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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Samuel Huntington, 13 May 1765

ms-number: 765313.3

abstract: Wheelock relates the meeting of the board at which Occom and Jewett resolved their differences.

handwriting: Informal handwriting is crowded and occasionally difficult to decipher.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear. A tear at the bottom of the paper indicates that it was separated from a larger sheet.

ink: Black-brown.

noteworthy: This document appears to be a draft.

events: Mason Land Case, Jewett Controversy


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


Dear Sir,

The enclosed is a Copy of short mi‐
nutes of the doings of our Board of Correspondents in the
case of Mr. Occom. In which the Board
was unanimously agreed.
When Mr. Jewett laid in the Charge he de‐
‐clined pursuing it, lest it should appear
like a personal controversy , he also said
that there were Evidences in the Case who
were not here. Mr. Occom
removed Mr. Jewetts objection against pursuing the charges against him both
insisted that it should be delayed 'til all
the Evidences could be had and showed a
great desire that Everything anyBody had
to allege against him should be brought
to the Light — so as to leave nothing more
to be said afterwards — it was then proposed
that Mr. Occom should own all that
Mr. Jewett Supposed any could say against
him. or if there Should be any material
contradiction which Should require proof we
might then Adjourn. Whereupon we proceeded to a hearing
and were more than a Day upon it. they
agreed in their Accounts of th[illegible]ng without
any material contradiction Which they did not settle
and adjust between them. the consequence of
which you see in the enclosed. After Mr. Jewett had
had agreed to [illegible] to Repair the Injury
done Mr. Occom's Character at Boston they
Shook hands, renewed their friendship, Mr. Occom
told him that as fast as he could consistently
he Should have proof of the Sincerity of his friend‐
ship towards him, but told him that the Indians
were at present against him (Mr. Jewett) that
if he himself should appear open and full
in it at once it would prejudice the Indians so against
him as to disable him to serve them in their most
important concerns and defeat the great design
of his bringing them back to Mr. Jewetts ministry , which
he was sincerely desirous to the proposal was agreeable and thought to be judicious
It was then moved that the writing between
them relative to the Case should be all burnt
and so the Hatchet forever buried — Mr. Jewett
was first in gathering the Papers and called Mr. Occom
to it. They both took hold of them and jointly
cast them into the fire — which they were
Cautioned not to burn the House down.
And as I understand it, it was only on Account of the Settlement which
we all hoped would be lasting that no Record
to perpetuate the memory of the controversy has been hitherto made.
and I apprehend that after Mr. Occom had made his
Defence and submission he stand in as good a light
before this Board, as ever
what Mr. Occom has done or how defective Mr. Jewett
was in giving the account of him I cant tell, but
that the case as it was laid before us was impartially heard and determined I have no doubt.
and am persuaded it will be so thought of by all
impartial Judges. before we could propose no
manner of advantage to ourselves or the cause by favouring him in
in Iniquity When as [illegible: [guess: we all]] knew all the
affairs which we judged had been transacted upon the [illegible] [illegible: [guess: base]].
I have done every thing in my power as I had opportunity to keep Mr. Occom
back from meddling in Masons Case, and we were all
heartily Sorry that he wrote and Signed the Indians story with
the Tribe which I suppose is the whole he has done in the case but it cant now be helped
and if he had not been a minister I suppose none would have disputed his right to do it so long



as he Supposed he had right and justice on his Side is —
and how far high resentments in the case, or any
thing that looks like Endeavors to bear him down by
Majoration will serve our cause at Home, or what
will be their sentiments of anything of that Nature, if any should
be Ill Natured enough to make Such a representation
of us there, belongs to Gentlemen of Penetration
to judge —
If you think best let his Honour the Governor see this
Freedom of
Yours most Heartily
Eleazar Wheelock
PS. please to show this letter
and the enclosed to Mr. Davenport
Samuel Huntington, Esq.
now at the Assembly in Hartford
Letter to Samuel Huntington Esq.
May 13. 1765
Member of Assembly at
Hartford
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.

Huntington, Samuel

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.

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.

Jewett, David

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.

Davenport
Fitch, Thomas
Mason Land Case
Jewett Controversy
HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to Samuel Huntington, 13 May 1765
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