General Assembly of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay

Variant name:

General Assembly of Massachusetts Bay; Massachusetts General Court

Address:

Boston, MA

Description:

The Massachusetts General Assembly was the legislative branch of the colony of Massachusetts. One of its responsibilities was distributing available funds to missionary societies. Naturally, the Massachusetts Assembly became the site of several conflicts between Wheelock and his Boston rivals, the New England Company and Chauncy's Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Wheelock's dealings with the Massachusetts General Assembly related primarily to the Peter Warren fund. Sir Peter Warren (who was, incidentally, Sir William Johnson's initial employer in America), died in 1752 and left a fund of £750 to the Massachusetts Assembly for the education of Indian children. The Assembly ignored this fund until 1761, when it began distributing the interest Warren's legacy had accumulated. Andrew Oliver, the Assembly's secretary and the New England Company's treasurer, was at this time friendly to Wheelock and alerted him to the fund's existence. Wheelock applied for the money and received a total of £291.12 between 1762 and 1765 for the support of Indian students, including several members of the 1765 expedition to the Six Nations. In 1762, Charles Chauncy tried to claim the fund for his missionary society, the short-lived Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge among the Indians of North America. That society folded and Wheelock continued receiving the money. In 1765, the Assembly stopped rewarding Wheelock the Warren interest. Instead, it distributed the money to Rev. Forbes, a minister affiliated with the New England Company. It is no coincidence that the Assembly's decision coincided with Wheelock's breach with the New England Company. For whatever reason, in 1765 the New England Company became very hostile to Wheelock -- perhaps because they opposed Occom's fundraising tour. The New England Company had enormous influence in the Massachusetts Assembly through Andrew Oliver, and was likely behind the Assembly's decision to cut Wheelock off from the Warren fund. Wheelock applied to the Massachusetts Assembly for funds again in 1772 and 1773. While some interested individuals did offer Wheelock money, the Assembly rejected both his petitions, likely because of Wheelock's rivals in Boston. It is important to keep in mind that although the Massachusetts Assembly did not fund Wheelock after 1765, they still supported various missionaries and missionary societies.

All related documents: retrieve them
Sources:

Chase, Frederick. A history of Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire. 1891. McCallum, James. The Letters of Eleazar Wheelock’s Indians. Dartmouth College Press 1932.