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Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, letter, to The Long Island Presbytery, 1765 September 24

ms-number: 765524

abstract: The Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge writes seeking assistance from the Long Island Presbytery to offset Occom’s debts. Document also includes minutes from a meeting of the Board, with what appear to be mentions of other letters written to different organizations.

handwriting: There are two hands: the body of the letters is written in one hand that is clear and formal, with some deletions and additions; while Wheelock appears to have added a sentence (beginning "we beg Leave..."), along with the signature and address.

paper: Heavy wear and staining with some loss of text.

noteworthy: Appears to be draft or copy.

signature: Full signature missing due to damage.

events: Building of Occom’s house.


Revd Gentlemen

The Board of correſpondents in the colony of connecticut
at their meeting in Norwich the 23d of this Inſtant, takeing [illegible]into
into their conſideration the neceſſitous circumſtances of the Revd
mr Samſon Occom, & the debts under which he lies, & that the
greater Some part of what he owes is due to perſons on Long Iſland
& were contracted while he was imployed in the publick Service
of Chriſts Kindgom there, & while under the pay of the Honourable Com­
miſſioners of Boſton
, which was too Sc[gap: tear][guess: an]ty for his Support.
And that mr Occom labours under great [gap: tear][guess: disadv]antage[illegible] on account
of Said Debts, & is deſirous that his ki[gap: tear]rs Should be no
longer kept out of their juſt dues, but [gap: tear] this Board
have no fund, & are not able to pay th[gap: tear][guess: e] [gap: tear][guess: h]ave app[gap: tear][guess: ointed]
us to addreſs you & intreat your aſſiſtance[gap: tear][guess: in] collecting mo­
nies for that Purpose in your Several Congregations for the [gap: tear]arge of them
Same
. Your own tho'ts And as numbers in this country
have done generouſly for his towards his relief & Support here & for building him
a houſe, So we truſt your own tho'ts will Suggeſt conſiderations
Sufficiant to move you to do every thing which a regard to his
Uſefulneſs & the advancem.t of the Redeemers Kingdom thereby require
will move you to. We beg Leave to Subſcribe with much Affection
and Eſteem Rev.d Gentlemen.
Your Bretheren and Fellow ſervts.
Signd by Order of [gap: tear][guess: Correspondents]
[gap: tear][guess: Nor]wich September 24th 1765
Reverend Preſbytery
Long Iſland ——

[gap: tear][guess: Le]tter to the London Commiſsionrs
[gap: tear] the Honoble ſociety in ſcotland
[gap: tear] Commiſsioners in New Jerſey
[gap: tear][guess: Gener]al Gage
[gap: tear][guess: provisions] for Miſsionaries &c.
[gap: tear] General Johnſon
to the Corporation at Naſsau hall
to the Preſbtery of Suffolk.
[left]Minutes
of the Doings
of the Board
of Correſpondents
in the Colony
of Connecticut
[top] Minutes of the Doings
of the Board Septr 23 1765
 31
 1 289 20-h
 31
 30
 27
 ———
 148
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.

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.

Johnson, William

Sir William Johnson was a powerful British colonial official who amassed wealth and influence by integrating into the Mohawk tribe. For a brief window of time (1761-1768), he provided support for Wheelock’s missionary efforts among the Six Nations. He also helped the Brothertown Nation of Indians procure land from the Oneidas. Johnson was born in Ireland in 1715. His family had been part of the Catholic elite, but after William of Orange’s 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne, they at least nominally converted to the Episcopalian Church. In 1738, Johnson emigrated to America to manage his uncle Peter Warren’s estate in Mohawk territory. Over the next decade, Johnson became wealthy in his own right through trade and land sales, acquiring a vast estate crowned by his manor house, Johnson Hall, which became the central location for British and Indian treaty making. In 1745, Johnson began collecting official British titles and positions. He played an important military role in the French and Indian War and was named Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1756 and first baronet of New York in 1757. Much of Johnson’s success was due to his influence among the Mohawks, which he obtained by learning their language and customs and integrating himself into their society. He participated in Mohawk rituals and entered into a common-law marriage with a powerful Mohawk woman, Molly Brant (also called Mary Brant). Because Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) society is matrilineal, this marriage was an essential element of his participation in Indian affairs. Wheelock desperately wanted to wield missionary influence among the Six Nations, and sought to obtain Johnson as an ally in his endeavors. At first, the two found grounds for cooperation. Wheelock sent Occom as a missionary to the Oneidas in 1761 and again in 1762, and sent a substantially larger group of missionaries and schoolmasters in 1765, 1766, and 1767. Johnson, meanwhile, encouraged Haudenosaunee children, including his brother-in-law Joseph Brant, to attend Moor’s. Johnson’s support proved indispensible to missionaries in the field; he helped with supplies, language skills, and relations with the Mohawks and Oneidas. Wheelock also valued Johnson for his influence in Britain, and drew on him for recommendations and public statements of support numerous times. From 1763 on, however, Johnson found himself decidedly uncomfortable with Wheelock’s missionary efforts, and by 1769, their relationship had dissolved completely. In 1766, Johnson was invited to join the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), the largest and most influential Anglican missionary society in the 18th-century British-Atlantic world. He began working to place Anglican missionaries, rather than Congregationalist and Presbyterian ones, among the Six Nations, which alarmed Wheelock. Johnson was generally supportive of Native American tribes’ efforts to maintain their land and sovereignty. As the historian Linford Fisher has noted, “virtually every major Native group in southeastern New England successfully petitioned Johnson to act on their behalf during the late 1760s and early 1770s.” Among these groups was the Brothertown Nation, a Christian composite tribe formed by Southern New England Algonquian Moor’s alumni. Johnson helped them negotiate with the Oneidas, which proved essential to their successful land purchase and relocation to central New York.

Building of Occom’s house.
HomeConnecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, letter, to The Long Island Presbytery, 1765 September 24
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