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Theophilus Chamberlain, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 September 10

ms-number: 767510

abstract: Chamberlain offers an account of his debts accrued as a missionary and argues that he should not owe any money to Wheelock's School.

handwriting: Handwriting is small though mostly clear and legible. Letter case is often difficult to discern, especially with regard to the letters S and D. Summary of "rec'd" and "paid" is in a different, unknown, hand.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light creasing, staining and wear.

ink: Dark brown.

signature: The signature is abbreviated.

layout: The first page of the letter is on two recto, not one recto.

noteworthy: It is uncertain to which organization Chamberlain refers when he mentions the "Boston Board," and so this organization has not been tagged. It is likely the New England Company.


Revd Sir
Yours of the 9th of July I received Some Time in Auguſt
and might have come and Seen you but that riding still hurts
me. I am a little Surpriſed at the Contents conſidering the
Converſation I had with you juſt as I came from your houſe
and Some other Things. am however willing to do the beſt
I can to give Satisfaction. as for being able to pay somuch
Money am not and it is likely never Shall be, as I am obliged
in Conſcience to profeſs the Religion calld Sandeman; the preach=
ing of which is not attended with Profit in ye Senſe of the
World. am willing rather than trouble myself farther to reſign
up moſt of my Books to you which may perhaps amount to
10£ or 12£, yet am perſwaded that had you alowed me to have
gone in the Service of the Boſton Board when I aſked it, I
Should have been quite clear and conſiderable more.
with Regard to the laſt Sum received at Capt Buttlers, it ought
to be conſidered that I went up the June before laſt with
but about 8£ more than I then owed, that I received but
between 3£ and 4£ more till I returned in the Spring, that
I hired an Interpreter moſt of this Time; had Jacob folowers
Board to pay for moſt of it and many other thing for him, as
I have an Account of 9£..0s..2d which I paid and run in Debt
for him in four Months Time; had Calvin or Moſes likewiſe
[illegible] moſt of the Time to Supply. had a horſe to buy and ride back=
ward and forward with an Interpreter to fort hunter.
conſidering theſe things it cant be Strange that I was nigh
80£ Y.M. in Debt which was in fact the caſe. My principle
Debts were Wm Sabers, my Landlord H[illegible]ch[illegible]mans, my Interpreter
Capt Buttlers and Cpt [illegible][guess: Kanynes], which amounted to above 70£.
Beſide theſe owed a Number of little Debts, a perticular
 account of which I have not got; but as near as I can now recollect
the whole amounted to 79£ beſide the Charge of my laſt
Journey. The Money I had of Capt Buttler was if I dont
misſtake 8£ Y. M and had 5£ L.M. when I left you.
I have here given the beſt account I can of my Debts
unleſs I was to make a Journey up the River on purpoſe
With Regard to what I calld and Stil call a Diſcovery,
my Expenſes were somthing extraordinary upon that ac=
count, perhaps more than the Circumſstances of the Affair
will now Seem to vindicate in your Mind; Though had
it Succeeded as I and others expected I Should have met
with no dificulty from that Quarter. Am now too-much
out of humor with the World and too much engaged in
somthing elſe to proſecute Scheemes of that Nature, or that
Invention might Still anſwer me Some worldly Purppoſe.
am now willing to make known the Affair to you, if
firſt you will engage to make no uſe of it nor to Diſcover
it, till you have firſt given me Sufficent Security that
I Shall receive no more trouble from what you Suppoſe
I owe to the School. When you have heard and examined
it you may then determine for yourself whether the
Proſpect of Benifit from it is equal to that of getting
somthing from one who will never have any thing to
pay. If Sir you dont like any of my propoſals,
pleaſe to inform me what I shall do. In the mean
Time I remain
Rev,d Sir
your Servant
Theoph Chamberlain
PS, Will send you as soon as I can
draw them out the Reaſons why I ought
not to be made debtor to the School.
At South Hadley 10th Septm, 1767
To M.r E. Wheelock
To
Rev,d Eleazer Wheelock
in
Lebanon


[top]From the Rev.d M.r
Chamberlain

Sep.r 10.th 1767
Recd
June before last more y.n he ow.d £8—
before he returnd in ye Spring.- 3 − 10—
of Cap.t Butler 60—
when he went from here} 5—
last spring . . . }
 ____________
 £ 76..10 LM
paid
for Jo.s Johnſon £9..8..2
Horse ߞ 14ߞ
Sundry Debts ߞ 79ߞ
York Money £102..8..2 [illegible]
 25..12..[illegible][guess: ½]
 ___________
Lawful Money £76.16..1 ½
besides Calvin & Moses to supply
& charge of his last Journey
& extraordinary Expense
about his discovery ߞ
all paid by £76..10
Chamberlain, Theophilus

