Chapter Five continued...
They had modified the older Calvinist doctrine of stewardship - a conviction that God had entrusted wealth to fortunate people to carry out individual acts of charity in the world - to emphasize support for corporate charities like the American Asylum, and by the early 1800s Hartford quickly become an important center of organized philanthropy in Connecticut.
Gallaudet readily accepted Cogswell's offer. The career change the latter suggested was not as drastic as it might first appear. In truth, Cogswell only asked Gallaudet to shift focus from gospel ministry among hearing people to proselytizing Christianity among deaf people. It was not a long leap. At Andover Seminary - a seedbed of evangelical Christian activity - Gallaudet had been fired with a desire to preach Christianity to the heathen. Many of his fellow seminarians established foreign missions in Hawaii, Africa, and Asia, and Reverend Gallaudet sometimes officiated at ceremonies marking their leave-taking, while he himself chose to stay closer to home. Nonetheless, he believed he was bound by the same injunction from Christ as his far-flung colleagues to convey the news of salvation to every creature on earth. As principal of the American Asylum, Gallaudet envisioned himself a missionary to "heathen" deaf people who had never before heard the Christian message of salvation.
In a letter to a fellow clergyman, Gallaudet left no question about his purview of the Hartford school, which stood
"...on missionary ground.... No other object than the salvation of the souls of the pupils can be named as of the highest moment; and to accomplish this object a very solemn responsibility is devolved upon all who are concerned in the affairs of the Asylum."
With references to familiar biblical passages, Reverend Gallaudet craved "a cup of consolation, for the deaf and dumb who heretofore had been wandering in a moral desert, from the same fountain the Hinddo, the African, and the savage are beginning to draw the water of eternal life."