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Sarah Whitaker, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1767 April 21

ms-number: 767271.2

abstract: Sarah writes her husband Nathaniel in reference to his previous letters to her, and about matters at home.

handwriting: Handwriting is informal, yet clear and legible.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages has been heavily reinforced, which makes it difficult to gauge the condition of the paper. It appears to be in fair condition, with moderate staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Dark-brown.

layout: On two recto, the last paragraph continues along the left margin of the page.

noteworthy: On one recto, a symbol that appears to be a 9 over an X, is added over the date in what looks like ballpoint pen.



My dear Husband
I received your Letter dated
Feby 23d & 28, last Thurſday & rejoice to hear of your
Welfare & in Gods kindeſs to you in taking Care
of you in the continual Change of Scenes thro' which
you have been & are yet daily paſsing — may
God continue to preſerve you in all your ways —
Thro' the manifold Goodneſs of God we are all
well & have been so since I wrote you laſt —
you want in this Letter to know what I think of
a Letter which you wrote in Nov.r laſt — I have
received no such Letter nor have I received any
from you ('till that laſt Week) since one dated Oct.r
11.th
from Exeter in which one you gave an account of some
Briſtol-Beer &C which you had ship'd from Briſtol
for me & which I received laſt fall — You alſo
in the Same Letter tell me that you was
about to ship a [illegible][guess: p.s] of superfine Broadcloth &C
for me in another Ship — which I never have heard of Since
& if you did ship them as you propoſed, I
conclude they were loſt in Some Ships which
were caſt away laſt Winter in their Way
from Briſtol to Boſton.
(verte)
You deſire M.r Lothrop's Acco.t for what I
have had of him which is £90..s5 Lawfull beſides
which, I have received £30 Sterling of M.r Smith of Boſton
laſt spring, & £35 Sterling this Spring; of the £30
Sterling laſt Spring, I improved £20 lawfull to
pay Houſe Rent; & what I have now by me
will the £35 this Spring (I expect) will laſt me
'till Fall — I don't know but you will
think me extravagant; but I think I uſe
the beſt Aconomy I am capable of; & if you
do, I would have you return as soon as poſsable
& instruct me how to be more frugal. I have
got no Cloaths for myself or Family better than
what you have sent; nor indeed any that I
could do without — I have neither got my Chairs
for which you sent Bottoms. nor the Pictures
which you sent me; put into Frames — nor do I chuſe to have them done before you come home
becauſe of the talk it would make among People
You write to me (you say in earneſt) that
you would be glad to see me at Briſtol; but I
can take it not other way than in Jest, you mention
that you Wrote to me in a former Letter about it
& now deſire my thoughts upon it which Letter I
never received & so am uncapable of giving an
Anſwer only this much I can say I can't con­
­ceive how you think it poſsable for me to leave
my Family (one of which is a Child of but a year
old) to go to Briſtol — I think if I should do it, all
the world would say I had not any Senſes —
but but had it been no more difficult for me to go Briſtol than
it is for you to come Home I should have embraced your
Invitation at firſt Sight & with all my Heart; and
why then will you not accept of my frequent; my con­
­tinual Invitations to come home; which I have often
made to you — I want to see you very much & have
a great deal more to say than I can say by way
of Letters or than it would anſwer to say in them
for I understand they are all open'd before they
come to your hand — but this I deſire of you
that you would in your next Letters tell me
when you deſign to come home, & I alſo requ[gap: stain][guess: eſt]
that it may be no longer than the Fall [gap: stain]
before I may see you here — Children send much[gap: stain]
tho' they have almoſt forgot that they ever had
a Father — you dieſire me to inform you what
Things I want in Family — they are as follows
(viz) some dark colour'd thing for your two Daugh
­ters & little Son's every [illegible]Day, common, Gowns [illegible]
Winter — 5 Yards of red Baize — a Winter Gown
for myself to wear to Meeting — a silk Handkerch­
­ief for myself & 9 Small Do for the Children & a Sack of Pins — and
Hannah will want some courſething for a Winter
Gown to wear to meeting next Winter —
M.r Woodward has been gone from Norwich five
Months (& is now keeping M.r Wheelocks School)
& as we had no school here for a long time §
§ I sent Jamey to that School where he continues yet — M.r Woodward send his
Regards & Reſpects to you & also to M.r Occom & wiſhes you much more Succeſs — M.r
Occom's Family are all well — pray for Me & our Family —
& accept of moſt sincere Love & Reſpects from
Yours loving Wife ('till Death
Sarah Whitaker
To the Rev.d Nathl Whitaker
To
The Revd Nathaniel Whitaker
In
London
To the Care of M.r Rob.t Keen}
Woollen-draper in the [illegible][guess: Minories]}
London; of whom Miſs Whitaker}
deſires that this Letter be not open'd 'till it comes}
to M.r Whitakers Hands}

