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David Jewett, letter, to Andrew Oliver, 1765 June 27

ms-number: 765376.2

abstract: Jewett writes that his dispute with Occom has been resolved. He excerpts a letter from Occom.

handwriting: Informal handwriting is small and occasionally difficult to decipher, yet mostly clear and legible.

paper: Single sheet is in fair condition, with moderate staining, creasing and wear that leads to minor dimming of text.

noteworthy: Given that both the Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge and the Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America (NEC) are involved in the Jewett Controversy, it is uncertain to which organization Jewett refers when he mentions the "Hon.ble Com̅iſs.rs" and "the Commiſsioners" (one recto, lines 23 and 25-26, respectively), and so these references have been left untagged. However, they are likely the NEC. As is marked, this document is a copy.

events: Jewett Controversy


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


To the Honourable Andrew Oliver Esq.,
Sir,
I'm blamed, extremely blamed, for writing to you
against Mr. Occom; And I blame myself for Saying anything that was
needless for me to say about him. I thought, and do still think, that
it was my proper business to inform you what part he Acted in the
Differences, and difficulties which have arisen at Mohegan, respecting
both the School; and Lectures; nor am I conscious of knowingly mis‐
representing anything to you in his Conduct; though I've reason to
suspect myself in what is Matter of Judgement upon it; as I cant
clear myself of having been prejudiced against him: And therefore
hope that Nothing will be laid up against him merely from my Opinion
of him. Besides, Sir, I must in faithfulness relate what has
occurred since I wrote to you. At a meeting of the Correspondents, in
Lebanon last March, many things which had been publicly reported
of Mr. Occom were discoursed of by the gentlemen of that Board; and some things
which they apprehended he was to blame in were pointed out to him.
He submitted to their judgement, and promised a strict regard to their counsel.
More particularly, those things which had been grievous to me in his Con‐
duct at Mohegan, were debated before them. He Acknowledged his Mis‐
conduct in the Manner of rejecting their schoolmaster; declared his in‐
nocence as to any Intention of promoting the Separation at Mohegan;
or elsewhere; That it was his desire, and should be his endeavour to pro‐
mote my usefulness among the Indians; That he never understood the
pleasure of the Honourable Commissioners to be otherwise than that he should Settle
his family upon his own Lands at Mohegan; Nor was it with any
view of making Overtures contrary the appointment of the Com‐
missioners, that he came there. And as to his Saying "that he would
turn churchman and be above the ministers around, or the like, as
was reported, he declared it was spoke only in Jest, and in a way of
Banter arising from the present dissensions: had two who were pre‐
sent when he spoke it, testified that they understood him in no other Light
Upon the whole Mr. Occom, and I renewed our friendship, and in the
presence of the Board, burnt the Papers of Controversy. As I had laid
before you what dashed my Hopes concerning him, I proposed to offer
you what had now revived them; and promised to write you as soon
as I could. I Accordingly wrote the next Week, and went to
Norwich in hopes of Conveyance, but was disappointed. I had no
other Intention but to embrace the first Opportunity to send it; but
before any presented, (being loath to send by the Post) I took notice
that Mr. Occom still forsook my Lectures, which I promised myself he
would Attend, for as I said, I had his promise "That to his best
discretion, he would endeavour to promote my Services [illegible] among
the Indians: and I had instanced [illegible] that to him as a Proof I should
look for; and what I was ready to think, would have the happiest In‐
fluence. This has occasioned the long delay; nor has he once
attended my Lectures since, 'til today, when I received the following Letter.
Mohegan June 26 1765.
Rev. Sir,
You are very sensible of the difficult situation of
our Indians , Old Prejudices are not dead, but rather revive of
late, and new bias have sprung up, And it is very difficult to deal with them.

with them. There needs a great deal of Christian policy (If I may
so express myself) And this is one reason why I have not as yet
attended Your Lecture; And indeed I should before now, if you
did not delay writing to the Honourable Commissioners of Boston. And it is
my purpose to attend your Lecture, as business, and Peregrinations will
permit. And will by degrees, endeavour to conciliate the Indians;
only let me not be drove, and urged to it too hard, And I shall not
be wanting in your Service — only let me be assured of a Friend,
if not, I must defend myself as I can. This is from
Your sincere and very humble servant

Samson Occom
To the Rev. David Jewett.
PS. You may communicate what you please
of this to the Honourable Commissioners of Boston
I shall add but this, That I hope his future Conduct
will witness for him to your Honourable Board, to this Government, and to
the World. Pray forgive my tediousness, and still give me leave
as occasion shall call for, to spread my Complaints before you.
I'm not only heartily wearied, but almost distracted, with Con‐
tentions; But when I am myself,

I'm
 With dutiful respect to the Honourable Board
 Your ready servant

David Jewett

Mr. Jewett's Letter to the
Honourable Andrew Oliver Esq.
June 26th 1765
about occom
A Copy.

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.

Oliver, Andrew

Andrew Oliver was an influential Boston merchant and politician, who was a member of several societies that funded Eleazar Wheelock, including the Boston Board of the New England Company (treasurer) and Massachusetts General Assembly (secretary). Oliver played an important political role in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts and, as a firm advocate of Indian missions, attended multiple conferences with Indian tribes. He believed that Anglican and Dissenter missionaries and societies could cooperate, and after Oliver and Wheelock were introduced in 1756, Oliver helped Wheelock access funding from the New England Company, the Massachusetts Assembly, and the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Their relationship deteriorated, however, when the London Board of the New England Company turned against Wheelock late in 1765. Wheelock became aware of the London Board’s change of heart through the “Oliver letter,” a letter purportedly written by Oliver (actually written by Ebenezer Pemberton) that was “injurious” to the characters of Wheelock, Whitaker, and Occom. In 1765, Wheelock also lost his funding from the Massachusetts Assembly. It is unclear what role Oliver played in these events. On the one hand, the breach between Wheelock and the New England Company coincided with the collapse of Oliver’s political career over his attempts to enforce the Stamp Act. Oliver may have been too preoccupied to be involved in the London Board’s change of heart; after all, Boston mobs were burning him in effigy. On the other hand, if Oliver was not involved, it is more difficult to explain why his correspondence with Wheelock ended abruptly in 1767 or why Wheelock lost funding from the Assembly and the London Board at the same time. Oliver would be the obvious link; but of course, Wheelock had many detractors in Boston and another explanation is certainly possible.

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 Controversy
HomeDavid Jewett, letter, to Andrew Oliver, 1765 June 27
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