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Nathan Clap, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1768 June 28

ms-number: 768378

abstract: Clap confesses his sin, asks forgiveness, and asks to marry Mary Foey, Wheelock’s maid.

handwriting: Handwriting is slanted and somewhat scrawling, yet largely clear and legible. Letter case is frequently difficult to decipher, especially with regard to the letter S. The trailer is in a different, unknown hand.

paper: Single small sheet is mostly in good condition, however a large portion of it is torn away, which results in a loss of text.

ink: Strong black.

signature: Due to tear, the signature is missing.


Reverend & worthy Docter
I do take this overtunity with
A great deal of humility acknwledgeing my self
not wothy of the Least favour from your honour,
whos ha[illegible][guess: s] [illegible] been so kind to my poor despised
brethren, & in perticucler to wards me — but as I
am made to see the power and dominion of sin
and and what a weak and frail thing man is
when Left to him Self — I must confeſs with sham
that I have sinned I have done foollishly and am
not worthy to be reconed into your famle [illegible]
to be treated as such — I hop I have heard the voice
of Christ in sum meshure calling upon me as he did
unto the unconverted peter — Saton hath desire
to have you that he might sift you as wheat
but I have prayed for you that your faith fail
not, and when your are converted Strenhen your
brethern — I desire your prayers for me that I
might reform to live Soberly & be more watch‸
full dand prayerfull, against the delusions of my
sinful Lust, and that I may become a true
pennatatient — I humbly disire the Docters forgiv
neſs and I do promas by[illegible] the gracs of god assesting
of me to repent and to reform to live to the praise
[left]Nathan Claps
June 28. 1768
of his glory —I desire to submit and yeld my
self into the hands of the sovren will of god,
and as I am bro[illegible]ught to see what the powers
of Love will do, I do [illegible]com at Lest I desire to
come humbl and ask one pettion of your honour
beging your kind & honourable compassions upon
me — but how to ask you I no not o pray Sir,
forgive my egnorance and stupedy and pray Sir pleas to grant that
Ms Mary foey your maide might be given to me to
wife — or vanish me away from the School,
I never throught She would preveiled with me
so much as to get my heart, — but I hop it is all
ordered by gods holy Providence to keep me humbl
and as she has been exorting of me about the
things that narly consern my soul, I am filled
with wonder and amaisment to hear that I hophope
god put into her heart to Speak unto me to
awaken my Poor sinsick soul —nevertheleſs
I desire to Submit and yeald my self under your
honourable fatherly correctsion if it is to van:
ish me from the School I will go away and ac:
knoledge it is no more than what I deserve
my hearts desire and Prayer to god is that all
things might be orderd for the Prayes of his own
Glory — I am grevd to think that I have greved
and disonered you So much pray Sir pleas to forgive
me — tho I Shall never for give my Self I wan­
nt to Say and writ agreat Deal but I must brak
of hear beging that god [illegible] would direct your
way be fore you and order what cornsirns me
in great mercy your afectonate Puple and very
[right] Nathan Clap
Clap, Nathan
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.

Foey, Mary
HomeNathan Clap, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1768 June 28
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