HerbSwanson.com ...A Resource for the Study of the Thai Church

MA Thesis Chapter 1

This Heathen People: The Cognitive Sources of American Missionary

Westernizing Activities in Northern Siam, 1867-1889

Herbert R. Swanson

Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Maryland
in partial fulfillmentof the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts



Abstract 2006 Intro 1987 Intro Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Conclusion Bibliography

The American Presbyterian mission in northern Siam, founded in 1867, brought the heirs of two vastly different cultures into contact with one another. On the one side stood the descendents of the once rich and powerful Tai[1] Kingdom of Lan Na ("Kingdom of a thousand rice fields"). On the other side stood the American heirs of Calvin, Knox, and the Puritans. The study of missionary activities in northern Siam begins with each of these heritages.


While historians still do not know with any certainty how the Tai came to live in modern day northern Thailand, they generally assume that the Tai migrated into the region from the north during the eleventh century A.D. [2] The history of the Lan Na Kingdom started with King Mangrai (1239-1317), who began his career in 1259 as the ruler of a minor Tai city-state and, during a twenty year period, extended his power over various other minor states in northern Thailand until he became an important figure in the region. In 1281 he conquered the ancient and powerful city-state of Haripunjaya and cemented his dominance over a large territory. After these conquests, Mangrai proceeded to enliven the cultural life of his emerging kingdom by importing craftsmen and artists from other states and by promoting the Buddhist religion. In 1296 he also began the construction of a new capital, Chiang Mai (new city), for his Lan Na Kingdom. By the time of his death in 1317, King Mangrai had laid the foundations for a Buddhist state of regional importance with Chiang Mai as its centerpiece. One scholar has written that, "The new city had a brilliant destiny not only as a political center but also as a cultural center." [3]

By the end of the fourteenth century, the Lan Na Kingdom achieved both political stability and experienced the flowering of an impressive Buddhist culture. Chiang Mai became a widely recognized center of Buddhist art and learning. Its monks created an impressive Buddhist literature for which they won a reputation as skillful in the use of Pali, the sacred language of Theravada Buddhism. The kingdom reached its cultural and political heights during the reign of King Tilokaracha who reigned from 1441 until 1487. [4]

The period of power and cultural flowering lasted for only a brief era, however, and by the early sixteenth century the Lan Na Kingdom entered a phase of permanent decline caused in large part by incompetent political leadership. In 1558 the Burmese invaded and captured Chiang Mai, bringing to an end the Mangrai dynasty. For the next two hundred years the region suffered through a long era marked by Burmese domination, war, revolt, internal dissension, unrest, repression, and cultural decline. [5] At the end of that era, a Thai army captured Chiang Mai in 1776, and the northern states then regained a measure of self-rule under the nominal suzerainty of Bangkok. In spite of forceful political leadership and modest attempts at cultural revival, the centuries of tumult and decline made it impossible for northern Siam to regain the glory of its golden years. [6]

The first American Presbyterian missionaries arrived in Chiang Mai in April 1867 during a crucial period in northern Thai history. The French controlled portions of Indo-China and the British dominated Burma, an old and powerful rival of Siam, with frightening ease. Siam felt it could no longer allow its northern states the autonomy they had enjoyed for decades, and in 1870 it initiated the long process of integrating northern Siam politically and culturally into the Siamese state. [8] To that end, one scholar argues, the Bangkok government encouraged the Presbyterians to go to Chiang Mai to weaken its traditional political and social structures. That the missionaries did, in fact, have far reaching influence in the North, implies that Bangkok used them successfully. In any event, the Siamese government in 1874 placed a viceroy in Chiang Mai and, thereby, gradually gained control over taxation and revenues, the local economy, and government bureaucracy in northern Siam. Revolutions broke out in 1889 and again in 1902, but Bangkok successfully suppressed each of them and by 1908 it fully incorporated the North into the Siamese state. [9]

When the first missionaries went to Chiang Mai, then, they entered a region which had only recently emerged from centuries of unrest with no hope of attaining even a shadow of its former greatness. It remained isolated from the larger world by a long journey up river which could take as long as three months to complete. The old ways and traditional power structures still dominated northern Thai life. The missionaries played no small part in bringing about the changes their arrival in Chiang Mai portended.


The turmoil-ridden history of Chiang Mai, however, represented only one element in the equation of missionary activity in northern Siam. The Presbyterians also brought a past with them, one which went back to the Protestant Reformation, the Calvinistic "Reformed" and "Presbyterian" churches of Europe and Britain, and American history going back into colonial times. That history profoundly affected the development of missionary activity in northern Siam.