Theophilus Chamberlain was a Yale graduate and missionary employed by Wheelock. His interest in Indian ministry may have started during the French and Indian War, when he was taken captive by a tribe allied with the French (it is unclear which tribe) at Fort William Henry and spent a year in Nova Scotia. After his return to New England, Chamberlain attended Yale. Wheelock recruited Chamberlain, along with fellow Yale graduate Titus Smith, to spearhead Moor's 1765 mission to the Six Nations. Chamberlain was examined as a missionary on March 12, 1765, and ordained on April 24, 1765. During the mission, he was stationed at Canajoharie (the Mohawk "Upper Castle") and oversaw the mission to the Mohawks. While on his mission, he converted to Sandemanianism, a decision that profoundly shaped the rest of his life. It is difficult to evaluate his efficacy as a missionary: he had high praise for himself, and David Fowler said the Mohawks were affectionate towards him, but Occom described him as overzealous. Chamberlain served the duration of his contract, but clashed with Wheelock afterwards over who was responsible for debts he had incurred on his mission (e.g. transportation costs, support for schoolmasters and interpreters). After departing from Wheelock's service, Chamberlain was ordained as a Sandemanian bishop. He fled to New York and later Nova Scotia during the American Revolution because of his religious and political beliefs. In Nova Scotia, Chamberlain oversaw the establishment of the settlement of Preston.

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.

Butler, John

Captain John Butler was a prominent military officer and loyalist. He was born in New London, CT in 1728, and he received his education there. John’s father, Captain Walter Butler, had served well under Sir William Johnson, prompting Johnson to endorse the family. When Sir William became Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1755, he appointed John Butler and his brother, Walter Butler, Jr., as captains in the Indian Department; the two fought in the battle of Lake George on September 8 of that year. John Butler commanded Indian forces throughout the French and Indian War, and he often acted as an interpreter. He became Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs and a Lieutenant Colonel of the militia. While he lived in NY, he hosted various figures on their journeys to the Oneida Nation. When Sir William died in 1774, General Guy Carleton, the military governor of Quebec, appointed John Butler as the interim Superintendent of Indian Affairs; Sir William’s nephew, Guy Johnson, replaced him in July of 1776. In the summer of 1775, Colonel Guy Johnson, John Butler and his son, Walter, escaped to Canada, but the Revolutionaries seized Butler’s property and carried his wife and children to Albany, where they remained under surveillance. Captain Butler continued to be involved with Indian forces during the Revolutionary War. He commanded Butler’s Rangers, a loyalist special forces team that fought alongside Indians, and he is known for leading the Rangers in the Wyoming Massacre of 1778 in Wyoming Valley, PA. In 1779 the Americans released his family during an exchange of prisoners. They reunited in Niagara, where Butler maintained his headquarters during the war and remained thereafter. Butler secured compensation from London for the property losses he suffered due to the Revolution, and he lived the remainder of his life as a notable citizen in Niagara, serving as judge of the district court and Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs. He died near Niagara in May of 1796.

Sabers, Wm
Johnson, Joseph

Joseph Johnson was a Mohegan who studied at Moor’s Indian Charity School and became one of the most important organizers of the Brothertown Movement (a composite tribe composed of Christian members of seven Southern New England Algonquian settlements). He was a prolific writer and his papers are relatively well-preserved. Johnson’s writing is especially noteworthy for his skillful use of Biblical allusion and his awareness of the contradiction that he, as an educated Native American, presented to white colonists. Johnson arrived at Moor’s in 1758, when he was seven years old, and studied there until 1766, when he became David Fowler’s usher at Kanawalohale. He continued teaching in Oneida territory until the end of 1768, when Samuel Kirkland sent him home in disgrace for drunkeness and bad behavior. After a stint teaching at Providence, Rhode Island, and working on a whaling ship, Johnson returned to Mohegan in 1771 and became a zealous Christian. He opened a school at Farmington, CT, in 1772, for which he seems to have received some minimal support from the New England Company. From his base at Farmington, he began organizing Southern New England Algonquians for the Brothertown project. The goal was to purchase land from the Oneidas, the most Christianized of the Six Nations, and form a Christian Indian town incorporating Algonquian and Anglo-American elements. Johnson spent the rest of his short life garnering necessary support and legal clearance for the Brothertown project. Johnson died sometime between June 10, 1776 and May 1777, at 25 or 26 years old, six or seven years before Brothertown was definitively established in 1783. He was married to Tabitha Occom, one of Samson Occom’s daughters. She lived at Mohegan with their children even after Brothertown’s founding, and none of their children settled at Brothertown permanently. Like most of Wheelock’s successful Native American students, Johnson found that he could not satisfy his teacher's contradictory standards for Native Americans. Although Johnson's 1768 dismissal created a hiatus in their relationship, Johnson reopened contact with Wheelock after his re-conversion to a degree that other former students, such as Samson Occom, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, never did.

