The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), based in Boston, was founded in 1810, the first organized missionary society in the US.
“The American Board of Foreign Missions, however, can neither claim, nor does it desire exclusive patronage. There are other Foreign Missionary Societies, for whom there is room, for whom there is work enough, and for whose separate existence there are, doubtless, conclusive reasons.”
“The system of operation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions may be considered under two divisions, – its Home Department, and its Foreign Missions. … The Board has established missions, in the order of time in which they are now named at Bombay, and Ceylon; among the Cherokees, Choctaws, and the Cherokees of the Arkansaw (and later) Asia.”
Then, they decided to send a Company of missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands. The Prudential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in giving instructions to the pioneers of 1819 said:
“Your mission is a mission of mercy, and your work is to be wholly a labor of love. … Your views are not to be limited to a low, narrow scale, but you are to open your hearts wide, and set your marks high. You are to aim at nothing short of covering these islands with fruitful fields, and pleasant dwellings and schools and churches, and of Christian civilization.” (The Friend)
Over the course of a little over 40-years (1820-1863 – the “Missionary Period”), about 180-men and women in twelve Companies served in Hawaiʻi to carry out the mission of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in the Hawaiian Islands.
Left Boston, MA October 23, 1819; arrived at Kailua-Kona April 4, 1820 aboard the ‘Thaddeus’
Left New Haven, CT November 20, 1822; arrived at Honolulu April 27, 1823 aboard the ‘Thames’
Left Boston, MA November 27, 1827; arrived at Honolulu March 30, 1828 aboard the ‘Parthian’
Left New Bedford, MA December 28, 1830; arrived at Honolulu June 7, 1831 aboard the ‘New England’
Left New Bedford, MA November 26, 1831; arrived at Honolulu May 17, 1832 aboard the ‘Averick’
Left New London, CT November 21, 1832; arrived at Honolulu May 1, 1833 aboard the ‘Mentor’
Left Boston, MA December 5, 1834; arrived at Honolulu June 6, 1835 aboard the ‘Hellespont’
Left Boston, MA December 14, 1836; arrived at Honolulu April 9, 1837 aboard the ‘Mary Frazier’
Left Boston, MA November 14, 1840; arrived at Honolulu May 21, 1841 aboard the ‘Gloucester’
Left Boston, MA May 2, 1842; arrived at Honolulu September 21, 1842 aboard ‘Sarah Abigail’
Left Boston, MA December 4, 1843; arrived at Honolulu (via Tahiti) July 15, 1844 aboard the ‘Globe’
Left Boston, MA October 23, 1847; arrived at Honolulu February 26, 1848 aboard the ‘Samoset’
The ‘Companies’ are essentially groups of missionaries traveling together. Several individuals, not part of the 12-companies, also served in the Hawaiian Islands Mission.
The Missionaries included ordained ministers of the Gospel, physicians, teachers, secular agents, printers, a bookbinder and a farmer.
Most of them were young people, still in their twenties, full of life and enthusiasm. All were pious and accustomed to “lead meetings.” Some were scholars able, when the native language had been mastered, to put into Hawaiian the Scriptures from the original Hebrew and Greek.
Extract from a letter from Richard H. Dana, Jr., Esq., of Boston, written at the Sandwich Islands, and first published in the New York Tribune, June 5, 1860.
“It is no small thing to say of the Missionaries of the American Board, that in less than forty years they have taught this whole people to read and to write, to cipher and to sew.”
“They have given them an alphabet, grammar, and dictionary; preserved their language from extinction; given it a literature, and translated into it the Bible and works of devotion, science and entertainment, etc., etc.”
“They have established schools, reared up native teachers, and so pressed their work that now the proportion of inhabitants who can read and write is greater than in New England …”
“… and the more elevated of them taking part in conducting the affairs of the constitutional monarchy under which they live, holding seats on the judicial bench and in the legislative chambers, and filling posts in the local magistracies.”