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Robert Keen, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 August 20

ms-number: 766470.4

abstract: Keen warns Whitaker away from Mr. Richards, advises him against appearing separately from Occom, explains why he hasn't received the Narratives, describes the men who might support him and Occom in their travels, and gives news about their maid in London.

handwriting: Formal handwriting is clear and legible.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in fair condition, with moderate-to-heavy staining, creasing and wear. There is preservation work done on the heavy central crease.

ink: Dark-brown ink bleeds through the paper.

events: Fundraising Tour of Great Britain



Mr Whitaker
S.r
For these 2 Tuesdays past we have only had
Mr Smith, Mr Savage, my Self with Mr Whitefield: — — we all believe you
Endeavour to Act for the best; but were fearfull by Your Courting
the Favours of Mr Richards, illegible&c &c (who are in ye esteem of those
we count Orthodox wretched Creatures (in their Tenets) & have even wrote against
Mr Evans &c) that you might thereby damp all the others who were
hearty; & as the saying is, between 2 stools you might fall to
ye Ground — it seem'd like leaveing a Certainty for an Uncertainty
But we Hope & Pray You may have that Wisdom given You
which is proper to direct — no hint of this sort was intended
by Mr Whitefield, nor any of us, to cast you down but as a
Friendly Caution, agreable to your desire & for ye good of ye
Cause you are engag'd in — as to M.r Occum & you going to
Seperate places, it is judg'd he is not compleat without you,
nor You without him; unleſs in places of small note & withal
he be accompanied with some person of Influence — to be sure
dispatch in your Affairs is desirable, when it can be done without
Detriment — — Your Two selves who are upon the Spot are best
Judges — The Lord direct you for the best! — will not ye 28th Instant be
too soon to leave Bristol? it is a large place, & should but little
be done there, it will not have a good look — on the other-hand if all is
done that is like to be done there in that time, 'twill be a pity to
Loiter away your time, which all that knows your Active Disposition, knows
can't but be disagreable — in this Likewise I hope you'l be directed — 'tis
provoking to find you are disappointed by not receiveing the Narratives.
in 5 minutes after Recieveing your Letter, I sent to Mr Olivers, they were [right]sent
last Friday Sen'night & directed for the Revd Mr Whitaker at ye Tabernacle in the Old
Orchard
Bristol & his man Deliver'd them to ye Carrier himself, who said
his name was James, at ye 3 Cups in Bread street London—. I have order'd
the same man to go directly to ye Inn & see if by mistake they were neglected to be
put in ye waggon when loading — I would send more directly, only hope before now
they are come to your hands — — The Bristol people in general I believe
are not so Generous in Money matters as the Londoners & others — Mr Phene
acts a Noble part indeed made it appear like a Contrast to us; your going from
a Man of his Sortment to Richards &c &c — Mr Tho.s Cox thinks of setting
out for Exeter on Thursday ye 28th Ins.t he may pave the way for you & now I
think on it, if he can Conveniently he may take some Narratives with him —
when You are About to Move & can let us know where you are like to be in a few
days, whoever of us are Acquainted with any leading men there, would send letters
to them for Example at Bradford I'm intimate with Mr Spencer the Clergyman —
with Mr Richd Haynes ye Baptist minister — wth Mr Shrapnell ye Clothier & many
others, to Each of ye above you give my hearty Love & hope they'll be as Ser‐
-viceable in the Affair you are come about as they poſsibly can — —
Mr Whitefield has recd a letter from Mr Stillingfleet, who was very
sorry he was not at home when you was there — Seems very hearty & doubts
not but something Considerable will be done for you there; November he reckons
the best time — D..r Franklin is abroad & is Expected home ye begining of Oct..br

his Recommendation will be of real Service & will be got for & sent to you as
soon as he arrives — your maid Always desires I would send her
Duty to you both — Mr Stafford wanted a Maid & would have had her, she
Consulted with me [gap: tear][guess: t]old her by no means, she must be your
Servant till you Quitted London — she is one that you can trust,
& knows your method & all that comes after You — she seem'd very
well satisfy'd when I told her as above — what you have to say about her
(if you have any thing) let it be in my Letter— as I don't know wether shed
like I should say any thing or no — — I don't know any thing particular
more I have to say at present, only your Friends here are all hearty in wishing
well to your undertaking & none more then S:r

yr Real Frd & Servt
Robt Keen
P. S. Hearty Love to
Mr Occum, accept ye same yrself —
[left]From mr Keen
Aug. 20. 1766


