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Samuel Buell and James Brown, recommendation of Occom, 1758 March 21

ms-number: 758221

abstract: Buell and Brown, ministers of Long Island, recommend Occom and commend his work with the Montauk Indians.

handwriting: Formal and legible.

paper: Long sheet, yellowed, with moderate wear at creases.

ink: Light brown and faded in spots.

noteworthy: Trailer is in Wheelock’s hand.

signature: Two signatures, in two different hands.

events: Occom’s Mission to the Montauks


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


We the subscribers ministers of the
Gospel upon the East-End of Long-Island, having had
intimate personal acquaintance with Mr. Samson Occom,
who for a Number of Years past, hath officiated in the Char­
­acter of a schoolmaster at Montauk, and of late in Conjunction
therewith, as a licensed Preacher of the Gospel —
By these presents greeting, would certify all whom it may
concern, that we have neither observed, nor ever heard of the least
Shadow of moral Scandal that he has been guilty of; but
so far as we have Knowledge, has in the Character of a
Christian, schoolmaster, and Preacher of the Gospel, behaved
Well, even so, as to be an eminent ornament to Religion.—
And we take the Liberty to add, that with much pleasure
We behold the good Effects of his Sedulous Labours among the
Indians, — The Children and young-People among them, have
in general, by his Tuition, learnt to read, and many of them well
to Admiration; and also to Sing the praises of God in a regular Manner.
The elder People have had the Bible read to them in their own
Language, and by means of Mr. Occom have greatly improved
in doctrinal Knowledge. The worship of God has been kept up,
and religious Services in a regular Manner performed on the Lords
-day — and also occasionally, during the Sojourning of Mr. Occom with
them. He has been happily instrumental of preventing the increase
of divisive and separating Principles — and the train of mischievous
consequences.— In fine, he has recommended Religion to them, by Word
and Example.— And we have reason to hope, that God has been
pleased, especially of late, to crown his Labours with desirable success,
to the awakening of Many — and the hopeful real conversion of Some.—
And we Shall heartily rejoice, and acquiesce in his receiving Proper Authority,
and Encouragement to proceed in Preaching the Gospel, as God in his
Providence may open a Door therefor. Commending our Indian Brother
to the Divine Direction, Protection, and blessing, in testimony of what
We have now written,
we subscribe
Samuel Buell
James Brown

East Hampton March the 21
AD 1758

For Mr. Occom
Rev. Messrs. Buell and Brown
Recommendation of Mr. Occom.
 1758.
Buell, Samuel

Buell was a popular Presbyterian minister during the second half of the 18th century in Long Island, as well as a close friend of Samson Occom. He was ordained in November 1743, and was a popular itinerant minister before settling at Easthampton. He preached at Occom's ordination, published the sermon in 1761 to raise funds for Occom (he also wrote the letter addressed to Bostwick prefacing his publication), and stayed in close contact with Occom even after Occom's public break from Wheelock. Occom's diary is full of references to visiting Buell and to their close friendship. During the Revolution, Buell was the only minister on Long Island for 40 miles, and was very active in assisting the American cause. He also founded Clinton Academy on Long Island in 1785, which was the first private school chartered by the New York Board of Regents. This academy was also remarkable in that it admitted women. Multiple historical sources have misconstrued Samuel Buell as Sol or Solomon Buell, likely because Buell sometimes signed his name Sa.l, a creative abbreviation of Samuel. However, there was no Reverend Solomon Buell in Easthampton, or, it seems, Long Island, in the second half of the 18th century: Samuel had no brothers, and were there to be two Reverend S. Buell's within 10 miles of one another during the same period, related or not, doubtlessly someone would have commented on it. In addition, the handwriting in letters ascribed to "Sol" and those assigned to Samuel is identical. Lastly, the only source besides collection manuscript 765530.3 describing a "Solomon Buell" is an anthology of letters from the Revolution, which contain letters from a Rev. Sol. Buell, or S. Buell, about aiding the American cause. These letters correspond well with descriptions of Samuel's life in an 1809 biography of his life, and, as he was the only Reverend but one for 40 miles during the Revolution, it is likely that these letters belong to him.

Brown, James
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.

Occom’s Mission to the Montauks
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