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Samson Occom, letter, to Benjamin Garrett, 1784 August 21

ms-number: 784471

abstract: Occom writes to say that he has written to the Indians at Oneida and notified them of Garrett's imminent arrival. He also includes a recommendation for Garrett to aid him on his journey.

handwriting: Occom's hand is clear and legible. As is common with Occom, there are some uncrossed t's.

paper: Single medium-sized sheet is in good condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear. The watermark, picturing a man and the words “ProPatria,” is clearly visible.

ink: Brown.

noteworthy: The trailer appears to be in Occom's hand, which suggests that this document may be a draft. An unknown editor has written “Sampson Occom” in pencil below the trailer.

signature: The document is signed on both one recto and verso.



Dear Sir
I have an opportunity to Send direct
ly to Onoyda by my Couſin Isaac Uppucquiyantup
of Nahantick, he is going next week, old Brother
Phillip Cuiſh was here, and took my my Letters
this morning, and I have mention'd You and your
Deſign fully, and recommended you to the Indians
So that there is no need of my writing of your deſigned
Journey, I Send with this, the recommendation
for you, and I think You ought to get 2 or 3 of illegibleyour Bre
thren in the miniſtry to give you A illegibleRecommenda­
tion ,alſo — Nothing remainds to Send you but my
Love and you may tatke as much as you
like, and if you dont like it you may let
a lone — this is from
your, what you pleace
Samſon Occom
To all Christian People, to whom it may Concern
The Subſcriber Sendeth Greeting —
I have had and a long & intimate acquaintance
With Benjamin Garret, the Bearer hereof, he is
a poor man, and I hope one of God's poor, and he is
a temperale man, he freequently Speakes in pub
lic in Religious meetings, where the Door is open
for him. — And he is now on his way to Onoyda
to See his Children, and is much deſitute of Jour
ney Subſiſtance, and as Such I recommend him
to the nolice of all Christian People, where ever he may in
the Providence he may Caſt, —

Samſon Occom
Mohegan Augt 30: 1784
1784
Recommendations
for Leſter & Garrat
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.

Niantic

Niantic is a village located in East Lyme, a seaside town in southeast Connecticut on the Long Island Sound. The land was occupied by the Niantic tribe when the Europeans arrived. The Dutch claimed the area in the 17th century, but when the British claimed this same land as part of their colonies, the Dutch forfeited it to the British in a 1627 trade agreement. The village housed both preachers and a schoolhouse, and missionaries came to the village for the purpose of converting and assimilating the tribe. This effort intensified in the 1740s with the influence of the First Great Awakening. Increasingly dispersed and dispossessed of land, many Niantic Indians followed Occom and Joseph Johnson to upstate New York in the 1770's where they settled Brothertown.

Mohegan

Mohegan is a village in southeastern Connecticut at the site of the present-day town of Montville, and is the location of the Mohegan Indian Reservation. The village gets its name from the Mohegan Tribe, or wolf people, who split from the Pequots in the early 17th century under the leadership of the sachem Uncas. In the 1720s, the Mohegans requested the colony of Connecticut provide them with an English educator. An English minister and schoolteacher named John Mason (no relation to Captain John Mason) moved to Mohegan in order to provide English-styled education to the Mohegans, convinced his sponsors, the New England Company, to build a schoolhouse at Mohegan, which eventually served as a boarding school for other Native American children from the surrounding area. During the 17th century, the Mohegan Tribe became embroiled in a complicated controversy over control of Mohegan land — known as the Mason Land Case or, more specifically, Mohegan Indians v. Connecticut — that included the village of Mohegan. The Tribe claimed that it never authorized a transfer of their lands, held in trust by the Mason family, to the colonial government. In 1662, the colony of Connecticut was incorporated by a royal charter, which included the disputed tribal land. The land controversy was revived in 1704 when descendants of John Mason, the original trustee, petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, but the suit was finally decided against the Tribe in 1773. Born in Mohegan, Occom became involved in the Mason Land Case and vehemently argued for the rights of the Mohegan Indians to maintain their land, opposing Eleazar Wheelock and other ministers in the area. Although Occom left Mohegan for a 12-year mission with the Montauk Indians of Long Island, he returned at the end of 1763 with his large family to build a house in Mohegan, establishing it as his base of operations. Even after the creation of the Brothertown settlement in Oneida country, for which he served as minister, Occom continued to commute back and forth from Mohegan; he didn't sell his house in Mohegan and move his family to Brothertown until 1789. Many members of his family remained in Mohegan, including his sister Lucy Tantaquidgeon, who lived there until her death at 99 in 1830.

Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

Garrett, Benjamin

Benjamin Garrett was a Stonington Pequot Indian from a prominent family of sachems and Christian converts. He was the great grandson of Hermon Garret or Wequash Cook (Wequashcuk), an early convert to Christianity who played a role in the Pequot War of 1637; and grandson of Catapezet (Kottupesit), who had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph, sachem of the Niantics of Lyme, CT, was the interpreter for the New England missionary Experience Mayhew (1673-1758) and helped him translate the Lord's Prayer into Pequot. Mayhew also met Benjamin, who spoke some English and, according to W. DeLoss Love, had a seven-year-old son he was "willing to devote to learning so that he may be a minister." That boy was Benjamin Garrett, father of the Hannah Garrett who married David Fowler. Further information on Benjamin Garrett and the spelling of his surname is sometimes conflicting, leading scholars to speculate that there was more than one person of this name. The historical records show that between June 1741 and July 1742, 15 members of the extended Garrett family affiliated with one of the three Stonington churches, five of them on the same day at the First Stonington Church. There is also a record of the Stonington magistrates giving financial aid to a Benjamin Garrett in 1793-4. It is possible that Benjamin was the brother of Elizabeth Garrett, the mother of Joseph Johnson, a Moor's alumnus, Occom's son-in-law, and co-founder of the Brothertown movement. That would make him Johnson's uncle, a term Johnson uses in his journal for Benjamin that could be familial or honorary. At the very least, Garrett was part of an extended Christian Indian network that sustained the work of Occom and Johnson.

Uppucquiyantup, Isaac
Cuish, Phillip
Lester, Eliphalet
HomeSamson Occom, letter, to Benjamin Garrett, 1784 August 21
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