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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Smith, 1761 September 15

ms-number: 761515

abstract: Wheelock writes of Occom’s mission to the Oneidas, of the preparations of Samuel Kirtland for mission work, and of the general progress of the charity school. In a postscript, Wheelock states that Occom was educated entirely by him, and not at college.

handwriting: Handwriting is relatively clear and tidy, with some deletions and additions.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is silked along horizontal creases; there is some wear at edges.

ink: Heavy and blotchy in spots.

noteworthy: On one recto, second paragraph, the "three Mohawke lads" are Joseph Brant, Negyes, and Center. On one verso, second paragraph, one of the Delaware girls is Miriam Storrs; in the same paragraph "...one of the Girls which I have been so long expecting..." is likely Amy Johnson. On one verso, fourth paragraph, the two Delawares are Joseph Woolley and Hezekiah Calvin. Some contents are similar to those of 761404. Wheelock discusses the belief that Indians are the "10 Tribes of the House of Israel." In the trailer on 2 verso, the date is written as September 13, not 15.

events: Occom’s First Mission to the Oneidas



Much Reſpected and Hon.d Sir.
My Affairs have ſo crowded me that I han't
found Leiſure to write you of the State of this Indian School, as
you deſired & I deſign'd when I had the Pleaſure you gave me at your House
laſt Spring. nor can I now more than gratify you with a few
Hints; in Hopes I may have More Leiſure by & by [gap: tear] or perhaps
the opportunity to wait upon you at your own House [gap: tear][guess: a]gain be
­fore winter.
M.r Occom, in Conſequence of the Appointment which I in­
form'd you of, ſat out on his long journey to the ſix Nations, on
the 10th of June laſt, (accompanied by David the youth who
was with me at your House laſt Spring) by the way of New­
­York
, where he tarried ſeveral Days, & preach'd in M.r Boſtwick
Meeting House to an Aſsembly vaſtly Numerous; at which
was collected £ 70. for his use. And the Evening following at the
Baptiſt's Meeting House £ 13. their Currancy: And received
the fulleſt Recommendations from the principle Gentlemen
in the City. I have ſince received a Letter from him Dated
German Flatts. July 7. Informing y.t he had met with un­
common Kindneſs, & Reſpect every where. And that Genl
Amherſt
had given him the Strongeſt Paſs, & Recom̅endati
­on to all his Officers, &c. And also that Gen.l Johnſson, who
was there on his way to the Detroit, with Preſents to the Indians
had promiſed him his Aſsiſtance, and design'd the next Day
to introduce him to the Oneida Nation. I have also of
the Same Date and from the Same Place, a Letter from
Genl Johnſon, which came by the Hands of Three Mohawke
Lads two of [illegible] which were Sent by the Gen.l to this School in
Complyance illegible with my deſire by Letter to him that he would
ſend me ſix promiſing Youth of those Nations. Three to
be ſupported by the Hon.le Scotiſh Com̅iſs.rs, And the
other Three I venture to take in Addition to the ſix which
I had before to be the Subjects of Such Charities, as God
ſhall diſpose the Hearts of his People to beſtow upon this
occaſion. And the Gen.l informs me, he hopes, as he paſses
thro' the Other Nations on his Way, he ſhall be able to ſend
me 3. or 4. more ſo as to compleat the Number which I wrote
for. And I am now daily Expecting them here.
When these came I was much at a loſs what might be his
End in coming, who was not recommended by the Gen.l; but
ſince we have learnt to underſtand them a little better, I am
fully perſuaded the Caſe was thus. After the Gen.l had ſent away
those two, the Other underſtanding their Deſign, and being deſi­
rous of Learning as well as they, went after the Gen.l, but he
now got too far on his way to be overtaken, where upon he con­
cluded to run the venture of coming without Recommendation
They all behave very well hitherto. And it is quite agreable
to ſee them with the reſt Generally ſo well ingaged in their ſtudies.
tho'
Tho' one without Experience can well conceive the Difficulty
there is in Educating them.
David is not yet return'd nor do I expect him 'till those other
Ladds come, if before M.r Occom returns from his Miſsion.
But one of the Girls which I have been ſo long expecting is yet
come. M.r Brainerd wrote me in the Spring that those expected
from Delaware, had been detained by Sickneſs, and one was then
not likely to recover, however that I might expect two by the
Firſt Veſsel.
M.r Kirtland's Son, a Charity­Schollar, and promiſing Youth,
who is now at this School fitting for a Miſsion, is learning the
Mohawke Language of the Boys, as fast as he can under the
Diſadvantage of having no Books, nor Interpreter to help
him. And So are also ſeveral of the Indian Boys.