To
The Revd M:r Nath:l Whitaker
at M:r Irelands Mercht
 Bristoll
Keen, Robert

Robert Keen was a London wool merchant and an ardent supporter of George Whitefield, the eminent evangelical. Although it is unclear when Keen and Whitefield first came into contact, by the 1760s Whitefield was writing to Keen frequently. In 1763, Keen, along with Daniel West, was given the task of managing Whitefield’s religious enterprises in London (specifically, his Tottenham Court Chapel and the Tabernacle, another London church), which they continued to do after Whitefield’s death. Keen was also one of the four executors of Whitefield’s affairs in England (along with West and Charles Hardy). As a result of his relationship with Whitefield, Keen was introduced to Occom and Whitaker upon their arrival in February 1766. He was a member of the informal committee that collected donations before October 1766 and provided Occom and Whitaker with advice on their route and strategies. Keen also became a member of the English Trust, the formal organization formed in October 1766 to safeguard donations. As secretary and deputy treasurer of the Trust, Keen played an important role in transmitting accounts and correspondence between the Trust and Wheelock during the tour and the long process of Wheelock’s relocation to New Hampshire. Along with fellow Trust members Samuel Savage and John Thornton, Keen continued to provide financial support to Wheelock after the Trust had been exhausted.

Whitaker, Nathaniel

Nathaniel Whitaker was an outspoken Presbyterian minister with a long and wide-ranging career. Between his ordination in 1755 and his death in 1795, Whitaker ministered to five different congregations. His longest tenure was at Chelsea, CT (near Norwich), from 1761-1769, during which he joined Occom on his two-and-a-half-year fundraising tour of Britain. While in Chelsea, Whitaker was very involved in Wheelock's project. The two engaged in frequent correspondence, and Whitaker served on Eleazar Wheelock's Board of Correspondents in Connecticut, as well as on the Board of Trustees of Moor's Indian Charity School. At one time, he was Wheelock's presumed successor, but Dartmouth's Trustees demanded that Wheelock appoint another. Wheelock, in part due to his strongly-held belief that Native Americans were childlike and rash, was convinced that Occom needed an Anglo-American supervisor on his fundraising tour. After several candidates turned down the job, Wheelock selected Whitaker. He proved to be a poor choice; he was, by many accounts, a difficult man to get along with, and many of Wheelock’s British allies, including George Whitefield and the English Trust (the organization that took control of the money Occom raised in England) preferred to deal with Occom, although Whitaker insisted on handling the tour’s logistics. Furthermore, in Britain, Occom was the obvious star of the tour, and it was unclear to many why Whitaker asserted himself so prominently. Whitaker’s poor decisions seriously alienated the English Trust and increased their suspicion of Wheelock’s later dealings and treatment of Occom. He gave the English Trust the impression that they would have control over money raised in Scotland (which was in fact lodged with the parent organization of the SSPCK), and he was the executor of the “Eells Affair,” a plan initiated by the CT Board of the SSPCK to bring the money that Occom and Whitaker raised back to the colonies by investing it in trade goods and selling them at a profit (Eells was one of the merchants who was to help with the resale of goods). The English Trust learned about the plan by reading letters that Whitaker had given them permission to open in his absence, and were immediately shocked. The wording of certain letters made it appear that only a percentage of the profit from the resale of the goods would go towards Moor’s Indian Charity School, but beyond that detail, the English Trust was scandalized at the thought of money raised for charity being invested in trade. The English Trust blamed Whitaker entirely for these affairs, and issued specific instructions for Occom to notarize all documents requiring Whitaker’s signature. In short, they wanted Occom to supervise Whitaker, when Wheelock had envisioned the opposite relationship (both Occom and Whitaker seem to have ignored their instructions, preferring to have as little contact with one another as possible). In 1769, a year after his return to Connecticut in 1768, Whitaker found himself dismissed by his Chelsea congregation (likely because he had spent two and a half years away from them). He went on to serve several more congregations before his death in 1795. Whitaker was an outspoken Whig, and during the Revolution he published several pamphlets on his political opinions.

