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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Dr. Andrew Gifford, 1763 October 31

ms-number: 763581

abstract: Wheelock writes to Dr. Gifford thanking him for his support at a time when hostilities with the Indians have stopped donations and interfered with missionary work. Wheelock asks Gifford to befriend General Lyman in England to advance the interests of the School.

handwriting: Handwriting is small and informal, with several additions and deletions.

paper: Single large sheet is in good condition, with light creasing, staining and wear.

ink: Brown-black.

noteworthy: The additions and deletions, along with the lack of a seal, indicate that this is likely a draft. On one verso, in the left margin, a note reading "Ind. Mis." has been added in a different, likely 19th-century, hand. This note has not been transcribed.

events: Occom's Third Mission to the Oneidas

Rev.d and Hond Sir.
Three Days ago my Heart was refreſhed by the
Rec.t of Yours of July 6th which came at a Time when I needed
Such a refreſhing cordial, having received repeated and Shocking
accots of the Rage and Hoſtilities of the Savages againſt our Southern
Governments, and that our people were put into Such a Flame thereby,
that inſtead of Charity & chriſtian Compaſsion to their periſhing Souls,
but little, beſides Threatenings of Slaughter & Deſtruction Seem’d to be breathed
forth from every Quarter, and as an Evidence that this was the common
Temper of this Government at preſent I was told that a Contribution
had been was moved for in conſequence of a Breif granted by the Governour
and Company in favour of this School, in a Large Aſsembly in the
Town of Windſor on Connecticut River, and that nothing was
obtained by it but a Bullet & Flynt, and that some other congrega­
tions where the Contribution had been aſked for, had done but
little better, and that conſequently I might expect but little Aſsiſtance
from that Quarter, at preſent. at this very Juncture even while my
Informers were preſent, came yours filld with the Spirit of Love &
containing Such acco.t of the Liberality already Shewn and a Diſpoſi­
­tion to further Expreſsions of it, as there Shall be occaſsion, as that
it Seemd as tho’ Omnicient Goodneſs had directed your pen in writing and
ordered the very minute of your of illegible yr Letter’s arrival^ to forbid an unquiet or Anxious
Tho’t for the Support of this Deſign.
The Lord mercifully reward you, dear Sir, and whoever has
had a Hand with you in procuring the Donation to this School,
which you give me Leave to Expect by the next Ship. It will be very
acceptable indeed, as was the Box of Books Sent by M.r Forfitt from
the Society for Propagating Religious Knowledge among the poor.
I read your Letter in the hearing of My Indian Boys, and Joseph
a Delaware, one of the Number, whom I hope were conver­
ted laſt Winter, replyed, full of Affection. “O I Wish I knew how
to expreſs my Gratitude to those Good Gentlemen, for Such Expreſsi­
ons of their Kindneſs.” And I truſt the Blesſsing of many who have
never yet known the Plague of their own Hearts, yea of many Yet un­
born will come upon You. You may depend upon my beſt Endeavours
to improve these and any Favours which you or others Shall See fit
to conferr upon this School, in the beſt manner I am able for the
Furtherance of the Great Deſign in view.
I hope his Majeſty, our dear Sovereign, will be divinely direc­
ted into Such Meaſures as will fully diſclose the true Source & Origin
of the preſent Rupture. And when that is Shall be done I am perſwaded, the
heavieſt Share in the Guilt will be found with Such unrighteous [illegible][guess: Deal­]
ers with the Indians, as have no Regard, but to getsecure to themſelves
large Eſtates, and that by any fraudulent, and oppreſsive Meaſures which
Apear likely the ſooneſt to accompliſh that End, tho’ it bear the Expense
of the public Peace and the Ruin of the poor Creatures.
I think believe when the true Cauſes of this great Evil, are ſhall be thoroughly Searched
out, it will not appear that the Savages have acted So very wide from
Such Principles, nor ſo much beyond the natural Influence of Such motives, as
[left]Lett.r to D.r A. Gifford
Oct.r 31. 1763.

