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Samuel Niles and Edward Deake, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 January 15

ms-number: 767115.1

abstract: Niles and Deake write to thank Wheelock for admitting Niles’s (spiritual) son, Toby, to his school and for his educational efforts.

handwriting: Clear and formal handwriting is the same as on 765566.1, 767552, 767559, 767562.2, 767630.2, 767660.2, and possibly 767231 and 767251. It is likely that of Edward Deake, schoolmaster at Charlestown.

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

ink: Black-brown.

noteworthy: When Niles, a preacher, refers to Toby as his son, he is speaking in the spiritual sense; Tobias Shattock's actual father was John Shattock, Sr. On two verso, in the address, the word “Indus” is Latin for “within."


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


Rev. Sir,
I hope I shall not offend you, by show
ing this token of love, (being a poor Native:) Your
Christian care in promoting religious knowledge
among the poor Indians, has Greatly won my
Heart. My prayer to GOD, is that you may be
assisted from above, and persevere in your lauda­
ble Design, to the advancement of the Redeem­
ers Kingdom.
I should esteem it a favour, could I grow into
acquaintance with You, (and all other Good
Men;) especially those that are concerned for
the welfare of My Nation.— I am thank­
ful that you have gratefully allowed My Son
Toby to receive instruction in Your School. I
hope it will be for his Good, and his fellow­
tures.
it is in My mind to take your House in my
way to Niantic, and have some conver
sation with you; if you please.
I am, sir, Your Most Obedient humble servant
Samuel Niles
To the Rev. Mr. Wheelock.
Blank page.
Rev. Sir,
I take this opportunity to express
My Joy, in that You have admitted Toby Shat­
tock
into Your School, to receive instruction.
His Moral character is Good. His Behavi­
our has been such for a course of years, that
He's won the Hearts of both English, and
Indians. He appears to be a Person Devoted
to do Good among mankind in General:
In particular among the Narragansett In­
dians
. He's Just in his Dealings with all Men
in domestic affairs; (considering the disad­
vantage He labours under on account of E­
ducation) in matters of Religion inferior to
none that ever I Saw in that Nation.— if
You acquaint yourself with him, You'll
find him to be a Person aiming to answer
the end of his Creation. —I make no Doubt You'll
take pleasure in instructing Him in the most
fundamental principles of Religion. —
I should esteemed it a happiness to had him in
My School, if his chance would been equal with
what it may be now; which I'm sensible would
not, if I was as capable of teaching as your Son,
by reason my School is So crowded with Chil­
dren. —
I, am, (Rev. Sir) with great respect
Your most obedient Humble Servant