I here ſend you incloſed a Speciman of the writing of my two
Delawares, and I doubt not you would be much pleaſed to
hear them read Lattin & Greek.
As to those Signatures & Traces of Judaiſm which have in­
clin'd me to believe our American Indians to be the 10 Tribes
of the House of Israel, I am not in a Capacity to ſet ym in ſuch a Light as I hope I may be. ſeveral of which them we diſcourſd of, ſuch
as Their Languages being generally Guttural, & Abounding in prefixes
& Suffixes agreable to the Hebrew. Their use of y.e word Higgai­
nan in their Singing, which I ſuſpect to be the Same with Higgaion
used by the Sweet Singer of Israel Their Sacrifices, eſpecially
of the pascal Lamb. (for want of which they use a Faun) ſo agrea­
ble to the Mosaic Rites. Their cutting out the Hollow of the Thigh
when they can give no Reaſon for it but Tradition, and ſay that
all good Indians have done ſo, which I had from an old man
of good credit who was in his youth a Mighty Hunter among
them. Their Avenging Murther by the neareſt of kin. Their Se­
paration of their Women for uncleaneſs. & their Purification &c
There Is, beſides These, and many Such like, one which I dont rem­
ember to have diſcourſed with you of, and which is with me as
weighty as almoſt any I have heard, and which I ſhould be glad of
your Thoughts upon. I had it from that dear man of God the
Rev.d David Brainerd a little before his Death. and perhaps the
Diſcovery never was So fully made by any other. He gave it me
a little before his Death, as he had it from one of their Powows, then
lately converted to chriſtianity under his Minſtry among them.
He told me that the ſpirit which their Powows are at certain Times
under the Influence Inſpired with, & under the Influence of, and which
makes them So much the fear & Dread of the Indians, was as exact
an Imitation of a Spirit of Propheſy as he could conceive the
Devil capable of. that they were Seers and could See the Hearts
Thoughts, Purposes, & Intentions of others they were concerned with, as
plain as one could ſee an opaque Body in a tranſparent Glaſs, they
would charge men with what they had done in Secret & make
them own it. and pretend to 'tell Fatuities, viz. what ſucceſs the
Enquirers would have in Hunting or War, in which Caſe they [illegible] are
were much used. (and [illegible] perhaps could 'tell as much as the Devil
Knew in these Caſes) and when the Spirit was gone from them they
were but as other men.
Now when I conſider how y.e false Spirit has all along imitated y.e
Time and the great advantage he has thereby made to get ye ſubjects
of it fast in his Snare. and what advantage he may be Supposd to
have got of ye 10 Tribes in this way, after ye Time ſince of Prophiſie
was.
was wholly Loſt among them, and not only a Sp.t of Prophiſie
but humane Literature with it. I cant but think there is weight
in it.
as to what has been ſaid by Some y.t the Names of Several
Animals in their Language are ye very Same with the Hebrew: perhaps when we are
able to Send Miſsionaries among them who are well inſtructed in the
Hebrew Tongue we may be furniſhed with ye fulleſt Evidence from
that Quarter. I hope my dear Little Jacob, who is now just
out of his 2.d Year at New Jerſie College, and is one of y.e Delaware
Tribe
, may be the very man to oblige us with ſome new Diſcove­
ries of the Nature.
The getting exact Information of these things, and Setting them
in a true and proper Light will require Time and Pains.
I have lately been (I cant Say diſagreably) amaſed with a Letter
from M.r Emrie to M.r John Erſkine in Scotland, in manuſcript
wherein he Supposes he has fully proved from the word of God yt
The Indians in North America are the 10 Tribes of the House of
Israel, were baniſshed hither into the Wilderneſs of the Peoples, and their
origional conceald under enigmatical Propheſies, that they
might not be recond among the Nations, 'till Now the Time
of their Deliverance is at Hand. I have only had y.e Favour.
of a curſory reading of it, I apprehend there is a great deal of
Insenuity in what he has wrote if nothing more. —
I was much encouraged in the Proſecution of this grand
Affair by what I met with at Boſton laſt Spring, perticular­
ly the generous and Seaſonable Bequeſt, of that truly noble
Lord the Marquess of Lothain , and others. which I look'd
upon as an Answer to Prayer, and was encouragd thereby
to enlarge the Number of My Schollars, And hope I ſhall
find what has been done to have been but an Earniſt of
greater Supplies as they Shall be needed.
I doubt not, my dear Sir, Your are ready to do any
thing in Your Power to promote it. And I truſt among
the many Expreſsions of your unmerited Kindneſs you will not
fail to remember in your devoutest Hours. him, who is
with moſt ſincere Reſpect, Sir.
Your moſt Obliged Friend
 and Humble ſervant
Eleaz.r Wheelock
M.r John Smith
[left]John Smith Sepr 1761

