abstract: Buell writes that Occom should be sent on a mission to Virginia and, therefore, ordained as soon as possible.
handwriting: Handwriting is largely clear, yet superscripts are frequently difficult to discern, as is letter case, especially with regard to the letters “S,” “Y,” and “T.” There are many additions and underlinings.
paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good-to-fair condition, with moderate creasing, staining and wear. A small tear and worn creases result in a minor loss of text.
signature: Signature is abbreviated.
events: Occom's Ordination
Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.
and thank you for so much Love expressed in it to a creature
so vile. I would have taken Your Dear little Jacob into
my Family during his stay here, but two students in
Divinity, and Dr. Prime were sojourning with us already,
so that we were full; And it suited well that he should reside
at Mr. Hedges. I was for a Time determined to make
Trial of Peoples generosity, and see what they would do
for him, and other Indian Lads of Your School; but
upon second thought, I was apprehensive that it might
be preventive of some future Acts of this Kind, and therefore
have omitted for the present: How you came to hear
that my People are remarkable for Charity and
liberality I am not able to Say; they once indeed
exhibited Evidence of their generosity to Such a Degree
as I suppose an equal precedent is not to be found scarce
in the Annals of America, when they sent 17 teen
fat Oxen and steers as a present to our Army at Lake-George,
and bore the expense of Conveyance; but otherwise I
am not assured they merit a high encomium for liberality;
though I hope they will ever show a Christian Spirit
upon proper occasion.— I am apprehensive that it requires
your personal presence to obtain anything worthy of
mentioning from my People, for your School.
But, I fear that in this Day in which there is so little
Mortification prevailing, little, very little, liberality
will be seen abounding. —
The last Week I received a second Letter from the Rev. Mr.
Davis in Virginia, as Secretary of a Society there, formed
for propagating the Gospel,— in which, in the most pressing
manner, he urges that Mr. Occom would by December next be
present with him — as engaging in a mission among the
Cherokees, Upon the receiving of which — I immediately
applied to Mr. Occom to undertake, — and proposed his
Ordination by our Presbytery, but this he declined, in
that, for Several reasons he thought he must necessarily
refuse a compliance with the above Motion, at present:
But has fully concluded, that upon renewed Application
he will early the next Spring accept the Call. —
Accordingly I have wrote to Mr. Davis and let him know,
that upon hearing from him again, as expressing his desire that
Mr. Occom would come to him in the Spring; nothing
special occurring, he may depend thereupon: And 'tis
altogether probable the Application will be renewe[illegible]d.—
You will therefore undoubtedly conclude, Sir, (without a Moments
hesitation,) that Mr. Occoms Ordination must necessarily be
attended as soon as it possibly can with convenience; and
I earnestly beseech it may; be our Side the Water or that You consent, that he
Should be ordained by our Presbytery.— Mr. Davis
Informs in his letter, that a missionary now among the
Cherokees, writes encouraging,— "that they treat him with —
"him a fair Hearing; that there is Sufficient Encour
"agement to Send forth another missionary. —
Mr. Davis writes, that the Salary they allow a
missionary is at least £70 Sterling a Year; and they
propose to bear Mr. Occoms expenses on his
Way to Virginia. I intended to have transcribed
much more of Mr. Davis's Letter, but have not
Time. — It has so happened, that I have lately recei
ved a large Number of Letters from Gentlemen
in the ministry, several of which must now be answered.— and Some have been so complaisant
as to desire my thoughts upon some critical Points
in Divinity, — the next Week is the session of our
Presbytery which occasions much [gap: hole] business this Week
and so much ignorance, self, Pride, confusion, and all that's
bad, attends me, that I make but poor Work amidst
all; You will :dear sir, Drop the Mantle of Love
over the Errors and deficiencies of my scribble. Please
to let me hear from You as Soon as may be.
I am pretty well assured from knowledge of the
Multiplicity of business that will lay before
the Presbytery next Week — that we shall be
obliged to meet Soon again at this End of the
Island; in about 3 Weeks which will afford an opportune season
for Mr. Occoms Ordination, if You will please
to come, and assist, and make us Glad. I am straitened
for time — am weary with Writing — and must omit many
things; But not this one viz my dear spouse presents you
with a thousand-ton of Love, over and above joining
with me in cordial Salutations to yourself and dear spouse.
I am, Rev. and Dear Sir[gap: tear] utmost haste
Mr. Buell's Letter
Received November 4 1758.
The Rev. Mr.— Wheelock
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.
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.
William Hedges was a resident of Easthampton, Long Island, and a supporter of Occom during his mission at Montauk. He was the second son of William Hedges (b. 1679, d. November 4, 1768) and and Abiah Mulford (b. August 20, 1685, d. October 27, 1763). Both were descendants of the original settlers of Easthampton; Hedges' father was the grandson of the original William Hedges, a devout Puritan who fled with his wife from Kent in England to Lynn, Massachusetts in 1644, and finally moved to the new settlement of Easthampton on Long Island in 1650. There is little in the records about Hedges and his activities. He was close enough with Occom and his family on Long Island to be entrusted with the funds collected from local Long Island congregations to support the Occom family during Occom's first and second missions to the Oneidas, when the New York Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge grew lukewarm about the missions. Hedges was also a close friend of Samuel Buell, the Presbyterian minister who sponsored Occom's ordination. Buell entrusted Jacob, one of the young Indian boys from Wheelock's school visting on Long Island, to Hedges' care.
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.
Mary Wheelock was born Mary Brinsmead on July 26, 1714 in Milford, Connecticut. In the year following the death of his first wife, Eleazar began to court Mary Brinsmead, and the two married on November 21, 1747. Mary and Eleazar had five children together, including John, who would succeed his father as President of Dartmouth College. Little appears in the historical record about Mary, but many of the people who wrote to Wheelock, especially his Native correspondents who often lived with the family, referred to her warmly. In September 1770, Mary dismantled her longtime home in Connecticut, and travelled with her children to the Wheelocks' new home in the wilderness of New Hampshire. They rode in a coach sent over from England by John Thornton, accompanied by 30 Charity School students on foot. Eleazar, who had gone ahead to build housing for everyone, wrote a letter to Mary with many instructions about the move; the disposition of domestic animals, people, supplies; and the acquisition of money that suggests she was an able and trustworthy manager (manuscript 770510.1; this manuscript is not included in Occom Circle documents). She died in 1784 in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she is buried in the Dartmouth College Cemetery.