Sergeant, Jr., John

Variant last names: Sajant; Sargent; Serjant; Sargeant
honorificMr.
Birth: 1747 in Stockbridge, MA
Death: September 9, 1824 in New Stockbridge
Affiliation:

Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge

Faith:

Christian

Nationality:

Anglo-American

Occupation:

minister

Residence:

Stockbridge, MA (from 1747 to 1824)

New Stockbridge, NY (from 1788 to 1824)

Marital status:

Married to Mary Codner Sergeant.

Biography:

John Sergeant Jr., like his father, served as a minister in Stockbridge, MA. In 1773, Stephen West, the minister to the Stockbridge Indians since 1757, decided to leave his post and turned over ministering duties to John Sergeant Jr. Stockbridge, MA, which John Sergeant Sr. helped establish, failed as a Christian Indian town when the Stockbridge Indians lost ownership of their land. When the Oneida Tribe offered the Stockbridgers land in central New York after the American Revolution, many of them moved to the Brothertown and New Stockbridge settlements. The Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge funded Sergeant Jr. in 1787 to continue serving as a minister to the Stockbridge Indians who moved to New York. Sergeant travelled from Stockbridge, MA, to New Stockbridge every year to serve as their minister. In 1788, the Stockbridge Indians at New Stockbridge were divided in their support for Occom or John Sergeant as the town’s minister. Mohican sachem Hendrick Aupaumut led the community members who favored Occom. According to Sergeant, 30 members of the Tribe were in favor of Occom while 50 were in favor of him (later, half of Occom’s supporters defected to Sergeant). The relationship between Sergeant and Occom was contentious, with Occom disliking Sergeant’s manner of preaching. Occom moved to Munhegunnack or New Stockbridge in 1791 and suggests in a letter that many of Sergeant’s supporters were shifting support to Occom. In his sermons, Sergeant blamed the Indians’ loss of land on what he described as their drunkenness and idleness. He suggested that the whites’ encroachment on their lands was God’s punishment for their sins. Sergeant remained the New Stockbridge minister until his death in 1824.

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Sources:

Fisher, Linford D. The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print. Silverman, David J. Red Brethren: The Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians and the Problem of Race in Early America. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010. Print. http://www.geni.com/people/John-Sergeant-Jr/6000000008343943266. Ed. Joanna Brooks. The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Web.