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David Fowler, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 June 15

ms-number: 765365

abstract: Fowler reports on the progress of his scholars and on the conditions in Kanawalohale.

handwriting: Handwriting is formal and clear.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light staining and wear, and light-to-moderate creasing. There is some light repair work along the central crease.

ink: Black-brown ink bleeds through paper slightly.

noteworthy: The contents of this letter are similar to those of manuscript 765523.4. There are several above-line additions; it is uncertain, however, whether these additions were made by Fowler or an unknown editor. It is uncertain to whom Fowler refers when he mentions "Master," and so he has been left untagged. However, it is possibly John Lathrop. A note has been added in pencil after the trailer on two verso; this note has note been transcribed.


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



Rev. and Honoured Sir,
This is the twelfth Day since I began
to keep this School, and I have put eight of my Scholars into third
Page of the spelling book; some almost got down to the Bottom of the same third;— I never saw
Children exceed these in learning. The Number of my Scholars are
twenty six when they are all present together: but it is difficult I cant keep them
together: they are always often roving about from Place to Place to get
something to live upon. provision is very scarce with them.—
I am also teaching a singing School: they take great
pleasure in learning to sing: We can already carry three
Parts of several Tunes.
My Friends are always looking for the ministers there
is scarce a Day pass over but that somebody will ask me
when will the ministers come: all that what I can tell them, is, I
expect they will come middle of this Month. I have been
treated very kindly. since I came to this Place, I believe I should
want for nothing if they had wherewith to bestow it.
I find it very hard to live here without the other
Rib, for I am obliged to eat with Dogs, I say, with Dogs be‐
cause they are continually licking Water out of their pails
and Kettles: Yea, I have often seen Dogs eating their
Victuals when they set their dishes down, they'll only make
a little noise to show their displeasure to Dogs and take
up the dish. finish off what was left. My Cooks are
nasty as Hogs: their clothes are black and greasy as my
Shoes. their Hands are dirty as my Feet, but they cleanse
them by kneading Bread: their Hands will be very clean after
they have kneaded three or four loaves of Bread. I am ob‐
liged to eat whatsoever they give me for fear they will be dis‐
pleased with me: after this Month I shall try to clean
some of them. for I must move along by Degrees,
if they once get out with me it is all over with me.
I shall have a house built me next Week,
then I shall have my Victuals cleaner.
I think 30£ lawful money per Annum as the least that will be necessary will not be too much for my Support
for the first Year or two three first Years: It is very costly to living live here, being be‐
cause it is so far from an English Settlement; and I deter
mine to live better than a Hog, for my Food now is not
fit for any Man, that has been used to have his Victuals
dressed clean: I am almost sick now for want of some
refreshment that is nourishing. I wish I had some
of Mrs. Wheelock's Bread and Milk, little sweet Cake and good
boiled Meat, I could eat those things gready as a Hog that
has been kept in a Pen two Days without it's Swill.—
I now and then drink some My daily Meat is Tea which I carried with me and eat dry Bread which I bought, little fish
which I catch out of a small River and their Pottage
which is made of pounded Corn.
If you could obtain the Favour to can get me Writing that will draw
provision now and then from out of the Kings Stores I wish you would do it:
for I am obliged to go forty Miles to buy my provision.—
I heard from Mr. Kirtland a few Days ago.
he is well and teaching Children to read. "please to
give my kind respects to Madam and Master and Love
to all the rest of your Family, especially to your Chil‐
dren." I ask the Continuance of your Prayers, that
God would give me Grace and fill my Heart with the Love of
God and compassion to perishing Souls and that God
would make me an instrument of winning many Souls to Christ
before I leave this World.— Please to accept much
Love and respects from,
your affectionate,
though unworthy Pupil,

David Fowler
Blank page.
David Fowler's
Letters from Oneida
June 15th and 24th
1765

which he brought with him
Fowler, David

David Fowler was Jacob Fowler's older brother, Samson Occom's brother-in-law, and an important leader of the Brothertown Tribe. He came to Moor's in 1759, at age 24, and studied there until 1765. While at school, he accompanied Occom on a mission to the Six Nations in 1761. He was licensed as a school master in the 1765 mass graduation, and immediately went to the Six Nations to keep school, first at Oneida and then at Kanawalohale. Fowler saw himself as very close to Wheelock, but their relationship fragmented over the course of Fowler's mission, primarily because Wheelock wrote back to Kirkland, with whom Fowler clashed, but not to Fowler, and because Wheelock refused to reimburse Fowler for some expenses on his mission (767667.4 provides the details most clearly). Fowler went on to teach school at Montauk, and played a major role in negotiations with the Oneidas for the lands that became Brothertown. He was among the first wave of immigrants to that town, and held several important posts there until his death in 1807.

