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David Fowler, confession, 1764 November 20

ms-number: 764620

abstract: Fowler confesses to leaving school without permission.

handwriting: Handwriting is Wheelock's; it is informal yet largely clear and legible.

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

ink: Black-brown.

signature: Although the confession is not in Fowler's hand, it appears to be signed by Fowler.


I David Fowler acknowledge, that while M.r Wheelock was
abroad on a Journey, I being in a bad State of Health and not
able to purſue My Studies, and underſtanding that my aged
Father was much in Debt and reduced to great Diffecully ther
‐by which moved My Compaſsion towards him, and made me
earneſtly Deſire to contribute to his Relief which I ſupposed
I was able to do tho’ My Indiſposition was ſuch as would
not allow me to proſecute my Studies. I went away with
out M.r Wheelocks Leave, and continued abſent till yeſterdy
In doing which I acknowledge I acted Disorderly, and gave
a bad Example to others which if they ſhould follow muſt
Terminate in the Diſgrace and ruin of this School, and
reſtrain charitably Diſposed Perſons from further Expreſsions
of their Charity towards it, or Endeavours to promote it.
I did not doubt but my Reaſons were such as M.r Wheelock
would have thought Sufficient if I had Submitted them to his
Judgment and Determination. and I acknowledge that in
my neglecting to do it as I did I have treated M.r Wheelock
unworthily. I aſk his Forgiveneſs and also forgiveneſs of
M.r Lathrop my School Maſter. and pray I may be continued
a Member of this School, and promiſe by divine grace I
will walk orderly, and Shew proper Reſpect to the Authority
of the School for Time to come. And I earneſtly Deſire
that my late conduct may not encourage Others to do the like.
and I do now declare it is my Settled Determination to
keep the great End of My being Continued in School in view
viz. the Spreading the Gospel among the Pagans, and to be
governed in that Affair by Such Chriſtian Rules and by Orders
of Such as Providence Shall give Shall provide, agreable
to the Word of God.

as Wittneſs My Hand.
David Fowler
Dated. Nov.r 20. 1764
David Fowlers
Confeſsion
Nov.r 20. 1764.
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.

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.

Fowler, James

James Fowler was a notable Montaukett and the father of Mary Fowler Occom, David Fowler, and Jacob Fowler. He married Elizabeth (Betty) Pharaoh, a member of the prominent Pharaoh/Faro family (the current sachem of the Montaukett tribe, as of 2013, is a Pharaoh). When Occom arrived at Montauk in 1749, he took a special interest in the Fowler family and began courting Mary. They married in 1751, and, through Occom’s influence, the Fowler family became quite Christian. David and Jacob Fowler both attended Moor’s Indian Charity School and played important roles in the founding of Brothertown. James’ health deteriorated in the 1760s and 1770s. He died around 1774.

Lathrop, John

John Lathrop was mentored by Eleazar Wheelock and taught at Moor's Indian Charity School for several years after his graduation from Princeton. In 1765, he became minister of the Old North Church (Second Church) in Boston. He first wife was Mary Wheatley, who first taught the slave poet Phyllis Wheatley to read and write. John's cousins Daniel and Joshua Lathrop had business dealings with Wheelock and the Charity School.

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