abstract: A copy of minutes refer to the formation of the Connecticut board, and to Occom's employment by the Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America.
handwriting: Handwriting is formal, clear and very legible.
paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light-to-heavy creasing, and minor staining and wear.
signature: Richard Salter signs for the organization as its Clerk.
Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.
in virtue of the Powers, granted to them by the general meeting of said Society; & agreeable
to a particular Appointment of the general meeting, held the 24th of November last;
having taken under their Consideration, the Signal success, with which it hath
pleased God almighty, to bless the British Arms, in North America, during the late
war; & that Providence thereby presents a favourable Opportunity, & calls upon
them to improve it, for enlarging & promoting the Kingdom of Christ, in those
dark Places of the Earth, that are full of the Habitations of Cruelty: And it
having been represented to them by Mr. Eleazar Wheelock Teacher of an Indian
Charity School; at Lebanon in the Colony of Connecticut in New-England,
that several well disposed Persons there would gladly contribute to further
the above Design, conform to a Petition, transmitted to said Society; did by
their commission under the Common Seal of said Society, & signed by said praeses
of the Committee of Directors, & Clerk of said Society at Edinburgh, the
13th Day of March. anno domini 1764, nominate and appoint the following
Persons, Viz Jonathan Huntington Esq. of Windham, Elisha Sheldon Esq.
of Litchfield, Mr. Samuel Huntington attorney at law of Norwich, The
Rev. Messrs. Solomon Williams of Lebanon, Nathaniel Eells of Ston‐
ington, Joseph Fish of Stonington, Samuel Moseley of Windham
William Gaylord of Norwalk, Eleazar Wheelock of Lebanon,
Benjamin Pomeroy of Hebron, David Jewett of New London, Richard
Salter of Mansfield, Nathaniel Whitaker of Norwich, as their
Correspondents, in the Colony of Connecticut aforesaid for promoting the
great and good Design of propagating our holy Religion among the Indians
as by said commission may more fully appear. —
The said Correspondents being duly notified, met by virtue of said
commission, at Lebanon Second Society, July the 4th A: D: 1764.
And were present, Jonathan Hungtington Esq., Elisha Sheldon Esq.
Mr. Samuel Moseley, Eleazar Wheelock Benjamin Pomeroy, David Jewett
Richard Salter, Nathaniel Whitaker. — And said commission proceeded
as follows. — The Rev. Solomon Williams was chosen Praeses,
Jonathan Huntington Esq. Treasurer, the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock Secretary
the Rev. Nathaniel Whitaker Accomptant, the Rev. Richard Salter Clerk.
Voted That the Secretary write to the London commissioners at Boston
in whose employ Mr. Samson Occom is at Present, desiring them
to allow us to send him on a mission to the western Indians, as soon
as he can conveniently go, & also asking the Favour of their Continuing
the Annuity they have voted him last February.
Voted the following Persons to be a Committee, to act under direction of said
Correspondents, Viz Jonathan Huntington Esq. and the Rev. Messrs. Solomon
Williams, Eleazar Wheelock and Benjamin Pomeroy, and that Said committee
take into Consideration, and inquiry the Propriety of sending Mr. Ashpo to
the Indians at Chenango, and act accordingly. —
Voted That the President & Secretary draw up and transmit as soon as
may be a Letter of Thanks, in the Name of the Correspondents to
the honorable Society, for the commission received from them as aforesaid —
Dr. Jonathan Huntington Esq.
Copy of the commissioners
Votes, July 4th 1764.
The Rev. Eleazar Wheelock
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.
Dr. Jonathan Huntington was the first practicing physician in Windham, CT. Eleazar Wheelock hired him regularly from 1737 to 1768 to attend to the students at Moor’s Indian Charity School. Even after Wheelock moved to New Hampshire in 1770, Dr. Huntington continued to take care of Ralph Wheelock, Wheelock’s epileptic son. Dr. Huntington’s nephew, Jonathan Huntington, was also a doctor and also took care of students at Moor’s; thus, the two are sometimes referred to as Dr. Jonathan Huntington Jr. and Sr., respectively, to avoid confusion. Dr. Huntington also had a brief political career: he was on the colony council from 1754 until 1758 and he served as a local judge from 1749 until 1757.