My Dear & Hon'd Sir.
not knowg w.t Improvemt You may
think fit to make of the incloſd, (as I ſubmitt
to your own Judgment to ſend it to your Corriſ­
pondent if you pleaſe) I tho't proper to im­
prove this Cover to Acknowledge the moſt
generous Expreſsions of your Reſpect to me
and this Indian Affair in Yours of July 23. 1761
and the Copy of yours to your Freind &c
and Rectify a little miſtake or two in your
acco.t to him. viz. M.r Occom never lived at
College. he had all ye Learning which he had
of me and my ſon in Law, who took my ſchool
when he came out of College and kept it one
year at Hebron, Also the Number of
Charity Indian ſchollars [illegible] when I was at your
house was ſix. M.r Emries Lett.r mentiond
in the incloſd I had by M.r Wm Hyſlop's
procurement & I pray you would give him
opportunity to read the incloſd perhaps
there may be ſomething here useful to him
and which he has not yet received from
me. I am with moſt sincere Reſpect
to you & Madm
your unworthy Br
 & hum.le ſervt
Eleazr Wheelock
Mr John ſmith

[left]Lett.r to M.r John Smith
Boston.J Sept. 13.
1761
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.

Smith, John

John Smith was an affluent Boston merchant who supported Wheelock’s school throughout the 1760s. It is likely that Smith and Wheelock were introduced by George Whitefield or someone similarly involved in evangelical and missionary efforts in the British Atlantic world: John Smith made somewhat regular trips to London for business, and had been in contact with Whitefield since the 1740s. Like the other Boston merchants who supported Moor’s Indian Charity School (including Moses Peck, William Hyslop, and Nathaniel Eells), Smith traded with Wheelock and kept him up to date on political developments in Boston, especially as they concerned attitudes towards Moor’s Indian Charity School. However, Smith was better educated (and likely more affluent) than the other merchants that Wheelock worked with, and, correspondingly, played a more important role than his brethren in Wheelock’s efforts. Smith publicized the school independently (his letter to an unnamed friend, catalogued as 764318.2, is one of the most cited letters on the organization of Moor’s) and assisted Wheelock in publishing the Narratives. John Smith’s greatest contribution to Wheelock’s design was his support during Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker’s fundraising tour of Great Britain (1765-1768). Smith set out for Britain in July 1765 to improve his health, and while there, acted as a vanguard for Occom and Whitaker. He managed their correspondence, suggested destinations, and served on an ad hoc advisory council that included George Whitefield, Samuel Savage, Robert Keen, and several other influential men. The pace of the journey caught up with John Smith, however, and he died in 1768 while in Britain.

