Christian missions, antislavery and the claims of humanity, c.1813-1873

Brian Stanley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


During the period c.1813-73 Protestant forms of Christianity were implanted in southern and western Africa and Australasia, greatly extended their limited influence in South Asia, the Caribbean and the Dutch East Indies, and gained precarious footholds in East Africa and the vast Chinese empire. In terms of geographical coverage, though not of numbers of converts, this was an age of rapid Protestant missionary expansion. At the beginning of this period, the Catholic presence in the non-western world was weak in comparison. Despite Napoleon’s reconstitution of the French religious orders in 1805 and Pius VII’s re-establishment of the Jesuit order in 1814, Catholic missions had not yet recovered from the catastrophes of the revolutionary era. It is estimated that in 1820 there were no more than twenty missionary priests in India, and only about 270 throughout the globe. By 1873, Catholic missions were again a force to be reckoned with, and increasingly feared by their Protestant rivals. Old orders had been reconstituted, and new ones founded, among them the Marists (1817), the Missionaries of the Most Holy Heart of Mary (1841) and the Society of Missionaries of Africa or White Fathers (1868). Other missionary orders, such as the Paulist Fathers (1858), owed their origin to the vision, shared by Catholics and Protestants alike, of the evangelisation of the burgeoning European immigrant communities in North America: the United States continued to be classified by the Vatican as a mission territory until 1908. 

The majority missionary tradition in this period - that of evangelical Protestantism - displayed three predominant features, all of which had implications for the ways in which missions related to indigenous peoples, colonial authorities, traders and settlers. First, the tradition was marked by an international, transatlantic and pan-evangelical or ecumenical character.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of Christianity
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 8. World Christianities c. 1815-c.1914
EditorsSheridan Gilley, Brian Stanley
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781139053952
ISBN (Print)9780521814560, 9781107423701
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2005

Publication series

NameCambridge History of Christianity


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