Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Colonel Henchman, 1756 September 20

ms-number: 756520

abstract: Wheelock writes a draft of a letter discussing the intended charter for the Charity School.

handwriting: Relatively tidy and legible, with a few deletions and additions.

paper: Moderate staining and creasing; large stain on upper right corner of 1 recto, with no loss of text.

noteworthy: On same paper as 756190, 756900.1 and 756900.2.

layout: If the paper containing all four letters were to be read as a book, this letter would be page two.

Dear Sir.

Yrs of July 30. (with the Collection for Cloathg my Indian Boys)
By M.r Elderkin came Safe to Hand. we ha’ reconſidered y.e objns wc
yo hint agst our Suit for a Charter from ye Crown. which we had conſidered and
largely debated before. We ha’ conſidrd y.e Diſtemperd ſtate of Religion
the divided Sentiments & Prejudices in the minds of men, which have heretofore
had ſo great, & we fear Still ha’ too great influence into our publick
Affairs. We have also conſidered that the validity of a Charter from this
Government is by many Questiond. & beſides they cant Enable us to act
purſue the Deſign if we ſhod have ever ſo fair an opportunity for it
without ye bounds of this Government and many other Conſiderations
too many to mention now. which Still determin us to purſue the Deſign
as has been propoſd. The Paquet ſent to yo is a Duplicate of one
ſent to the Jerſies to the care of Preſid.t Burr w.c we hope he has
found a Paſsage for ſome weeks ago. & Deſire yo will imbrace the firſt
good opportunity to ſend. The things at preſent look with a very me-
-loncholly & threatg Aſpect upon this and all Deſigns in fav.r of y.e poor
Creatures. If y.o ha’ Rec.d accordg to your hopes Rec.d Rec.d the Charities
of any good people for the use of these Boys. please to keep it in
your Hands & credit my acco.t ſo much. & your ord.r to me ſhall be re-
funded to the Boys. I hope you will be able to inform me by Capt
[illegible: [guess: Jn Freeman]] of the good acceptance of the Proposal made to D.r Gardener
to furniſh these Boys with Books. I thank you hartily for the
Reſpect ſhewn me in yours. I aſk your Remembrance of me
in your Neareſt aproaches to God. pleaſe to accept affectionate
ſalutation from Dear ſir,

your obliged Hum.le ſerv.t
  Eleazr Wheelock
P.S. the Crowd of Buſineſs which I happen to be in when this Lettr
is calld for I hope will Excuſe the inacuracies Blotts & Er[illegible]
in it. This is ye firſt opportunity of conveyance to you yt has
preſented ſince I Received yours. yrsEW

To Col. D. Henchman Esq.r at Boſton
Blank page.
Wheelock, Eleazar

Eleazar Wheelock was a New Light Congregationalist minister who founded Dartmouth College. He was born into a very typical Congregationalist family, and began studying at Yale in 1729, where he fell in with the emerging New Light clique. The evangelical network that he built in college propelled him to fame as an itinerant minister during the First Great Awakening and gave him many of the contacts that he later drew on to support his charity school for Native Americans. Wheelock’s time as an itinerant minister indirectly brought about his charity school. When the Colony of Connecticut retroactively punished itinerant preaching in 1743, Wheelock was among those who lost his salary. Thus, in 1743, he began operating a grammar school to support himself. He was joined that December by Samson Occom, a Mohegan Indian, who sought out an education in hopes of becoming a teacher among his people. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to train Native Americans as missionaries. To that end, he opened Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754 (where he continued to train Anglo-American students who paid their own way as well as students who functionally indentured themselves to Wheelock as missionaries in exchange for an education). Between 1754 and 1769, when he relocated to New Hampshire, Wheelock trained approximately 60 male and female Native American students from nearby Algonquian tribes and from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of central New York. At the same time, he navigated the complicated politics of missionary societies by setting up his own board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, although he continued to feud with the Boston Board of the SSPCK and the London Commissioners in Boston (more colloquially called the New England Company). By the late 1760s, Wheelock had become disillusioned with the idea of Native American education. He was increasingly convinced that educating Native Americans was futile (several of his students had failed to conform to his confusing and contradictory standards), and, in late 1768, he lost his connection to the Haudenosaunee. With his inclination and ability to sponsor Native American missionaries largely depleted, Wheelock sought instead to fulfill his ultimate ambition of obtaining a charter and opening a college, which he did in 1769. To fund this new enterprise, Wheelock drew on the £12,000 that Samson Occom had raised for Moor’s Indian Charity School during a two-and-a-half year tour of Great Britain (1765 to 1768). Much of this money went towards clearing land and erecting buildings in New Hampshire for the Charity School’s relocation — infrastructure that also happened to benefit Dartmouth. Many of Wheelock’s contemporaries were outraged by what they saw as misuse of the money, as it was clear that Dartmouth College was not intended for Indians and that Moor’s had become a side project. Although Wheelock tried to maintain at least some commitment to Native American education by recruiting students from Canadian communities, the move did a great deal of damage to his public image. The last decade of Wheelock’s life was not easy. In addition to the problems of trying to set up a college far away from any Anglo-American urban center, Wheelock experienced the loss of relationships with two of his most famous and successful students, Samson Occom and Samuel Kirkland (an Anglo-American protégé). He also went into debt for Dartmouth College, especially after the fund raised in Britain was exhausted.

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.

HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to Colonel Henchman, 1756 September 20
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only