Brayman and Catherine E. Kelly. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008, pp. 124–143.Google Scholar
  11. McKinley, Daniel L. “Anna Rosina (Kliest) Gambold (1762–1821), Moravian Missionary to the Cherokees, with Special Reference to Her Botanical Interests.” Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society, vol. 28, 1994, pp. 59–99.Google Scholar
  12. “Other special occasions, including farewell for Helen Kip and Aurelia Blakeley (1790), 1790–1796.” Box, 292 Other dialogues. MS FemSem 292.2.1. Records of the Female Seminary (Moravian Boarding School for Girls) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, PA. Used with permission of the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem.Google Scholar
  13. Osborne, William S. Caroline M. Kirkland. Twayne Publishers, 1972.Google Scholar
  14. Ostier, Jeffrey. “‘To Extirpate the Indians’: An Indigenous Consciousness of Genocide in the Ohio Valley and Lower Great Lakes, 1750s–1810.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 72, no. 4, 2015, pp. 587–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. “Periodicals, 1792–1818.” Box, 179 Bills from booksellers and publishers, M–Z. MS FemSem 179.19.1. Records of the Female Seminary (Moravian Boarding School for Girls) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, PA. Used with permission of the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem.Google Scholar
  16. Reichel, William Cornelius. A History of the Rise, Progress, and Present Condition of the Bethlehem Female Seminary with a Catalogue of Its Pupils, 1785–1858. J.B. Lippincott, 1858.Google Scholar
  17. Sayre, Gordon M. The Indian Chief as Tragic Hero: Native Resistance and the Literatures of America, from Moctezuma to Tecumseh. North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.Google Scholar
  18. Seeber, Edward D. “Critical Views on Logan’s Speech.” The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 60, no. 236, 1947, pp. 130–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Smith, Jewel A. Music, Women, and Pianos in Antebellum Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: The Moravian Young Ladies’ Seminary. Lehigh University Press, 2008.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory D. Specter
    • 1
  1. 1.Duquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations