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Aaron Kinne, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1768 June 23

ms-number: 768373.1

abstract: Kinne writes that the Oneidas have agreed to his proposal for a more permanent ministry.

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

paper: Single large sheet is in good condition, with light staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Brown-black.


Hon..d D..r

When I wrote last had ob‐
tained an Interpreter & was returning Home—
Tuesday went to O. Onida—a Council was calld—
Chiefs met — made a speech to them in which
desired [illegible]their Mind about receiveing the Gospel—
if they conſented, offer'd to preach once a week—
And to satiſfy myſelf of their Sincerity & Friend
ship, enquired what they should think about
having a Minister tarry with them in a more
steady way — telling them 'twas of great impor‐
tance that the D.r Should fully know their dis
position about the Gospel — that was going to
send directly to N England & give an account of
what they said— But some of the House being
absent— refused an Answer — said in the Evening
they would all be at Home, when they would consi
der what had been laid before them — & send an ans‐
wer the next Morning—
Yesterday a Meſsenger came with the Result of
the Council — said they were willing & desirous of
[left]From M.r Aaron Kinne
June 23. 1768

once a Week— should be glad of a Minister to tarry with
them but had not Provision — the Council determined
further to consider that Matter — I told thim if they
tho't one was coming to live with them they did not
understand me — all I wanted was to know their mind
fully — tho', if they were engaged & behaved well, 'twas
likely they would be considered — To day he came
with Yesterday's Result — they & this Castle were one —
they had young Perſons that would get drunk &
then they would abuse the Mindister — upon the whole
if they could have preaching once a week they would be sa‐
tiſfy'd & thankful —
The Chiefs of the Tribes are to Meet at S.r William's
in about a Month — the Onondagaes are determin'd
not to give an Answer to their offer till then — & then
in the presence of all — William has been to Canase‐
raga
— to bring a Child designed for the school — the
Mother said 'twas too Young — would keep it till sp[gap: blotted_out][guess: ri]ng,
& send it then — Desiring the Enlargement of the
Redeemer's Kingdom among the Heathen — & praying
that the School may be succeeded & bleſs'd to that End,
am,
Hon,,d Doct.r,
Your
most obedient &
humble Servant,
Aaron Kinne.

[bottom]Rev..d D.r Wheelock

Onondaga Nation
The Onondaga Nation, one of the original Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, has its traditional lands on Onondaga Lake in central New York State, just south of Lake Ontario. Their name means "people of the hills." Around 1450, Onondaga was the site of the founding of the Confederacy, when Hiawatha and Deganawidah, the Peacemaker, persuaded the warlike Onondaga chief Tadodaho to accept the Great Law of Peace. Because of its central location, with the Cayugas and Senecas to the west and the Oneidas and Mohawks to the east, Onondaga is where the Haudenosaunee's government historically met and still meets today. Thus, the Tribe is known as the "Keepers of the Fire." By 1677, the Haudenosaunees allied with the English through an agreement known as the Covenant Chain, and together fought the French and their Huron allies, historical enemies of the Confederacy. During the Revolution, the Onondaga Nation was initially officially neutral, but after the Continental Army attacked their main village on April 20, 1779, they sided with the majority of Haudenosaunees and allied with Britain. After the British defeat, many Onondagas followed the Mohawk leader Joseph Brant to Six Nations, Ontario. In 1794, the Onondagas and other members of the Confederacy signed the Treaty of Canandaigua with the US, insuring their right to their homelands. During the 1760s, Wheelock sent several missionaries to the Onondaga Nation as the governing council of the Haudenosaunees, but failed to get tribal approval to station a missionary with them or recruit students. Samuel Ashpo, a Mohegan Indian educated at Wheelock's school, visited Onondaga in 1764, with moderate success. Then, in 1768, Wheelock sent his son Ralph with offers to preach and to recruit students, but the Onondaga chiefs found Ralph's imperious manner insulting, and declined to give a definite answer. At that meeting, an infuriated Onondaga chief shook Ralph by the shoulder, complained of the mistreatment of their children, and said: "Learn yourself to understand the word of God, before you undertake to teach & govern others" (McCallum 287). In 1774, Joseph Johnson, who was probably Ralph’s interpreter at the explosive 1768 conference, confirmed the chiefs' disaffection but hoped to begin preaching to the Onondagas the following year, which would give him access to the other Tribes. The Onondagas, however, remained opposed to Protestant missionaries until the 1830s.
Kanawalohale

Kanawalohale was a village located in the present-day town of Vernon in central New York state. In the 18th century, it was an Oneida village located about 60 miles west of the Mohawk village Canajoharie. Because the village’s name was similar to the Mohawk village of Canajoharie, many sources conflate the two. Founded in the mid-18th century, Kanawalohale was made up of a cluster of about 40 homes along the Oneida Creek, south of Oneida Lake. The name means head on a post in reference to an enemy soldier's skull displayed in the village. In 1765, David Fowler established an Indian school in Kanawalohale, where Wheelock’s son, Ralph, worked. Between the years of 1765 and 1767, Kanawalohale hosted many of Wheelock's missionaries including Samuel Kirkland, Joseph Johnson, David Avery, and Aaron Kinne. The Indians of Kanawalohale used their relationship with missionaries such as Kirkland to gain prestige over the formerly central Oneida village, Old Oneida. Kirkland often wrote in his journal about the dialogues he had with the Indians at Kanawalohale, who refused to receive his teachings silently. The Christian Indian population grew throughout the 1760s with at least 200 Indians attending church in the village. In 1780, Joseph Brant, a Mohawk allied with the British, led a war party against the revolting colonists, with whom the Oneidas had allied, that destroyed the Oneida village of Kanawalohale. This area is known today as Oneida Castle.

