Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to David Fowler, 1766 August 26

ms-number: 766476.1

abstract: Wheelock replies to Fowler’s complaints of mistreatment in Fowler’s letter of the same day.

handwriting: Hand is small and loose, with many abbreviations and superscripts.

paper: Large sheet is in good condition, with light yellowing and wear.

ink: Dark brown.

noteworthy: This letter is written in response to a letter from David Fowler (document 766476.2).



David Fowler
I this minute received yours and am Sorry to find
that you are not yet come to your right Temper of mind,
— Who has calld you a Devil, or Said you are as proud as the
Devil Since you came here? Who has ever Said that you have
not behaved well in the main ſince you illegiblelived with me, or
that I have not ſat as much by you and expected as much
benefit to ye Grand Deſign as by any Indian I ever Educated
or there has there been any Indian y.t I ha'n been mo. friendly
to yn to y.o & y.r Charact.r — ha' I ev.r Sd y.t y.o ha' not done
mo. for my Benefit yn all ye Indians I ever had &c.
and now yo ſay I am too bad to live in y.e House for one
of my miſSteps yrefore I muſt leave yo & y.r School y.t very
Day & go weepg in ye Road Homward — Now David
conſ.r a Little. is this Just comely and reaſonable Treat­
­ment of me. ha' I ſd worſe of y.o or to y.o y.n y.t I was
afraid y.t y.e [illegible][guess: Bid] of y[illegible][guess: r] [illegible] Aſpird aft.r ſuch Grand.r as was not
for ye Gly of G. & co.d not conſiſt with ye good of y.e gen.l
Deſign in View — y.t Wn I had given y.o leave to get every
thing y.t y.o Wanted for y.e Deſign & told y.o I begrutchd y.o
nothg y.t was neceſsy for y.o — y.t y.o ſho.d affect to cloath yrſlf
& Hannah like Courtiers & W.n y.o knew y.t I had been already
reporachd thro' ye Country, as I ha' been only for lettg y.o wear
an old Velvet Coat y.t was given to y.o — I told y.o y.t y.e Eyes
of All Europe & America wre upon y.o & me too. & y.e Eyes of
Thouſands w.o are unfriendly & will not fail to Catch at any
occaſion to reproach me & ye Deſign —I told y.o it was no
Intereſt of mine but only ye Hon.r & Intereſt of X y.t I was
pleadg for, & y.e Succeſs of y.t Cauſe w.c has been ſo long on my [illegible]
& in w.c I ha' so much labourd & worn out myſelf — & w.c certain
­ly as nearly concerns y.o as me to Lab.r to promote — did y.o
not wn I was only Enquirg w.r it was Prud.t & beſt for y.o to
ha' ſo many as 4 p.r of ſhoes at once riſe up & wth a very unbe­
­comg Air go out y.e Room & Say I will ha' no ſhoes I'll wear
Indian ſhoes — & how y.o & Hannah ha' Spent y.r free Hours
yesterday & t'day I know not — Or how yo will live or
wn yo will ſerve tog.r I know not I wiſh y.r Settg out Wre
mo. in ye meekneſs & Humility of X — as for my own p.t great
as ye proſpects of y.r Usefulneſs are, (and y.a are very great
if y.o will take G. with you.) I dont at all deſ.r you shod return
to Onoida wth y.r preſent Tempers — nor am I at all afraid but I
can fully Vindicate my own Reputation, take w.t Courſe y.o will —
I ſuppose y.o cant reaſonably think it unjuſt if ye Whole &
plain Truth comes to y.e Light of ye world, if I am put upon my
own Vindication — nor do I think y.o can feal very Eaſie
if yo ſho.d go 'till y.o return to me again w.c I promiſe myſlf
yo will do as Soon as y.o return to God. My Heart is y.e ſame
and as full of Kindneſs & Good will towds you as ever it has
been. and I am as ready to do any thing yt will Hon.r Chriſt
& & promote ye ſalvn of ye Souls of ye poor Indians as
ever I was — but I ha' no notion of Sendg any man w.o is
aiming to ſet up himſlf inſtead of XJ. as ye obj.t of y.r Wſp
& Wn y.o Will app.r ye Same as y.o ha' heretofore done
yo Will find me ye ſame
I am
y.r ſincere Well wiſher
Eleaz.r Wheelock
Lett.r to D. Fowler.
at his Study. Augt 26. 1766.
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.

Fowler, David

David Fowler was Jacob Fowler's older brother, Samson Occom's brother-in-law, and an important leader of the Brothertown Tribe. He came to Moor's in 1759, at age 24, and studied there until 1765. While at school, he accompanied Occom on a mission to the Six Nations in 1761. He was licensed as a school master in the 1765 mass graduation, and immediately went to the Six Nations to keep school, first at Oneida and then at Kanawalohale. Fowler saw himself as very close to Wheelock, but their relationship fragmented over the course of Fowler's mission, primarily because Wheelock wrote back to Kirkland, with whom Fowler clashed, but not to Fowler, and because Wheelock refused to reimburse Fowler for some expenses on his mission (767667.4 provides the details most clearly). Fowler went on to teach school at Montauk, and played a major role in negotiations with the Oneidas for the lands that became Brothertown. He was among the first wave of immigrants to that town, and held several important posts there until his death in 1807.

Fowler, Hannah (née Garrett)

Hannah Fowler (née Garrett) was a Pequot woman who married David Fowler. The Garrett family boasted sachems and interpreters and was influential among the Stonington Pequots. Hannah grew up among the Charlestown Narragansetts, as her parents had affiliated with that tribe (a not-uncommon occurrence, given the close ties between the groups, especially in the realm of Christian spirituality). At Charlestown, Hannah received her basic education and was recruited for Moor’s Indian Charity School. She studied at the school from 1763 until she married David Fowler in 1766. Hannah and David’s marriage is especially noteworthy because it is the only instance where a female Moor’s student married a Native American missionary from Moor’s and joined him on missions — which had been Wheelock’s intent in admitting Native American women in the first place. Hannah assisted David on his mission to Kanawalohale from the time of their marriage in 1766 until his departure for Montauk in 1767. In 1783, the pair moved to Brothertown, where their house was the town center. Both Fowlers proved influential in town affairs, and their children and grandchildren also played a central role in the town’s administration.

HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to David Fowler, 1766 August 26
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only