abstract: Brainerd writes about the apprehension of the murderers of two Indian women, includes letters from Francis Alison and John Ewing recommending John G. Kals as a teacher and missionary, and gives his own recommendation of Kals, with reservations.
handwriting: Handwriting is bold, stylized and occasionally difficult to decipher.
paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good-to-fair condition, with some yellowing and moderate-to-heavy creasing that leads to a minor loss of text. There is older preservation work on one verso and two recto. The outer edges appear to have been trimmed.
ink: Dark brown.
noteworthy: The text is dimmed somewhat by preservation work. An editor, likely 19th-century, had added the note "Ind Mis" to two verso; this note has not been included in the transcription.
events: Fundraising Tour of Great Britain
Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.
Rev. and Dear Sir,
at Egg harbour to go by the first Connecticut Vessel;
what its fate will be I know not. I now write
again, not knowing of any direct Opportunity,
but determining to embrace the first and best that offers.
I informed you of the Murder of two Indian Women
in this Pr[gap: tear][guess: o]vince, by a Couple of straggling Stran=
gers, — of their Apprehension, and Execution at Bur=
lington, the first of Aug. ultimo This I did that
it might communicated to the remote Indi=
ans, who will doubtless hear of the Murder, and
ought to be informed of the Murderers being
brought to Justice. You will doubtless, through
Sir William Johnson, or otherwise have Oppor=
tunity to do it.
Rev. Dr. Alison, the Contents of which I shall
give you, and they are as follows.
"Acquaintance the Rev. Mr John G. Kals, a Minis=
"ter of the Dutch reformed Churches. He is a Gentle=
"man of Piety and Learning, and zealous to promote the
"Kingdom of Christ, and well qualified many Ways to
Letter from Mr. John Brainerd
September 16. 1766,—about
Mr. Kalls —
"of usefulness were opened. He understands Hebrew,
"Chaldaic etc. beyond any that I know on the Continent,
"and might be of great Service to teach Candi=
"dates for the Ministry to read the Bible in Hebrew.
"I lament that we are so careless how we teach Divi=
"nity, and particularly to make our Students migh=
"ty in the Scriptures, and I am amazed that in the
"Colleges of Princeton and Philadelphia this is neglected or ra=
"ther despised for this Gentleman c[gap: tear][guess: an] teach it to
"great Perfection, and is willing to teach it on any
"terms, so as he can have but food and Raiment and
"our neglect of what is in our Power will be charged
"to our Account. He has heard of Mr. Wheelock's
"unwearied Endeavours to convert the Indians, and
"would think himself greatly honoured could he
"be any Way useful in this great Work. I ad
vised him first to visit and converse with you, and to
"Stay Some Days and visit the Indians in their Houses,
"to See them attend Worship, and how the Children
"learn: and possibly from thence he might form a bet=
"ter Judgement how he is qualified to do anything
"in this great Work. he is poor, but very frugal;
"what regard you show to him I shall account as
"a favour done to
your etc." — —
the Rev. Mr. Ewing.
Dr. Alison before the Sealing of it,
"I can say from my own Knowledge that what he relates
"of that Gentleman I can heartily Subscribe. I would only
"add that Such was his Zeal to Spread the Gospel a=
"mong the benighted Heathen that he voluntarily under=
"took a Voyage to Surinam with proper testimontials
"from the Synod of Holland and Classis of Amsterdam. But left
"it, when he found that there was no effectual Door opened for
"him in that Place. His heart is [illegible][guess: So much] Set upon this
"Work that he has wrote a large Quarto Volume upon the Sub=
"ject in Low Dutch as a Testimony to the World of his
"Desire to contribute to So good a Cause, in hopes that Some
"might be excited thereby to engage in the arduous and self-de
nying Work. If you have need of Such assistance as he can
"give, I doubt not but he would be very glad of an
"Opportunity of being employed in any Way that you may
"think will have the best tendency to promote your truly
"benevolent designs both to the Indians and white People
"in your wide, extended diocese.