In the late seventeenth century, Calvinists established Presbyterian churches in the English colonies gaining their strongest foothold in the Middle colonies where Presbyterianism eventually became the largest single religious grouping. Under the leadership of the Rev. Francis Makemie, the Presbyterians organized a presbytery in 1706 which they expanded into the General Synod in 1716. During the American Revolution the Presbyterians closely identified themselves with the revolutionary cause, and they emerged from the Revolution as one of the most prestigious religious bodies in the United States. In 1788 they completed the organizational development of American Presbyterianism by founding the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.

Although emerging from the Revolution as the largest religious sect in the United States, the Presbyterians did not expand as rapidly after 1800 as did the Methodists or the Baptists. While those denominations enthusiastically embraced the revivalism of the Second Great Awakening, that movement reawakened an older controversy among Presbyterians concerning the use of revivalism to gain adherents. An "Old School" faction emerged which acknowledged the importance of revivals but distrusted the more radical tendencies of frontier revivalism. That faction wanted to limit the use of revivalism among Presbyterians. The "New School" faction, on the other hand, sought to make greater use of revivalism. After years of bickering, the Old School faction in 1837 forced an open split between the two groups that led to the establishment of two denominations each claiming to be the "true" Presbyterian Church U.S.A. The two churches did not reunite until after the Civil War. [10]

The Presbyterian factional struggle culminating in the 1837 split had a direct bearing on the founding of the Laos Mission. Among other things, the two sides differed sharply over the denominational role in missions. Beginning in 1801, the Presbyterian Church cooperated with various New England Congregationalist bodies in the "Plan of Union," an agreement that reduced competition between missionaries and churches in frontier areas. The Plan allowed local churches to associate with both denominations and call pastors from either. Under the Plan, many New England Congregationalists in New York, Ohio, and other western states joined the Presbyterian Church greatly enlarging what became the New School Presbyterian faction. The Congregationalists and Presbyterians also worked together in the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (A.B.C.F.M.) and the American Home Missionary Society (A.H.M.S.), through which the Presbyterians channeled most of their missionary efforts.

Old School Presbyterians felt uneasy about cooperating with the Congregationalists who, they believed, represented a heretical danger to Presbyterian orthodoxy. The Old School wanted to discontinue that cooperation, limit the role of the New School within the Presbyterian Church, and establish denominational control over Presbyterian missionary activities so that Presbyterian missions propagated "true" Christian faith. In order to attract the resources of Presbyterian churches into distinctly Presbyterian missionary efforts, an Old School group established the independent Western Foreign Missionary Society (W.F.M..S) in 1831. It used the W.F.M.S. to forestall a New School drive to make the A.B.C.F.M. the official foreign missions arm of the denomination. [11] After the 1837 split, the Presbyterian Church (Old School) severed all relations with the interdenominational societies and established the Board of Foreign Missions to oversee its foreign missionary effort. [12]

It was the Board of Foreign Missions which sent the first Presbyterian missionaries to Bangkok and, a generation later, approved the establishment of a mission station in Chiang Mai. The beginnings of Presbyterian work in northern Siam, then, grew out of a heritage that reached back to the Protestant Reformation itself. That same heritage embodied the ideological framework which Presbyterian missionaries took with them to northern Siam.


Protestant missionary work in Siam began in August 1828 when the first two Protestant missionaries, representing the London Missionary Society, arrived in Bangkok. [13] In the early 1830s, the A.B.C.F.M. and the American Baptists established the earliest permanent Protestant missions in Bangkok. Thereafter, the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions conducted a survey trip to Bangkok in 1838 and sent its first couple to Bangkok two years later. Illness and discouragement forced that couple to leave in 1844, but a new Presbyterian contingent arrived in Bangkok in 1847, establishing a Presbyterian presence broken only by World War II. During the first years of the Presbyterian Siam Mission, the King of Siam suspected that the American missionaries were foreign political agents, and he restricted their work accordingly. The situation improved in 1851, however, when King Mongkut (r. 1851-1868) came to the throne. Mongkut maintained cordial relations with the missionaries and used them to help introduce western ideas and technologies into his nation. The Presbyterian mission founded schools, built a printing plant, and carried on medical work in addition to its routine evangelistic activities. By 1860 the Siam Mission was firmly rooted in Bangkok and planning to expand its work into other cities.