Samuel Huntington was a Norwich lawyer who went on to become one of Connecticut’s most important politicians during the Revolution and Early National Period. During his tenure in Norwich, he became a member of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, the missionary society that Eleazar Wheelock established in 1764 to sponsor Moor’s Indian Charity School. Huntington remained active on the board until its dissolution in the 1770s, and seems to have been an important political connection for Wheelock during the volatile 1760s. Although he never attended college, Samuel Huntington began practicing law in Windham, CT in 1754. In 1758, he moved to Norwich, where family connections helped him rise to prominence. His influence expanded gradually: he was elected to Connecticut’s lower house (1765) and appointed to New London County’s superior court (1773). From 1770 on, he had clients throughout the state. Because Huntington was a widely known and respected figure, he was a natural choice for Connecticut’s delegation to the Continental Congress. He is especially well-known for signing the Declaration of Independence. Politically, Samuel Huntington was a moderate Whig, and thus commanded a broad base of support. He was a popular politician even in the early National Period: after a brief stint in Congress in 1783, he became Lieutenant-Governor and Chief Justice of Connecticut in 1784. He was elected governor in 1786 and consistently reelected until his death in 1796.
Solomon Williams was a Congregationalist pastor in Lebanon, CT from 1722 until his death in 1776. As pastor at Lebanon, Williams rose to prominence as a theologian and engaged in extensive correspondence and debate with some of the most eminent minds of the day. He was one of the rare truly moderate New Lights during the Great Awakening: he managed to maintain the respect of both Charles Chauncy, the rabid anti-revivalist, and George Whitefield, the famous evangelical. Williams also established a library in Lebanon and a very well-known grammar school, which became something of a feeder for Yale. Williams supported Eleazar Wheelock and Moor’s Indian Charity School through much of the 1750s and 1760s. He was something of a mentor to Samson Occom, and he became president of Wheelock’s Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK). It is unclear why Williams is not named as a trustee of Moor’s in Wheelock’s 1768 will; perhaps Wheelock feared that Williams would not outlive him. Williams continued to run the Connecticut Board even after Wheelock relocated to New Hampshire in 1770. Despite the SSPCK’s disappointment in Wheelock, Williams and Wheelock seem to have remained on cordial terms. Their correspondence ceased in 1772, after Wheelock tried (and failed) to open a New Hampshire Board to replace the one in Connecticut (with, it might be added, the Connecticut Board’s blessing).
Nathaniel Eells was a Congregationalist minister in Stonington, CT. Before 1767, Eells was very involved in Moor’s Indian Charity School. He was a member of Wheelock’s Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and named in Wheelock’s March 1767 will to a board to oversee the school’s lands in case of Wheelock’s death. However, the same month a scandal broke that forced Eells out of any management role in Moor’s. The details of the affair are sketchy because Wheelock, Whitaker, and Eells tried to spin their involvement, but, essentially, before Whitaker and Occom departed on their fundraising tour in 1765, the Connecticut Board agreed that Whitaker should send money back to Wheelock by purchasing goods, some of which would supply missionaries (thus eliminating the cost of expensive imports), and the remainder of which would be sold at a profit through the Lathrops, a wealthy merchant family in Norwich. The Trust in England (a board headed by the Earl of Dartmouth, created in 1766 to oversee the money Occom raised) did not learn about the scheme until March 1767, when the volume of bills made them suspicious. To these English elites, increasing charitable donations through trade seemed unspeakably vulgar, especially since the Lathrops planned to keep a chunk of the profits. Eells made matters worse because he took the opportunity to try to get his son into business with the Lathrops (his daughter had married a Lathrop, but the match had not produced the expected economic payoff), and certain remarks in his letters to Whitaker made it seem that money was being diverted. Eells’ involvement was all the more unfortunate since he had received £100 of the money in 1766, which he had invested in trade and lost (as of 1775, he had not repaid the debt). The Trust demanded that Eells and Whitaker withdraw from the management of Moor’s, and Eells was indeed written out of Wheelock’s 1768 will (Whitaker was initially retained as a member of the American Trust, but he was not made a Trustee of Dartmouth). Outside of his involvement in Moor’s, Eells was a popular local minister who was able to remain at one church from 1733 until his death in 1786. He was close with Joseph Fish, minister at North Stonington, who had been his classmate at Harvard, and both ministers had some involvement with the Stonington Pequots. During the Great Awakening, Eells, like many other ministers, was accused of being unconverted by the radical evangelical James Davenport. Eells was subsequently on the 1743 Congregationalist congress that issued a statement condemning certain revival practices. He served as a chaplain when the Revolution began, despite his age.
