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Solomon Williams, letter, to Rev. Samuel Wood, 1761 November 12

ms-number: 761662.1

abstract: Williams writes a lengthy letter regarding news of his sister-in-law, events in Great Britain and in the colonies, and the desire of various tribes to receive missionaries. Mention is made of Samson Occom.

handwriting: Handwriting is very informal and extremely difficult to decipher. There is shorthand sprinkled throughout.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is heavily reinforced, which renders it difficult to discern the condition of the paper. It appears to be in good condition, however, with light creasing, staining and wear. The preservation work is beginning to wear around the edges.

ink: Dark-brown ink is somewhat dimmed by reinforcement.

noteworthy: As noted in the trailer, this document is a copy. Due to the extreme difficulty of discerning Williams’ hand, the transcribers have used their discretion with regard to letter case, shorthand, and abbreviations.

signature: The signature is abbreviated.

events: Occom's First Mission to the Oneidas



Hond & very dear Sir
your Favr of 16 Feb laſt I Recd wth Great Plea
ſure & Thankfulneſs in Septr I am the more obliged for your Goodneſs
in it as It came [illegible] from your [illegible] Friendſhip without any Motive of
My Repeatd Lrs to you wch as you dont mention I conclude
you have not Recd. I Return My warmeſt thanks for your kind & moſt deſira
ble Friendſhip & at the Same [illegible][guess: time]but bluſh to See what Great Notice
you take of My Reſpect & Friendſhipaffection for my Dear Siſter; the
beſt & one of the moſt deſervg of women for wm If I had any Senti
ments of Piety virtue, or Even humanity, I could Not but have
the moſt tender Affection Reſpect Since I have had the happineſs of her ac‐
quaintance
for the Sincerity, Integrity, Tenderneſs of her heart, the
diſtinguſhing accompliſhments of Mnd God has bleſsed her with, her
undiſsembled piety, Conſtant, Friendſhip & undeſerved affectn & alſo Con
ſiderg

knowg that Tender Love ſhe Expreſsd for my dear Br (Now no More)
wch Inducd her leve her Native Land her Dear & moſt deſervg
Friends & come into a far diſtant LandCountry among Perſons Unknown to
her. Alaſ wt have I done for her? how little Cd I do but wiſh
It had been in My Power to Render her as happy as ſhe Cd wiſh
to be. long before this Reaches you you will know that ſhe has
changed her Condn & Situation & Married Mr Wm Smith of N York
a very worthy Gentleman & of high Character Among all virtues
People there & In this Colony to whom he is known; a Gentleman
of ample Fortune & one of his Majeſties Council there. there
are ſome Circumſtances connected [illegible][guess: which] I was [illegible]afraid wd not be Agreable to her
his Large Family, & the Place. however I ownconfeſs upon the whole
I could not but [illegible]thought it adviſable for her to comply with the
Propoſal, as Providence Seemd Evidently to Point out & lead the
way & to open a Proſpect for her more Extenſive uſefulneſs, &
I hopedhopg alſo it wd be a means to diſsipate ye Gloom & Melancholly wch is too apt to Cloud her mind. yt the Troubles [illegible][illegible][guess: muſt attend] her Situation hd not [illegible] ye
the uncomfortable Sollitude of her widdowhood. [illegible]Yet I own in givg
that adviceſg to herher to a compliance wth ye [illegible][guess: propoſal] I was obligd to [illegible]go Counter to My own moſt EarneſtStrong de
ſires [illegible][guess: knowg yt [illegible][guess: by] [illegible][guess: Remove] I muſt be] Deprived My Self of ſome of the deareſt Comfort & ſociety
of my life. Partg with her was a Painful & bitter thing one of
the hardeſt Partings of my Friends I have Ever Experienced. for tho there
is no Sea betwixt us yet I have Never had the Small Pox
& the fear of [illegible]g ye Infection at New York whichis is Seldom
Clear of it bars me from the hope of Seeing her. [illegible][guess: however for]but the
Proſpect of her Comfort & uſefulneſs I [illegible][guess: wd] Patiently deny my Selfteaches Me yt tis my duty to bear Patiently
the Great Satiſfactionye loſs or want of yt Pleaſure I ſhd [illegible][illegible] have Enjoyd [illegible] life been Spndg [illegible][guess: have Enjoy] in ſeeg
her frequently at her own houſe & ſometimes at Mine. May Every
Bleſsing of Life & Godlineſs Attend her.
It is a Senſible Grief Dear Sir that your bodily Infirmities
ſhould Prevent the Executn of any of the wiſe & Pious Plans
for uſefulneſs to mankind you are [illegible][guess: framing] from time to time
& amg the Reſt hinder me from Recg your Kind & Edifying Letters
I doubt Not Sir but a wiſe & Good God Makes this one Means
of [illegible][guess: Rendring] you more Active & Servicable to the Km of ye Great
Redeemer. to this End you aſk My Poor Prayers & [illegible] a moſt
forcible & delightful argument the Intereſt I have in yours.
I moſt hartily thank you Sr for kind & dayly Remembrance of
Unworthy Me I beg Your Continuance of that moſt deſirable
Favr for her