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.

Fowler, David

David Fowler was Jacob Fowler's older brother, Samson Occom's brother-in-law, and an important leader of the Brothertown Tribe. He came to Moor's in 1759, at age 24, and studied there until 1765. While at school, he accompanied Occom on a mission to the Six Nations in 1761. He was licensed as a school master in the 1765 mass graduation, and immediately went to the Six Nations to keep school, first at Oneida and then at Kanawalohale. Fowler saw himself as very close to Wheelock, but their relationship fragmented over the course of Fowler's mission, primarily because Wheelock wrote back to Kirkland, with whom Fowler clashed, but not to Fowler, and because Wheelock refused to reimburse Fowler for some expenses on his mission (767667.4 provides the details most clearly). Fowler went on to teach school at Montauk, and played a major role in negotiations with the Oneidas for the lands that became Brothertown. He was among the first wave of immigrants to that town, and held several important posts there until his death in 1807.

Amherst, Jeffery

General Amherst was a major figure in eighteenth-century British military politics, especially for his role in conquering Canada. He began his career during the War of Austrian Succession. In 1758, he was stationed in North America and successfully seized Louisbourg, a French fort on an island off of Nova Scotia. As a result of his success, he was promoted to Commander-in-chief of British forces in North America. Amherst invaded Canada and, in 1760, he captured Montreal. Despite his success in North America, Amherst never enjoyed working with American colonists, and constantly requested a new post. In 1763 this wish was granted, primarily because Amherst had failed to prevent or quell the Pontiac War. He returned home to Kent where he lived out his life as a high-ranking domestic military official. He is significant here because his endorsement of Occom gave Occom a connection to Sir William Johnson and enabled Occom to go among the Six Nations.

Johnson, William

Sir William Johnson was a powerful British colonial official who amassed wealth and influence by integrating into the Mohawk tribe. For a brief window of time (1761-1768), he provided support for Wheelock’s missionary efforts among the Six Nations. He also helped the Brothertown Nation of Indians procure land from the Oneidas. Johnson was born in Ireland in 1715. His family had been part of the Catholic elite, but after William of Orange’s 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne, they at least nominally converted to the Episcopalian Church. In 1738, Johnson emigrated to America to manage his uncle Peter Warren’s estate in Mohawk territory. Over the next decade, Johnson became wealthy in his own right through trade and land sales, acquiring a vast estate crowned by his manor house, Johnson Hall, which became the central location for British and Indian treaty making. In 1745, Johnson began collecting official British titles and positions. He played an important military role in the French and Indian War and was named Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1756 and first baronet of New York in 1757. Much of Johnson’s success was due to his influence among the Mohawks, which he obtained by learning their language and customs and integrating himself into their society. He participated in Mohawk rituals and entered into a common-law marriage with a powerful Mohawk woman, Molly Brant (also called Mary Brant). Because Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) society is matrilineal, this marriage was an essential element of his participation in Indian affairs. Wheelock desperately wanted to wield missionary influence among the Six Nations, and sought to obtain Johnson as an ally in his endeavors. At first, the two found grounds for cooperation. Wheelock sent Occom as a missionary to the Oneidas in 1761 and again in 1762, and sent a substantially larger group of missionaries and schoolmasters in 1765, 1766, and 1767. Johnson, meanwhile, encouraged Haudenosaunee children, including his brother-in-law Joseph Brant, to attend Moor’s. Johnson’s support proved indispensible to missionaries in the field; he helped with supplies, language skills, and relations with the Mohawks and Oneidas. Wheelock also valued Johnson for his influence in Britain, and drew on him for recommendations and public statements of support numerous times. From 1763 on, however, Johnson found himself decidedly uncomfortable with Wheelock’s missionary efforts, and by 1769, their relationship had dissolved completely. In 1766, Johnson was invited to join the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), the largest and most influential Anglican missionary society in the 18th-century British-Atlantic world. He began working to place Anglican missionaries, rather than Congregationalist and Presbyterian ones, among the Six Nations, which alarmed Wheelock. Johnson was generally supportive of Native American tribes’ efforts to maintain their land and sovereignty. As the historian Linford Fisher has noted, “virtually every major Native group in southeastern New England successfully petitioned Johnson to act on their behalf during the late 1760s and early 1770s.” Among these groups was the Brothertown Nation, a Christian composite tribe formed by Southern New England Algonquian Moor’s alumni. Johnson helped them negotiate with the Oneidas, which proved essential to their successful land purchase and relocation to central New York.