Missionary interest in the northern Thai began with the Rev. Dr. Dan Beach Bradley, the most influential and famous of the early missionaries. Bradley went to Siam in 1835 under the A.B.C.F.M. and later transferred to the American Missionary Association (A.M.A.), a missionary agency working primarily among slaves and freedmen in the United States. [14] In the 1850s Bradley developed contacts with northern Thai delegations that visited Bangkok periodically to swear allegiance to the King of Siam. He talked with members of these delegations and gave them tracts, but his small mission never had enough funds to undertake a permanent mission in northern Siam.

Bradley left that task to the Presbyterians and his own son-in-law, the Rev. Daniel McGilvary. McGilvary arrived in Bangkok in 1858, and soon married Sophia Bradley, who then joined the Presbyterian mission. In 1861 the McGilvarys opened the mission's second station, at the town of Phet Buri, south of Bangkok, where they encountered the long resettled descendants of northern Thai prisoners of war. Spurred by stories of Bradley's encounters with the northern Thai delegations and contacts with the northern Thai of Phet Buri, McGilvary and the Rev. Jonathan Wilson took a survey trip to Chiang Mai in 1863. They returned to Bangkok excited by they saw, but it took them more than three years to work through all of the arrangements necessary to establish a permanent mission in Chiang Mai. The McGilvary family finally left for Chiang Mai in January 1867, and the Wilsons followed them a year later.

The McGilvarys intended only to establish a mission station of the Siam Mission, but the Board of Foreign Missions soon recognized the Chiang Mai Station as a separate mission, the "Laos Mission." [15] The history of the Laos Mission divides into three general periods, the first of which began in 1867 and ended abruptly in September 1869. During this period, people came in crowds, even from distant villages, to see the McGilvary family, and the two elder McGilvarys took advantage of their visibility to preach their message. They soon gained seven converts which they believed marked the beginning of a "mass movement" to Christianity. The arrival of the Wilson family in 1868 added to the sense of progress, but this first period came to a bloody, sudden end when the chao muang (Prince or Lord) of Chiang Mai ordered the execution of two converts. The remaining converts either fled or renounced their new religion, and it seemed likely that the McGilvarys and Wilsons would have to leave. The chao muang continued to pose a threat to the future of the mission until his death in 1870.

The second period in the history of the Laos Mission lasted from 1869 until 1889. The mission slowly recovered from the persecution of 1869, began to create the lasting shape of its work, and expanded geographically into several new areas of northern Siam. McGilvary and other members of the mission itinerated through remote rural areas converting individuals and organizing small groups of converts. The first missionary doctor arrived in 1871, and the mission established its first permanent school, a girls' school, in 1879. By 1880 the mission established four churches, and in that year it opened work in another important region to the North By the end of the decade the mission's churches numbered 884 members scattered over a large geographical area. The general scope and shape of missionary activity had emerged.

The final stage in the Laos Mission's history opened in 1889 with the arrival of a contingent of "second generation" missionaries and a general expansion of the mission's program. The mission established several hospitals, a system of itinerating medical evangelists, pharmacies, and a leprosarium. It created a system of large boarding schools and village parochial schools. opened a theological school, and founded a printing press. Yet, even as the Laos Mission itself expanded, significant changes swept across northern Siam as transportation and communications with Bangkok improved dramatically. Those changes caused the Board of Foreign Missions to conclude that it needed only one mission in Siam, and in 1920 it ordered the unification of the Siam and Laos Missions. With that order, the history of the Laos Mission ended.


In the course of its history, the Laos Mission engaged in an impressive range of westernizing activities. Indeed, from the time they began to prepare for the Chiang Mai mission, McGilvary and Wilson planned to take as much of the West with them as possible. They felt they needed a large supply of medicines and a doctor to help with the station's work. They wanted a printing press. They believed that their success would depend in part upon erecting western-style missionary homes and a chapel. [16] In his first annual report from Chiang Mai, McGilvary again listed the things he "needed" to insure the success of his mission. His list included a press, type fonts, homes built with western building techniques, a school, a chapel, and the materials and techniques needed for literacy education. He observed that the members of the Laos Mission had "come out from civilization" and none of the tools needed for evangelism existed in Chiang Mai. [17]

The range of western products on these shopping lists demonstrates that McGilvary and Wilson assumed without thought that western ways, technologies, institutions, and ideas went hand-in-hand with missionary evangelism They consistently acted on that assumption and just as consistently used western ideas and technologies in their evangelistic campaign to convert northern Siam. At each turn of its history, the Laos Mission introduced more westernizing activities into its program.