I can with Equal Sincerity, & honſty aſsure you that no day [illegible][guess: Brks]
in which I do Not Remember my dear & Good Friend Dr wood
& Recommend him, & his deepeſt Intereſts & life his Precious Life
& uſefulneſs to the Father of Mercies — Dear ſir may our Hly Father
help us to Continue this Friendly Chriſtian Intercourſe & Correſpondence
by the way of Hn & dayly Meetg there ſo long as we are on
this Side of it. this favr this Bleſsing of your Kind, & [illegible]
[illegible] Remembrance of Me I Rank Among many others owg to
that wiſe & Good Providence which brot my dear Siſter from
her Native Land to this Country. & while She thinks her Life is
almoſt uſeleſs & Spent in vain I [illegible] [illegible][guess: Such] Great May [illegible][guess: bring] kind & merciful [illegible][guess: Events]
of Providence Iſsuing from it in a very Extenſive Manner, & may God Ren
der her More & More uſeful in proportion to the [illegible][guess: truest] & [illegible][guess: Enlargd]
deſires of his heart. I was Senſibly touchd with the Intima
tion you gave of an uneaſineſs & Clamour Existg in the Nation
by ye Tax or Additional Duty on beer or ale, I have not heard
how the Iſsue of it was or wt Influence it had on the Election
of Members of Parliamt but hope the beſt & that the Kind Pro
vidence which has for So longSuch a time paſt overuld the Publick
Affairs in ſuch a wiſe, Steady, & kind manner has Given you a
wiſe & Good Parliamt. we In theſe Diſtant Regions of the Brittiſh Empire
Share [illegible]ye Genl [illegible] in the Happy Occaſion of So Good a King ſo
Excellt & amiable a Man to ye [illegible] of his [illegible] we feel the Pleaſure of the Delight
ful Proſpect of his Long & happy Reign & dayly Send up our
ardent vows to heaven for the beſt bleſsings upon him the Queen
[gap: tear][guess: his Amiable] Conſort & that the Nation & all its [illegible][guess: dependences]
may in him & his Royal houſe Enjoy the moſt diſtinguiſhing Proſ
perity & future [illegible][guess: Ages] Call him bleſsd. God has Truly done Great
Things for the Nation & for us in America, things which tho we
long & ardently wiſhed yet Scarce dare we hope to ſee. The [illegible][guess: Redemtion]
of Canada deliverence from ye moſt falſe Cruel Perfidious Enemies
that Ever were let looſe upon Mankind. how wonderful a mercy if
God Pleaſe to Incline ye ht of the King & his Miniſters to keep
North America & never let His Aquiſns [illegible][guess: made by ye Kings own] here
Return to ſuch bloody & deceitful Men as have been ye Scourge of
this Country in all Paſt times & [illegible][guess: Aſ soon] as tis in y[illegible][guess: [r] Power
will Extirpate & Ruin the Engliſh here. The Lord has done Great
Things for us whereof we are Glad. I wiſh I could ſay for which
we are thankful; & that the Goodneſs of G had led us to Repentance.
what can I Say here? but take up your Lamentation [illegible][guess: our] [illegible][guess: Brittains]
Still we are a very wickd People vice abounds ye Power of Godlineſs
is much loſt from Among us. we Sadly feel one of ye Diſmal Con
ſequences of war the Corruption of our Morals. the unhappy Ex
ample Exhibited to us [illegible][guess: ſoon] to be ye [illegible][guess: Means of] Increaſg [illegible]of
Extravagance, Luxury, & love of Show, vanity & Senſual Pleaſure
& much Profaneſs. [illegible][guess: Sad] Returns are theſe to the divine & Glori‐
ous [illegible][guess: Author] of ye diſtinguiſhg Favrs Pourd upon us. I Muſt
Intreat your Fervent Prayers for us & thoſe of All your Praying
Friends. there Seem to appear Some hopeful Glimmergſ among
ye Indians in Sevl diſtant Parts. The Comiſssioners at N York
last [illegible][guess: Supmmer] upon a motion made to y[illegible] sent up one Mr Samſon
Occum
a Mohegan Indian Educated [illegible][guess: here] Chiefy udr ye Inſtructi[below]on

