John Demos: "The Heathen School"

In 2010, the Cornwall Historical Society mounted an exhibition on the Foreign Mission School. It included this scale model of its "Academy building."
 - (Image courtesy of the Cornwall Historical Society, Cornwall, Conn.)

In 2010, the Cornwall Historical Society mounted an exhibition on the Foreign Mission School. It included this scale model of its "Academy building."

(Image courtesy of the Cornwall Historical Society, Cornwall, Conn.)

John Demos: "The Heathen School"

A new book about the history of a failed missionary school founded in early 19th century Connecticut which recruited boys from China, Hawaii and Native American nations. The multicultural school prospered for years, but eventually collapsed under the weight of colonial racism, setting off a chain of events that culminated tragically in the Trail of Tears.

In Cornwall, Conn., in the early 19th century, a group of Protestant missionaries created a unique school they thought would save the world. Derisively known as “the heathen school,” the project recruited boys from Native American nations and around the world, including China and Hawaii. The multicultural school prospered for years and several graduates became famous. But in a new book, historian John Demos reveals the school’s disruptive impact and how it set off a chain of events that culminated in the Trail of Tears.

Guests

John Demos

professor emeritus of history, Yale University, and author of several histories of early America, including "Entertaining Satan" and "The Unredeemed Captive," which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Read An Excerpt

Excerpted from "The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic" by John Demos. Copyright © 2014 by John Demos. Excerpted by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved.

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