Upon their arrival in Chiang Mai, the McGilvarys attracted large crowds of spectators, and they used these crowds as a forum for preaching their religion. They preached more, however, than just a new religion: their evangelistic message and style advocated the ways of the West. McGilvary, for example, taught his listeners something of astronomy and geography to prove the superiority of western learning to that of traditional northern Thai Buddhist cosmology. He then tried to associate Christianity with that superiority and, thus, win converts.. McGilvary also practiced medicine among the crowds as a way to gain their attention and sympathy. [18]

Sophia McGilvary's activities in those early years represented an equally radical importation of the West into Chiang Mai. In northern Siam women received no formal education so that very few could even read. Traditional religion, at the same time, severely limited their role in religion, the heart and soul of the culture. Sophia presented a stark contrast as she moved about the crowds, preaching and teaching in a manner quite unlike what they expected of a women. She was clearly literate, educated, and very much of a religious leader. Sophia's very presence, then, modelled a western conception of womanhood and religion, one she reinforced further when she formed a small woman's literacy class in 1868, the first recorded instance of western-style education in northern Siam. [19]

Missionary evangelism attacked traditional northern Thai society not only through western technologies and techniques but also with western religious ideas as well. The missionaries preached religious beliefs and concepts such as sin, forgiveness, salvation, and heaven very different from those of northern Thai Buddhism. They especially emphasized the contradictions between their understanding of sin and that of Buddhism. Northern Thai Buddhism taught, in essence, that the sinner could attain salvation through the accumulation of merit an the extinguishing of desires and attachments. The Laos Mission held that salvation came only through God's forgiveness given to those who believed in the westernized Christian religion of American Protestantism. [20]

As a part of its use of western religious ideas, the Laos Mission also attacked traditional northern Thai animistic beliefs and spirit propitiation ceremonies and activities. Not infrequently mobs in northern Siam forced individuals or families accused of witchcraft and demon possession to flee their homes permanently. The missionaries challenged these beliefs, gave haven to those accused of witchcraft, and interceded on their behalf with the authorities. They taught their converts to eschew animistic rites and practices, and they used western medicines to discredit the "native doctors'" reliance on propitiation rites. [21]

The missionaries particularly relied upon the use of western medicine to attract people to their message. In his first letter from Chiang Mai, McGilvary wrote that he had treated a considerable number of patients, including members of the royal family, because he believed he had a humanitarian duty to help where he could. He emphasized, however, the value of his medical work for winning converts. It demonstrated the superiority not only of western medicine but also of western civilization and its religion. [22] Over the years, the Laos Mission consistently affirmed its belief in the value of missionary medicine for gaining adherents to Christianity. In 1912, for example, the mission's medical work played a key role in the conversions of thousands to Christianity during a malaria epidemic. [23]

Missionary hospitals, in fact, provided the earliest institutional setting within which the mission conducted evangelistic activities. The mission opened its first temporary hospital in a set of bamboo huts in 1872, and relatives and friends of patients normally stayed with the patients to help care for them. The missionaries evangelized both the patients and those who tended them and encouraged them to attend the hospital's daily chapel service. [24] The missionaries also used the hospital to teach Siamese literacy as a way to introduce them to the Bible. The mission had to teach Siamese literacy because it did have the resources to translate and publish the Bible in the northern Thai script until years later. [25]

These early efforts eventually led to the development of a full-fledged missionary medical program which dominated the importation of Western medicine into northern Siam well into the twentieth century. The Laos Mission created the first system of western-style hospitals. It established a cadre of medical evangelists to reach remote areas with medicine and evangelism. It established the first leprosarium in Siam. It set up a laboratory to produce western medicines. Missionary doctors conducted original medical research and performed a long list of medical "firsts." Taken together, the medical activities of the Laos Mission resulted in the first organized system of western-style public health care in northern Siam. [26]

Comparable to its medical program, the Laos Mission also created an extensive educational program in pursuit of the same evangelistic goals. In an 1862 letter, McGilvary defined education as the slow process of impressing young minds with the Christian religion, and he argued that education played an important part in evangelism and in seeing that the children of converts learned their parents' new religion. Citing the example of the missionaries who planted Christianity long ago among the Anglo-Saxons, McGilvary claimed that in the past missionaries often spread Christianity through the silent process of education rather than through revivalistic campaigns. [27] Only through Christian schools, he believed, could the mission raise up "an intelligent generation of enlightened Christians." [28]