of ye Revd Mr Wheelock one of the miniſters in this Town) & was ordaind
by a Preſbitery on Long Iſland. a Pious Man & Zelous to ſerve his Country
men & promote the knowledge of Xy amng them. he has been here ſince
his Return; & Informs me that he has been Amng the Oneida Indians
& Tuſcarora[illegible][guess: es] who border upon them & are much Intermxd with
them. was very kindly Recd by them & he thinks firſt & laſt he
had above 500 [illegible][guess: hearers] & there are Many who appear very deſi
rous to be Acquainted with ye Chriſtian Relign & have Sendt by him
to deſire the Commiſsidoners to Send Among them Some a Miſsionary
who can Inform them the [illegible] what the [illegible][guess: bible] [illegible][guess: iſ] & [illegible][guess: lead] them to ye [illegible] [illegible][guess: ye Great ſav.r]
knowledg of ye Great Saviour. they deſire him to tell the Commſsrs
yt they have turnd their backs upon their former Idolatry & devil
worſship & Never Intend to look that way Agn but their Faces are
now turnd towards Chriſt the Savr & they are [illegible][guess: very Deſirous] lookg for him & Greatly deſire to
find him & his Religion. we are Alſo Informd that there
are ſome of ye Suſquehanna Indians who are diſpoſd to [illegible][illegible][guess: live]
[illegible] to the Goſpel. May God open a Great door & Effectual to let in the
knowledge of his ſon Jeſus Chriſt into ye hearts of the Poor [illegible][guess: bereft]
[illegible][guess: Savages]. & oh that our abuſe of the Goſpel May not pro‐
voke him to lure us to a Dull formality nor to a depar
ture from [illegible] the doctrines of Grace or the Main Principals of
Calviniſm for [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] that in Proportion to
ſuch a departure we ſink, & are gone. I [illegible][guess: Joyn] My Earneſt prayers
that God May Return to you [illegible] [illegible][guess: deepg] Religion in the
Congregations of the [illegible][guess: Deſenters] Multiply the [illegible][guess: Seed Sown] & Increaſe
all [illegible][guess: hints] of Righteouſneſs among you.
our hearts [illegible] Since I began ye [illegible][guess: writg of yſ] have Made [illegible][guess: Sad] by ye News brot by the Packet
boat laſt week to N York that ye Great Mr Pitt has Reſignd his offices
New England, & America will be filld with Trembling on this
Important Event fearg the French will Agn Gain the Poſseſsn
of yt Country & be in A Capacity to be the Scourge & Plague
of the Brittiſh Settle ments here. May that divinely wiſe &
all Powerful being who Rules the world Guide, & direct the
King, & Govt & Preſerve the Nation from Agn beg agn the
dupes of French Craft, & Perfidy, & [illegible][guess: looſing] the blood, & Treaſure
Spent to humble yt [illegible][illegible][guess: Haughty] & Ambitious Nation o May we not
Throw away what God has given us you Cant Conceive the
diſtreſs yt Such [illegible] would bring upon Poor N England.
but if God ſhd So order it we muſt Say the Lord is Right[gap: tear][guess: e]
ous our Sins & Ingratitude deſerve it. ‡
[left]‡ if after all our Raiſd hopes G pleaſes to [illegible][guess: let us] ſink agn under ye dark Proſpects of [illegible] of trouble like ye former [illegible] [illegible][guess: diſmal]
I beg yr Prayers yt G[illegible] wd to [illegible] our Poſterity wth him & be content yt he ſhd [illegible] as he [gap: hole] & [illegible][guess: taken in] to him [illegible][guess: ſelf] [illegible][guess: from]
ye [illegible] to Come
you will Never
Ceaſe yr Prayers to the God of our Saln [illegible] to be with & with [illegible][guess: yours]
if after all our Raiſd hopes God lets us Sink Agn under ye Dark
Proſpects of [illegible]g [illegible] ye [illegible][guess: former] may God help us
to [illegible][guess: Leave] our [illegible] with him & take us to himſelf [illegible][guess: before]
[illegible] [illegible] the divine Spt [illegible] [illegible][guess: me to] [illegible] together with you in My Prayers
yt we may be Dayly [illegible] [illegible][guess: more & more] to Go to Jeſus & ye Spirit of ye Fleſh
made ⅌fect & meet together in the Joy & Peace of heaven. My
wife & childn Joyn in Moſt Reſpectful Salutations to you &
dear Mrſ wood, & your dear dr & her Revd Conſort whoſe Name
you dont mention.


