Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Benjamin D. Johnson

Second Advisor

Roberta L. Wollons

Third Advisor

Monica Pelayo


This thesis will demonstrate the impact of a particular group of Congregationalist missionaries in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua leading up to and during the Revolution of 1910, focusing primarily on the life, challenges, and accomplishments of the leader of this missionary group, Reverend James D. Eaton. In order to place Eaton in wider context, this thesis will also outline the struggles and challenges that the Chihuahua region faced leading up to the Mexican Revolution. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the main Congregationalist missionary group of the nineteenth century, sent Eaton into Mexico with uncertain hope for any successful evangelization. This thesis will demonstrate that Eaton not only succeeded by the American Board’s standards, but that his efforts helped in some small measure to lead Chihuahua into a stable, post-revolutionary period. Any attempt by a foreigner to engage with the population of northern Mexico was faced with significant challenges. These included health and safety concerns, protests by the Catholic population towards any outside influence, poor educational facilities, and political instability. Eaton was able to overcome these obstacles and improve the lives of a number of Chihuahua’s citizens for the better. This thesis will also attempt to align Eaton and the Board’s objectives with those of the Chihuahua population. Eaton put many processes into place during his time in Mexico, with his own intentions and biases in mind. Whether or not those efforts benefitted the people is up for debate. Eaton helped establish several new Protestant congregations and churches, while also helping to found and run several schools that provided a formal baseline education that did not exist before his arrival. Eaton’s influence on the region is still felt to this day, and without his perseverance and efforts, important institutions in Chihuahua would have a markedly different appearance, or would simply not exist.


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