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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to the Narrangansett tribe, 1767 March 3

ms-number: 767203.2

abstract: Wheelock writes to the Naragansett council requesting that they give their approval to Tobias and John Shattock remaining at school.

handwriting: Handwriting is somewhat informal, with some additions and deletions.

ink: Black ink is bold and bleeds through the paper.

paper: Medium-sized single sheet is in good condition, with light creasing, staining and wear.

noteworthy: Given the informal hand, and the lack of both an address and seal, this document appears to be a copy or draft.



To the Council of
The Narraganſett
Tribe of Indians
. in the Coloney of Rhod Island
My Bretheren.
Toby Shaddick (who I underſtand
is one of your Council) has been in my School
with his Brother John More than two months.
and has made great Proficiency in Reading and
writing. I find he is a great Friend indeed both
to your Spiritual and Temporal Intereſt. and
he has good Abilities, is Steady, prudent and
Judicious. and appears to be endowed with great
Honeſty and Integrity. And if God Spares his
Life it Looks likely that he may be an Inſtru­
­ment of much good in the world, especially
to his own Nation. his Brother John also
pleaſes me very much. & I have a great Deſire
[left]y.t they Should both tarry in my School, 'till they
are accompliſhed with a good Degree of Learn­
­ing. So as to be able to feed you with Knowledg[gap: worn_edge][guess: e]
and underſtanding. and I should be glad if you
would shew your minds and give your Advices in
this matter, in council. [illegible]for that would make them
more eaſie, as I find that Toby is not willing
to do any thing to diſoblige his Nation, for
whom he seems diſposed to do every thing in
his Power. His living with me will coſt him
nothing
[left]Lett.r to y.e Council of ye
Narraganſet Indians

March 3.d 1767.
nothing and when he has got his Learning
he shall be at Liberty to Serve his Redeemer
with it, among his own People if he pleaſes.
which is an offer beyond what I am wont to
make to my Scholars. and as he learns very
faſt it is likely I may be able to fit him to
preach the Gospel to the Indians in a few
years. pleaſe to Send me an Anſwer to this
as soon as you can.
 I have now Several of your Children. I
hope they will all do well. but for Time to
come I dont purpose to take any from Your
Tribe but such as You (the Council) ſhall
recommend as likely, & of good repute among
you. It is a pitty to be at great pains and throw
away Chriſts money upon ſuch as will be good
for nothing when I we have done all I we can
for them. —
 I give my Love to you all. It gives me joy
to hear that there are a number among you
who Love our Lord Jesus Chriſt. I have great
hope that gGod deſigns to build you up.
I am
Your Real Friend & Brother

