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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Wentworth, 1769 December 5

ms-number: 769655

abstract: Wheelock writes that part of the Narragansett Tribe would like to move to a new settlement; he suggests that they might be given a township on the Connecticut River.

handwriting: The clear, careful handwriting in the body of the letter is not Wheelock's, although the trailers are in Wheelock's hand.

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

noteworthy: This document is likely a copy kept by Wheelock for his records. Wheelock also mentions the desire of some Charlestown Narragansetts to resettle in a letter to Occom -- manuscript number 769125. An editor, likely 19th-century, has added the note "respecting Indians" beneath the trailer. This note has not been transcribed.

signature: Abbreviated signature is not Wheelock's.

May it please Your Excellency.
Jn.o Shattock, an Indian Youth of y.e Narragansett Tribe in Roh
Rhodisland, who, after he had for some time been a member of my School
went with his Brother to England, as agent for yir Tribe, & is now one of
y.e Council of y.t Tribe, & I eſteem him to be a man of good Sence, &
Integrity, came to me, last week, at y.e Desire of y.e civilized & christani
=zed part of y.t Tribe, privately to enquire of me, whether I could by any means
direct them where ya might purchaſe a Township of good lands, on wh y.a
might settle by themselves, & live by Husbandry, & enjoy all y.e Liberties
& Priviliges of English Inhabitants — I mentioned to him y.e Lands
yet uncharted (as I supposed) in y.r Province, above y.e new Settle
=ments on Connecticut River, as being very good, & told him.
y.o had given y.e fullest demonstration of y.r friendship to y.e Indians
both in Europe & America; And y.t I doubted not y.r Excellency would
be ready to shew them any reasonable Favour within y.r Power, &
be glad of an opportunity for it — The Young man seem'd —
much animated wth y.e prospect; & immediately Advised his Constituents
of it by a line, & concluded to continue for a while wth me & persue
his Studies — On his mentioning their desire to me, so many circum
=stances appeared, at first view, so inviting y.t I could but think y.e Matter
worthy of consideration, viz, whether such a Town of Civilized Indians
in y.t Town place will not be a Barrier & safeguaard to y.e new Settle­
=ments, if Canada should ever be given back to y.e French, & y.e Savages,
again moved to invade our Frontiers. — And Whether y.e Example
of such a Town of christianized Indians, might not likely have a happy
Influence to credit our Design of Civilizing y.e Tribes back? — And whether
such a town may not be a most proper place for some of yir savage
Children to get Instruction in Husbandry, & y.e other Arts of civilized
Life, as well as of y.e first principles of christanity? — And as to
yir manner of living be a proper Medium between y.e Savages & y.e
English, & so obviate an Objection w.h y.a have made sometimes made
against comming into y.e English manner of living "y.t y.e first
step was too high for them." and whether, in a word, y.u might not
do much to Credit, incourage & facilitate, y.e general Design in view
& be well approved, & applauded Abroad? they dont mean nor desig[illegible]re to
have y.e Township given them; but to have it upon the same terms &
hold it by y.e same Tenure, as if y.a were English Inhabitants; & perhaps

any proposal more favourable, would occasion Jealousies in some
who have been wont to be imposd upon. y.t yre was some secret snare laid
for them — I tho't proper to Advise y.r Excellency of y.e matter, &
if y.o should think favourably of it, & find y.t y.a may be Accomodated
agreable to yir mind, wth good Lands, near some fishing place, please
to let me know y.r Excellencys pleasure therein by a Line; & y.t w.thout
y.e publication of it, as y.a apprehend yir way will likely be embarraſs
=ed if it should be known before y.e ſeſsions of y.e General Aſsemb
=ly of y.t Coloney in Febry next; to which y.a design to petition
for Liberty to Sell yir Lands — I ſubmitt the whole to
y.r Excellencys superior wisdom, & will rely upon y.r
pardon if I have been too officious, Since I can aſsure
y.r Excellency, with how much Affection and Esteem.

I am
 Your Excellency's
 most Obedient, and
 most Humble ſervant

  Eleaz.r Wheelock
Lettr to Gov.r Wentworth
 Dec.r 5. 1769.

John Wentworth Esq.r Gov.r of New Hamſhire
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.

Wentworth, John

Sir John Wentworth was the last of the Royal Governors of the Province of New Hampshire. He served as governor from 1767-1775, succeeding his uncle Benning Wentworth. He also shares a name with his grandfather, John Wentworth (1671-1730), who served as Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of New Hampshire from 1717-1730. During his tenure, Wentworth worked to develop the interior of New Hampshire through the creation of the five original counties, the granting of tracts of land and the building of roads between the seacoast and the Connecticut River. He also secured the land and signed the charter for Dartmouth College in 1769. Wentworth remained loyal to the crown throughout his time in office. The increasing tensions created by his loyalist sentiments in the years leading up to the American Revolution eventually ended his reign as governor in 1775. Wentworth was later appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia.

Shattock, John Jr.

John Shattock Jr. was a Narragansett council member and schoolmaster. Along with his brother Tobias, he briefly attended Moor's from December 1766 to the fall of 1767. Like many Moor's students, John and Tobias came from a prominent family: their father was John Shattock Sr., a Narragansett lay minister. Tobias and John Jr. received their basic education from Edward Deake at Charlestown, and then attended Moor's until they withdrew late in 1767 to try to prevent Narragansett land sales. The Narragansett sachems had run up massive debt over the course of the 18th century, and were trying to sell Narragansett land to the colony of Rhode Island to settle them, while much of the Narragansett Tribe opposed this course of action. John Jr. and Tobias took the lead in recruiting powerful Anglo-American allies for the Tribe, including Andrew Oliver, Sir William Johnson, George Whitefield, and Eleazar Wheelock. With these men's help, John Jr. and Tobias were able to secure a halt to land sales and plan a trip to London to plead their case before the Privy Council. They departed in January 1768 and arrived at Edinburgh on April 15, where they both fell ill with smallpox. John survived, but Tobias died on May 6th. John continued on to London, but failed in his appeal. He returned to the colonies where he took an active role in Narragansett leadership. He considered urging his tribe to move to Oneida territory, and even talked with Wheelock about relocating the Tribe to the upper Connecticut River, in New Hampshire territory (the Tribe decided it would be too cold there). In 1770, John briefly taught the Lantern Hill Pequots in North Stonington, CT before he died of consumption that December.

HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Wentworth, 1769 December 5
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