Edward Deake
From Samuel Niles and
Edward Deake January 15
1767

To
the Rev. Mr. Eleazar Wheelock
 in
 Lebanon

 {Samuel Niles
Indus.{  at Narragansett
Moor’s Indian Charity School
Moor’s Indian Charity School was a grammar school for Native Americans that Eleazar Wheelock opened in North Lebanon, Connecticut in 1754. The school was named for Colonel Joshua Moor, also spelled More, who donated the land and school building. Moor’s was essentially an expansion of the grammar school that Wheelock opened in 1743 to support himself during the fallout from the First Great Awakening, when Wheelock, who'd participated in itinerant ministry during the Awakening, had his salary confiscated by the colony of Connecticut. In December of that year, Samson Occom asked Wheelock to teach him as well. Wheelock's work with Occom was so successful that Wheelock decided to replicate the experiment with other Native American boys. He accepted his first Indian students in 1754, and in 1761 began taking female students as well. Wheelock believed that in time, his school would become just one part of a larger missionary enterprise. He planned to send his Anglo American and Native American students to various tribes as missionaries and schoolmasters, with explicit instructions to pick out the best students and send them back to Moor’s to continue the cycle. His ultimate goal was to turn his school into a model Christian Indian town that would include farms, a college, and vocational training. However, Wheelock’s grand design did not survive the decade. Wheelock lost the vast majority of his Native American students; he fought with many of the best, including Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, and other former and current students accused him of subjecting Native Americans to disproportionate amounts of manual labor. In 1769, perhaps due to concerns about corporal punishment, the Oneida withdrew all their children from Moor’s. When Wheelock relocated to Hanover in 1769, only two Native American students came with him, and it became clear that Wheelock’s focus was on Dartmouth and that Dartmouth was for white students. After Wheelock’s death in 1779, Moor’s Indian Charity School receded further into the background as John Wheelock, his father’s reluctant successor, stopped taking Indian students. Some Native American students were enrolled in Moor’s until 1850, when the school unofficially closed.
Narragansett Tribe
The Narragansetts are an Algonquian tribe based in Southern Rhode Island. Narragansett students (including the Simons, the Shattocks, and the Secutors) attended Eleazar Wheelock’s Moor’s Indian Charity School, and Charlestown, RI, was also one of the seven communities that participated in the Brothertown movement (the pan-Algonquian coalition organized by former Moor’s students). The Narragansetts were recognized in the 18th-century for their indigenous Christian Separatism, and a Separatist congregation under the leadership of Samuel Niles commanded much of the Tribe’s spiritual life from the 1740s onward. While Separatism is an imprecise word, it generally denotes congregations that formally separated from Congregationalist churches and were characterized by an increased emphasis on charismatic Christianity. Samuel Niles was an illiterate preacher who had himself been ordained by lay persons (thus breaking with the formal laying on of hands by an ordained person that created a theoretical chain from the Apostles to contemporary clergy). The congregation’s practices and theology diverged from the Anglo-American norm in meaningful ways, which shocked many Anglo-American observers but also gave the Narragansetts the autonomy needed to expel Rev. Joseph Fish, a New England Company (NEC) sponsored minister, and Edmund Deake, the schoolmaster who accompanied him, in 1776. Like other New England tribes, the Narragansetts struggled with land dispossession. In this case, the sachem and colony cooperated with one another to the Tribe’s disadvantage: the sachem family, the Ninigrets, had tied themselves closely to the colony of Rhode Island when they converted to the Anglican Church in 1727. They adopted a lavish English lifestyle and funded it by selling off tribal land. By the 1760s, land sales were a massive problem, and the anti-sachem party began trying to put a halt to them. Narragansetts with powerful connections, including former Moor’s students, appealed to Eleazar Wheelock and Sir William Johnson and, in 1767, secured a temporary halt to land sales through the intervention of NEC treasurer Andrew Oliver. The next year, Tobias and John Shattock traveled to London to appeal to the privy council for a permanent solution; however, Tobias died of smallpox, and John failed. Sachem Thomas Ninigret died in 1769, and the Tribe solved the land sales problem by abolishing the office of sachem in the 1770s. The Narragansetts continued to struggle with the state of Rhode Island after the Revolution. Rhode Island unilaterally (and illegally) dissolved the Narragansett’s tribal standing in 1880, but the Narragansetts maintained tribal structures and, as much as possible, residence on their territory. They were officially re-recognized in 1983.
Lebanon

Lebanon is a town located in the state of Connecticut southwest of the town of Hartford. The land that became Lebanon was inhabited at least 10,000 years ago based on the archeological record. By the 1600s, the land was permanently inhabited by the Mohegan Indians, who used the area primarily for hunting. Lebanon was officially formed in 1700 when English settlers consolidated a number of land tracts, including several land grants by the Connecticut General Assembly and lands purchased from the Mohegans. However, these purchases were controversial. In 1659, the Mohegans entrusted their reserve land to Major John Mason, and in the following year, Mason transferred this land to the Connecticut colonial government with the understanding that there would be enough land left for the Mohegans to farm. The Mohegans claimed that they never authorized a transfer to the colonial government and only Mason’s heirs were entrusted with their land. In 1662, Connecticut, which included the Mohegan land that had been entrusted to the Masons, was incorporated by a royal charter. Based on this charter, the colony argued that the land was now the property of the government. In 1687, the colony began granting the Mohegan land to townships, and in 1704 the Masons petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, claiming that such transfers of land to townships were illegal. Between the years of 1705 and 1773 legal disputes and controversies persisted, finally ending in a verdict by the Crown against the Mohegans. In 1755, Wheelock received property and housing in Lebanon that he would use as his house and school. While Lebanon was originally incorporated as a part of New London County in 1700, in 1724 it became a part of New Windham, before once again becoming a part of New London County in 1826. Lebanon was central to the American Revolution with half of its adult population fighting for the colonists and hundreds of meetings convened in the town for the revolutionary cause.

Charlestown

Charlestown is located in Washington County in southwestern Rhode Island along the Block Island sound. For thousands of years before European settlement, the area was inhabited by Native Americans who lived by hunting, fishing and agriculture. When the English dissenter, Roger Williams, fled Massachusetts Bay in 1636 and stepped ashore in what would become the Plantation of Providence, he was welcomed by Canonicus, sachem of the Narragansett Indians. From Canonicus, Williams purchased a large tract of land that included the settlement of Misquamicut, which would become the site of an English settlement named Charlestown after King Charles II. It was incorporated in 1783. After the Great Swamp Fight in which the United Colonies massacred many Narragansetts — and hunted down and killed or enslaved those who escaped — 500 survivors (from a pre-war population of 5,000) signed a 1682 peace treaty and received permission to join with the Eastern Niantic tribe, which had remained neutral throughout the war and had a small reservation near Charlestown. Settlers continued to acquire land from the Naragansetts, and by 1880, the tribe ceased to exist as a legal entity. A portion of tribal lands were returned to Narragansett ownership in 1978 by the courts and state legislation, and the tribe was officially recognized in 1983. Charlestown is the present-day headquarters of the Narragansett Tribe and the location of their reservation.