Joseph Fish was a moderate Congregationalist minister who held the pulpit at North Stonington, CT, from 1731 until his death in 1781. He is notable as 1) an ally of Wheelock and a member of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, 2) a moderate in the throes of the Great Awakening, and 3) a missionary to the Pequots and Narragansetts. The first point requires no explanation; the second two are closely related. Fish graduated from Harvard in 1728 and took a temporary post at Stonington in 1731. He was so popular with the congregation that they offered him a permanent position. For the first 10 years of his ministry all was well, but the Great Awakening segmented his congregation. The problem was that Fish was not strongly opposed to or strongly in favour of the Awakening, which led his church to split into not two, but three factions. As Fish's congregation dwindled so did his salary; however, when other congregations offered him their pulpits, what was left of the North Stonington congregation interfered, jealously guarding Fish's services. In addition to his career as a minister, Fish acted as a missionary to Native Americans throughout his life. From the 1730s on, he delivered sermons to the nearby Pequots and employed a schoolmaster for them (his employees included Moor's alumni John Shattock Jr. and Jacob Fowler). In 1765, Fish also began preaching to the Charlestown Narragansetts. He secured financial support from the Boston Board of the New England Company to open a school there as well, and hired Edward Deake to fill the post. However, Fish did not get along well with the Narragansetts, who had an established indigenous ministry, led by Samuel Niles and based around separatist principles. For Bible-centric Fish, illiterate and popular Samuel Niles was a ministerial nightmare. Fish and Deake served the Narragansetts until the mid-1770s, when the tribe politely requested that they stop.
Rev. Samuel Moseley was the minister of the Second Church (also called the Canada Society) in Windham, CT (reincorporated as Hampton in 1786), from 1734 until his death in 1791. After graduating from Harvard in 1729, he kept school in Dorchester, MA and served as chaplain at Castle William until his ordination in 1734. It is a testament to his ministerial abilities that he was able to keep the post until his death in 1791, especially since he held a conservative view of church hierarchy (he even considered Episcopalian ordination), doubtlessly a difficult stance to maintain during the tumultuous period of the First Great Awakening. Moseley was an early proponent of Eleazar Wheelock’s plan for a charity school. He worked with Wheelock and Benjamin Pomeroy to solicit George Whitefield’s support in the 1750s, and he was a member of the original board entrusted with the land deeded by Joshua More. Moseley was also one of the ministers who examined Samson Occom prior to his ordination in 1759, and he was named to the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge when it was formed in 1764. In 1767, there was a potentially awkward incident when the New England Company hired Ebenezer Moseley, Samuel’s son, to conduct a mission to the Onaquaga -- a village to which Wheelock had also sent a missionary. However, Wheelock interpreted the spiritual coup as a political machination by the Boston Board and did not hold E. Moseley responsible. Due to the low volume of letters between Wheelock and S. Moseley, it is unclear whether this incident affected their relationship.
Benjamin Pomeroy was a school friend of Eleazar Wheelock and a lifelong supporter of his cause. Like Wheelock, he was a New Light evangelical and a staunch ally of James Davenport, a radical New Light preacher whose beliefs got him in trouble with the law. After graduating from Yale in 1733, Pomeroy received the ministry at Hebron, CT, in 1734, and assisted Wheelock in myriad ways until his own death in 1784. He kept Wheelock's school during 1746, when Wheelock's first wife, Sarah, was dying, and he tutored Occom (primarily in Hebrew) after Occom had completed his studies with Wheelock. Pomeroy also supported Wheelock as a trustee of Moor's, and, later, Dartmouth, and as a member of the Board of the Correspondents in Connecticut for the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Pomeroy and Wheelock also had close family connections: Pomeroy was married to Wheelock’s sister, Abigail, and one of Pomeroy’s daughters, Hannah, married David McClure, one of Wheelock's most illustrious graduates. Outside of his liturgical career, Pomeroy served as an army chaplain in the French and Indian War and the Revolution.
