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David Crosby, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1768 March 12

ms-number: 768212.1

abstract: Crosby writes asking to be admitted to the school and expressing his desire to be useful.

handwriting: Formal handwriting is clear and legible. The trailer is in an unknown hand.

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

ink: Brown.

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


Reverend & honour'd Doc.r
The laſt time you was pleaſed to honour me
with yr compony in Your Stody. You was pleaſ'd to obſerve
that you alow'd yr Scholors, freequently to write to you, and
of Things indeferend, when Things of greater Importence
did not accru. By which meens as you ſaid, you [illegible]had the
Advantage of making Obſervations, uſeful to yourſelf, as
well as of gaining oppertunity to ſet them right in
their notions of Things. And although I may not as
yet claim the right of a Scholar, yet I muſt o[illegible]
oan, that the deſires I feel, [illegible][guess: and] hope I cheriſh,
and deſires I feel of being Sone time or other, ſo
to happy as to be taken into yr ſervis and under you care and —
protection, has moved me at this time to uſe a[illegible] Li‐
burty, which perhaps will not be granted. I do not meen
by this to ſugjeſt as though I thought that any Thing I could
write could be of Advantage to you, Yet as I know it is
in the goodneſs of your Nature to do good to all Men,
ſo I am incoureged to hope, that it may by ſome meens, or‐
other give you Oppertunity of doing good to me. and whatever
I have writ or may write, I beg you would correct as you
may ſee occaſion, but Indulgue me at this time with fling‐
ing myſelf a[illegible]t yr Feet and requeſting the Thing of you,
you was pleaſ,d to obſerve I ſtood in ſo much need of
viz. of being in yr Houſe & ſchool, to be made acquainted
with good Rules, & taught to follow good Examples, in order
thereby to be the better fitted for futer Uſefulneſs. I am ſo

Blank page. annimated ywith deſires of being made ſerviſable to God,
and uſeful to my fellow Men, the little time I may yet
hbe continued in Life, as that I am impatient of Delay
If you could ſee it in your wWay to let me come into
yr Famoly & ſerve with yr meeneſt ſervents, methinks
I ſhould count no ſerviſes to hard, nor nothing too dear
to [illegible]part with, to porches ſhuch a Faivour. If it ſhould
ſeem good to you ſir, to make uſe of ſhuch a Method in
order to be better aquainted with my Motives & ſincear
deſires & popoſes, I can aſſure you [illegible] there can be no Method
I can think of that ſo much falls in with my own
Inclination ofr for which I ſhould look on myſelf more
obligated to you. If it should ſeem good to you to make
tryal in this Way, as I obſerv'd: and after all you ſhould
[left]not think fit to imploy me in any futer ſervisſs whereby [illegible]I
might make you amends for the Pains and trouble
I may give you, yet I hope thro' the bleſsing of a
kind Providence, and the ſmiles of Heaven on an honeſt
Induſtery, to be enabled to make you amends ſome o‐
ther way. But as I fear I have already been too preſuiming
I ſhall only add that I beg yr Prayers to Almighty
God for me, that I might be keept continualy in his
Love Fear, & ſerviſ. aAs alſo that I am,
Reverand Sir P

In all [illegible]Reſpects & Obedience yours to ſerve
 David Croſby
Lebanon March 12th}
1768
}
PS. I have porpoſe of adviſing with (ſo ſoon as Opertunity
ſhall ſerve) about putintg myſelf under yr Paſtorial care &
watch of this the Church


David Crosby's
March 12[gap: stain][guess: th] 1768

To the Reverend Doctor
Eleazer Wheelock
Paſtor of a Church
of Chriſt in Lebanon
Crosby, David

David Crosby was born, 1729, in Billerica, MA to David Crosby and Sarah Foster. There is very little information about his life. He married Elizabeth [Unknown] in 1756. They would have three children. By Sept. 1766, Crosby was acquainted with Eleazar Wheelock, whom Crosby admired and championed. He wrote and visited Wheelock at least through the late 1760’s. It is likely that Elizabeth died within the few months following November 1767. Mentioning his own mortality and his wish for a useful life, Crosby writes to Wheelock in March 1768 offering to indenture himself in order to join Wheelock’s school and be prepared as a missionary. Sometime after June 10, 1768, he married Anne Thomas of Lebanon, CT. They would have four children together. Crosby then returned to or settled in East Hartford where he died in 1819; Anne died there also the following year.

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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