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Joseph Woolley, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1763 April 9

ms-number: 763259

abstract: Woolley confesses temptations to Wheelock, and begs Wheelock to pray for him and to write and offer guidance.

handwriting: Handwriting is large and bold and clear.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in fair-to-good condition, with moderate creasing, staining and wear.

ink: Ink is black, with little fading.


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



Rev. and Worthy Sir
I seem to have an aversion in
writing to you, yet I cant refrain from telling you,
how Strong and potent, the Temptations were
to me this before noon — — — — — — — —
The Carnal affections, rising in my Heart
were so strong, they almost overcame me,
had it not been the Divine assistance . — — —
It was not me alone that overcame them
but it was by the gracious Influence of
the Holy Spirit. I thought if I should
yield once, they would always get the bet­
­ter of me. — I seem to know how
narrow the Way to Heaven was, that I could
not enter into Heaven, with the least blemish
in my Heart, for one Sin is enough to
curse me in Hell Fire to all Eternity.
And how great must it be with me, who
have sinned under the Light of the Gos­
­pel, if I am found Christless. — — O!
had I the real sense of it, as I have a
a reason to fear I haven't, I could not
Linger along as I do — — Dear Sir,
I beg and plead, that you would Daily in
your private Prayers make mention of
me, and I wish all Christians would, that
I might fail of the Grace of Life,
and be overcome by the potent adversa­
ry, which I am engaged against. — —
I have been afraid I shall break
the Covenant, which I am about to
make publicly in the Church. — —
I wish sir, you would point out to
me, in writing, I think I can under­
stand you so better, how I shall
prepare my Heart, in order to re­
­ceive the Lord's Supper. — — —
I am afraid I shall go unworthi
ly, and disfigure my Face as the
Pharisees do, only for an outside

show, and therby, Eat, and Drink, judge­
ment to myself. — — — And to Conclude
wishing for your Prayers that I
may be weaned from this World, and L[illegible]
upon the things that are above.
I am Sir.
your very unworthy servant
Joseph Wooley
From Joseph Woolley
April 9th 1763.
To
Rev. Eleazar Wheelock
in
Lebanon
Woolley, Joseph

Joseph Woolley was a Delaware who died of consumption while keeping school at Onaquaga. He came to Wheelock in 1757 as a replacement for John Pumshire, and although Wheelock labeled him as "fit for college" in late 1761, he never attended. In the fall of 1764, Joseph went to the Six Nations with Kirkland to learn the Mohawk language and keep school, and in March 1765, he was officially approved as a schoolmaster and returned to Onaquaga to teach. He was very popular there, but died unexpectedly in late November 1765. Joseph was engaged to Hannah Garrett, who later married David Fowler, but a letter from David (765302.2) suggests that Joseph may also have pursued Amy (David's object of interest before Hannah).

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.

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