Jonathan Wilson, second only to McGilvary in influence in the Laos Mission, went so far as to describe conversion to Christianity as an educational process. And the Rev. Chalmers Martin, a capable young missionary who arrived in Chiang Mai in 1884 and later had a distinguished academic career in the United States, wrote years later that Christian schools quickened the "dulled minds" of "barbarous peoples." He believed that if the first century apostles had lived in the nineteenth century they would have relied on education to evangelize the world.[29] The Laos Mission also expected its schools to produce "native" church leaders who would eventually take over the evangelistic and other work of the mission.[30]

The mission's educational program stressed literacy education. In 1876 Sophia McGilvary started a small literacy class for young girls that led in three years to the founding of the mission's first school. In that same year of 1876, the mission also established its first Sunday school, which it used primarily to teach illiterate converts how to read. When the mission expanded the Sunday school four years later literacy instruction remained in the curriculum despite the growing number of converts who could already read.[31] The missionaries promoted literacy because they believed that Christians should read the Bible for themselves, that those who learned to read demonstrated their commitment to their new religion, and that literacy increased a person's intelligence. [32]

As in the case of medicine, so also in education, the Laos Mission's work played a major part in westernizing change. The mission took an important step in that direction in 1879 when two young missionaries, Edna S. Cole and Mary M. Campbell, turned Sophia McGilvary's small literacy class into a boarding school. By October 1879 that school grew to include twenty-five full-time students, eighteen of whom boarded at the school. [33] The mission went on to create the first western-style educational system in northern Siam. It's schools taught literacy, western academic subjects including Siamese and English, western music, and industrial and domestic training. They trained teachers for the government school system which followed it. They trained many of the children of the princes and government officials in northern Siam. And the mission also created a fairly extensive system of village schools, normally related to local churches, that fed "prime" students into the mission's boarding schools. In all of these activities, the mission's schools set the standards for measuring northern Thai educational quality. [34]

Women's education provides an outstanding example of the Laos Mission's educational role in westernization. Traditional northern Thai religion stigmatized women with an inferior status and limited their participation in religious activities, which deprived them of formal educational opportunities since education was closely associated with religion. The Laos Mission, to the contrary, pursued women's education with zeal. It believed that women played key roles in creating Christian homes, raising Christian children, supporting local churches, and teaching in church schools. It also believed that only educated women could do all these things well. Thus, the mission went out of its way to educate women. It also opened the doors of the teaching profession to women and hired the first professionally trained women in northern Siam as teachers for its schools. [35] The mission, in short, tried to use education to westernize male-female social relationships, women's social role, and the place of women in religion.

Those women joined with the other employees of the Laos Mission to work, and often live, in a new social and institutional setting quite alien to traditional northern Thai society. The mission hired both Christians and non-Christians as household servants, watchmen, gardeners, porters, teachers, evangelists, pastors, hospital aides, construction workers, and printers; and it consciously used such employment to westernize and Christianize its employees. In some cases it hired potential converts in order to bring them under its influence. In all cases, its members taught their employees many of the skills and ideas needed to maintain the western character of missionary home and institutional life. [36]

In doing so, the Laos Mission took advantage, perhaps unconsciously, of the traditional northern Thai patron-client social system. In traditional society every individual had a patron to whom was owed loyalty and service. Patrons, in turn, had the responsibility of protecting and caring for their clients. The missionaries, in effect, established themselves as the patrons of their converts and their employees. In this way they could exert considerable influence over those under their patronage. [37] Thus, the missionaries attempted to use even traditional social structures as channels for Christianization and westernization.

Beyond their medical and educational efforts, the Presbyterians employed other western technologies to solve problems they faced in spreading their religion and expanding their presence. Printing provides an outstanding example. Even before he arrived in Chiang Mai, McGilvary wanted a printing press and type fonts for the distinct script and dialect of the North. In later years, he and other missionaries continued to feel this need and even called it the Laos Mission's "greatest need." [38] The mission, as usual, justified a press on the grounds that it could then distribute northern Thai Christian literature and spread its religious message more effectively. It also wanted northern Thai Bibles so that converts and potential converts could study the Bible for themselves. The mission made several attempts to transport a printing press to Chiang Mai, but distance, cost, and technical frustrations prevented it from doing so until 1892 when it finally opened the Chiang Mai Mission Press. That press soon produced millions of pages of printed northern Thai Bibles, tracts, and Christian literature per year, which it distributed throughout the region. [39]