Eleazar Wheelock
Narragansett Tribe
The Narragansetts are an Algonquian tribe based in Southern Rhode Island. Narragansett students (including the Simons, the Shattocks, and the Secutors) attended Eleazar Wheelock’s Moor’s Indian Charity School, and Charlestown, RI, was also one of the seven communities that participated in the Brothertown movement (the pan-Algonquian coalition organized by former Moor’s students). The Narragansetts were recognized in the 18th-century for their indigenous Christian Separatism, and a Separatist congregation under the leadership of Samuel Niles commanded much of the Tribe’s spiritual life from the 1740s onward. While Separatism is an imprecise word, it generally denotes congregations that formally separated from Congregationalist churches and were characterized by an increased emphasis on charismatic Christianity. Samuel Niles was an illiterate preacher who had himself been ordained by lay persons (thus breaking with the formal laying on of hands by an ordained person that created a theoretical chain from the Apostles to contemporary clergy). The congregation’s practices and theology diverged from the Anglo-American norm in meaningful ways, which shocked many Anglo-American observers but also gave the Narragansetts the autonomy needed to expel Rev. Joseph Fish, a New England Company (NEC) sponsored minister, and Edmund Deake, the schoolmaster who accompanied him, in 1776. Like other New England tribes, the Narragansetts struggled with land dispossession. In this case, the sachem and colony cooperated with one another to the Tribe’s disadvantage: the sachem family, the Ninigrets, had tied themselves closely to the colony of Rhode Island when they converted to the Anglican Church in 1727. They adopted a lavish English lifestyle and funded it by selling off tribal land. By the 1760s, land sales were a massive problem, and the anti-sachem party began trying to put a halt to them. Narragansetts with powerful connections, including former Moor’s students, appealed to Eleazar Wheelock and Sir William Johnson and, in 1767, secured a temporary halt to land sales through the intervention of NEC treasurer Andrew Oliver. The next year, Tobias and John Shattock traveled to London to appeal to the privy council for a permanent solution; however, Tobias died of smallpox, and John failed. Sachem Thomas Ninigret died in 1769, and the Tribe solved the land sales problem by abolishing the office of sachem in the 1770s. The Narragansetts continued to struggle with the state of Rhode Island after the Revolution. Rhode Island unilaterally (and illegally) dissolved the Narragansett’s tribal standing in 1880, but the Narragansetts maintained tribal structures and, as much as possible, residence on their territory. They were officially re-recognized in 1983.
Moor’s Indian Charity School
Moor’s Indian Charity School was a grammar school for Native Americans that Eleazar Wheelock opened in North Lebanon, Connecticut in 1754. The school was named for Colonel Joshua Moor, also spelled More, who donated the land and school building. Moor’s was essentially an expansion of the grammar school that Wheelock opened in 1743 to support himself during the fallout from the First Great Awakening, when Wheelock, who'd participated in itinerant ministry during the Awakening, had his salary confiscated by the colony of Connecticut. In December of that year, Samson Occom asked Wheelock to teach him as well. Wheelock's work with Occom was so successful that Wheelock decided to replicate the experiment with other Native American boys. He accepted his first Indian students in 1754, and in 1761 began taking female students as well. Wheelock believed that in time, his school would become just one part of a larger missionary enterprise. He planned to send his Anglo American and Native American students to various tribes as missionaries and schoolmasters, with explicit instructions to pick out the best students and send them back to Moor’s to continue the cycle. His ultimate goal was to turn his school into a model Christian Indian town that would include farms, a college, and vocational training. However, Wheelock’s grand design did not survive the decade. Wheelock lost the vast majority of his Native American students; he fought with many of the best, including Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, and other former and current students accused him of subjecting Native Americans to disproportionate amounts of manual labor. In 1769, perhaps due to concerns about corporal punishment, the Oneida withdrew all their children from Moor’s. When Wheelock relocated to Hanover in 1769, only two Native American students came with him, and it became clear that Wheelock’s focus was on Dartmouth and that Dartmouth was for white students. After Wheelock’s death in 1779, Moor’s Indian Charity School receded further into the background as John Wheelock, his father’s reluctant successor, stopped taking Indian students. Some Native American students were enrolled in Moor’s until 1850, when the school unofficially closed.
Lebanon

Lebanon is a town located in the state of Connecticut southwest of the town of Hartford. The land that became Lebanon was inhabited at least 10,000 years ago based on the archeological record. By the 1600s, the land was permanently inhabited by the Mohegan Indians, who used the area primarily for hunting. Lebanon was officially formed in 1700 when English settlers consolidated a number of land tracts, including several land grants by the Connecticut General Assembly and lands purchased from the Mohegans. However, these purchases were controversial. In 1659, the Mohegans entrusted their reserve land to Major John Mason, and in the following year, Mason transferred this land to the Connecticut colonial government with the understanding that there would be enough land left for the Mohegans to farm. The Mohegans claimed that they never authorized a transfer to the colonial government and only Mason’s heirs were entrusted with their land. In 1662, Connecticut, which included the Mohegan land that had been entrusted to the Masons, was incorporated by a royal charter. Based on this charter, the colony argued that the land was now the property of the government. In 1687, the colony began granting the Mohegan land to townships, and in 1704 the Masons petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, claiming that such transfers of land to townships were illegal. Between the years of 1705 and 1773 legal disputes and controversies persisted, finally ending in a verdict by the Crown against the Mohegans. In 1755, Wheelock received property and housing in Lebanon that he would use as his house and school. While Lebanon was originally incorporated as a part of New London County in 1700, in 1724 it became a part of New Windham, before once again becoming a part of New London County in 1826. Lebanon was central to the American Revolution with half of its adult population fighting for the colonists and hundreds of meetings convened in the town for the revolutionary cause.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island is a U.S. state located in southern New England along the Atlantic coast. What would become Rhode Island was originally inhabited by the Narragansett, Niantic, and Wampanoag peoples, who established semi-permanent villages of longhouses. They hunted deer, fished for tautog and striped bass, grew corn, beans, pumpkin, and squash, and gathered clams, oysters, and quahogs. From the quahog shell, the Narragansett Indians made the Native American currency wampum, which bolstered their wealth among other tribes in the region. In 1636, Roger Williams founded Providence following his expulsion from the Massachusetts Bay colony for what was perceived as his radical religious beliefs. Williams advocated dealing fairly with Native Americans and purchased the lands for Providence from the Narragansett sachems Canonicus and Miantonomi. In 1644, Williams received a charter from the British Parliament incorporating the towns of Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport as Providence Plantation and guaranteeing religious liberty. A 1663 charter issued by Charles II more firmly established the colony of Rhode Island, which tolerated different religions and maintained friendly relations with Native Americans until the outbreak of King Philip's War in 1675. This conflict resulted in the destruction of many colonial towns, including Providence. The Narragansett tribe was initially skeptical of missionaries, because of their experience of English land-grabbing, and because the church in Charlestown, RI had its own homegrown minister, a Narragansett separatist named Samuel Niles. Although the Narragansett tribal council approved the mission of Joseph Fish in 1765, which met with initial success, the tribe eventually asked Fish and Edward Deake, the schoolmaster he engaged, to leave Rhode Island in favor of Native ministers and teachers. Rhode Island residents actively protested British rule over the colonies and openly agitated for war. In 1772, a number of Rhode Islanders attacked and destroyed the British ship the Gaspee, and Rhode Island was the first state to openly declare independence from Great Britain prior to the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Between two and five percent of Rhode Island Native Americans migrated to Brothertown.