Revd Hond dear Sr I am Your Moſt Affecte Friend Br &
humble Servt

Solon W.ms.

der 12 1761
Copy of My Lr to Dr Wood
of Norwich in Anſwer to his
of Feb: 16 laſt.

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).

Wood, Samuel
Smith, Elizabeth (née Scott)
Smith, William Sr.

William Smith (Sr.) was a famous New York lawyer and philanthropist who played an important role in establishing the College of New Jersey (which he served as a trustee) and King’s College (a project he abandoned once it became clear that the institution would be dominated by Episcopalians). He provided Eleazar Wheelock with some legal advice in the late 1750s and early 1760s, and his son, William Smith (Jr.), was a major proponent of Wheelock’s relocating the school to Albany, NY. William Smith immigrated from England to America in 1715 and earned his AM from Yale in 1722 (AB 1719). Despite potential as a minister and academic—he served as a tutor at Yale and was even offered the presidency of the college in 1724—Smith instead turned to the law and became one of the most eminent legal minds in New York and the mid-Atlantic. He was also very involved in New York City politics: he was an active participant in the Presbyterian faction and held several formal offices. He was Attorney General of New York in 1751 and a member of the Governor’s Council from 1753 until 1767. In 1763 he was made a judge. Several of William Smith’s political and legal activities affected Samson Occom’s life and career. First, he assisted Wheelock in legal problems surrounding the Joshua Moor estate (left to Wheelock by Moor, the school’s original benefactor) in the late 1750s. Second, he wrote a letter of recommendation for Occom prior to his aborted 1761 mission to the Oneidas. On less positive notes, William Smith was the counsel for Connecticut in the Mason Land Case, the 70-year legal battle that dispossessed the Mohegan tribe of much of its territory and which Occom vigorously opposed. More generally, he seems to have had a low opinion of Occom.

Frederick, George William

George William Frederick (King George III) became heir to the throne of England in 1751 upon the death of his father Frederick, Prince of Wales. He became King George III of England in the fall of 1760 at age 22, following the death of his grandfather King George II. George III passed many important edicts during his reign including that of the Royal Marriage Act of 1772; the Treaty of Paris in 1762, which ended the Seven Years War; the Stamp Act of 1765; and the Townshend Duties of 1767. However, he is most well-known for being the reigning monarch during the Revolutionary War. After the surrender of British forces to the Americans in 1782, George III considered abdicating the throne, but chose not to do so because he felt it would be too detrimental to Britain. The last 30 years of George's life were plagued with illness. In 1788 he had the first of many attacks of insanity, now believed to have been caused by an inherited disease known as porphyria. With George III unfit to rule, it was decided that his son George would become regent, an arrangement which was made permanent in 1810. King George III died on January 29, 1820 at the age of 81 after a reign of nearly 60 years (the third longest in British history). He was succeeded by his son George IV.

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
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.

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.

Williams, Mary (née Porter)
Newton, Samuel
Newton, Mary (née Wood)
Occom's First Mission to the Oneidas
HomeSolomon Williams, letter, to Rev. Samuel Wood, 1761 November 12
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