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Thomas Ludlow, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 November 7

ms-number: 766607.2

abstract: Ludlow writes that he is pleased with the collections taken on behalf of the great cause, but that Whitaker and Occom would do well to collect in person rather than leave it to local ministers. He hopes that Whitaker and Occom will visit Bristol before returning to London.

handwriting: Formal handwriting is small, but very clear and legible.

paper: Single sheet is in good-to-fair condition, with moderate creasing, staining and wear. Repair work has been done to heavier creases. A small tear results in a minor loss of text.

ink: Brown

signature: Signature is abbreviated.

events: Fundraising Tour of Great Britain, Occom’s inoculation


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


My much esteemed Friend Mr. Nathaniel Whitaker
Dear Sir
Since my last to you at Bideford
we have had the pleasure of receiving two Letters from you, one
from Barnstaple, the other from Crediton, both which gave us pleasing
accounts of your success in the important Cause, what you collected
at Exeter and Topsham I think is extraordinary. I am glad to hear
some of the Clergy undertake for you, which no doubt is furtherance
to the Affair, I find you have left the Collection in some places to the
management of them and other Ministers by which you will see whether
that will answer your purpose, I am ready to think it will not and
that if you was to make personal application and preach to the People,
where they receive one Pound, you would two Pounds, but that I leave.
I observe your immediate going to London on your return to Exon is
not absolutely fixed but that a Letter you expect from your Friends in
London is to determine it. If it is for the good of the great Cause we
should rejoice to see you here first for do assure you that would be indeed
a great pleasure to us and to Friends in general. It gave us concern
to have so poor an account of dear Mr. Occom, hope the Lord has removed
his complaint and that this will find him perfectly recovered. May
the Lord still stand by and support you under every trial that you may
meet with and keep you above all your fears and discouragements, He
is stronger than all your adversaries and has the Hearts of all Men at
his command and can turn them as the Rivers are turned, Instances of
which

which you have met with since you have been embarked in this
glorious undertaking, which are as so many encouragements for
you still to go on trusting alone in the strength of the Lord. Through
the great goodness of God we and all your Friends that I now can
recollect here are well and many did they know I was writing
would beg to be remembered to you. Mrs. Ludlow, my Daughter and self
do heartily join in tendering our cordial Love and respects to you
and Mr. Occom and that we may be sharers in both your Prayers
is the desire of

Your sincere Friend and Servant
Tho.s Ludlow
Bristol 7th November 1766
Pray present our best Respects to Messrs. Kinsman and Gibbs
and their Families.

From Mr.
Thomas Ludlow
November 7 1766
Bideford

A small port and market town in north Devon, southwest England, on the estuary of the Torridge river.

Barnstaple

A riverport and large town in North Devon, England.

Crediton, England

A town in the region of Devon at the southwest tip of England, Crediton was a stop on Occom's fundraising tour of this area in 1766.

London

The capital and largest city of the United Kingdom, London is located in the southeastern region of England along the Thames River. The outpost that would become London originated as a military storage post for the Romans when they invaded Britain in the year 43. It soon developed as a trading center and financial hub for Roman Britain. During a revolt against the Romans in 61, London was burned to the ground; the rebuilt town appeared in Tacitus’s Annals as Londinium. With the decline of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, Londinium became a Saxon trading town. Following the Norman Conquest, London retained its central political and commercial importance. In the 14th century, under Edward II, Westminster became an administrative center and London became the capital of England. In the early 18th century, London was an important hub for evangelical Christianity and home to many influential people, like the charismatic Anglican minister, George Whitefield, who were sympathetic to Wheelock’s missionary endeavors. Occom arrived in London in February 1766 on his fundraising tour for Wheelock’s school and preached his first sermon at Whitefield’s Tabernacle. London would be Occom’s home base for the next two years, as he and Whitaker travelled throughout England and Scotland. Occom made many friends in London who would continue to support him after his break with Wheelock and the School. By the late 18th century, London had replaced Amsterdam as the center of world commerce, a role it would maintain until 1914.

Exton

Exton, Somerset is a village located in the southwest region of England. Somerset borders Bristol, Gloucester, Wiltshire, Dorset, and Devon counties. In a letter to Whitaker, Thomas Ludlow refers to the town of Exon, which is most likely Exton, Somerset, given its proximity to Bristol (where the letter was written). Furthermore, there is speculation that the Somerset dialect favored the pronunciation Exon over Exton. Exton was one intended stop on Occom and Whitaker's fundraising tour of England.

Bristol

A city in the southwest of England. In the mid-18th century, Bristol became England's second biggest city due to its thriving importation of sugar cane, tobacco, rum, and cocoa, all products of the slave trade. Its affluence made it an important and lucrative stop for Occom and Whitaker on the fundraising trip to the west of England.

Ludlow, Thomas
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
After many months of planning and shifting personnel, Occom, accompanied by the minister Nathaniel Whitaker, sets sail in December 1765 for a two-and-a-half year tour of England and Scotland in order to solicit contributions to Wheelock’s Indian Charity School and missionary efforts. Introduced to aristocrats and prominent clergy by the minister George Whitefield, Occom preaches many sermons, travels widely, and collects a large sum of money.
Occom’s inoculation
On March 11, 1766, during their tour of London, Nathaniel Whitaker inoculates Occom against smallpox, a controversial practice that involves inserting scabs into an incision, causing a mild case of the disease, which produces immunity to it.
HomeThomas Ludlow, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 November 7
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