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Lebeus Driver, letter, to Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 October 8

ms-number: 766558.3

abstract: Driver writes to provide information about Whitaker and Occom's route through Southwest England, and about the ministers they will meet at each stop.

handwriting: Handwriting is bold and stylized, yet mostly clear and legible.

paper: Single sheet is in poor condition, with heavy staining, creasing and wear that results in a significant loss of text. A large square has fallen away from the paper, likely due to excessive creasing.

ink: Brown-black ink is faded in spots.


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


Gentlemen/
Hope this will meet you and find you under the smiles
of your master, Enjoying the tokens of his love to your Souls: His
People's to the cause you are embarked in.
Sounded in your behalf last week the Towns of Wincanton
Milbourn Somerset. Stalbridge and Sherborne Dorset. Yeovil
did not go to. My name perhaps being obnoxious to a leader there.
Your way is I presume to give previous notice of your coming to Rev.
Mr. Hughes of Wincanton. His place is but small. The neighbourhood good.
As to Stalbridge Direct To Rev. Mr. Gray in Henshige-Marsh.
Milbourn-Port to Rev. Mr. Newton. Thus far you'll proceed with
ease. But at Sherborne though a promising place some management will
be [gap: tear][guess: requisite] Mr. Lewis The young pastor in our way. One above many,
[gap: tear]the New, little or separate, though largest people by far.
[gap: tear]e to him and people. But the latter are so stiff That
[gap: tear][illegible] anything at the other [gap: hole]rger; but at their
[gap: tear]er He nor I could beat them out of that whim. Your
[gap: tear]eching at the other will give no umbrage. Would
[gap: tear]mas Minister of that Meeting. he is a good tempered Man.
[gap: tear]ing very near. They intend [illegible][guess: to] give you a meeting at
[gap: tear]Yeovil where I did not think it proper to appear in
[gap: tear]y write to honest [gap: hole][guess: Mr.] [gap: hole] Baptist Minister.
Nephew I think to your old Friend of that name at Bristol.
And to Mr. Parrot At The Presbyterian meeting in that Town.
I wish you well in the Lord. Take care of your Corporal Tabernacles.
Believe you don't overrate them Am pretty sure you can't do much
in the errand you are upon without them. Commending your persons
and cause to our common Master. I remain yours etc.
Lebeus Driver.
Blank page.
Driver, Lebeus
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.

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.

Gray

Gray was a minister, probably of a Congregational or Presbyterian church, in the small town of Henstridge Marsh, in Somerset, England. He was one of the clergymen Lebeus Driver directed Occom and Whitaker to contact and meet on their fundraising tour of England in 1765, but there is no other information about him. Records for Henstridge mention a Mr. Benjamin Gray in 1776 and in 1802 call him "the younger," but his occupation is listed as "farmer." A Benjamin Gray, esq. (d. 1832), is also listed as a resident of Pond House in Henstridge.

HomeLebeus Driver, letter, to Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 October 8
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