Spalding, Reverend Henry Harmon
b. 1803-11-26
d. 1874-08-03
Reverend Henry Harmon Spalding was born on 26 November 1803 in New York. Spalding and his wife accompanied the Whitmans to the west of the United States to do missionary work. He established his mission at Lapwai near the Clearwater River -- current day Idaho.1
Before his mission in Lapwai, Spalding was educated at Plattsbury (N.Y.) Academy, Western Reserve College in Ohio, and Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati. He was officially ordained to the Presbyterian Ministry in 1835.2 Once an ordained minister, Spalding was initially appointed to do missionary work with the Osage Indigenous group in Missouri.3
In 1836, Spalding and his wife traveled to Lapwai to begin their missionary work. At their mission, Spalding introduced irrigation farming to the Indigenous People, and brought a printing press in which literature -- such as the Bible -- was printed in the Nez Perce (also written as Percé) language.4 However, Spalding was recognized for more than his introduction of “new technology” to the Nez Percé tribe. He was equally known for his less than gradual vision for conversion in which he would often do tactless denunciations of the Indigenous People.5 In this regard, some scholars reasonably describe Spalding as self-righteous and quick tempered.6
Spalding continued to work in Lapwai until the “Whitman Massacre” in 1847 when he was told that he and his family should flee for their lives as the Cayuse Tribe may also target them.7 Thus, Spalding and his family relocated to Brownsville, Oregon Territory where he took up various jobs such as: teaching, farming, preaching at the local Presbyterian church, serving as school commissioner, and serving as postmaster and Indian agent.8 In 1863, Spalding returned to Lapwai where he worked as the Indian Agent until 1866, and except for a small amount of travel in the early 1870s, Spalding ‘served' in Lapwai until his death of an unspecified sickness on 3 August 1874.9
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