Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, letter, to the Honorable Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, 1763

ms-number: 763900.9

abstract: An apparent draft of manuscript 764410.2, which informs the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge that, per its commission, a Connecticut board of correspondents has been formed, and officers have been elected. The Connecticut board proposes that the best prospect for furthering the Society's design lies with Wheelock’s Indian charity school, and that the board's intention is to employ Occom and Ashpo.

handwriting: Loose and informal handwriting appears to be that of Solomon Williams. It is frequently difficult to discern letter case. There are several deletions and additions.

paper: Large sheet is in fair condition, with moderate creasing, yellowing and wear.

ink: Dark brown-black ink bleeds through to opposite sides of the paper.

noteworthy: Text of letter is identical to that of manuscript 764410.2, and this document appears to be a draft of that letter. In the Rauner Special Collections catalogue, this letter is erroneously attributed to Benjamin Pomeroy.

signature: No signature.


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


To The Honourable Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian
Knowledge

Honoured Sirs

We take the earliest opportunity
by direction of your board of correspondents in the
Colony of Connecticut
to Inform you that upon receipt of
your commission the Gentlemen named therein met
in Lebanon July 9 and formed themselves by choosing the
Proper Officers named, to Enable them to act in
Capacity of your correspondents and give you an account of their doings and present prospects
and in the first Place to Return their warm and sincerest
Thanks for the honour you have done them in com
missioning them to be Correspondents of your honourable so
ciety
. We join our earnest Prayers with you and shall
by Gods Grace unite our fervent Labours to Promote the
Excellent purpose your Pious hearts are set upon
the advancement of the kingdom of our blessed Redeemer
and spreading the savour of his knowledge among them
who sit in darkness and the Regions of Shadow
of Death, the most glorious object of your and our atten
tion. as the doing this will Serve also the interest of
our King So there is one circumstance Peculiarly ob
ligatory on us, that the success of it will be Greatly
beneficial to the Peace and happiness of our own Country
we humbly take Leave to Inform your honourable board
that the best prospect which at present lies in our vi[illegible][guess: ew]
is In the School which has been for some time under
the Care of the Rev. Mr. Wheelock. and our present prospects and purposes you
will See as follows. though we have no assurance of Peace
with the Indians but Entertain strong hopes that the
present troubles will be brought to a Speedy issue and are
persuaded that when that Event happens it Concerns us to
be as speedy as possible in exerting our utmost Endeavors
to Send the Gospel as far as may be into the bowels of the Pagan Country if possible before it is thronged with
unrighteous Dealers whose unbridled avarice threatens the
greatest
mischief to the cause. we have voted to take the Rev.
Mr. Occom into our Service if he may be freed from a
pre-engagement to the London Commissioners which we Ex
pect may be without difficulty. we have also referred
to our Committee the sending Samuel Ashpo a judicious and Pious
Indian when Providence shall open a door.
we have also the pleasure to Inform you that there are
Eight or ten Indian youth in this School of Good Moral Character
well accomplished for School masters Except their want of age
and fortitutude, we purpose to Send forth two or three of
these next Spring to Remote Tribes, in
the Capacity of schoolmasters and Expect by the blessing
of God that in the course of a year they will be
so far acquainted with the customs, and Languages of those na
tions that it may be probably Expedient to ordain and purpose them as ministers among them. we Expect
Mr. Charles Jeffery Smith will Return as soon as it will
be Safe for him on a mission to the Six Nations. —
and The Union of all those in the Same plan we ap
rehend will afford a more agreeable prospect than has
ever yet appeared of this kind. but these Things
we have determined upon without a Shilling in
Stock, Relying only on him whose the Earth is and the
fullness thereof to Support the Same, who has hither
to appeared to own the Design and increase it from Small
beginnings nor has suffered those who have trusted in him
to be ashamed of their Confidence. — and
considering the Great evidence of the Piety, and generosity of
your honourable Society we doubt not that when the Impor
tance of this affair shall be maturely considered by you
you will agreeably to the Other expression of your
Pious Zeal do all that your wisdom and Power Ena
bles you to do to Render as Capable to Execute these
Great and Good Designs. as the Expected openings will
probably Induce missionaries, and schoolmasters to visit
Remoter Tribes than any of our missionaries have
hitherto reached and these missionaries mostly Indians we conceive
will give them more convincing proof of the
sincerity of our Intentions, and Incline them to Send their
promising youth when Invited to Receive an Education
with us, so we hope the Honourable Society will think
this school which subsists on no other Fund but the Care
and bounty of divine Providence to be an object worthy
of their Kind notice and Encourgment —
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.