Calvin, Hezekiah

Hezekiah Calvin was one of Eleazar Wheelock's first Native American students. Like Wheelock’s other early Delaware students, he was sent by the minister John Brainerd. Calvin was certified as a schoolteacher on March 12, 1765, and was sent to the Mohawks at Fort Hunter in June 1765. The Mohawks threw him out at the end of September 1766, and he returned to Moor's. Samuel Johnson, an Anglo-American Yale student who replaced Calvin at Fort Hunter, reported that the residents unanimously accused Calvin of being abusive and rude. Calvin, in turn, maintained that the Fort Hunter Mohawks had mistreated him. Calvin’s second stint at Moor’s did not go well. He wrote several confessions for drunkenness and bad behavior, and frequently spoke ill of Wheelock. He left the school in the spring of 1768, and took up residence with the Secutor family (Narragansett) at Charlestown, Rhode Island. Calvin left the Narragansetts sometime late in 1768, presumably after the dissolution of his relationship with Mary Secutor. Wheelock heard reports early in 1769 that Calvin had been imprisoned at Little Ease, NJ, for forging a pass for a Black man (Calvin does not appear in the county records, so either he was never indicted or Wheelock had his information wrong). By 1777, Calvin was in a position of prominence at Brotherton, NJ (a town of Christian Delawares founded under John Brainerd’s ministry). At some point after 1788, Calvin moved west with the Delawares: he may have moved directly to join the Delawares in Ohio territory, or he may have relocated to Stockbridge in 1802 and then moved west.

Moses

Moses was a Mohawk Indian and Wheelock student who was part of the mission to the Canajoharie, Onaquaga, and Cherry Valley areas from 1765-1766. He taught the displaced Oneidas under Good Peter and Isaac Dakayenensere at Lake Otsego (next to Cherry Valley), along with Smith and Gunn. He taught reading and writing to between eight and 12 students. Although Joseph Woolley was initially supposed to teach this school, he fell ill and Moses replaced him. Moses also subbed for Woolley when Woolley visited the Tuscaroras. Like the other schoolteachers, Moses left over the winter of 1765 and returned to Wheelock, but he was back at Canajoharie by the next fall to teach with Samuel Johnson and Jacob Fowler. Theophilus Chamberlain speculated they could set up a third school for Moses, but this did not come to pass because by December 1st, less than a month after Chamberlain’s letter, Moses had traveled to Wheelock and back to Fort Hunter delivering letters. The Indians at Fort Hunter would not take him as a teacher because they preferred Johnson and distrusted unknown teachers after their experience with Hezekiah Calvin (according to Johnson). Moses appears to have continued working in the area, because in 1768 he refused Aaron Kinne’s request that he act as interpreter.

Fowler, Jacob

Jacob Fowler was a Montauk Indian whose life was dramatically shaped by Samson Occom, his brother-in-law. Occom taught Jacob when he was a child, and in 1762, Jacob followed his older brother David Fowler to Moor's. After three years he was approved as an usher in the 1765 examination, and in 1766 he went to assist Samuel Johnson at Canajoharie. He taught among the Six Nations until at least mid-1767. In early 1770, Occom procured him a job teaching at Mushantuxet through the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Jacob taught and preached among the Pequots at Mushantuxet and Stonington until 1774, when Wheelock hired him to teach at Moor's, which had relocated to Hanover, NH as a complement to Dartmouth College. During this time, Jacob also assisted Joseph Johnson with efforts to rally the New England Christian tribes for a move to Oneida territory (the Brothertown Movement). By 1776, there were no Indians enrolled in Moor's and Jacob moved on to serve Governor John Trumbull of CT as a messenger to the Six Nations during the Revolution. After the Revolution, he continued organizing the Brothertown Movement and was among those who initially emigrated in 1784. He was elected clerk at Brothertown, and died sometime in the spring of 1787.

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