On Writing the History of the American Bible Society–Update #67

Did Adoniram Judson’s wife own a $1200 coat?

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Days like these are rough.  I am trying to get in 3-5 hours a day on the ABS project, but some days my schedule at Messiah College makes it difficult.  For example, today I had an 8:30am meeting, which means I had to get up an hour earlier to do my ABS work.  I have not yet had a cup of coffee.

My morning was spent on two tasks:

1.  Organizing my notes in preparation for writing my chapter (Chapter Four) on the “General Supply” (ABS attempt to provide a Bible for every American).

2.  Reading through The Reformer, a religious periodical published by a Philadelphia anti-mission Baptist (or at least I think he is a Baptist–not completely sure yet). 

I would have never been aware of the existence of this periodical if an ABS agent in frontier Illinois did not mention it in an 1828 letter. The publisher of The Reformer, James Rakestraw, is staunchly opposed to benevolent societies and missions organizations that are interdenominational in nature. He is particularly hard on the American Bible Society because he thinks the ABS is only concerned with making money from the sale of Bibles.  There is a strong populist flavor to The Reformer.  The writers publish scathing attacks on Christians who they believe have succumbed to wealth and materialism.  In one issue I read this morning the editors attacked the wife of missionary Adoniram Judson for wearing a coat from India which they believe was worth $1200.

The Reformer was popular among Primitive Baptists in the Midwest during the 1820s.  These Baptists often hindered ABS attempts at supplying the region with Bibles.  Stay tuned.