your etc." —
preachd twice attended the School some and visited at
some of the Indian Houses.. He is a Man of about
65 Years of Age, a great Linguist [gap: worn_edge][guess: and] a [gap: worn_edge][guess: c]lose Student.
He tells me he can make use of 16 Languages viz
Latin, Greek Hebrew, Chaldea, Syriac, Arabic Ethiopi[gap: worn_edge]
Parsi, German, Low Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian
Turkish, Russian and English. The last of these he Seems
to be well acquainted with, but does not Speak
plain, which renders it somewhat laborious to con
verse with him. This I apprehend to be the great=
cially in such a School as yours. I have
a good deal of Reason to think him well
capable of Instructing in other Branches of
Learning besides the Languages, especially Di=
vinity, and that he would be very accurate there=
in, but his want of Speaking the English
well is a great Difficulty. I thought it my
Duty to write, as I know him to be in many re
spect[gap: worn_edge][guess: s] Qualified to do Service in the teaching
Way; yet I am not without Some Secret Fears
he won't Suit you, as it is somewhat Difficult
to understand him, and must be much more
So for those that have not the English Tongue
perfectly. But that his Talents might not
be buried, and that your School (if it may be)
may receive Help and Benefit I have written:
And now commit the Matter to the Disposal of Pro=
vidence. This Gentleman at present resides in
Whitaker and Mr. Occom collected upward of 133 £ at
the Rev. Mr. Brewers Church in Stepney. May Heaven
send them Prosperity everywhere, and make your
School a blessing to the [illegible] Posterity. I long
to hear from you.
Wife very heartily Joins though unknown).
and accept the Same from,
I had no Acquaintance with him 'til the other Day. Mr. William Tennent might be a proper person. — —
John Brainerd was an ardent missionary with an important role in Wheelock's design. He was the younger brother of the famous missionary David Brainerd, who died as a young man after being expelled from Yale and serving as a missionary to New Jersey tribes. John completed his Yale degree and was immediately commissioned to replace David. Even in his own time, he was seen as a man as pious as, but less talented than, his brother, though Brainerd missioned to Indians during a more volatile period, and saw his congregation forcibly removed from their lands in 1755 and relocated at Brothertown in 1758 (this Brothertown should not be confused with the one founded in New York after the Revolution by many Moor's alumni). Brainerd was extremely devoted to the Indian cause. He often had the opportunity to serve wealthy English congregations, but preferred to remain an Indian missionary. He invested signficant sums of his own money into his missions, for which he was never reimbursed. Brainerd was a very prominent Presbyterian figure, active in the Presbytery and Synod of New York, holding several elected positions, and in the Presbtery and Synod of New York and Philadelphia once the two reunified in 1758. He was a Trustee of the College of New Jersey from 1754 until his death, and a member of the New York Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Occom had planned to work with Brainerd in 1750, but political upheaval prevented it. Brainerd was one of several men nominated to accompany Occom to England, but the New York Board refused to let him go. While Brainerd and Wheelock were not close personal friends, the two had a similar interests and a long-lasting correspondence. John Brainerd sent Wheelock his first Indian boys, and also recruited female students in the 1760s. Throughout their lives, Brainerd and Wheelock updated one another on Indian missions, and Brainerd seems to have been one of Wheelock's "point people" in the Presbyterian Church.
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.
Sir William Johnson was a powerful British colonial official who amassed wealth and influence by integrating into the Mohawk tribe. For a brief window of time (1761-1768), he provided support for Wheelock’s missionary efforts among the Six Nations. He also helped the Brothertown Nation of Indians procure land from the Oneidas. Johnson was born in Ireland in 1715. His family had been part of the Catholic elite, but after William of Orange’s 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne, they at least nominally converted to the Episcopalian Church. In 1738, Johnson emigrated to America to manage his uncle Peter Warren’s estate in Mohawk territory. Over the next decade, Johnson became wealthy in his own right through trade and land sales, acquiring a vast estate crowned by his manor house, Johnson Hall, which became the central location for British and Indian treaty making. In 1745, Johnson began collecting official British titles and positions. He played an important military role in the French and Indian War and was named Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1756 and first baronet of New York in 1757. Much of Johnson’s success was due to his influence among the Mohawks, which he obtained by learning their language and customs and integrating himself into their society. He participated in Mohawk rituals and entered into a common-law marriage with a powerful Mohawk woman, Molly Brant (also called Mary Brant). Because Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) society is matrilineal, this marriage was an essential element of his participation in Indian affairs. Wheelock desperately wanted to wield missionary influence among the Six Nations, and sought to obtain Johnson as an ally in his endeavors. At first, the two found grounds for cooperation. Wheelock sent Occom as a missionary to the Oneidas in 1761 and again in 1762, and sent a substantially larger group of missionaries and schoolmasters in 1765, 1766, and 1767. Johnson, meanwhile, encouraged Haudenosaunee children, including his brother-in-law Joseph Brant, to attend Moor’s. Johnson’s support proved indispensible to missionaries in the field; he helped with supplies, language skills, and relations with the Mohawks and Oneidas. Wheelock also valued Johnson for his influence in Britain, and drew on him for recommendations and public statements of support numerous times. From 1763 on, however, Johnson found himself decidedly uncomfortable with Wheelock’s missionary efforts, and by 1769, their relationship had dissolved completely. In 1766, Johnson was invited to join the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), the largest and most influential Anglican missionary society in the 18th-century British-Atlantic world. He began working to place Anglican missionaries, rather than Congregationalist and Presbyterian ones, among the Six Nations, which alarmed Wheelock. Johnson was generally supportive of Native American tribes’ efforts to maintain their land and sovereignty. As the historian Linford Fisher has noted, “virtually every major Native group in southeastern New England successfully petitioned Johnson to act on their behalf during the late 1760s and early 1770s.” Among these groups was the Brothertown Nation, a Christian composite tribe formed by Southern New England Algonquian Moor’s alumni. Johnson helped them negotiate with the Oneidas, which proved essential to their successful land purchase and relocation to central New York.
