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Ebenezer Gurley, confession, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1770 February 3

ms-number: 770153.1

abstract: Gurley confesses that he tried to leave the school for Yale.

handwriting: Informal handwriting is somewhat uneven, though mostly clear and legible. It is possibly not Gurley's.

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

ink: The body of the document is written in dark-brown ink. The signature is in black ink.

noteworthy: When Gurley mentions "the school," it is uncertain whether he is referring to Moor's Indian Charity School or Dartmouth College, and so these mentions have been left untagged. It is possible that the confession is a copy, and was written by an unknown person, and signed by Gurley.


I Ebenezar Gurly acknowledge that I was admit‐
‐ted a member of this scholl, upon my declaring
my fixed purpoſe to devote my life, & all my pow‐
‐ers to the service of ye redeemer among the Indi‐
‐an savages of this land, & upon the credit of
this profeſsion I was taken under the patronage of
ye Revd: Doclor Wheelock, & have been supported,
till now, in part, by the fund which was collected with
a single view to spread the Gospel among ye Hea‐
‐then, and my obligations to maintain thoſe pur‐
‐poses, & keep that object in view have ever been most
sacred, and accordingly I acknowledge yt I was, & am—
still under[illegible] y.e direction & controul of Doctor Wheelock
my Patron. & he & no other has right to order & dis‐
‐poſe of me & direct my studies subservient to yt end,
Notwithstanding which I confeſs with shame I gave ear to
some surmiſes, which were reported without reason,
or truth, concerning this school viz; that it was de‐
‐clining & would quickly come to nothing &c. and was
influenced by bad council given agreeably [illegible][guess: thereto viz]
[illegible] whereupon instead
of opening the caſe, & asking advice of my Patron
as I ought to have done, I desired Brown a member
of College to obtain a waiters birth for me there, which
I —

I understand, he faithfully, & in a friendly man‐
‐ner apply'd for, by which application of mine
Presid Daggett had reason to think, yt I was not a sub‐
‐ject of [illegible]this Charity, nor under such sacred ties, as I am
holden by to pursue the design aforsd & consequently gave
just reason to think yt [illegible] Dr Wheelock had acted a very
false, & deceitful part, in procuring the favour of
a discharge from payingthe expence of my tuition, while I was ab‐
‐sent from College, I also impos'd on ye Rev:d Pres:d
Daggeth
, by sending such a meſsage to him when I
had no right to do it. I acknowledge in this matter
I have inadvertantly acted a very foolish, headlong, unadvized &
sinful part, for which I heartily ask forgiveneſs of
God, and of the Rev;d Doctor Wheelock whom I have
ungratefully, & abusively treated, in this matter, and
I also ask forgiveneſs of the Rev,d Presd Daggett
whom I have shamefully impos'd upon & also of the
school, & all who have been knowing to this my foolish
& unadviſed conduct, & I promiſe by divine grace to
keep my place, and act agreeable to the sacred ties
I am under, fixedly to pursue thie great end of my edu‐
cation. If I may be allow,d to continue a member of
this school—

Ebenezer Gurley
Lebanon
Feb'r 3.d 1770

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.
Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College is small liberal arts institution in Hanover, New Hampshire. It has about four thousand undergraduate students taking courses in Arts and Sciences, and another two thousand in graduate schools in the Sciences, Comparative Literature, and Liberal Studies, as well as the Geisel School of Medicine, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business. It is a member of the Ivy League, and the ninth oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S. The charter establishing the College was signed in 1769 by John Wentworth, Royal Governor of New Hamsphire, who wanted an academy of higher learning in the colony. Its founder, Eleazar Wheelock, was a Congregational minister from Connecticut who, after his success in educating Samson Occom as a school teacher and Indian missionary in the 1740's, started Moor's Indian Charity School in 1754 to continue what he regarded as a divine mission to educate Native boys and girls to become missionaries. As the school grew, Wheelock began looking for a new location closer to Indian Country where he could expand. But in the 1760's he became disillusioned by the relative failure of his progam and began turning his attention to the education of Anglo-American men as missionaries. After a protracted search, he secured the royal charter in New Hampshire and in 1769 moved his family and base of operations to Hanover, where he established the College. It is named for William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, who contributed to the funds raised by Occom and Whitaker on their fund-raising tour of Great Britain in 1766-68 and became a member of the London Trust that administered those funds. The College's charter announced its purpose as "the education and instruction of youth of the Indian tribes in this land [in] all parts of learning which shall appear necessary and expedient for civilizing and christianizing children of pagans…, and also of English youth and any others." But Wheelock's priorities were, in reality, the reverse. While he gave public notice in 1770 that "My Indian charity school … is now become a body corporate and politic, under the name of DARTMOUTH COLLEGE," he created this parallel structure to allow him to use the funds that were collected specifically for the education of Indians. Only around 75 Native students enrolled at the College before 1972, when it rededicated itself to educating Indians and established the Native American Studies Program. This is also the year Dartmouth went co-ed. Occom was angry and embittered at Wheelock’s abandonment of his “great design,” for which he had sacrificed so much. Their relations cooled after Occom’s return from England, and he never visited his mentor again, or, for that matter, Dartmouth College.
Lebanon

Lebanon is a town located in the state of Connecticut southwest of the town of Hartford. The land that became Lebanon was inhabited at least 10,000 years ago based on the archeological record. By the 1600s, the land was permanently inhabited by the Mohegan Indians, who used the area primarily for hunting. Lebanon was officially formed in 1700 when English settlers consolidated a number of land tracts, including several land grants by the Connecticut General Assembly and lands purchased from the Mohegans. However, these purchases were controversial. In 1659, the Mohegans entrusted their reserve land to Major John Mason, and in the following year, Mason transferred this land to the Connecticut colonial government with the understanding that there would be enough land left for the Mohegans to farm. The Mohegans claimed that they never authorized a transfer to the colonial government and only Mason’s heirs were entrusted with their land. In 1662, Connecticut, which included the Mohegan land that had been entrusted to the Masons, was incorporated by a royal charter. Based on this charter, the colony argued that the land was now the property of the government. In 1687, the colony began granting the Mohegan land to townships, and in 1704 the Masons petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, claiming that such transfers of land to townships were illegal. Between the years of 1705 and 1773 legal disputes and controversies persisted, finally ending in a verdict by the Crown against the Mohegans. In 1755, Wheelock received property and housing in Lebanon that he would use as his house and school. While Lebanon was originally incorporated as a part of New London County in 1700, in 1724 it became a part of New Windham, before once again becoming a part of New London County in 1826. Lebanon was central to the American Revolution with half of its adult population fighting for the colonists and hundreds of meetings convened in the town for the revolutionary cause.

Gurley, Ebenezer
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.

Daggett, Naphtali
HomeEbenezer Gurley, confession, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1770 February 3
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