They may be Reaſsonably Supposed to be govern’d by under their
groſs Ignorance, and the Influence of Jesuitical Inſinuations, as
they are now ſupposed to do. and then I truſt the Reſentments
of many which are now ſo keen againſt them, will at
leaſt have a Mixture of compaſsion towards them as con­
ſidering them to have given this Deſparate Struggle only to
deliver themſelves from that Ruin and Slavery which they
imagine is deſignd againſt them.
I hope Something effectual will be done in this matter to prevent
Such floods of Evil from that Quarter in Time to come.
Dear M.r Smith (of Whoſe Ordination and Miſsion you have
likely heard) was cheirfully joyfully gladly received by 5 of the 6.
(the other being confederate with the Enemy) but they
look’d upon tho’t his Life So exposed by reaſon of Stragling Fellows
among them from diſtant Tribes, that they could not deſire him
to continue with them at preſent. he left them ſoon, after preach­
­ing a few Sermons, as did also Meſsrs Occom and Aſhpo , but
deſign if it Shall be judged Safe to return to them in the Spring.
This Rupture has prevented Such an Addition to my Number
this Fall as I hoped for, by the Aſsiſtances of those Miſsionaries
I hope the Lord will open the Door for it in the Spring.
My School is yet in good Circumſtances, the youth behave
well, excepting Jacob. the young man who has been at New-
Jerſey College
(and would doubtleſs have had his Degree
there laſt month if my Letters had not been delayed)
He has of late appeared to be under Such Temptations, as ariſes,
or have their principal Strength from Diſcouragements.
It is a point Settled with him, that without a Saving Change
he Shall never be fit for public uſefulneſs. And as to Such a
Change he Says, “There is no hope” and Seems Sometimes
to be open to all manner of Temptations, always uneaſie,
and Sometimes Seems appears to be juſt upon the point to give him­
ſelf over to Senſual Gratifications. I hant time fully to
diſcribe his caſe. this Hint is Sufficient to give you an
underſtanding of it.
I beſpeak your Earneſt Prayers for him, He once appeard
to have a very Tender Conſcience, and Seemd for Some Time
to be in the Exercisſe of truly gracious Affections. He is a
good Scholar, and likely to be an Inſtrument of great Good
if God Should pleaſe mercifully to deliver him from these
Pleaſe Sir, if you have Opportunity, to make Gen.l Lyman
of this Government who is now in England, a Sharer in Your
Friendſship and Reſpect. I wiſh his merit may meet a
proper Reward. And I truſt You will not be wanting in
your Endeavours, as you have opportunity to forward
his Intreſt, and also the Intereſts of this School, which
he is concerned for. Revd Hon.d & Dear. ſir I am with SincereMuch Affection and
Eſteem. Rev d Hon.d, and Dear Sir.
Your unworthy Brother,
and Fellow Servant in the Lords House
Eleazar Wheelock
Rev.d Doct.r Gifford.
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.

Gifford, Andrew

Andrew Gifford was the leading Baptist minister in England in the 18th century. He was born in Bristol, the son of Emmanuel Gifford (1673–1723), a Baptist minister, and his wife, Eleanor Lancaster (1662–1738); and grandson of Andrew Gifford, also a Bristol Baptist minister. He served as a Baptist minister in Nottingham (1725–1726) and Bristol (1727-1729). In January 1730, Gifford became Baptist minister at Little Wild Street, London, but was ostracized because of charges of sodomy that were never proven, and in 1736, he formed a new congregation in Eagle Street, where he remained as pastor for the rest of his life. Also a noted coin collector, he was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and was appointed assistant librarian in the British Museum in 1757. With the fortune of his second wife, Gifford encouraged an educated Baptist ministry through his support of Bristol Baptist College. His unusual combination of Calvinist theology with evangelical passion made him a partisan of George Whitefield, whose "Eighteen Sermons" (1771) Gifford edited; it was a volume that sold widely in England and America. He also supported Wheelock's missionary efforts; in his "Narrative" for June 1764, Wheelock records that Gifford sent the school “a neat Pair of Globes, and a valuable Collection of Books," and appeals to him for help in advancing the School's interests in London. Gifford was one of several prominent clergymen who befriended Occom and Whitaker on their fundraising tour in England. Occom records hearing Gifford preach, preaching at his church, and dining and lodging at his house. A measure of Occom's affection for Gifford is that he and Mary Occom named their youngest son Andrew Gifford (b 1774 in Mohegan).

