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Elizabeth Walcutt, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1769 September 8

ms-number: 769508

abstract: Walcutt writes that she is going to send her son to the school.

handwriting: Handwriting is informal yet clear and legible. It is possibly not that of Walcutt's. The trailer is in a different, unknown hand.

paper: Small single sheet is in good condition, with light staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Brown.

noteworthy: This document is possibly a copy.



Revd & Dear Sir,
haveing underſtood by mr maſon that the School
is fixed So as to Confirm my hopes of your taking
my Son I imbrace this opprtunity by him to know
if he Should not anſwer the End preposed that
Whether there will any Charge ariſe to me in Caſe
he Should Stay till 14 or 15 years of age which will
not interfere with his Learning a trade and how
Long before you will Send for him that I may
be a fiting him with Cloths and I Shall be glad
if you would tell mr maſon as you Shall think
proper for I am Reſolvd not to Let trifels DisCorag
me for I am Very much Set apon it to have the
trial made and Leave the Event to him who is
the Soverange order of all things So wishing you
all that Divine Support that the nature of So nobel
and great a work Requires

I am Revd Sir your
Sincear frind and a well wisher
Eliz Wallcut
M.rs Eliza: Walcut's
 Sepr 8th 1769

Moor’s Indian Charity School
Moor’s Indian Charity School was a grammar school for Native Americans that Eleazar Wheelock opened in North Lebanon, Connecticut in 1754. The school was named for Colonel Joshua Moor, also spelled More, who donated the land and school building. Moor’s was essentially an expansion of the grammar school that Wheelock opened in 1743 to support himself during the fallout from the First Great Awakening, when Wheelock, who'd participated in itinerant ministry during the Awakening, had his salary confiscated by the colony of Connecticut. In December of that year, Samson Occom asked Wheelock to teach him as well. Wheelock's work with Occom was so successful that Wheelock decided to replicate the experiment with other Native American boys. He accepted his first Indian students in 1754, and in 1761 began taking female students as well. Wheelock believed that in time, his school would become just one part of a larger missionary enterprise. He planned to send his Anglo American and Native American students to various tribes as missionaries and schoolmasters, with explicit instructions to pick out the best students and send them back to Moor’s to continue the cycle. His ultimate goal was to turn his school into a model Christian Indian town that would include farms, a college, and vocational training. However, Wheelock’s grand design did not survive the decade. Wheelock lost the vast majority of his Native American students; he fought with many of the best, including Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, and other former and current students accused him of subjecting Native Americans to disproportionate amounts of manual labor. In 1769, perhaps due to concerns about corporal punishment, the Oneida withdrew all their children from Moor’s. When Wheelock relocated to Hanover in 1769, only two Native American students came with him, and it became clear that Wheelock’s focus was on Dartmouth and that Dartmouth was for white students. After Wheelock’s death in 1779, Moor’s Indian Charity School receded further into the background as John Wheelock, his father’s reluctant successor, stopped taking Indian students. Some Native American students were enrolled in Moor’s until 1850, when the school unofficially closed.
Boston

The first English immigrant to settle on a peninsula in a harbor on the northeastern coast of North America the local Algonquin Indians called "Shawmet" was William Blackstone in 1629. A year later, John Winthrop arrived with a group of English Puritans and other settlers and named the area Boston after his hometown in Lincolnshire, England. The colony quickly developed representative political institutions that would help shape a democratic nation. Over the next few centuries, Boston emerged as an intellectual and educational center, and, because of its excellent harbor, became a leading commercial hub and a primary port for North America. It is the capital and largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the largest city in New England. Boston was the home for the Boards of Commissioners of several overseas religious societies who sent missionaries throughout the colonies in the 18th century, and was the site of many important events of the American Revolution.

Wallcut, Elizabeth (née Marshall)

Elizabeth Wallcut was the sister of Colonel Thomas Marshall, a Revolutionary war patriot, and the niece of Susanna Wheatley, mistress of the African slave and poet Phillis Wheatley. Born in 1721 into a Boston family of tradespeople of moderate means and education, Wallcut married and had three sons, Christopher, Benjamin and Thomas, and one daughter, Lucy. Through the Wheatleys, Wallcut was connected to the Christian Evangelical and Indian-mission circles in New England, and was close to Phillis Wheatley. According to family accounts, Wallcut was a person of strong character. In 1770, she sent her youngest son Thomas, then 12, to attend Moor's Indian Charity School, recently removed to Hanover, New Hampshire. Though promising, Thomas was not a good student, and in June 1774, Wheelock sent him, with Levi Frisbie, to Canada to learn Indian languages. Wallcut and her daughter Lucy moved to Hanover as caretakers of the Indians boys, including several Abenakis who had come from Canada to increase the flagging population of Natives at the School to almost 20. They shared lodging with the Indian boys and Jacob Fowler, a former Wheelock pupil and then teacher at the School, and his wife Esther. Thomas entered Dartmouth in 1775, and after he took a job in a hospital in Albany in 1776, Wallcut and Lucy moved back to Boston. Wallcut's son Benjamin was taken prisoner by the British and her son Christopher was killed in battle in 1777. There is some evidence that Phillis Wheatley took refuge in Wallcut's house in Boston after the British left in 1777, and that John Peters, Wheatley's husband, tried but failed to retrieve Wheatley's second manuscript of poems from Lucy. After the War, Wallcut ran a "dame school" in Boston for the children of prominent families. The Boston City Directory for 1789 lists "Walcutt, Widow, school-mistress, Purchase-street."

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.

Walcutt, Thomas
HomeElizabeth Walcutt, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1769 September 8
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