Kirtland, Daniel
Kirkland, Samuel

Samuel Kirkland (b. Kirtland) was Eleazar Wheelock’s most famous Anglo American student. He conducted a 40-year mission to the Oneidas and founded Hamilton College (established in 1793 as Hamilton Oneida Academy). Kirkland won acclaim as a missionary at a young age by conducting an adventurous and risky mission to the Senecas, the westernmost of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. After his year and a half among them, which was well publicized by Wheelock, he was ordained and sent as a missionary to the Oneidas under the auspices of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. He spent most of the rest of his life serving the Oneidas as a minister. Kirkland’s sincere devotion to serving as a missionary was excellent publicity for Wheelock’s program, but it also brought the two men into conflict. Wheelock became jealous of Kirkland when the school’s British benefactors began urging Wheelock to make Kirkland his heir, and Kirkland, meanwhile, was upset that Wheelock had failed to provide him with sufficient supplies on his mission — a complaint that he was unafraid to publicize (and that almost all of Wheelock’s other students shared). The breaking point came in 1770, when Kirkland split from Wheelock’s Connecticut Board and affiliated with the New England Company, a missionary society that had abruptly turned against Wheelock in 1765. Wheelock and Kirkland briefly made up in 1771, but their relationship quickly dissolved into further acrimony. Although Kirkland spent most of his life as a missionary to the Six Nations, he generally held disparaging views of Native Americans. He did not approve of Wheelock’s plan to educate Indians as missionaries, and was haughty towards the Moor’s alumni that worked with him (notably David Fowler, Joseph Johnson, and Joseph Woolley). Prior to the Revolution, Kirkland had been stringent in his refusals to take Oneida land, even when offered to him. The Revolution seems to have shifted his loyalties from the Oneidas to local Anglo Americans. Kirkland served as a chaplain in the American army and was instrumental in convincing the Oneidas to remain neutral (or, more accurately, to side with the Americans). At one point he was the chaplain with General Sullivan’s army, the force sent to ransack Seneca and Cayuga territory in 1779. It is unclear what emotions this aroused in Kirkland, who had served the Senecas less than 15 years earlier, yet after the war, Kirkland freely engaged in Oneida dispossession. Along with James Dean, another Wheelock alumnus with close ties to the Oneidas, Kirkland played a pivotal role in urging the Oneidas to sell land illegally to the state of New York. The land deals that resulted gave Kirkland the property, financial capital, and connections to establish Hamilton Oneida Academy. The last decades of Kirkland’s life were difficult. He found himself in a three-way battle with Samson Occom and John Sergeant Jr., who were also ministers in Oneida territory, for the hearts and minds of their congregations; he was fired as a missionary in 1797, although he continued to serve sans salary; one of his son’s business enterprises failed, leaving Kirkland nearly destitute; and two of his three sons died unexpectedly. Hamilton Oneida Academy, like Moor’s Indian Charity School, largely failed at its goal of educating Indians, and in 1812, four years after Kirkland’s death, it was re-purposed as Hamilton College, a largely Anglo-American institution. At some point in the mid-to-late 18th century, Kirkland changed his name from Kirtland, although the reasons for this are uncertain.

