abstract: Williams writes to recommend a young man as a possible missionary.
handwriting: Handwriting is casual and frequently difficult to decipher.
paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light staining, creasing and wear. A tear near the location of the seal results in no loss of text.
signature: The signature is abbreviated.
noteworthy: On one recto, Williams refers to “Mr. Brewster” and “Sir Brewster.” These are most likely Charles Brewster, the father of the youth, referred to as “Sir,” whom Williams is recommending.
before me, upon receiveing it — I was ready to say: Great, and
marvellous are thy works, Lord God Allmighty, juſt, and
true, are thy ways, thou King of Saints &c. and Even to put
up that prayer, that All nations might come & worſhip
before him, who only is holy &c. what matter is it, of joy, and
rejoyceing, yt the time is comeing, when God, will be more abundantly
feard, & glorifyd on Earth, than hither to, he has been; when all na
tions of the world, shall come as a willing people unto God, and
own, & Honour him, and pay their solemn Adorations to him &c.
the Lord, who is not unrighteous, to forget [illegible][guess: man] [illegible][guess: that] work, and La
bour of Love, which any have showed towards his name, I truſt
will reward, thoſe yt have ſo freely, and Generouſly Given of their
wordly subſtance, to promote, the noble & pious deſign of Goſpel[illegible][guess: lize]
ing, the poor indians &c — .
dear Sir, your letter came to me Laſt Evening, ſo yt it is impoſſi
ble for me, to See Sr B — before mr Brewſter returns; Sr Bs
character is good, he is Eſteemd a pious man, his cariage and
Behaviour very different from ye wild airy youths who are rea
dy, to deſpiſe him, for his Gravity & Seriouſness, & becauſe he will
not run with him, into [illegible] [illegible] riot &c —. he is accountd a good
Scholar — calm, & Sedate in his temper — but he is of a tender
or rather broken conſtitution, occaſiond by his able application to
his Studies; what his inclination, would be, as to Such an under
takeing I dont know — nor how his friends, would be diſpoſd I cant
Say, but Suſpect, they, would be unwilling, he Should engage &c
but, I shall take an opportunity to talk with the young Gentle
man himſelf, without makeing a noiſe about the matter; & if
I find it is worth while, to advertiſe you of it, I Shall.
Full, & affectionate Salutations to your ſelf, mrs Wheelock, & your children.
from your unworthy Br & Fellow Servant
Williams Dec.r 11. 1765.
Mr Eleazer Wheelock
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.
Mary Wheelock was born Mary Brinsmead on July 26, 1714 in Milford, Connecticut. In the year following the death of his first wife, Eleazar began to court Mary Brinsmead, and the two married on November 21, 1747. Mary and Eleazar had five children together, including John, who would succeed his father as President of Dartmouth College. Little appears in the historical record about Mary, but many of the people who wrote to Wheelock, especially his Native correspondents who often lived with the family, referred to her warmly. In September 1770, Mary dismantled her longtime home in Connecticut, and travelled with her children to the Wheelocks' new home in the wilderness of New Hampshire. They rode in a coach sent over from England by John Thornton, accompanied by 30 Charity School students on foot. Eleazar, who had gone ahead to build housing for everyone, wrote a letter to Mary with many instructions about the move; the disposition of domestic animals, people, supplies; and the acquisition of money that suggests she was an able and trustworthy manager (manuscript 770510.1; this manuscript is not included in Occom Circle documents). She died in 1784 in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she is buried in the Dartmouth College Cemetery.
In the diaires of Stephen Williams, Williams mentions speaking with the son of Mr. Charles Brewer "about his undertaking a mission to the indians," and goes on to say that young Mr. Brewer "appears to a modest, & Serious young man."