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Solomon Williams, letter, to Andrew Oliver, 1750 April 16

ms-number: 750266

abstract: Williams writes to Oliver that he has advised Occom, who has been successfully teaching the Indians at Montauk for the last six months, to remain with them and await orders from the Commissioners. He includes an extract of a letter from Azariah Horton asking for an extension of Occom's services.

handwriting: Formal handwriting is very neat and clear; it is not Williams's. The trailer, however, is in Williams's hand.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good-to-fair condition, with light-to-moderate creasing, staining and wear. Repair work has been done to particularly heavy creases. The watermark is visible on two recto.

ink: Black-brown ink has corroded the paper near the top of one recto.

noteworthy: As is noted on one recto and two verso, this document is a copy.

events: Occom's Mission to the Montauks


Hon.d S.r
This waits on you to inform [gap: hole][guess: you] the hon.le Com̅iſ.rs
that Sampson Occum the Indian under your care was with
me on Saturday last from Long Island, where he has been
keeping school among the Indians at Montauk for
6 months past. He tells me he has had about 40 Children
who have steadily attended his school & made good profici=
‐ency, and the Indians have given him his board and
about £10 York mony, & some English People have con=
tributed 40[illegible][guess: ſ] more.
The Indians are very desirous of his
continuance in the School 6 months longer and offer
him £13 York mony;
I am informd from M.r Horton the
Gentleman who has the care of those Indians that Sampson
has been serviceable to them on religious accounts & very
much helpd them against some wild enthusiastical Notions
they had been led into by some foolish Indian Exhorters, &
given them more just thoughts of the nature of Religion.
I am told by Sampson that M.r Pemberton & Burr are
desirous to have him in the Jersies. His eyes have been at
times something better but are not so well as that He ca[gap: tear][guess: n]
pursue his Studies. I have advised him to go back to
the Indians at Montauk, but not to engage for any
certain time till the pleasure of the Comiſ.rs be known —
with due respects I am
ſr y.r very humle Servt
Solomon Williams
To Andrew Oliver Esq.r
Copy
Extract of M.r Az: Hortons Letter dated Montauk
Sep.r 6. 1750. to the Rev.d Mr Sol.o Williams which he sent
forward for the Government of the Comiſ.rs
"Understanding that the Comiſrs had refe[illegible]red Sampson
"Occum to your care & advice, and his half years agree=
"ment with my People
being almost expird I now use
"the freedom to adviſe you by a Line with respect to his
"continuance among them –– I most humbly &
"importunately beg your countenance & leave in the
"Affair.
Upon this the Comiſ.rs on 14 Nov.r following voted That
Sampson Occum be permitted to keep the School at Mon=
tauk
for 6 months longer.
And on 5 May 1751. Consented to his going to the Jersies and from thence to Susquehanah, M.r Williams having
first mentioned the thing, if not approving, yet
expreſsing no dislike to the Proposal, since which
I do not remember ever to have rec.d a Line from M.r
Williams
about it, & verily believe I never did as I
am always careful to file all Letters which concern
the Comiſ.rs
I am ſr
Yo.r most obed.t Serv.t
A Oliver

Boſton 24 Aug.t 1751.

[bottom]Hon.le M.r Secr Willard.
Blank page.
Copy of My Lr to
Mr Oliver, Mr Hor
ton
s Lr to Me.
Williams, Solomon

Solomon Williams was a Congregationalist pastor in Lebanon, CT from 1722 until his death in 1776. As pastor at Lebanon, Williams rose to prominence as a theologian and engaged in extensive correspondence and debate with some of the most eminent minds of the day. He was one of the rare truly moderate New Lights during the Great Awakening: he managed to maintain the respect of both Charles Chauncy, the rabid anti-revivalist, and George Whitefield, the famous evangelical. Williams also established a library in Lebanon and a very well-known grammar school, which became something of a feeder for Yale. Williams supported Eleazar Wheelock and Moor’s Indian Charity School through much of the 1750s and 1760s. He was something of a mentor to Samson Occom, and he became president of Wheelock’s Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK). It is unclear why Williams is not named as a trustee of Moor’s in Wheelock’s 1768 will; perhaps Wheelock feared that Williams would not outlive him. Williams continued to run the Connecticut Board even after Wheelock relocated to New Hampshire in 1770. Despite the SSPCK’s disappointment in Wheelock, Williams and Wheelock seem to have remained on cordial terms. Their correspondence ceased in 1772, after Wheelock tried (and failed) to open a New Hampshire Board to replace the one in Connecticut (with, it might be added, the Connecticut Board’s blessing).

Oliver, Andrew

Andrew Oliver was an influential Boston merchant and politician, who was a member of several societies that funded Eleazar Wheelock, including the Boston Board of the New England Company (treasurer) and Massachusetts General Assembly (secretary). Oliver played an important political role in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts and, as a firm advocate of Indian missions, attended multiple conferences with Indian tribes. He believed that Anglican and Dissenter missionaries and societies could cooperate, and after Oliver and Wheelock were introduced in 1756, Oliver helped Wheelock access funding from the New England Company, the Massachusetts Assembly, and the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Their relationship deteriorated, however, when the London Board of the New England Company turned against Wheelock late in 1765. Wheelock became aware of the London Board’s change of heart through the “Oliver letter,” a letter purportedly written by Oliver (actually written by Ebenezer Pemberton) that was “injurious” to the characters of Wheelock, Whitaker, and Occom. In 1765, Wheelock also lost his funding from the Massachusetts Assembly. It is unclear what role Oliver played in these events. On the one hand, the breach between Wheelock and the New England Company coincided with the collapse of Oliver’s political career over his attempts to enforce the Stamp Act. Oliver may have been too preoccupied to be involved in the London Board’s change of heart; after all, Boston mobs were burning him in effigy. On the other hand, if Oliver was not involved, it is more difficult to explain why his correspondence with Wheelock ended abruptly in 1767 or why Wheelock lost funding from the Assembly and the London Board at the same time. Oliver would be the obvious link; but of course, Wheelock had many detractors in Boston and another explanation is certainly possible.

Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

Horton, Azariah

Azariah Horton was an Anglo-American missionary who conducted a 10-year mission (1741-1751) to the Montauketts and Shinnecocks of Long Island before being replaced by Samson Occom in 1750. After graduating from Yale in 1735 and briefly preaching in Turkey, NJ, Horton was ordained and commissioned by the New York (later New Jersey) Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) to serve as a missionary on Long Island. His territory was extensive: in addition to the Montauketts and the Shinnecocks, Horton ministered to Indian tribes on the Wyoming and Delaware rivers where the Brainerd brothers were later quite successful. Horton kept a diary during the first three years of his mission (1741-1744) in which he records his extensive travels between sites. By the late 1740s, however, he was residing solely at Shinnecock and spending almost all of his time there. Perhaps his health had decayed and he was unable to travel, or perhaps he had simply given up on his mission (the sources are unclear). Whatever the cause, his neglect left the Montauketts ripe for Samson Occom’s missionary efforts. Horton encouraged Occom’s ministry, and the two stayed in contact (Occom visited him at least once, in 1760). However, when Horton retired, the SSPCK retired his mission with him. They believed that it was a fairly fruitless enterprise, which is likely at least part of the reason why they were disinclined to pay Occom for his efforts. After leaving Montauk, Horton became the pastor at Bottle Hill, NJ (sometimes described as South Hanover). He retired of his own volition in October 1776 and moved to live with his son in Chatham, NJ, where he died in 1777 after being exposed to smallpox while ministering to the dead and dying in George Washington’s army.

Pemberton, Ebenezer Jr.

Ebenezer Pemberton was a New Light minister who wrote the infamous "Oliver letter" to try to discredit Samson Occom during the latter's 1765 fundraising tour. He also opposed Wheelock's efforts to obtain funding from the Massachusetts Assembly. After graduating from Harvard in 1721, Pemberton served a five-year stint as chaplain at Boston's Castle William (Fort Independence). In 1726, First Presbyterian Church in New York hired him, although they allowed him to be ordained Congregationalist in Boston. Pemberton served First Presbyterian until 1753, when battles within the Presbyterian Church drove him out. He is noteworthy as the only minister in New York who welcomed George Whitefield, transatlantic superstar of the First Great Awakening, into his pulpit. While in New York, Pemberton was a member of the New Jersey Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. This board hired several missionaries, including David Brainerd, John Brainerd, and Azariah Horton, and established the College of New Jersey (which awarded Pemberton an honorary D.D. in 1770). Pemberton also preached at the ordination of John Brainerd, a Presbyterian minister with whom Wheelock worked closely. After the fissure in his congregation, Pemberton returned to the comforts of Congregationalism in Boston at the Old North Church (also known as the New Brick Church, and not the same Old North Church connected to the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere). Pemberton joined the New England Company once he reached Boston. Along with other New England Company board members, he discouraged Occom's fundraising tour. He was also the author of the 1765 letter attempting to discredit Occom and Wheelock. Pemberton opposed Wheelock's efforts to secure money from the Massachusetts Assembly on at least two occasions, once in 1762 and once in 1766. After Andrew Oliver retired from the New England Company around 1770, Pemberton took over as de facto secretary. The Revolution forced Pemberton to give up his pulpit. He was a Tory, and Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts was a loyal member of his Boston congregation. The rest of the congregation was not pleased by Pemberton's politics. From February 1774 on, Pemberton was more or less in early retirement, and he died a few years later. Pemberton should not be confused with 1) his father, Ebenezer Pemberton Sr., who was minister at the Boston Old South Church, or 2) Israel Pemberton, a wealthy Philadelphia businessman who gave money to Moor's.

Burr, Aaron Sr.

Aaron Burr, Sr. is known as the founder of Princeton University (formerly College of New Jersey). He is technically Princeton's second president, but his predecessor, Jonathan Dickinson, died during his first year in office so the responsibility of Princeton's organization fell to Burr. Prior to his presidency at Princeton, Burr was a Presbyterian minister in Newark, New Jersey. He became acquainted with Jonathan Dickinson and was the youngest clergyman of the original trustees of Princeton when Dickinson established it as a classical school. Burr took over the running of the college in October 1747, upon Dickinson's death. One year later Burr was formally elected as president of the college. Burr served as both the president and pastor of the college until 1755 when, at the request of the trustees, he ceased his duties as pastor in order to devote more time to the college. Burr established the first entrance requirements, the first course of study, the first set of rules and regulations, and supervised the erection of the first building, Nassau Hall. Burr also moved the college to its permanent home in Princeton, New Jersey. Burr died only ten years after the founding of Princeton, at the age of 41.

Occom's Mission to the Montauks
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