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.

Shattock, Tobias

Tobias Shattock was a Narragansett leader who briefly attended Moor's Indian Charity School. He died in Edinburgh while trying to protect Narragansett land interests. Like many Moor's students, Tobias was from a powerful family: he and his brother John were the sons of John Shattock Sr., a Narragansett lay minister. Tobias and John received their basic education from Edward Deake at Charlestown and then attended Moor's from December 1766 to the fall of 1767. By all accounts, Tobias was an especially promising student. Both Tobias and John left Moor's to try to defend Narragansett land claims. The Narragansett sachems had run up massive debt over the course of the 18th century, and were trying to sell Narragansett land to the colony of Rhode Island to settle them. Much of the Narragansett Tribe opposed this course of action. Tobias and John Jr. took the lead in the Tribe's efforts to recruit powerful allies for their cause. Tobias appealed to Sir William Johnson and Andrew Oliver, who were able to secure a temporary halt on land sales. Then, with the support of Wheelock, Whitefield, and Sir William Johnson, the brothers set out to plead their case before the Privy Council in London in January 1768. They arrived in Edinburgh on April 15, 1768, where Tobias died of smallpox on May 6. John continued on to London, but was unsuccessful in his appeal. He returned to the colonies where he died in 1770.

Shattock, John Jr.

John Shattock Jr. was a Narragansett council member and schoolmaster. Along with his brother Tobias, he briefly attended Moor's from December 1766 to the fall of 1767. Like many Moor's students, John and Tobias came from a prominent family: their father was John Shattock Sr., a Narragansett lay minister. Tobias and John Jr. received their basic education from Edward Deake at Charlestown, and then attended Moor's until they withdrew late in 1767 to try to prevent Narragansett land sales. The Narragansett sachems had run up massive debt over the course of the 18th century, and were trying to sell Narragansett land to the colony of Rhode Island to settle them, while much of the Narragansett Tribe opposed this course of action. John Jr. and Tobias took the lead in recruiting powerful Anglo-American allies for the Tribe, including Andrew Oliver, Sir William Johnson, George Whitefield, and Eleazar Wheelock. With these men's help, John Jr. and Tobias were able to secure a halt to land sales and plan a trip to London to plead their case before the Privy Council. They departed in January 1768 and arrived at Edinburgh on April 15, where they both fell ill with smallpox. John survived, but Tobias died on May 6th. John continued on to London, but failed in his appeal. He returned to the colonies where he took an active role in Narragansett leadership. He considered urging his tribe to move to Oneida territory, and even talked with Wheelock about relocating the Tribe to the upper Connecticut River, in New Hampshire territory (the Tribe decided it would be too cold there). In 1770, John briefly taught the Lantern Hill Pequots in North Stonington, CT before he died of consumption that December.

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