Bostwick, David

David Bostwick was a popular Presbyterian minister in New York—so popular, in fact, that two congregations fought over him and the New York Synod had to intervene. He was the president of the New York Board of Commissioners for the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowlege. Bostwick encouraged Occom's mission to the Oneidas; took up a collection at his church for Occom, which reached over 60 pounds; and lent his name to a recommendation for Occom to Sir William Johnson. When Samuel Buell published his sermon from Occom's ordination, it was prefixed with a letter addressed to David Bostwick outlining Occom's character.

Brainerd, John

John Brainerd was an ardent missionary with an important role in Wheelock's design. He was the younger brother of the famous missionary David Brainerd, who died as a young man after being expelled from Yale and serving as a missionary to New Jersey tribes. John completed his Yale degree and was immediately commissioned to replace David. Even in his own time, he was seen as a man as pious as, but less talented than, his brother, though Brainerd missioned to Indians during a more volatile period, and saw his congregation forcibly removed from their lands in 1755 and relocated at Brothertown in 1758 (this Brothertown should not be confused with the one founded in New York after the Revolution by many Moor's alumni). Brainerd was extremely devoted to the Indian cause. He often had the opportunity to serve wealthy English congregations, but preferred to remain an Indian missionary. He invested signficant sums of his own money into his missions, for which he was never reimbursed. Brainerd was a very prominent Presbyterian figure, active in the Presbytery and Synod of New York, holding several elected positions, and in the Presbtery and Synod of New York and Philadelphia once the two reunified in 1758. He was a Trustee of the College of New Jersey from 1754 until his death, and a member of the New York Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Occom had planned to work with Brainerd in 1750, but political upheaval prevented it. Brainerd was one of several men nominated to accompany Occom to England, but the New York Board refused to let him go. While Brainerd and Wheelock were not close personal friends, the two had a similar interests and a long-lasting correspondence. John Brainerd sent Wheelock his first Indian boys, and also recruited female students in the 1760s. Throughout their lives, Brainerd and Wheelock updated one another on Indian missions, and Brainerd seems to have been one of Wheelock's "point people" in the Presbyterian Church.

Brainerd, David

David Brainerd was a Presbyterian missionary who became a New Light martyr and inspired Wheelock to work for Native American education. He was the older brother of the longer-lived but lesser-known John Brainerd, who provided Wheelock with his first Native students. In the early 1740s, David got caught up in the New Light tide at Yale, and was subsequently expelled for describing men in positions of authority as unsaved. Because ministers to English congregations had to have a degree from Harvard or Yale, David became a missionary to Native Americans instead. His missions attracted substantial attention, and in 1744 the Newark Presbytery ordained him so that he could receive funding from the Society in Scotland for Propagating Chrisitian Knowledge (SSPCK). Between April 1743 and November 1746, when he became too ill to serve, David conducted missionary efforts among various tribes in the mid-Atlantic region, most notably in New Jersey. After his death from tuberculosis in 1747, David became something of a martyr. New Light Congregationalists, especially, saw David's expulsion from Yale as unjust and his commitment to Native Americans as divine. In 1749, Jonathan Edwards published a biography of David together with David's diary, and the text quickly became part of the New Light canon. Education was central to David Brainerd's ministry, and he was among Wheelock's several inspirations. In 1745, Brainerd sent Wheelock a copy of his journal.