The fact that the mission set up the first press to print the northern Thai script, involved it in another set of activities. In order to produce a printed literature, the Laos Mission standardized the northern Thai language's script, grammar, spelling, and usages. It compiled dictionaries and grammar texts. It also produced courses of study in northern Thai for new missionaries. The mission press became the largest and best northern Thai press, and, thus, when the Siamese government extended its power into northern Siam it naturally turned to the missionaries to fulfill its printing needs. In some years the press printed more material for the government than it did for the mission itself. The press also did job work for the British teak firms. As it carried out all of these tasks, the Chiang Mai Mission Press contributed significantly to the spread of western ideas and Siamese power into northern Siam.[40]

Missionary building practices affords another example of how the Laos Mission used western technologies. The mission built up an impressive physical plant that included schools, hospitals, church buildings, and missionary homes. It invested a great deal of time, effort, and money in those buildings. And even here the missionaries believed that their buildings served an evangelistic function: they presented visible proof of a permanent Christian presence and attracted many curious visitors with whom the missionaries could discuss their religion. The missionaries, furthermore, also evangelized the workers they hired to build their buildings. In the process of all of its building construction, the mission introduced a variety of building techniques and tools into northern Siam including such things as brick making machines, new ways to dig wells, new lighting systems, and even stained glass windows. [41]

In its medical, educational, and technological efforts, then, the Laos Mission became a major source of westernization in northern Siam. It introduced new ideas which challenged the traditional cosmology of northern Thai religion. It introduced new institutions, new medicines, new languages, new attitudes about women, new architectural styles, new forms of music and musical instruments, new patterns of employment, new ways of learning, and new technologies. Indeed, by popularizing more "modest" styles for women and by outfitting upper-class women in western fashions it even introduced new habits of dress. [42]

In 1881 the Norwegian traveler and naturalist, Carl Bock, visited Chiang Mai, and so taken was he by the westernizing activities of the Laos Mission that he misunderstood its underlying motivation. His description of the mission emphasized that the it's primary purpose was to instruct and induce the "natives" to "apply themselves to industries of a nature to elevate their minds, and to improve their general tone." He measured the success of the mission by its ability to influence peoples' habits, and he concluded that while the mission had won few converts it had "shed upon the country a ray of the light of civilization."[43] The Laos Mission, in other words, engaged in westernizing activities to such an extent that the casual observer could misunderstand the intention of the mission which, in theory, put evangelism first.


If its activities provide any measure, the Laos Mission simply assumed that western ideas, institutions, and technologies complimented and promoted the spread of the Christian religion in northern Siam. The available historical records show that it saw no contradiction between investing its resources in medical or educational institutions or in a printing press and its stated goal of converting the people to Christianity. The school, the hospital, and the press all contributed to that goal.

That assumption, furthermore, profoundly influenced mission conduct. It meant that the Laos Mission put great store on the historical heritage of the Presbyterian Church and the American nation while it ignored as unimportant the heritage the Lan Na Kingdom. The assumption meant that the Laos Mission could draw upon only the former heritage as it created the pattern of its activities, which is to say the Laos Mission engaged in westernizing activities simply because it assumed that it must. The question is, "Why did it make that assumption?"


[1] Scholars normally use the word "Tai" to distinguish the larger racial group of peoples found from north eastern India through Burma, China, Laos, and Thailand to northern Vietnam from the residents of Thailand, the "Thai."

[2] Hans Penth, (in Thai) "The Lan Na Thai Past," in Lan Na Thai, (Chiang Mai: The Province of Chiang Mai, 1983), 10-12.

[3] G. Coedes, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, ed. Walter F. Vella, trans. Susan Brown Cowing (Honolulu: East-West Center, 1968), 209, and see 208-26. See also David K. Wyatt, Thailand: A Short History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), 45-50, 74-9; Aroonrut Wichienkeeo, "Chiangmai Society in the Early Bangkok Period: An Analysis Based on Northern Thailand Palm Leaf Manuscripts" (M.A. thesis, Chulalongkorn University, 1977), 69-70; and Penth, Lan Na Thai Past, 16-19.

[4] Saduphon Chungachit, (in Thai) "Phra Sirimungkhlchan: The Great Lan Na Thai Scholar," in Lan Na Thai Studies, eds. Prakhong Nimmanhaemin and Songsuk Prangwuthanakun (Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai Book Center, 1978), 137-38, 155.

[5] Wyatt, Thailand, 81-2, 118-20; Penth, Lan Na Thai Past, 20-2; and Singka Wanasai, baebrian aksan lannathai (Textbook for the Lan Na Thai Script) (Chiang Mai: Thai Department, Chiang Mai University, n.d.), 1-2.

