The Baptist Mission in India:
Containing a Narrative of Its Rise, Progress, and Present Condition,
A Statement of the Physical and Moral Character of the Hindoos,
Their Cruelties, Tortures and Burnings,
With a Very Interesting Description of Bengal.
by William Staughton, D.D.
Philadelphia: Hellings and Aitken, 1811.
William Staughton (1770-1829), baptized by Samuel Pearce, was a theological student at Bristol Academy (Bristol Baptist College), Bristol, England, at the establishment of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792. According to S. Pearce Carey, William Carey, D.D., Fellow of the Linnaean Society (New York: George H. Doran Co., 1923), pp. 92-93, Staughton was present at the founding of the BMS in 1792, and contributed ten shillings for membership in the Society. He did not sign the founding document, but he was entered as "Anon." (i.e., anonymous). S. Pearce Carey says of Staughton,
"The 'Anon.' was student William Staughton, thanking his lucky stars that he was there, but, true to studentdom, moneyless, even after his five Sundays' 'supplying' in 'College Lane.' He used to say, 'I rejoice over that half-guinea more than over all I have given in my life besides.' As just a bird of passage, he modestly withheld his signature." [S. Pearce Carey, William Carey, D.D., Fellow of the Linnaean Society (New York: George H. Doran Co., 1923), p. 93; cf. S. W. Lynd, Memoir of the Rev. William Staughton, D.D. (Boston: Lincoln, Edwards, and Co., 1834), p. 173.]
In 1793, Staughton immigrated to Georgetown, South Carolina, where he served as a Baptist minister. After two subsequent pastorates in New Jersey, Staughton became the minister of First Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1805. In 1811, he helped to form a new church, Sansom Street Baptist Church, Philadelphia, and he became its first minister. Always committed to theological and higher education, Staughton began a theological school in his home in 1811, the first of its kind in the United States. In 1798 when Staughton was twenty-eight years old, Princeton College recognized his theological insight and awarded him an honorary doctor of divinity (D.D.) degree. In addition to The Baptist Mission in India (1811), Staughton translated and published Edward Wettenhall's Graece grammaticae institutio compendiaria, A Compendious System of Greek Grammar (1813), and two editions of The Works of Virgil (1812; 1813).
At First Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 18, 1814, the first "General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America for Foreign Missions" (i.e., Triennial Convention) elected Staughton--an ardent supporter of Christian missionary work--as its first corresponding secretary for the newly formed Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. Along with the Richard Furman, the first president of this national body of Baptists in the United States and founder of Furman University, and Thomas Baldwin, the first secretary of the body, Staughton became known as a key leader of Baptists in America and Christian missionary outreach. "Baldwin, Staughton, and Furman were the leading preachers during the only time in American history when the Baptists were genuinely united" [Thomas R. McKibbens, Jr., The Forgotten Heritage: A Lineage of Great Baptist Preaching (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1986), p. 174].
So eminent was Staughton that upon the simultaneous deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826--the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence--various people in Washington, D.C., requested that he deliver a memorial sermon in the United States Capitol. Staughton's text was 2 Samuel 1:23 "lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions." McKibbens says,
Staughton honored the lives of Jefferson and Adams and gently led his hearers to remember that, as he so picturesquely said it, "the rock is unshaken, though the aspen tremble on its side." Although leaders, no matter how great, must fall and die, "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." He concluded his sermon with a reminder that life can be compared to walking on a bridge that is full of trap doors that lie concealed. "Each step . . . is step of jeopardy." Thus it is wise for every person to be "well prepared for the final plunge." [McKibbens, The Forgotten Heritage, p. 171; McKibbens attributes the quotes' origin to "William Staughton, "Sermon, Delivered in the Capitol of the United States; on Lord's Day, July 16, 1826; at the Request of the Citizens of Washington, on the Death of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams" (Washington: Published at the Columbian Office, 1826), p. 11.]
On two different occasions, Staughton served as Chaplain of the United States Senate. Appointed December 10, 1823, his first term ended on December 13, 1824. His second term began on December 12, 1825, and ended on December 7, 1826.
The Board of Commissioners of the Triennial Convention of Baptists established Columbian College, now The George Washington University, Washington, D. C.; Staughton was elected as the first president (1821-1827). For The George Washington University's description of Staughton, click here; for a brief introduction to Columbian College at The George Washington University, click here). Because of bad health, Staughton resigned his position at George Washington University. Subsequently in 1829, Staughton was elected as the first president of Georgetown College, Georgetown, Kentucky, to which he sent his books and papers. However, Staughton died suddenly prior to arriving at the College [cf. Robert Snyder, A History of Georgetown College, ca. 1980].
As Staughton reports in the "Preface" to The Baptist Mission in India:
The following pages have been selected for the most part from the writings of the missionary brethren at Serampore, and those of their friends. The "brief narratives" was drawn up in England. The Essays are formed chiefly from a series of interesting dialogues composed by Dr. Marshman. The other Articles are selected from "the Periodical accounts" of the Society, excepting the article "Bengal," which is a production of Mr. Ward, and taken from his interesting history "of the writings, religion, and manners of the Hindoos."
This compilation is presented to the public from an anxious desire that Missionary Intelligence may be circulated, and that an holy ardour may be excited and vigorous efforts employed for the conversion of the heathen and the consequent diffusion of the great Saviour's empire. The detail is limited to the Baptist Mission in India.
To read Staughton's work, The Baptist Mission in India, click on the page links listed below:
i, Title Page ii-iii, Preface iv-v, Preface vi-vii, Contents viii-ix, Contents 10-11
12-13 14-15 16-17 18-19 20-21 22-23 24-25 26-27 28-29 30-31 32-33 34-35 36-37
38-39 40-41 42-43 44-45 46-47 48-49 50-51 52-53 54-55 56-57 58-59 60-61 62-63
64-65 66-67 68-69 70-71 72-73 74-75 76-77 78-79 80-81 82-83 84-85 86-87 88-89
90-91 92-93 94-95 96-97 98-99 100-101 102-103 104-105 106-107 108-109 110-111
112-113 114-115 116-117 118-119 120-121 122-123 124-125 126-127 128-129 130-131
132-133 134-135 136-137 138-139 140-141 142-143 144-145 146-147 148-149 150-151
152-153 154-155 156-157 158-159 160-161 162-163 164-165 166-167 168-169 170-171
172-173 174-175 176-177 178-179 180-181 182-183 184-185 186-187 188-189 190-191
192-193 194-195 196-197 198-199 200-201 202-203 204-205 206-207 208-209 210-211
212-213 214-215 216-217 218-219 220-221 222-223 224-225 226-227 228-229 230-231
232-233 234-235 236-237 238-239 240-241 242-243 244-245 246-247 248-249 250-251
252-253 254-255 256-257 258-259 260-261 262-263 264-265 266-267 268-269 270-271
272-273 274-275 276-277 278-279 280-281 282-283 284-285 286-287 288-289 290-291
292-294 294-295 296-297 298-299 300-301 302-303 304-305 306-307 308-309 310-311
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Created: May 17, 2001 Updated: August 9, 2012