Woolley, Jacob

Jacob Woolley, a Delaware, was one of Wheelock's first two Indian students. He was the cousin of Wheelock's third student, Joseph Woolley. John Brainerd sent Jacob Woolley, along with John Pumshire, to Wheelock late in 1754. While Pumshire died in 1757, Jacob continued studying with Wheelock and entered the College of New Jersey in 1759. He studied there until 1762, when he was expelled for failing his studies and abusing alcohol. It is also likely that there was a woman involved. In 1763, Jacob briefly returned to College before running away and enlisting in the army. Joseph Woolley met a man in Sheffield who described someone like Jacob Woolley teaching there in the fall of 1764, but this identification is not definite. Jacob never seems to have been very invested in becoming a missionary. Especially after his expulsion from the College of New Jersey, he expressed doubts about Wheelock's plans for him and struggled with alcohol. It is likely that he ran away primarily because Wheelock was non-responsive to these concerns.

Erskine, John

John Erskine was a prominent clergyman in the Church of Scotland. He came from a wealthy family, but despite his eventual inheritance decided to dedicate his life to the evangelical revival in Great Britain and America. In the mid-1730s, Erskine attended Edinburgh University where he took arts courses and began the law program, but in 1742, he transferred to divinity hall (after finally convincing his family of his desire to join the clergy). He was a leading member of Scotland’s Popular party, which opposed the law of patronage and supported popular votes for the clergy. By 1768, he became the party’s unofficial leader. Erskine was known for his dissemination of books with the hope of propagating religious ideas, and he used his influence to encourage booksellers to publish or print further editions of evangelical works at affordable prices. He regularly donated books to Harvard, Yale, the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), Dartmouth, and Dickinson College, as well as Eleazar Wheelock’s Indian School. He served as one of the chief directors for the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK), securing funds for Indian Affairs and donating £600 to Wheelock's school in 1765. However, he objected to what he perceived as Wheelock's promotion of Presbyterianism as opposed to the Church of England. Nathaniel Whitaker worried about how Erskine's objection would affect the funds provided to Wheelock by the Trust in England. Still, Erskine remained committed to Native American causes and was present at the death of John Shattock in 1768, one of two Narragansett brothers who travelled to England in the hope of preventing the Niantic Sachem from selling further Niantic lands to the colony of Rhode Island. By the end of the 1760s, Erskine had become disillusioned with Wheelock and his school, and expressed displeasure with Wheelock's management of donated funds. He feared that Dartmouth would fall under Episcopal influence and questioned Wheelock's frankness in his procurement of the College’s charter. He was also disappointed that Occom and Kirkland were the only two distinguished missionaries with ties to Wheelock. When Erskine decided that Dartmouth College, with which Moor’s had merged, was not serving the intended purpose of providing a Christian education to Indians, he stopped providing funds. Throughout his life, Erskine penned pamphlets, sermons, and five theological treatises. During the Great Awakening, Erskine established relationships with a number of ministers in America, and because of these contacts became sympathetic to the American cause against Great Britain.

Kerr, William
Hyslop, William

William Hyslop was a Boston merchant and a member of the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK). His business was importing goods from Scotland, especially Bibles. He was very involved in the Brattle Street Church, and had close ties to the Chauncy family (an Old Light family, one of whom, Charles Chauncy, was chair of the Boston SSPCK). In 1760, Hyslop began assisting Wheelock with the process of obtaining funds from the Boston SSPCK, and he also put Wheelock in touch with other Boston merchants who had their own charitable organization (Moses Peck and William Whitwell’s “private society”). As Wheelock’s relationship with the Boston SSPCK soured in the first half of the 1760s, culminating in Wheelock’s decision to open the Connecticut Board of the SSPCK in 1764, Wheelock’s and Hyslop’s personal and trade relationship also ceased.

Smith, Mercy (née Bridgham)

Mercy Smith was the wife of John Smith, an affluent Boston merchant who supported Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker on their fundraising tour of Great Britain. She appears to have been remarkably active in her husband’s public affairs: she sent Wheelock bills and kept him informed about donations raised in Boston, ran John’s business while he was in Britain (1765-1768), and seems to have continued engaging in some degree of business after John’s death in 1768.

Occom’s First Mission to the Oneidas
HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Smith, 1761 September 15
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