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.

Ashpo, Samuel

Ashpo was born into a very powerful Mohegan family, considered equal to the Uncas line, and became an influential Mohegan preacher. He was converted at Mohegan during the Great Awakening, and became a schoolteacher among the Indians at Mushantuxet from 1753 until 1757 and from 1759 until 1762, when he left to attend Moor's. Between 1757 and 1759, he worked as an interpreter, and supposedly struggled with alcohol. He attended Moor's for only six months, and then continued his teaching and missionary career on successive trips to Chenango (the first was cut short because of violence in the region). On July 1, 1767, the Connecticut Board dismissed him from their service because of further charges of drinking. He continued to preach successfully to various New England Indian tribes until his death in 1795. The variations of his name exist in part because Ashpo is an abbreviated form of Ashobapow.

Smith, Charles Jeffery

Charles Jeffery Smith was an independently funded Presbyterian missionary and itinerant preacher. After his father's early death, Smith inherited a large private income. Instead of enjoying a life of leisure, he chose to complete his education at Yale and then become a missionary. After graduating, he taught at Moor's Indian Charity School, gratis, for a few months in 1763. His first mission, and his only mission among Indians, was a 1763 endeavor to the Six Nations, accompanied by then-student Joseph Brant as an interpreter. However, Pontiac's War forced them to return. Although Smith continued his missionary career, he focused on slaves in the Mid/South-Atlantic region and English-colonist congregations. Smith held several important roles in Wheelock's Grand Design. He was Wheelock's heir-once-removed (after Whitaker) in Wheelock's 1767 will, and was proposed as Occom's companion on the 1765 fundraising tour. Wheelock consulted Smith about the location of what was to be Dartmouth College (Smith proposed Virginia or South Carolina), and solicited him as an envoy to the Six Nations in 1768; when Smith refused, the job fell to Ralph Wheelock, who severely alienated the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and Sir William Johnson. Smith's residence was in Virginia at the time of his death, but he actually died in Long Island while visiting his family, from a gunshot wound sustained while hunting. It is unclear whether this was murder, an accidental shot, or suicide.

Frederick, George William

George William Frederick (King George III) became heir to the throne of England in 1751 upon the death of his father Frederick, Prince of Wales. He became King George III of England in the fall of 1760 at age 22, following the death of his grandfather King George II. George III passed many important edicts during his reign including that of the Royal Marriage Act of 1772; the Treaty of Paris in 1762, which ended the Seven Years War; the Stamp Act of 1765; and the Townshend Duties of 1767. However, he is most well-known for being the reigning monarch during the Revolutionary War. After the surrender of British forces to the Americans in 1782, George III considered abdicating the throne, but chose not to do so because he felt it would be too detrimental to Britain. The last 30 years of George's life were plagued with illness. In 1788 he had the first of many attacks of insanity, now believed to have been caused by an inherited disease known as porphyria. With George III unfit to rule, it was decided that his son George would become regent, an arrangement which was made permanent in 1810. King George III died on January 29, 1820 at the age of 81 after a reign of nearly 60 years (the third longest in British history). He was succeeded by his son George IV.

HomeConnecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, letter, to the Honorable Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, 1763
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only