Lathrop, John

John Lathrop was mentored by Eleazar Wheelock and taught at Moor's Indian Charity School for several years after his graduation from Princeton. In 1765, he became minister of the Old North Church (Second Church) in Boston. He first wife was Mary Wheatley, who first taught the slave poet Phyllis Wheatley to read and write. John's cousins Daniel and Joshua Lathrop had business dealings with Wheelock and the Charity School.

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.

Fowler, Hannah (née Garrett)

Hannah Fowler (née Garrett) was a Pequot woman who married David Fowler. The Garrett family boasted sachems and interpreters and was influential among the Stonington Pequots. Hannah grew up among the Charlestown Narragansetts, as her parents had affiliated with that tribe (a not-uncommon occurrence, given the close ties between the groups, especially in the realm of Christian spirituality). At Charlestown, Hannah received her basic education and was recruited for Moor’s Indian Charity School. She studied at the school from 1763 until she married David Fowler in 1766. Hannah and David’s marriage is especially noteworthy because it is the only instance where a female Moor’s student married a Native American missionary from Moor’s and joined him on missions — which had been Wheelock’s intent in admitting Native American women in the first place. Hannah assisted David on his mission to Kanawalohale from the time of their marriage in 1766 until his departure for Montauk in 1767. In 1783, the pair moved to Brothertown, where their house was the town center. Both Fowlers proved influential in town affairs, and their children and grandchildren also played a central role in the town’s administration.

Wheelock, Mary (née Brinsmead)

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.

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.

Kirkland, Samuel

Samuel Kirkland (b. Kirtland) was Eleazar Wheelock’s most famous Anglo American student. He conducted a 40-year mission to the Oneidas and founded Hamilton College (established in 1793 as Hamilton Oneida Academy). Kirkland won acclaim as a missionary at a young age by conducting an adventurous and risky mission to the Senecas, the westernmost of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. After his year and a half among them, which was well publicized by Wheelock, he was ordained and sent as a missionary to the Oneidas under the auspices of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. He spent most of the rest of his life serving the Oneidas as a minister. Kirkland’s sincere devotion to serving as a missionary was excellent publicity for Wheelock’s program, but it also brought the two men into conflict. Wheelock became jealous of Kirkland when the school’s British benefactors began urging Wheelock to make Kirkland his heir, and Kirkland, meanwhile, was upset that Wheelock had failed to provide him with sufficient supplies on his mission — a complaint that he was unafraid to publicize (and that almost all of Wheelock’s other students shared). The breaking point came in 1770, when Kirkland split from Wheelock’s Connecticut Board and affiliated with the New England Company, a missionary society that had abruptly turned against Wheelock in 1765. Wheelock and Kirkland briefly made up in 1771, but their relationship quickly dissolved into further acrimony. Although Kirkland spent most of his life as a missionary to the Six Nations, he generally held disparaging views of Native Americans. He did not approve of Wheelock’s plan to educate Indians as missionaries, and was haughty towards the Moor’s alumni that worked with him (notably David Fowler, Joseph Johnson, and Joseph Woolley). Prior to the Revolution, Kirkland had been stringent in his refusals to take Oneida land, even when offered to him. The Revolution seems to have shifted his loyalties from the Oneidas to local Anglo Americans. Kirkland served as a chaplain in the American army and was instrumental in convincing the Oneidas to remain neutral (or, more accurately, to side with the Americans). At one point he was the chaplain with General Sullivan’s army, the force sent to ransack Seneca and Cayuga territory in 1779. It is unclear what emotions this aroused in Kirkland, who had served the Senecas less than 15 years earlier, yet after the war, Kirkland freely engaged in Oneida dispossession. Along with James Dean, another Wheelock alumnus with close ties to the Oneidas, Kirkland played a pivotal role in urging the Oneidas to sell land illegally to the state of New York. The land deals that resulted gave Kirkland the property, financial capital, and connections to establish Hamilton Oneida Academy. The last decades of Kirkland’s life were difficult. He found himself in a three-way battle with Samson Occom and John Sergeant Jr., who were also ministers in Oneida territory, for the hearts and minds of their congregations; he was fired as a missionary in 1797, although he continued to serve sans salary; one of his son’s business enterprises failed, leaving Kirkland nearly destitute; and two of his three sons died unexpectedly. Hamilton Oneida Academy, like Moor’s Indian Charity School, largely failed at its goal of educating Indians, and in 1812, four years after Kirkland’s death, it was re-purposed as Hamilton College, a largely Anglo-American institution. At some point in the mid-to-late 18th century, Kirkland changed his name from Kirtland, although the reasons for this are uncertain.

HomeDavid Fowler, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 June 15
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