In terms of the number of missionaries, financial contributions, and amount of home front propaganda, the missionary movement reached its peak in the United States in the years from 1890 to 1917. Only during this period did the foreign missions of the Protestant churches enjoy sufficient popular support to warrant use of the term “crusade.”
This raises the question as to why Christian missions should have had such a strong appeal to the generation which elected Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency, embarked on a crusade to liberate the Cubans, and later sent its sons to Europe allegedly to defend the moral principles of democracy. Nothing could have been more quixotic than the slogan adopted by the Student Volunteers: “The Evangelization of the World in this Generation.” This motto expressed the vision of the thousands of college and seminary students who joined the Student Volunteers. It was also the goal of the hosts of women's missionary societies and the Laymen's Movement, the organization which marshaled the support of more than 100,000 men in the churches in behalf of foreign missions.