Fitch, Thomas
Woolley, Joseph

Joseph Woolley was a Delaware who died of consumption while keeping school at Onaquaga. He came to Wheelock in 1757 as a replacement for John Pumshire, and although Wheelock labeled him as "fit for college" in late 1761, he never attended. In the fall of 1764, Joseph went to the Six Nations with Kirkland to learn the Mohawk language and keep school, and in March 1765, he was officially approved as a schoolmaster and returned to Onaquaga to teach. He was very popular there, but died unexpectedly in late November 1765. Joseph was engaged to Hannah Garrett, who later married David Fowler, but a letter from David (765302.2) suggests that Joseph may also have pursued Amy (David's object of interest before Hannah).

Forfitt, Benjamin
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.

Smith, Charles Jeffery

Charles Jeffery Smith was an independently funded Presbyterian missionary and itinerant preacher. After his father's early death, Smith inherited a large private income. Instead of enjoying a life of leisure, he chose to complete his education at Yale and then become a missionary. After graduating, he taught at Moor's Indian Charity School, gratis, for a few months in 1763. His first mission, and his only mission among Indians, was a 1763 endeavor to the Six Nations, accompanied by then-student Joseph Brant as an interpreter. However, Pontiac's War forced them to return. Although Smith continued his missionary career, he focused on slaves in the Mid/South-Atlantic region and English-colonist congregations. Smith held several important roles in Wheelock's Grand Design. He was Wheelock's heir-once-removed (after Whitaker) in Wheelock's 1767 will, and was proposed as Occom's companion on the 1765 fundraising tour. Wheelock consulted Smith about the location of what was to be Dartmouth College (Smith proposed Virginia or South Carolina), and solicited him as an envoy to the Six Nations in 1768; when Smith refused, the job fell to Ralph Wheelock, who severely alienated the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and Sir William Johnson. Smith's residence was in Virginia at the time of his death, but he actually died in Long Island while visiting his family, from a gunshot wound sustained while hunting. It is unclear whether this was murder, an accidental shot, or suicide.

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.

Ashpo, Samuel

Ashpo was born into a very powerful Mohegan family, considered equal to the Uncas line, and became an influential Mohegan preacher. He was converted at Mohegan during the Great Awakening, and became a schoolteacher among the Indians at Mushantuxet from 1753 until 1757 and from 1759 until 1762, when he left to attend Moor's. Between 1757 and 1759, he worked as an interpreter, and supposedly struggled with alcohol. He attended Moor's for only six months, and then continued his teaching and missionary career on successive trips to Chenango (the first was cut short because of violence in the region). On July 1, 1767, the Connecticut Board dismissed him from their service because of further charges of drinking. He continued to preach successfully to various New England Indian tribes until his death in 1795. The variations of his name exist in part because Ashpo is an abbreviated form of Ashobapow.

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.

Lyman, Phineas

General Phineas Lyman was a longtime friend of Eleazar Wheelock’s and a supporter of his school. He was born in Durham, CT in 1715 and studied law at Yale. After graduating in 1738, Lyman became a tutor then successful lawyer, and he managed a law school in Suffield, MA. When Suffield was incorporated into Connecticut, Lyman became involved with the Connecticut General Assembly. He served in the French and Indian War, commanding 5,000 Connecticut troops, and was integral in the battle of Lake George in 1755 although General Johnson was credited with the victory. After the war, General Lyman went to England in search of acknowledgment for his war endeavors, and to secure land on the Mississippi or Ohio River for himself and fellow officers. Lyman assured Wheelock he would endeavor to incorporate his school into the territory. However, in April of 1769, Lord Dartmouth wrote to Wheelock indicating that General Lyman had excluded the school from his plea; Sir William Johnson had denounced Wheelock for supposedly deterring Indians from ceding their property. In 1774, after 11 years of negotiations, General Lyman finally obtained the grant for the Mississippi and Yazoo lands; nonetheless, Wheelock had already established his school in New Hampshire. In 1775, General Lyman died en route to the newly acquired territory in West Florida.

Occom's Third Mission to the Oneidas
HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to Dr. Andrew Gifford, 1763 October 31
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