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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Colonel Henchman, 1756 September 20

ms-number: 756520

abstract: Wheelock writes a draft of a letter discussing the intended charter for the Charity School.

handwriting: Relatively tidy and legible, with a few deletions and additions.

paper: Moderate staining and creasing; large stain on upper right corner of 1 recto, with no loss of text.

noteworthy: On same paper as 756190, 756900.1 and 756900.2.

layout: If the paper containing all four letters were to be read as a book, this letter would be page two.


Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.



Dear Sir.

Yours of July 30. (with the Collection for clothing my Indian Boys)
By Mr. Elderkin came Safe to Hand. we have reconsidered the objections which
you hint against our Suit for a Charter from the Crown. which we had considered and
largely debated before. We have considered the distempered state of Religion
the divided Sentiments and Prejudices in the minds of men, which have heretofore
had so great, and we fear Still have too great influence into our public
Affairs. We have also considered that the validity of a Charter from this
Government is by many questioned. and besides they cant Enable us to
pursue the design if we should have ever so fair an opportunity for it
without the bounds of this Government and many other considerations
too many to mention now. which Still determine us to pursue the design
as has been proposed. The packet sent to you is a Duplicate of one
sent to the Jerseys to the care of President Burr which we hope he has
found a passage for some weeks ago. and desire you will embrace the first
good opportunity to send. The things at present look with a very me-
-lancholy and threatening aspect upon this and all designs in favour of the poor
Creatures. If you have according to your hopes received received the Charities
of any good people for the use of these Boys. please to keep it in
your Hands and credit my account so much. and your order to me shall be re-
funded to the Boys. I hope you will be able to inform me by Capt.
[illegible: [guess: Jn Freeman]] of the good acceptance of the Proposal made to Dr. Gardener
to furnish these Boys with Books. I thank you heartily for the
respect shown me in yours. I ask your Remembrance of me
in your nearest approaches to God. please to accept affectionate
salutation from Dear sir,

your obliged humble servant
  Eleazar Wheelock
P.S. the Crowd of business which I happen to be in when this letter
is called for I hope will excuse the inaccuracies blots and Er[illegible]
in it. This is the first opportunity of conveyance to you that has
presented since I Received yours. yours — EW

To Col. D. Henchman Esq. at Boston
Blank page.
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.

Burr, Aaron Sr.

Aaron Burr, Sr. is known as the founder of Princeton University (formerly College of New Jersey). He is technically Princeton's second president, but his predecessor, Jonathan Dickinson, died during his first year in office so the responsibility of Princeton's organization fell to Burr. Prior to his presidency at Princeton, Burr was a Presbyterian minister in Newark, New Jersey. He became acquainted with Jonathan Dickinson and was the youngest clergyman of the original trustees of Princeton when Dickinson established it as a classical school. Burr took over the running of the college in October 1747, upon Dickinson's death. One year later Burr was formally elected as president of the college. Burr served as both the president and pastor of the college until 1755 when, at the request of the trustees, he ceased his duties as pastor in order to devote more time to the college. Burr established the first entrance requirements, the first course of study, the first set of rules and regulations, and supervised the erection of the first building, Nassau Hall. Burr also moved the college to its permanent home in Princeton, New Jersey. Burr died only ten years after the founding of Princeton, at the age of 41.

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