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David Jewett, letter, to Andrew Oliver, 1765 June 27

ms-number: 765376.2

abstract: Jewett writes that his dispute with Occom has been resolved. He excerpts a letter from Occom.

handwriting: Informal handwriting is small and occasionally difficult to decipher, yet mostly clear and legible.

paper: Single sheet is in fair condition, with moderate staining, creasing and wear that leads to minor dimming of text.

noteworthy: Given that both the Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge and the Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America (NEC) are involved in the Jewett Controversy, it is uncertain to which organization Jewett refers when he mentions the "Hon.ble Com̅iſs.rs" and "the Commiſsioners" (one recto, lines 23 and 25-26, respectively), and so these references have been left untagged. However, they are likely the NEC. As is marked, this document is a copy.

events: Jewett Controversy


To the Hon.ble And.w Oliver Esq.r,
Sir,
I'm blam'd, extreemly blam'd, for Writting to you
againſt M.r Occom; And I blame myſelf for Saying anything y.t was
needleſs for me to say about him. I tho't, and do ſtill think, that
it was my proper Buſineſs to inform you what part he Acted in the
Differences, & Dificulties which have ariſen at Mohegan, reſpecting
both the School; & Lectures; nor am I conſcious of knowingly mis‐
repreſenting any thing to you in his Conduct; tho' I've reaſon to
ſuſpect myſelf in what is Matter of Judgement upon it; as I cant
clear myſelf of having been prejudiced againſt him: And therefore
hope that Nothing will be layd up againſt him meerly from my Opinion
of him. Beſides, Sir, I muſt in faithfulneſs relate what has
occurd ſince I wrote to you. At a meeting of the Correspondents, in
Lebanon last March, many things which had been publickly reported
of M.r Occom were diſcoursed of by the Gent.n of that Board; and ſome things
which they apprehended he was to blame in were pointed out to him.
He ſubmitted to their Judgm.t, and promiſed a ſtrict regard to their Counſel.
More particularly, those things which had been grievous to me in his Con‐
duct at Mohegan, were debated before them. He Acknowledged his Mis‐
conduct in the Manner of rejecting their School Master; declared his In‐
nocency as to any Intention of promoting the Separation at Mohegan;
or elſwhere; That it was his deſire, and ſhould be his endeavour to pro‐
mote my Uſefulneſs among the Indians; That he never underſtood the
Pleaſure of the Hon.ble Com̅iſs.rs to be otherwiſe than that he ſhould Settle
his family upon his own Lands at Mohegan; Nor was it with any
vew of making Overtures [illegible] contrary the appointment of the Com‐
miſsioners, that he came there. And as to his Saying "that he would
turn Church-man and be above y.e Miniſters around, or the like, as
was reported, he declard it was ſpoke only in Jest, & in a way of
Banter ariſing from the preſent Diſensſions: had two who were pre‐
sent w.n he ſpoke it, teſtified that they underſtood him in no other Light
Upon the whole M.r Occom, & I renewed our Friendſhip, and in the
Preſence of the Board, burnt the Papers of Controversy. As I had layd
before you what dash'd my Hopes concerning him, I purpoſed to offer
you what had now revivd 'em; and promiſed to write you aſsoon
as I could. I Accordingly wrote the next Week, and went to [illegible][illegible]
Norwich in hopes of Conveyance, but was disappointed. I had no
other Intention but to imbrace y.e first Opportunity to send it; but
before any preſented, (being loth to send by ye Post) I took notice
that M.r Occom ſtill forſook my Lectures, which I promiſed myſelf he
would Attend, for as I said, I had his promiſe "That to his best
Diſcretion, he would endeavour to promote my Services [illegible] among
the Indians: and I had inſstanc'd [illegible] that to him as a Proof I ſhould
look for; and w.t I was ready to think, would have the happiest In‐
fluence. This hath occaſioned the long delay; nor has he once
attended my Lectures ſince, 'till To Day, when I rec.d the follg Letter.
Mohegan June 26 1765.
Rev.d Sir,
You are very ſenſable of the difficult Cituation of
our Indians , Old Prejudices are not dead, but rather revive of
late, and new bias have ſprung up, And it is very difficult to deal [below]with them.