[bottom]Miſs Whitaker deſires that this Letter be not
open'd 'till it come to M:r Whitakers Hands
From mrs Whitaker
of April 21. 1767
recd July 7. 1767
Whitaker, Sarah (née Smith)

Sarah Whitaker (maiden name Smith) was the wife of the prominent Presbyterian minister Nathaniel Whitaker. They had seven or eight children, the first being born in 1756. She wrote to him and raised their children while Nathaniel was away on his fundraising tour with Samson Occom (1765-1768). She must have lived at least until the birth of their last child, Jonathan Whitaker (born December 10, 1771), but she does not appear in the historical record after that time.

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.

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.

Lathrop, Daniel

With his brother Joshua Lathrop, Daniel Lathrop was a prominent businessman who owned a mercantile and pharmacy in Norwich, Connecticut. Daniel Lathrop was also an early benefactor of Moor's Indian Charity School, and advanced fiscal support for Samson Occom's fundraising trip to Great Britain. Daniel Lathrop was a cousin of John Lathrop of Boston, minister of the Old North Church and husband to Mary Wheatley.

Whitaker, James

James Whitaker is almost wholly absent from the historical record. The son of the prominent Presbyterian minister Nathaniel Whitaker, James attended Moor's Indian Charity School for at least a short time during 1767 while schooling was unavailable in Norwich, CT. He appears in two short comments on the state of the Whitaker family during Nathaniel's absence.

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, Hannah
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.

Woodward, Bezaleel

Bezaleel Woodward was an integral figure at Dartmouth College and the greater Hanover community; and like that of Eleazar Wheelock, Woodward’s career consisted of a blend of education, religion, and local affairs. After attending Moor’s and graduating from Yale in 1764, he became a preacher. Upon his return to Lebanon in late 1766, he began to hold various positions at Moor’s and became the first tutor of college department in 1768. Woodward later was a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Dartmouth College, as well as a member and clerk of the Board of Trustees. In 1772, he solidified his connection to Wheelock even further by marrying Wheelock’s daughter, Mary. Woodward also held numerous titles outside of the school. He was an elder of the Presbytery and attained multiple appointments in the local court system. A natural leader, Woodward was an influential member and clerk of several committees, representing both Hanover and the Dresden college district. He was thus a leading figure in the Western Rebellion, promoting several towns’ secession from New Hampshire and union with Vermont. Although Woodward resigned from his professorship in 1778, supposedly disassociating himself from Dartmouth while he engaged in politics, it was merely a formality. Upon Wheelock’s death, Woodward acted as president of the college from April to October 1779. Woodward continued to perform many of the executive tasks even after Wheelock’s son and successor, John Wheelock, took over the position, and also held the late Wheelock’s post of treasurer. Claiming to be finished with politics, he officially returned to Dartmouth as tutor in 1782, and performed the president’s duties while Wheelock was abroad in 1782 and 1783. Nonetheless, Woodward continued to participate in local affairs — in 1783 he unsuccessfully attempted to have the New Hampshire General Assembly approve Dresden’s status as a separate town; and in 1786, he became the county treasurer and register of deeds. Woodward remained a prominent figure at Dartmouth and the surrounding area throughout his life. He was, for instance, involved in the construction of Dartmouth Hall in 1784, and was part of the committee formed in 1788 to regulate the contested use of the fund raised by Occom and Whitaker in Great Britain for Moor’s. Woodward died August 25, 1804, at the age of 59.

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.

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