[6] Wyatt, Thailand, 142, 155-56; Penth, Lan Na Thai Past, 22-3; and Nigel Brailey, "The Origins of the Siamese Forward Movement in Western Laos 1850-92 (Ph.D. diss., University of London, 1968), 109-19.

[7] Wyatt, Thailand, 194.

[8] Brailey, "Origins of the Siamese Forward Movement," 156.

[9] Rujaya Abhakorn, "Changes in the Administrative System of the Northern Thai States, 1884-1908," paper presented to the International Seminar on Change in Northern Thailand and the Shan States 1886-1940," (Payap College, 20-25 June 1983); Brailey, "Origins of the Siamese Forward Movement," 328ff; Ansil Ramsay, "Modernization and Reactionary Rebellions in Northern Siam," Journal of Asian Studies 38 (February 1979): 283-297; and Wyatt, i, 194.

[10] See Lefferts A. Loetscher, A Brief History of the Presbyterians, 4th ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978); and Gaius Jackson Slosser, ed., They Seek A Country: The American Presbyterians (New York: Macmillan, 1955).

[11] Marjorie Barnhart, "From Elisha Swift to Walter Lowrie: The Background of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions," Journal of Presbyterian History 65 (Summer 1987): 85-96; and Earl R. MacCormac, "Mission and the Presbyterian Schism of 1837," Church History 32 (March 1963): 32-45.

[12] For a detailed description of the role foreign missions concerns played in the events of 1837 see Earl R. MacCormac, "The Transition from Voluntary Missionary Society to the Church as a Missionary Organization among the American Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and Methodists" (Ph.D. diss, Yale University, 1961), 129-209.

[13] This section is based upon Swanson, Krischak Muang Nua, 3-5; Prasit Pongudom, praadsat saphakrischak nai prthatthai (The History of the Church of Christ in Thailand) (Chiang Mai: Archives Unit, Church of Christ in Thailand, 1985), 1-7; and Kenneth E. Wells, History of Protestant Work in Thailand 1828-1958 (Bangkok: Church of Christ in Thailand, 1958), 1-48. See also George Bradley McFarland, ed., Historical Sketch of Protestant Missions in Siam, 1828-1928 (Bangkok: Bangkok Times Press, 1928).

[14] See Donald Lord, Mo Bradley and Thailand (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1969).

[15] 19th century Westerners called northern Siam, "Laos," and the people, "the Lao," hence the name of the mission.

[16] Daniel McGilvary to Irving, 28 July 1866, vol. 3, BFM Records; McGilvary to Irving, 10 September 1866, vol. 3, BFM Records; and Jonathan Wilson to Irving, 2 December 1867, vol. 3, BFM Records.

[17] Daniel McGilvary, Laos Mission Annual Report, Foreign Missionary 26 (May 1868): 280-81.

[18] McGilvary, A Half Century, 77-80; McGilvary to Irving, 19 April 1867, vol 3, BFM Records; and McGilvary to Irving, 9 July 1867, vol 3, BFM Records.

[19] McGilvary, A Half Century, 78-9; McGilvary letter, 28 June 1869, Foreign Missionary 28 (March 1870): 229; and Laos Mission to Executive Committee, 30 September 1868, vol. 3, BFM Records.

[20] Philip Hughes, Proclamation and Response: A Study of the History of the Christian Faith in Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai: The Manuscript Division, Payap College, 1982), 7-12; Philip Hughes, "Christianity and Culture: A Case Study in Northern Thailand," (Th.D. diss., South East Asia Graduate School of Theology, 1982), 70ff; and Philip Hughes, "Christianity and Buddhism in Thailand," Journal of the Siam Society 73 (January-July 1985), 23-41.

[21] Hughes, Proclamation and Response, 15-17; and Hughes, "Christianity and Culture," 173-80.

[22] McGilvary to Irving, 19 April 1867, vol. 3, BFM Records; cf. McGilvary to Irving, 9 July 1867, vol. 3, BFM Records.

[23] See McGilvary to Irving, 10 August 1877, vol. 4, BFM Records; Wilson, Annual Report of the Laos Mission, 30 September 1879, vol. 4, BFM Records; Wilson to Lowrie, 1 July 1880, vol. 4, BFM Records; and Swanson, Krischak Muang Nua, 138-41.

[24] McGilvary to Irving, 10 April 1872, vol. 3, BFM Records.

