David Barton’s Capitol Tour: Did Thomas Jefferson Spend Federal Funds to Evangelize the Kaskaskia Indians?

This week, Michael Coulter and I are going to present a series of reactions to an eight minute YouTube video of David Barton’s Capitol Tour. Sponsored by the Family Research Council, the video provides narration from Barton speaking in the Rotunda of the Capitol. First, I am going to revisit Barton’s fable about Jefferson and the Kaskaskia Indians. I wrote about the Kaskaskia treaty last year and we cover it in our book Getting Jefferson Right.  In his book The Jefferson Lies, Barton uses the Kaskaskia story as evidence that Jefferson supported missionary work to Indians. Barton also points to the Kaskaskia treaty as an indication that Jefferson supported government sponsored religious activities. Here is the video (this version has 3.7 million views):


In his Capitol tour, Barton makes a little different claim about the Kaskaskia treaty than he does in The Jefferson Lies. On the tour at 6:45, Barton says:

Most people have no clue that Thomas Jefferson in 1803 negotiated a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians in which Jefferson put federal funds to pay for missionaries to go evangelize the Indians and gave federal funds so that after they were converted we’d build them a church in which they could worship.

One reason people have no clue about this story is that it didn’t happen that way.

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