Francis Alison was an "Old Side" or more conservative Presbyterian minister and eminent classical scholar important as an educator who brought Scots-Irish Englightenment thought to colonial America. He was born the son of a weaver in 1705 in Ulster County, Ireland, and educated at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. In 1737 he emigrated to Pennsylvania where he opened a classical school for young men in New London, PA, with a curriculum based on the moral philosophy of Francis Hutcheson. He later brought this curriculum to the Newark Academy (which would become the University of Delaware) and the College of Philadelphia (which would become the University of Pennsylvania), educating a generation of men who would help create the new nation. He was part of a vigorous network of Presbyterian ministers in the Philadelphia area who supported Wheelock's missionary work and hosted Occom on several tours, collecting funds from their congregations for the Brothertown cause.
John Ewing was an influential Presbyterian minister in Philadelphia, a professor, and a noted mathematician. He and a twin brother, James, were born on June 22, 1732 in Nottingham, Maryland to Nathaniel and Rachel (Porter), who had emigrated from Ireland. He received his early education with Francis Alison, a noted Presbyterian clergyman, and remained at Alison's academy for three years as a tutor in Latin, Greek and mathematics, in which he excelled; he graduated the year he matriculated at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) in 1754. He served as tutor at the College for two years and was licensed to preach. In 1759, he was called to pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, where he served as a popular and eloquent preacher until his death in 1802. He also joined the faculty of the College of Philadelphia as Professor of Ethics from 1758 to 1762 and Professor of Natural Philosophy from 1762 to 1778. Joining the American Philosophical Society in 1768, he contributed to several noted scientific experiments (charting the transit of Venus) and public works (surveying the boundary with Delaware). In 1773, he was commissioned to travel to Great Britain to solicit funds for the Academy of Newark, in Delaware, where he received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from University of Edinburgh and met with promiment figures (including Lord North, the prime minister, and Samuel Johnson) to advance the cause of American independence. When the College of Philadelphia was reorganized as the University of Pennsylvania, Ewing became its first provost in 1780. Occom preached and collected funds in Ewing's Church on his tour of Philadelphia in 1771. While in London, Ewing likely met members of the Trust for Wheelock's Indian School, because Occom reports to John Thornton in 1777 that he learned about the exhaustion of the Trust from Ewing (manuscript 761290), one of the influential ministers who collected money for Occom and Brothertown in 1771.
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.
Samuel Brewer was a minister who served for 50 years at the Broad Street Church, also called the Stepney Meeting, the largest of the dissenting congregations (Congregational or Presbyterian) of London. Starting in the late 17th century, many dissenters, separatists, and independents congregated in Stepney, now a working-class and immigrant neigborhood in London's east end, but originally a village developed around the Church of St. Dunstan's on the outskirts of the city. Brewer took over the ministry at Stepney in 1746, when the congregation had dwindled, and increased attendance over the years, leaving a very successful church at his death in 1796. Though an independent, he was friendly with clergy from the Church of England, and was part of the group of eminent clergymen clustered around the evangelical preacher George Whitefield, his particular friend, who welcomed Occom and Whitaker when they arrived in London in 1765. Occom calls Brewer "a warm Servant of Jesus Christ," and records preaching at Mr. Brewer's meeting several times to crowded audiences who made generous collections for the Indian Charity School. Robert Keen mentioned Brewer as part of a group that met weekly to advise Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker on their activities and send letters of introduction and recommendation to the leading men of surrounding churches. Whitaker urged Wheelock to write to Brewer, among other energetic supporters, but there is no evidence that he did so.
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.