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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Samuel Johnson, 1766 December 4

ms-number: 766654.2

abstract: Wheelock discusses keeping religious differences among denominations secret from Indian scholars. He also refutes accusations that have been made against him.

handwriting: Handwriting is informal and frequently difficult to decipher. There are several deletions and additions.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in fair condition, with light-to-moderate creasing, staining and wear. Disintegration caused by the ink renders the paper somewhat fragile.

ink: Dark black ink appears to be iron gall, which is burning through the paper.

noteworthy: In light of the numerous deletions and additions, this document appears to be a draft.

signature: The signature is abbreviated.

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

Rev. and Honoured Sir.
Yours of 10th of October came to Hand the week before last
with 3. pamphlets and a Generous collection made (as
you inform me) by a Small Number of your church, of
£1..13..5. for the Use of my Indian Charity School
the Lord reward their Liberality and enable me to
apply it aright.
I am, sir, not unaffected with your condescension
and friendship, and that truly catholic and christian Spirit
you express towards me and the cause I have been
endeavouring to promote — — — I think entirely with
you as to the necessity of concealing from the Pagans,
all differing Sentiments in matters of Religion Among
ourselves; and that the contrary would likely be a
most fatal Stumbling Block in the way of
those poor blind Creatures. and accordingly never any
of my School, have yet heard me Speak a word of
any differences among
christians, excepting, Papists. — — When I have Spoken
to any of the 6. Nation (as I have Sometimes had occasion
of the Labours of Dr. Berkeley and Mr. Ogilvie,
I have always spoken of them (and that too without any
dissimulation) with the greatest Approbation and esteem
— — when they have mentioned Some Differences as to
forms and modes, I have told them we were all agreed
they are not essential — — that those Gentlemen were
my Bretheren, faithful ministers of Christ, and taught
them the Same way of Life truly as we are teaching them.
[illegible][guess: thus] far from true is the aspersion you mention.
As to my making gain to myself by their Labour

it is wholly groundless # and Benefit
required, out of the School for a Time, and put them
to good Farmers to be instructed in husbandry,
where they might be So separated from their Companions
as to be obliged to talk English (which I find they are
loath to do so long as they have Interpreters always
at hand). and when they are able to Earn their victuals
with me or with others the School has never been charged for them, and when
they have done more than that, The School has been
honestly credited for the Same. as any may be convinced
who will only take the pains to look into my accounts.
And as to all my personal Labours and continual
care in this Affair from the first I have never yet charged
one penny,
I have perused your catechism and it gives me pleasure
to find that in the essentials we are so nearly agreed

and your desire sufficiently
warrants my proposing whether there there may not be [illegible] those who earnestly
pray for God's Help, and Strive to repent, and return to their
Duty, who are not entitled to the promise of God's Holy Benefit.
or whether the doing of this is not common to many
only from a consciousness of Guilt, and a fear of deserved
punishment, while their Hearts are not withstanding in a State of [illegible][guess: Enmity] with God
or to put my meaning in other words, whether [illegible] their
believing in Christ, and receiving the Benefit only as a free Gift,
(which necessarily infers repenting and atoning to their Duty etc.) be not the only
condition on their part. This I think to be the Truth, and So the Benefit
granted cant in the nature of things be cheaper, more of Grace,
or upon Power, and more [illegible][guess: condescending] Terms than those which the Gospel
proposes. and this I think by comparing several of your answers [illegible]
to the to the 18th and 2 [illegible] [guess: 5] th questions to be your opinion also. I would then humbly
propose whether your answer to your 20th question would not
be more intelligible and less liable to be misimproved to
encourage convinced sinners to rest in Duty, and Short of
Faith and confidence in Christ alone, for Salvation, if it
Should be expressed in that manner viz. "Christ having
purchased [illegible] for us, by his Death, has assured us that if
we believe in him, and ask (or Seek) for it with our
whole Hearts, sincerely repenting of all our sins, and
Returning to our Duty, he will give us his Holy Spirit
to renew, and enable us to will and to do what
he requires of us, and to withstand all Temptations."
you are Sir, not insensible of the universal and strong propensity
in convinced sinners to [illegible] their fears and
themselves into a state of Security by a Reformation of
Life, and external performance of Duty, while they are far from
a new Heart, and a New Spirit.
I am indeed pleased with your Grammar and perhaps
the more so, because it is So similar to the [illegible][guess: compendium]
used in my School, collected from the British and [illegible][guess: other] [illegible]
I was confined by illness when I received yours and have
yet had no opportunity to communicate your proposal
to any of my Bretheren. I have taken Notice of the Emen­
­dations you have made, and purpose when our Board
of Commissioners
shall have occasion to be together again
to propose it to them. please Sir, in the meantime to
favour me with your thoughts of such an Alteration of
your answer to said 20th question, as I have proposed.
and if such an agreement as you desire may be had, I
will do my [illegible][guess: endeavour] to promote the Reprinting of the whole
for the Benefit of children particularly in our Indian
Schools. that God may yet mercifully lengthen out your Life
to promote the Kingdom of the Redeemer in the world
is with much Duty and esteem the sincere desire, and earnest Prayer of
much Honoured sir,
your obedient and very humble servant
Eleazar Wheelock
#. I have generally had one and another who were
designed for Trades, when they Should have acquired
the Learning necessary for them in the school
to labour for me, 'til I could provide suitable Places
for Them. and I have Every year taken one and another
as their health and Benefit required
Letter to Rev. Samuel Johnson DD.
December 4. 1766.

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.

Johnson, Samuel

The Reverend Samuel Johnson was a prominent Episcopalian (the American branch of the Anglican church) clergyman and scholar who spent much of his career as the pastor in Stratford, Connecticut. After a Congregationalist upbringing and a stint as Yale’s first tutor, he was ordained in 1720 and served as pastor to the Congregationalist church at West Haven, a few miles from New Haven. He continued pursuing scholarship and, in the course of his studies, concluded that Anglicanism was the most preferable Christian sect. Together with several other Yale-affiliated Congregationalists, Johnson declared himself an Anglican and traveled to England for Anglican ordination, which he received in 1723. Upon his return to America, Johnson took the Episcopalian pulpit at Stratford, Connecticut. In the course of his lifetime, he partook in a significant expansion of the Episcopalian Church in Connecticut. Johnson had close ties to the Society for Propagating the Gospel (SPG, the primary Anglican missionary society in the colonies) and was precisely the sort of Episcopalian that most frustrated Reformed Protestants like Wheelock: in addition to working to convert Native Americans, several of whom attended his Stratford church, Johnson also strove to convert Anglo-American Congregationalists to Episcopalian worship. In 1753, Johnson was named as the first president of King’s College (renamed Columbia after the Revolution). He retired in 1763, and returned to his congregation at Stratford. In 1766, he participated in the collection authorized by the Connecticut Assembly for Moor’s Indian Charity School. Although he firmly believed that Anglicanism was the best approach to Christianity, he did support Wheelock’s efforts to convert Native Americans. Johnson was an eminent scholar. He published extensively in the field of moral philosophy and also wrote a catechism and English and Hebrew grammars. He should not be confused with Samuel Johnson, an Anglo-American Yale student employed by Wheelock, or William Samuel Johnson, this Samuel Johnson's son, who was Great Britain’s agent in the Mason Land Case between the Mohegan tribe and the Colony of Connecticut.

HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to Samuel Johnson, 1766 December 4
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