with them. There needs a great deal of Chriſtian Polacy (If I may
so expreſs myself) And this is one Reaſon why I have not as yet
attended Your Lecture; And indeed I ſhould before now, if you
did not delay Writting to the Hon.ble Com̅iſs.rs of Boston. And it is
my purpoſe to attend your Lecture, as Buſineſs, & Peregrinations will
permit. And will by degrees, endeavour to conciliate the Indians;
only let me not be drove, & Urgd to it to hard, And I ſhall not
be wanting in your Service — only let me be Aſsured of a Friend,
if not, I must defend myself as I can. This is from
Y.r ſincere & very humble Sert

Samſon Occom
To the Rev.d David Jewett.
PS. You may Com̅unicate w.t you please
of this to the Hon.ble Com̅iſs.rs of Boston
I ſhall add but this, That I hope his future Conduct
will Witneſs for him to your Hon.ble Board, to this Gov.t, and to
the World. Pray forgive my tediouſneſs, and ſtill give me leave
as Occaſion ſhall call for, to ſpread my Complaints before you.
I'm not only heartily wearied, but almost diſtracted, with Con‐
tentions; But when I am myself,

I'm
 With dutifull Reſpect to ye Hon.ble Board
 y.r ready Serv.t

David Jewett

[right]Mr Jewet's Letter to the
Honble Andrew Oliver Eſqr
June 26th 1765

about occom
[bottom]A Copy.

Jewett, David

David Jewett was a white minster at Mohegan who developed a hostile relationship with Samson Occom. He become the pastor of the North Church in New London, CT (now Montville) in 1739. Jewett initially served as the clergyman for the English congregation, and attempts to merge the white church with the local Indians were unsuccessful. In 1742, when plans to establish a pastor for the Indians also proved to be futile, Jewett became the minister for them as well, supported by the Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America (New England Company). Indians received religious materials, and many, including Sarah Occom, Samon's mother, became members of his parish. In 1756 when Connecticut gathered a regiment to go to Crown Point, Jewett served as chaplain. He also became a member of the Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) when Wheelock assembled it in 1764. In addition to his role as minister, Jewett oversaw Robert Clelland’s school at Mohegan, which became one source of his animosity toward Occom. Occom criticized Clelland’s performance as schoolmaster, implicating Jewett as the supervisor, and Jewett rejected Occom’s intrusion. Furthermore, since Occom had been appointed to preach at Mohegan, several Indians as well as English, primarily those who sided with the Indians in the Mason Case, left Jewett’s church to follow Occom, as Jewett supported the Colony due to his land interests. Jewett brought charges against Occom to the Boston Board of the SSPCK and to the New England Company Commissioners, and the Connecticut Board of the SSPCK tried Occom in March of 1765. They found Occom to be innocent except for his involvement in the Mason Case; therefore, the Board declared that Jewett must write to the Boston Commissioners again to clear Occom. Although Jewett assented to the task, he did not pen the letter until Wheelock pressured him that June. While Jewett and Occom’s relationship was officially mended, bitterness remained until Jewett’s death in 1783.

Oliver, Andrew

Andrew Oliver was an influential Boston merchant and politician, who was a member of several societies that funded Eleazar Wheelock, including the Boston Board of the New England Company (treasurer) and Massachusetts General Assembly (secretary). Oliver played an important political role in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts and, as a firm advocate of Indian missions, attended multiple conferences with Indian tribes. He believed that Anglican and Dissenter missionaries and societies could cooperate, and after Oliver and Wheelock were introduced in 1756, Oliver helped Wheelock access funding from the New England Company, the Massachusetts Assembly, and the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Their relationship deteriorated, however, when the London Board of the New England Company turned against Wheelock late in 1765. Wheelock became aware of the London Board’s change of heart through the “Oliver letter,” a letter purportedly written by Oliver (actually written by Ebenezer Pemberton) that was “injurious” to the characters of Wheelock, Whitaker, and Occom. In 1765, Wheelock also lost his funding from the Massachusetts Assembly. It is unclear what role Oliver played in these events. On the one hand, the breach between Wheelock and the New England Company coincided with the collapse of Oliver’s political career over his attempts to enforce the Stamp Act. Oliver may have been too preoccupied to be involved in the London Board’s change of heart; after all, Boston mobs were burning him in effigy. On the other hand, if Oliver was not involved, it is more difficult to explain why his correspondence with Wheelock ended abruptly in 1767 or why Wheelock lost funding from the Assembly and the London Board at the same time. Oliver would be the obvious link; but of course, Wheelock had many detractors in Boston and another explanation is certainly possible.

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.

Jewett Controversy
HomeDavid Jewett, letter, to Andrew Oliver, 1765 June 27
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