Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Eleazar Wheelock, recommendation, 1765 November 15

ms-number: 765615

abstract: Wheelock recommends Whitaker and the Charity School to potential donors in England, Scotland and Ireland.

handwriting: Handwriting is largely clear and legible; however, letter case — particularly with regard to the letter S — is frequently difficult to discern. There are some uncrossed t's that have been corrected by the transcriber.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Brown-black.

noteworthy: A note reading "15 Nov" has been added in pencil to the top of one recto. This note has not been transcribed.

events: Fundraising Tour of Great Britain

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

To The People of God in England Scotland and Ireland and all
all who desire the Advancement of the Kingdom of the great
Redeemer, wherever, the Bearer, the Rev. Nathaniel Whitaker,
shall, by the Providence of God, have Opportunity to make
known the important Errand on which he comes, I hope,
Sufficiently recommended to Charitable Notice, and respect.
Gentlemen and Christian Friends.
It is well known that there are yet remaining vast
Numbers of aboriginal Natives in this Land; whose Manner
of living is Savage almost to a level with the brutal Crea‐
‐tion; but fierce and terrible in War. Their Dwellings are emi‐
‐nently Habitations of Cruelty — they have continued, from Age
to Age, in the grossest paganism and Idolatry — Strangers
to all the Emoluments of Science — but Subtle and skillful
in all the Arts of Cruelty and Deceit — and on every consideration
their State is, perhaps, the most wretched and piteous of all the
human Race — They have, from the first planting of these
Colonies, been a Scourge and Terror to their English Neighbours
— often ravaging and laying waste their frontiers — butchering,
torturing, and captivating their Sons — dashing their Children against
the Stones — Skillfully devising, and proudly glorying in, all possible
methods of Torture and Cruelty within their Power. etc.
And the consideration, that their being civilized, and taught the
Knowledge of the only true God and Saviour, and so made good Members
of Society, and peaceable and quiet Neighbours ( which cannot be
Effected but by introducing the Gospel among them) is of such
vast importance to the Crown of great Britain, the Peace and
prosperity of our Land — and especially to their own good and
happiness in Time and to Eternity; Moved me, about eleven
years ago, to erect a charity School in order for the Educat‐
ing the most promising of their own Sons that might be obtained,
with a view to their being employed as missionaries and School —
masters among their respective Tribes; together with a number of
of English Youth, to be sent forth as Companions and associates
with them in the Same business. And the good Behaviour of the
Boys which I have hitherto had in this School; and their Proficiency
in Learning, has been Such, by the blessing of God, upon instruc‐
tion and discipline, that many Gentlemen of Character and note
both at Home, and abroad, have Seen fit to encourage the
design by Such Liberalities, as have Supported it hitherto with
‐out any Fund for that Purpose.
But the necessary expenses for the Support of Such a number
as are now employed in the wilderness at the distance of
three or four Hundred Miles, viz three missionaries Eight
School Masters, and two Interpreters, occasionally hired
to that Service, and where they can have little or no assistance
towards their Support, from the Savages among whom they
live. Together with the necessary Supplies for the School
which now consists of Twenty; and others expected Soon, who
are of Families of Importance in Tribes Still more remote,
Are greater than can be reasonably expected from these
American Colonies, especially at a Time when complaints
of Debt; and want of Money are So loud, and universal.
But considering that this great undertaking looks with
such a favourable and encouraging aspect, and that a
wider Door, than ever is now open for the Furtherance of
it, by sending missionaries, and schoolmasters further
among Tribes where none have heretofore been; I am
not only necessitated but encouraged that to represent
the case, and employ my dear, and faithful Brother the
Rev. Mr. Whitaker, in my Stead to bespeak the charitable
assistance of the Friends of Zion abroad. And I am
confident that numbers and all according to their Ability, who
have at Heart, that which the Heart of the great Redeemer
is infinitely Set upon. viz. the enlargement of his Kingdom
and the Salvation of the perishing Souls of men, will be
ready to consider of, and forward to assist, in this so
interesting Affair, if they believe that I am not asking for
myself, but am only begging an Alms for Christ, and in a
case of no less necessity than that. (if not the very same) which
he is pleased to represent, and express by his being an hungered, and
thirsty, and naked, and Sick, and in prison, and that he will
even in this Life bountifully requite those who contribute
Supplies for these his necessities, and reward and honour them
at last with a come ye blessed of my Father inherit the
Kingdom prepared for you.
And whatever any shall please to contribute for this Purposes
I shall receive as sacred to the Redeemers cause, and shall improve
it to the aforesaid uses according to my best Ability, and by the
best Advices and I hope that all Friends, and Benefactors to
this design, will have occasion for the most easy and comfor‐
‐table Reflections, that their Charities were bestowed in the best
manner for the Glory of God and the Good of men, for which
Purpose I bespeak the Prayers of all who truly desire the
prosperity of Zion.

and am
 Theirs most heartily in our Common Lord

Eleazar Wheelock
Dated at
Lebanon in Connecticut November15th 1765
General Memorial
Recommending Mr. Whi‐
and his design
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.

Whitaker, Nathaniel

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.

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.

Fundraising Tour of Great Britain
HomeEleazar Wheelock, recommendation, 1765 November 15
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only