Oneida

Oneida is a city in Madison County located at the geographical center of New York state. Before European settlement of the area, the Oneida Tribe, one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, inhabited a large territory adjacent to nearby Oneida Lake. Around 1533, they built their first village on the south shore of the lake, at or near the mouth of Oneida Creek. At the end of the 17th century, this area began suffering raids by parties from the French colony of Quebec, in a battle to control the fur trade. In 1696, Oneida village was burned by the French. As a result, the Oneidas moved their chief village east of the original site, called Old Oneida, to a new site called Kanawalohale, also known as Oneida Castle, which was fortified by tall palisades and a moat. This is the site of the present-day village of Oneida Castle, a small hamlet west of the city of Oneida in the northwest corner of the town of Vernon. When used in Occom Circle documents, the place name "Oneida" usually refers to the territory inhabited by the Tribe east of Oneida Lake, but can also refer specifically to Oneida Castle. Although the Oneidas sided with the patriots during the Revolutionary War, much of their territory was sold or appropriated by the state of New York. In 1790, the first European settlers moved into the area of Old Oneida village, and the district began to expand. In the 1830s, the state built a feeder from Oneida Creek through the present city site to provide water for the new canal system, which enabled canal boats to ship freight into the town. Eventually, the railroad came through the town and helped with its expansion. This led to the incorporation of the Village of Oneida in 1848 and the establishment of the Town of Oneida in 1896. The town was chartered as the City of Oneida in 1901, and with two more railroad lines transecting the area, it became a thriving manufacturing center for the first half of the 20th century.

New England
Canaseraga
Kinne, Aaron

Aaron Kinne was a Congregationalist minister and scholar who, like Titus Smith and Theophilus Chamberlain, worked as a missionary for Wheelock after graduating from Yale. After his 1765 graduation, he taught and studied at Moor's for a year before making two trips as a missionary in 1766: one to Maine to report on the local Indian tribes, and one to the Oneidas, the latter being cut short by poor health. He returned in the summer of 1768 to substitute for Samuel Kirkland. Kinne was ordained in 1770 and became the minister of the Congregationalist church at Groton, Connecticut, where he served until he was dismissed in 1798. He also became a prolific scholar, and during the Revolution, served as chaplain to American troops, including those massacred at the Battle of Fort Griswold. After dismissal from Groton, Kinne lived in a variety of locations in New England and was sporadically employed as a missionary. He died in Ohio while visiting one of daughters.

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.

Johnson, William

Sir William Johnson was a powerful British colonial official who amassed wealth and influence by integrating into the Mohawk tribe. For a brief window of time (1761-1768), he provided support for Wheelock’s missionary efforts among the Six Nations. He also helped the Brothertown Nation of Indians procure land from the Oneidas. Johnson was born in Ireland in 1715. His family had been part of the Catholic elite, but after William of Orange’s 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne, they at least nominally converted to the Episcopalian Church. In 1738, Johnson emigrated to America to manage his uncle Peter Warren’s estate in Mohawk territory. Over the next decade, Johnson became wealthy in his own right through trade and land sales, acquiring a vast estate crowned by his manor house, Johnson Hall, which became the central location for British and Indian treaty making. In 1745, Johnson began collecting official British titles and positions. He played an important military role in the French and Indian War and was named Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1756 and first baronet of New York in 1757. Much of Johnson’s success was due to his influence among the Mohawks, which he obtained by learning their language and customs and integrating himself into their society. He participated in Mohawk rituals and entered into a common-law marriage with a powerful Mohawk woman, Molly Brant (also called Mary Brant). Because Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) society is matrilineal, this marriage was an essential element of his participation in Indian affairs. Wheelock desperately wanted to wield missionary influence among the Six Nations, and sought to obtain Johnson as an ally in his endeavors. At first, the two found grounds for cooperation. Wheelock sent Occom as a missionary to the Oneidas in 1761 and again in 1762, and sent a substantially larger group of missionaries and schoolmasters in 1765, 1766, and 1767. Johnson, meanwhile, encouraged Haudenosaunee children, including his brother-in-law Joseph Brant, to attend Moor’s. Johnson’s support proved indispensible to missionaries in the field; he helped with supplies, language skills, and relations with the Mohawks and Oneidas. Wheelock also valued Johnson for his influence in Britain, and drew on him for recommendations and public statements of support numerous times. From 1763 on, however, Johnson found himself decidedly uncomfortable with Wheelock’s missionary efforts, and by 1769, their relationship had dissolved completely. In 1766, Johnson was invited to join the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), the largest and most influential Anglican missionary society in the 18th-century British-Atlantic world. He began working to place Anglican missionaries, rather than Congregationalist and Presbyterian ones, among the Six Nations, which alarmed Wheelock. Johnson was generally supportive of Native American tribes’ efforts to maintain their land and sovereignty. As the historian Linford Fisher has noted, “virtually every major Native group in southeastern New England successfully petitioned Johnson to act on their behalf during the late 1760s and early 1770s.” Among these groups was the Brothertown Nation, a Christian composite tribe formed by Southern New England Algonquian Moor’s alumni. Johnson helped them negotiate with the Oneidas, which proved essential to their successful land purchase and relocation to central New York.

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