David Jewett was a white minster at Mohegan who developed a hostile relationship with Samson Occom. He become the pastor of the North Church in New London, CT (now Montville) in 1739. Jewett initially served as the clergyman for the English congregation, and attempts to merge the white church with the local Indians were unsuccessful. In 1742, when plans to establish a pastor for the Indians also proved to be futile, Jewett became the minister for them as well, supported by the Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America (New England Company). Indians received religious materials, and many, including Sarah Occom, Samon's mother, became members of his parish. In 1756 when Connecticut gathered a regiment to go to Crown Point, Jewett served as chaplain. He also became a member of the Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) when Wheelock assembled it in 1764. In addition to his role as minister, Jewett oversaw Robert Clelland’s school at Mohegan, which became one source of his animosity toward Occom. Occom criticized Clelland’s performance as schoolmaster, implicating Jewett as the supervisor, and Jewett rejected Occom’s intrusion. Furthermore, since Occom had been appointed to preach at Mohegan, several Indians as well as English, primarily those who sided with the Indians in the Mason Case, left Jewett’s church to follow Occom, as Jewett supported the Colony due to his land interests. Jewett brought charges against Occom to the Boston Board of the SSPCK and to the New England Company Commissioners, and the Connecticut Board of the SSPCK tried Occom in March of 1765. They found Occom to be innocent except for his involvement in the Mason Case; therefore, the Board declared that Jewett must write to the Boston Commissioners again to clear Occom. Although Jewett assented to the task, he did not pen the letter until Wheelock pressured him that June. While Jewett and Occom’s relationship was officially mended, bitterness remained until Jewett’s death in 1783.
Nathaniel Whitaker was an outspoken Presbyterian minister with a long and wide-ranging career. Between his ordination in 1755 and his death in 1795, Whitaker ministered to five different congregations. His longest tenure was at Chelsea, CT (near Norwich), from 1761-1769, during which he joined Occom on his two-and-a-half-year fundraising tour of Britain. While in Chelsea, Whitaker was very involved in Wheelock's project. The two engaged in frequent correspondence, and Whitaker served on Eleazar Wheelock's Board of Correspondents in Connecticut, as well as on the Board of Trustees of Moor's Indian Charity School. At one time, he was Wheelock's presumed successor, but Dartmouth's Trustees demanded that Wheelock appoint another. Wheelock, in part due to his strongly-held belief that Native Americans were childlike and rash, was convinced that Occom needed an Anglo-American supervisor on his fundraising tour. After several candidates turned down the job, Wheelock selected Whitaker. He proved to be a poor choice; he was, by many accounts, a difficult man to get along with, and many of Wheelock’s British allies, including George Whitefield and the English Trust (the organization that took control of the money Occom raised in England) preferred to deal with Occom, although Whitaker insisted on handling the tour’s logistics. Furthermore, in Britain, Occom was the obvious star of the tour, and it was unclear to many why Whitaker asserted himself so prominently. Whitaker’s poor decisions seriously alienated the English Trust and increased their suspicion of Wheelock’s later dealings and treatment of Occom. He gave the English Trust the impression that they would have control over money raised in Scotland (which was in fact lodged with the parent organization of the SSPCK), and he was the executor of the “Eells Affair,” a plan initiated by the CT Board of the SSPCK to bring the money that Occom and Whitaker raised back to the colonies by investing it in trade goods and selling them at a profit (Eells was one of the merchants who was to help with the resale of goods). The English Trust learned about the plan by reading letters that Whitaker had given them permission to open in his absence, and were immediately shocked. The wording of certain letters made it appear that only a percentage of the profit from the resale of the goods would go towards Moor’s Indian Charity School, but beyond that detail, the English Trust was scandalized at the thought of money raised for charity being invested in trade. The English Trust blamed Whitaker entirely for these affairs, and issued specific instructions for Occom to notarize all documents requiring Whitaker’s signature. In short, they wanted Occom to supervise Whitaker, when Wheelock had envisioned the opposite relationship (both Occom and Whitaker seem to have ignored their instructions, preferring to have as little contact with one another as possible). In 1769, a year after his return to Connecticut in 1768, Whitaker found himself dismissed by his Chelsea congregation (likely because he had spent two and a half years away from them). He went on to serve several more congregations before his death in 1795. Whitaker was an outspoken Whig, and during the Revolution he published several pamphlets on his political opinions.
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 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.