- Stockton, Betsy
- (c. 1796-1865)first female African-American Protestant missionaryBetsy Stockton was born in slavery at Princeton, New Jersey. Through several transactions, she became the property of Ashbel Green (later president of the College of New Jersey), who freed her on her 20th birthday. She remained as a hired servant. About this time, she experienced a conversion and was admitted to membership in the Presbyterian Church.Stockton also felt a call to the foreign mission field, with Africa as her chosen target. A few years later, she was invited to accompany Rev. Charles Stewart and his wife to Hawaii under the sponsorship of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The board accepted her, but only as a "Christian friend" under the care of the board. Once the ship carrying her to Hawaii left America, she was treated as an equal by the other missionaries. Upon landing in Maui in 1822, she established a school, the first in the islands.Stockton's work was played down by the American Board, somewhat nervous about commissioning a single black female. In 1825, she returned to the United States and worked as a servant for the couple she had served in Hawaii. in 1837, she picked up her teaching career. She settled in Princeton around 1840 and helped lead the black members of First Presbyterian Church to establish an African-American congregation in 1846.Stockton died on October 24, 1865, in Princeton, where she had taught school for 25 years.Further reading:■ John A. Andrew III, "A. D. Recalls: Betsy Stockton, Early Missionary to Hawaii," A. D. (March 1976): 30; , "Betsy Stockton: Stranger in a Strange Land," Journal of Presbyterian History 52 (Summer 1974): 157-66.
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.