Smith, John

John Smith was an affluent Boston merchant who supported Wheelock’s school throughout the 1760s. It is likely that Smith and Wheelock were introduced by George Whitefield or someone similarly involved in evangelical and missionary efforts in the British Atlantic world: John Smith made somewhat regular trips to London for business, and had been in contact with Whitefield since the 1740s. Like the other Boston merchants who supported Moor’s Indian Charity School (including Moses Peck, William Hyslop, and Nathaniel Eells), Smith traded with Wheelock and kept him up to date on political developments in Boston, especially as they concerned attitudes towards Moor’s Indian Charity School. However, Smith was better educated (and likely more affluent) than the other merchants that Wheelock worked with, and, correspondingly, played a more important role than his brethren in Wheelock’s efforts. Smith publicized the school independently (his letter to an unnamed friend, catalogued as 764318.2, is one of the most cited letters on the organization of Moor’s) and assisted Wheelock in publishing the Narratives. John Smith’s greatest contribution to Wheelock’s design was his support during Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker’s fundraising tour of Great Britain (1765-1768). Smith set out for Britain in July 1765 to improve his health, and while there, acted as a vanguard for Occom and Whitaker. He managed their correspondence, suggested destinations, and served on an ad hoc advisory council that included George Whitefield, Samuel Savage, Robert Keen, and several other influential men. The pace of the journey caught up with John Smith, however, and he died in 1768 while in Britain.

Savage, Samuel

Samuel Savage was a London merchant and a member of the English Trust, the body formed to oversee money raised by Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker in England between 1766 and 1768. His shop was on Gun Street, in Spitalfields, and he was likely a weaver. Few other personal details are known. Like most of Eleazar Wheelock’s English contacts, Savage was a follower of the evangelical George Whitefield, transatlantic celebrity of the First Great Awakening, and it was through Whitefield that Savage became involved in Wheelock’s initial attempts to gain a charter in the 1760s. Once Occom and Whitaker arrived in London in February 1766, Savage was part of the informal committee that handled their correspondence and suggested targets for fundraising. He was also made a member of the Trust when it was formally established in 1766. Savage, like John Thornton, continued to provide Wheelock with financial support after the fund was exhausted in 1775. Although most of the Englishmen who worked with Whitaker and Occom found Whitaker insufferable and praised Occom, Savage displayed a marked preference for Whitaker. Like Wheelock, he was worried that Occom would become prouder than he thought was appropriate for an Indian, and he expressed concerns that Whitaker had not been paid enough to compensate for his long absence from his family (no similar concerns about Occom’s family were voiced). Since Savage’s views on Occom were very close to the New England norm and represent a deviation from most Englishmen’s views, one is tempted to conclude that he had spent time in America or had been born there, but that is pure conjecture.

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.

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.

Oliver

J. and W. Oliver were the London printers who printed Moor's Indian Charity School publications in England, including Wheelock's 1766, 1767, and 1769 Narratives, and the 1767 composite narrative, "A brief narrative of the Indian charity-school in Lebanon in Connecticut, New England : founded and carried on by that faithful servant of God, the Rev. Mr. Eleazar Wheelock." They printed primarily religious and missionary titles. A Mr. Oliver, perhaps either J. or W., appears in several letters from Robert Keen to Nathaniel Whitaker written during the fundraising tour. In these letters, Keen responds to Whitaker's complaints about not receiving narratives from Mr. Oliver as quickly as expected. These letters offer an illustration of Keen and Whitaker's deteriorating relationship, as well as how difficult Keen found Whitaker's personality. Mr. Oliver the printer should not be confused with Andrew Oliver, a member of the London Commissioners in Boston and Massachusetts Assembly, who appears in different letters from the same time.

Cox, Thomas
Haynes, Richard
Shrapnell
Stillingfleet
Fundraising Tour of Great Britain
HomeRobert Keen, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 August 20
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