[25] McGilvary to Irving, 4 December 1876, vol. 3, BFM Records; McGilvary to Irving, 10 August 1877, vol. 4, BFM Records; and McGilvary to Irving, 1 October 1877, vol. 4, BFM Records.

[26] Herbert R. Swanson, "Advocate and Partner: Missionaries and Modernization in Nan Province, Siam, 1895-1934," Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 13 (September 1982): 298-99, 303-06; and Swanson, Krischak Muang Nua, 51-2, 122.

[27] McGilvary, a letter, 9 October 1862, Foreign Missionary 21 (March 1863): 289-90.

[28] Daniel McGilvary, "Two Days among the Laos near Petchaburi, Siam," Foreign Missionary 23 (September 1864): 98-100.

[29] Wilson, letter, n.d., Foreign Missionary 27 (March 1869): 240-41; and Chalmers Martin, Apostolic and Modern Missions (New York: Revell, 1898), 187-90.

[30] Swanson, Krischak Muang Nua, 77-8.

[31] McGilvary to Irving, 4 December 1876, vol 3, BFM Records; McGilvary, letter, 10 October 1876, Foreign Missionary 35 (February 1877): 283; McGilvary, letter, 17 July 1878, Foreign Missionary 37 (December 1878): 217; Wilson to Irving, 12 February 1880, vol. 4, BFM Records; Wilson, Annual Report of the Laos Mission, 30 September 1880, vol. 4, BFM Records.

[32] Swanson, Krischak Muang Nua, 26; "Sessional Records of the First Presbyterian Church of Chiengmai," 1868-1880, 1886, Records of the American Presbyterian Mission, Payap University Archives, Chiang Mai; Sarah Peoples, "Native Christians in Chieng Mai, Laos," Woman's Work for Woman 15 (January 1885): 14-15; William Clifton Dodd, The Tai Race (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch Press, 1923), 308.

[33] Mary Campbell to Irving, 20 October 1879, vol. 4, BFM Records; and Edna Cole to Irving, 1 October1878, vol. 4, BFM Records.

[34] Swanson, "Advocate and Partner,: esp. 299-301; McFarland, Historical Sketch, 210ff; and John H. Freeman, An Oriental Land of the Free (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1910): 152-53.

[35] Herbert R. Swanson, "A New Generation: Missionary Impact on Women's Education in Nineteenth-Century Northern Thai Society" (Paper presented to HIST 809, "Women's History," University of Maryland, Fall 1985).

[36] See Annabelle K. Briggs, "Re-Stationed and Looking About," Woman's Work for Woman 16 (May 1901): 130-31; Wilson, Annual Report of the Laos Mission, 30 September 1880, vol. 4, BFM Records; "Sessional Records," APM Records, 83-5; and Hughes, Proclamation and Response, 17-19.

[37] Hughes, ibid.; and Smith, Siamese Gold, 83-4.

[38] McGilvary to Irving, 17 December 1867, vol. 3, BFM Records; McGilvary, Annual Report of the Laos Mission, 30 September 1868, BFM Records, vol. 3, BFM Records; Wilson, Annual Report of the Laos Mission, 30 September 1880, vol. 4, BFM Records; Chalmers Martin to Irving, 9 June 1885, vol. 5, BFM Records; and S.C. Peoples to Chalmers Martin (copy), 2 May 1887, vol. 6, BFM Records.

[39] See Herbert R. Swanson, "This Seed: Missionary Printing and Literature as Agents of Change in Northern Siam, 1892-1926" (Paper presented to the International Seminar on Change in Northern Thailand and the Shan States 1886-1940, Payap College, 20-25 June 1983), 4-6.

[40] Swanson, "This Seed"; cf. Lillian Johnson Curtis, The Laos of North Siam (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1903), 296-98.

[41] Swanson, "Advocate and Partner," 301-02, 306-07; Swanson, Krischak Muang Nua, 33, 35, 45-9. See also Henry White, "Progress in the Laos Mission as indicated by brick and mortar and good hard wood" (Manuscript, 29 January 1914, Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia); and "Narrative for the Year ending Oct 1887," Minutes of the North Laos Presbytery (Manuscript, Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia).

[42] Curtis, The Laos, 112-13, 320; and Mary Backus, ed., Siam and Laos as Seen by Our American Missionaries (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1884), 451-52.

[43] Carl Bock, Temples and Elephants: Travels in Siam in 1881-1882 (1884; reprint, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1986), 219-20.