Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Minutes of the meeting of the Board of Correspondents, 1765 May 10

ms-number: 765310.1

abstract: The Board votes to send C.J. Smith to Europe to collect funds, to ask General Gage for help, to increase Occom’s pension to relieve his poverty, and to employ him as a missionary to the Six Nations if he doesn’t go to Europe.

handwriting: Unknown hand, possibly that of Nathaniel Whitaker, is formal and clear.

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

ink: Black-brown.

events: Building of Occom's house, Fundraising tour of Great Britain, Occom returns to Mohegan


At a meeting of the Board of Correſpondents in the Colony
of Connecticut on the 10.th Day of may 1765 at the Houſe of
John Ledyard Eſq.r in Hartford
Voted, That the Clerk, in the name of this board, make
application to the Rev.d Charles Jeffry Smith to go to Europe
to Solicit Charities for the Support of miſſionaries & the
School under the Care of the Rev.d mr Wheelock of Lebanon.
Voted, That the Secretary, in the name of this board, adderſs
General Gage for his countenance & Such favours as he Shall
be pleaſed to grant to the miſſionaries & Schoolmaſters that are
going among the Six nations next Summer.
Voted, That the Preſident & Secretary with the Revd mr
Pomroy make out Commiſſions for the miſſionaries, who &
recommendations for the Schoolmaſters who are gone & going
to the Six Nations this Seaſon.
The Revd mr Sampſon Occom put in a memorial to this
Board, repreſenting his preſent preſſing Circumſtances ariſing
from the Smallneſs of his former allowance; the greatneſs of his
family; the extraordinary & neceſſary expenses illegible
illegible in moving his family from Long Iſland to Mohegan, in which
paſſage he loſt by diſtreſs of weather a conſiderable part of what
he had; altho Some chrisſtian friends at Rhode Iſland were generous to
him in this diſtreſs; by his building a houſe to live in for him & his
family to live in, & by extraordinary Company; by all which he is con­
ſiderably involved in debt whereby he is reduced to great Straights, &
impeded in his miniſterial buſineſs & uſefulneſs. This Board tak­
ing theſe things into conſideration determine, in caſe S.d mr Occom shall
not go to England with mr Whitefield or Some man appointed by us
for that purpoſe, that he be imployed as a miſſionary among the
Six nations the next Summer, & that he have a reaſonable allow­
ance from this Board for that Service, & that we will uſe our endea­
vours that his debts be diſcharged as Soon as charities can be obtained.
[right]May 10th 1765
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.

Ledyard, John
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.

Pomeroy, Benjamin

Benjamin Pomeroy was a school friend of Eleazar Wheelock and a lifelong supporter of his cause. Like Wheelock, he was a New Light evangelical and a staunch ally of James Davenport, a radical New Light preacher whose beliefs got him in trouble with the law. After graduating from Yale in 1733, Pomeroy received the ministry at Hebron, CT, in 1734, and assisted Wheelock in myriad ways until his own death in 1784. He kept Wheelock's school during 1746, when Wheelock's first wife, Sarah, was dying, and he tutored Occom (primarily in Hebrew) after Occom had completed his studies with Wheelock. Pomeroy also supported Wheelock as a trustee of Moor's, and, later, Dartmouth, and as a member of the Board of the Correspondents in Connecticut for the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Pomeroy and Wheelock also had close family connections: Pomeroy was married to Wheelock’s sister, Abigail, and one of Pomeroy’s daughters, Hannah, married David McClure, one of Wheelock's most illustrious graduates. Outside of his liturgical career, Pomeroy served as an army chaplain in the French and Indian War and the Revolution.

Gage, Thomas

General Thomas Gage is best known for leading British troops during the early years of the American Revolution, but he also played a major role in shaping colonial North America prior to American independence. Gage was born to a father of the same name, the first Viscount Gage, and his wife, Benedicta Maria Theresa Hall, in 1719/1720, in Gloucestershire, England. Viscount Gage was born Catholic, but he and his wife converted to the Anglican Church prior to the birth of Thomas. At age eight, Gage was sent to Westminster School, where he stayed until 1736, and in 1741 he entered the British military by purchasing a lieutenancy. After the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War, Gage was sent to North America under the command of Major-General Edward Braddock, where he was involved in several disastrous battles, including the British defeat in the 1758 Battle of Ticonderoga. In 1763, after the outbreak of Pontiac’s War, Gage took over as commander-in-chief for all of North America when Jeffrey Amherst, his predecessor, was recalled because of his abusive treatment of Native Americans. In this capacity, Gage began regulating settlers’ relations with Native tribes, especially the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) confederacy, and regularly corresponded with the superintendents, including Sir William Johnson. In 1764 and 1765, several of Wheelock’s correspondences indicate that missionaries needed to obtain permission from General Gage before proceeding into Indian country. Gage was also concerned with growing discontent among British colonists in the east, and increased the presence of British troops in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. Following the Boston Tea Party in 1773, he was instrumental in shaping British policy toward the colonists, including closing the port of Boston and allowing British soldiers to quarter in the homes of colonists. From 1774 to 1775, Gage served as the military governor of Massachusetts, where he was responsible for sending British troops to Lexington and Concord and for the costly British victory at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Shortly thereafter, Gage was replaced by General Sir William Howe, and returned to England where he was eventually commissioned as a full general in 1782, and died on April 2, 1787 in London.

Whitefield, George

George Whitefield, the English itinerant preacher who helped spark the Great Awakening, was an essential supporter of Eleazar Wheelock’s project. Whitefield studied at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he met the pioneers of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley. He was ordained in 1736, and he made the first of his seven trips to America two years later. While abroad in 1740, Whitefield founded an orphanage in Georgia, and went on a preaching tour during which he met Wheelock and spread ideals that prompted the Great Awakening. Although Whitefield was ordained in the Church of England, his enthusiastic preaching style and charismatic personality made him a controversial figure, and traditional clergyman on both sides of the Atlantic censured him. Nonetheless, he continued to be an important contact and friend of Wheelock’s, and his dedication to Wheelock’s vision was evident. He contributed money to the cause, secured various other funders, and donated an eighty-pound prayer bell to the school. More importantly, Whitefield not only suggested to Wheelock the idea of a fundraising tour in Great Britain, he hosted Occom and Whitaker shortly after they arrived in England, provided a house for them to reside in for the remainder of their tour, and introduced the pair to influential figures such as William Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth. Whitefield tabernacle’s was the setting of Occom’s first sermon in England on February 16, 1766, and many believe that Whitefield wrote the introduction to a pamphlet printed in London during the campaign (although he was not credited). Whitefield continued to be involved in Wheelock’s work until he died in Newburyport, MA in September of 1770.

Building of Occom's house
Fundraising tour of Great Britain
Occom returns to Mohegan
HomeMinutes of the meeting of the Board of Correspondents, 1765 May 10
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only