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Robert Clelland, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1763 December8

ms-number: 763658

abstract: Clelland opines that the Connecticut government will look bad by not supporting the school. He writes that Ashpo is still in debt, and that Occom is looking to lease a farm in Mohegan.

handwriting: Formal handwriting is tidy and mostly clear and legible. Letter case is occasionally difficult to discern.

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

ink: Brown-black.

noteworthy: On one recto, there are notes regarding debts owed for various expenditures.



Revd & Dear Sir
I long to see you, my heart is often with you, I hope
your faith & Courage conteanues, I pray it may to the last. The
providence of the almighty is past our Search, who can by their
most narrow Scrutiny find him and his ways out; when you obtain'd
the Brief I thought God had spared your valuable life to see
in a great measure the fruit of your undefatigable labour,
But contrary to the expectations of many, this affair has on —
many accotts done you much hurt,:. This Goverment in which
yr School Subsists, and is open to the view and inquiry of
every one that will visitt you, has cast a bad example to —
Neighbouring Govorments, Tell it not in Gath &c That Conneticute
who has been Bleſsed with wiſe Judicuious Rulers & is so at this
day, should in general make amock & redicule at parting
with alittle of their worldly Substance to spread the Gospell —
among the Heathen. and counteract their prayers, The excuſe
made in their defence will mitigate agst them, )as not relevant
I am Glad to hear yr faith staggers not, God )+ be with you
Sarah Wyacks wants me to keep her child Mally
some time; till she be old enough for you to take, I have —
little houſe-room and but 3 beds, and has a Son & white girle
that uſes / with my wife and I / all of them, I with diffeculty win:
:tered a Daughr 2 years agoe, but can't I believe doe it now
There is near 50ſ I pd and past my word for to forward
Aſpow on his miſsion at yr request, mr prince calls on me
for money, as he paid the Labourers in goods at my desire and
writen order, if you could send it, you would oblidge me, Aſpow
is not come home from hunting, & should he bring any —
skins, he owes more than he will soon pay, I wish he
were out of Debt — mr Occum was here last week
upon leaſing a farm in Mohegan, he told me they did nothing
and that he was affraid they would have a Difference with yr
[left]their overſeers, I adviſed him to peace, ߞ my wife joins me in my
best wishes to Madam [illegible] & [illegible] & Self and pleaſant
Children, may the Bleſsing of him that dwelt in the Bush while it
burnt & was not consumed rest on you & yr offspring I am
Revd & Dr Sir yours without reserve Robert Clelland
Dr for Samll Aſpow to persons
following for work done [illegible]
To Samll Uncas 9/ To Joseph Shand [illegible] 18/-£1..7..—
To John Uncas 3/ & moſes Moſes Mazeen 7 — —..10..—
To Robert Aſpow 3/6 ————— — — — ..3 6
To [illegible][guess: 17 1/2] pound Pork to victual them @ 6- — — — 8.. 9
To freeing his cow from pound when gone ————— — — 8
__________
2: 9..11
[left]Robert Clelland
[left]Dec.r 8.th 1763.
Toߞ
The Revd
Mr Eleazer Wheelock
Lebanon
Clelland, Robert

Robert Clelland was the Scottish schoolmaster at Mohegan who became a contentious figure. He began as schoolmaster in 1752, supported by the Boston commissioners of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Clelland resided in an apartment that was either adjacent or close to the school, and although he had a limited income, the Colony provided him with bread daily. Clelland had a close relationship with Reverend David Jewett, the white minister at Mohegan who oversaw the school and often lectured there; both Clelland and Jewett supported Connecticut in the Mason Case. However, Clelland conflicted with many other leaders in Mohegan. He repeatedly wrote to Eleazar Wheelock complaining about Ben Uncas III and his drunkenness, even though the sachem did not oppose the colony in the Mason Case and Clelland typically supported him. Clelland also developed a hostile relationship with Samson Occom; notably they held opposing positions during the Mason Case. Occom brought concerns regarding Clelland to the commissioners’ attention. He claimed the schoolteacher preferred the paying English students to the point that their presence was displacing Mohegan pupils, and criticized other ways in which Clelland ran the school. On September 19, 1764, the commissioners voted to release Clelland of his duties as schoolmaster. Notwithstanding, he remained until he was dismissed again on July 5, 1765. Occom’s involvement with Clelland’s dismissal further disrupted what was already a contentious relationship between him and Jewett. Clelland appears to have remained in Mohegan even after his dismissal.

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.

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.

Wyacks, Sarah
Mazeen, Moses
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.

Uncas, Samuel
Shand, Joseph
Uncas, John
Ashpo, Robert

Robert Ashpo was the brother of Samuel Ashpo, the influential Mohegan preacher. They were born into a powerful Mohegan family, considered equal to the Uncas line, and Robert became a tribal leader. We have no specific evidence of his education or conversion. But he was one of the signers of at least three important petitions that were submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly. The first, entitled "Appeal of the Mohegan Indians agst the Colony of Connecticut & Others" is dated July 23, 1746; Ashpo was one of over 80 signatories. The second was written by Occom in 1785 on behalf of five other signatories: Henry Quaquaquid and Robert Ashpo of the Mohegan Tribe and Phillip Cuish, Joseph Uppuiquiyantup, Isaac Uppuiquiyantup of the Niantics, expressing their dismay over restrictive fishing prohibitions (manuscript 785340). The third from May 14, 1789 is signed by Ashpo and Henry Quaquaquid, and using the metaphor of the "dish," complains bitterly about the loss of Mohegan territory and asks the Assembly to divide the "common dish" of the Tribe into individual dishes so each may do "as he pleases." These petitions invoke Tribal sovereignty, show collaboration between tribal leaders, and also employ the rhetoric of "improvement" to save their lands. Occom and Joseph Johnson record Ashpo's speaking and leadership at several meetings at Mohegan and elsewhere in the 1770s and 1780s. Ashpo did not move to Brothertown and remained in Mohegan.

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