The Eighteenth Century Edinburgh Connection: Scottish Highland Gael and Mohegan Native American Rendezvous

Professor Margaret Connell Szasz
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Eighteenth-century Edinburgh was the home of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. This organization, founded in 1709, sent schoolmasters to the Scottish Highlands to teach the Gaels to become English speaking Presbyterians. The goal: to create a homogeneous, unified Scotland. After the Society was well established beyond the Highland Line, it moved across the water to North America. Among the Muskogee and Cherokee in the southern colonies, and among the Algonquian and Iroquois in the northern colonies, it supported missionaries and schooling for Native people. In the colonies it negotiated with English missionaries and schoolmasters who formed committees of correspondence that carried out the Society's work. Key figures in this massive program of educational colonialism, Samson Occom, Mohegan schoolmaster and Presbyterian minister; and Dugald Buchanan, Perthshire schoolmaster and catechist for the Society, were both in Edinburgh during the summer of 1767. Occom was raising funds for his former mentor's Indian charity boarding school in Connecticut, which eventually became Dartmouth College; Buchanan was supervising the printing of the first New Testament in Scottish Gaelic. There is no definitive proof that they met, but it would be unusual if they did not. This paper will assess their meeting in the context of the time and through the symbolism that their residence there suggests.

Keywords: Religious cross-cultural exchange, Scottish Highland Gael, Mohegan Native American, 18th Century educational colonialism
Stream: History, Historiography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Professor Margaret Connell Szasz

Professor of History, The Faculty of Arts and Science, The University of New Mexico

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