Niantic

Niantic is a village located in East Lyme, a seaside town in southeast Connecticut on the Long Island Sound. The land was occupied by the Niantic tribe when the Europeans arrived. The Dutch claimed the area in the 17th century, but when the British claimed this same land as part of their colonies, the Dutch forfeited it to the British in a 1627 trade agreement. The village housed both preachers and a schoolhouse, and missionaries came to the village for the purpose of converting and assimilating the tribe. This effort intensified in the 1740s with the influence of the First Great Awakening. Increasingly dispersed and dispossessed of land, many Niantic Indians followed Occom and Joseph Johnson to upstate New York in the 1770's where they settled Brothertown.

Narragansett

Narragansett is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, covering a narrow strip of land along the eastern bank of the Pettaquamscutt River to the Narragansett Bay in the southeastern part of the state. Today, it is known for its summer recreation and beaches. It is named for the most powerful Indian tribe in the area, the Narragansetts (meaning people of the small point), who are descendants of the aboriginal inhabitants of the area. Known as warriors, the Narragansetts customarily offered protection to the smaller tribes, the Nipmuck bands, the Niantics, Wampanoags and Manisseans, who paid tribute to them. Their sachem, Canonicus, met and befriended the English dissenter Roger Williams as he fled the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1636 and founded the settlement of Providence Plantation. The mutual respect they achieved disappeared in 1658 and 1659 as two groups of English investors hungry for land purchased two tracts of valuable land, which became known as "Narragansett Country," including what would become the town of Narragansett. This consisted of three peninsulas called "Boston Neck," "Little Neck," and "Point Judith Neck," which were used for grazing, farming and fishing. In 1675, the Narragansett allied themselves with the Wampanoag leader Metacom (aka King Philip), in his effort to regain tribal land in Massachusetts. A military force of English Puritans from Plymouth, Massaschusetts Bay and Connecticut massacred a group of Narragansetts, mostly women, children and the elderly living in their winter camp in the Great Swamp. The survivors retreated deep into the forest lands, which make up today's Reservation; others who refused to be subjected to the authority of the United Colonies were hunted down and killed, sold into slavery in the Caribbean, or migrated to Brothertown in upstate New York and Wisconsin. For the next 200 years, the population of the town expanded slowly, large plantations emerged, commerce evolved and the area became known for its cheese, sheep, horses, and grain. The Narragensett Pier was built in 1781 in the center of the village to accommodate shipping in Narragansett Bay.

Niles, Samuel
Deake, Edward

Edward Deake was an Anglo-American missionary and schoolmaster born in Rhode Island in 1732. After receiving reluctant approval from the Narragansett tribal council for the support of a schoolhouse and schoolmaster on Nov. 26 1765, Reverend Joseph Fish, who had been living among the Narragansetts, hired Edward Deake to serve as schoolmaster to the tribe in Charlestown, Rhode Island. Funded by the New England Company, Deake taught his students to read English, write, and cypher, following the pattern of other missionary schools for Native people in New England. Out of 151 school-aged Narragansetts, 53 students, boys and girls, attended Deake’s school. Deake regularly consulted a council of Indians for input on the best course of action for educating his students. In addition to his 24 pounds per year salary, Deake also received living quarters for himself and his family in the schoolhouse. After Tobias Shattock left for England in 1767, Deake became the main recruiter among the Narragansetts for Wheelock’s school, often corresponding with Wheelock to recommend students. But the Narragansetts, under the leadership of the charismatic Native preacher Samuel Niles, soon became disillusioned with Fish and Deake, distrusting the purpose and motivations of the school and fearing the colonial appropriation of their lands and right to self-government. In 1770, Narragansett leader John Shattock Sr. told Fish that the Narragansetts wanted Deake to leave, and attendance at Deake’s school evaporated in the next few years. Finally, on January 2, 1776, Deake requested relief from his position as schoolmaster and left soon after. There is some evidence he moved to New York state and worked as a minister. Deake died in 1794.

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.

Shattock, Tobias

Tobias Shattock was a Narragansett leader who briefly attended Moor's Indian Charity School. He died in Edinburgh while trying to protect Narragansett land interests. Like many Moor's students, Tobias was from a powerful family: he and his brother John were the sons of John Shattock Sr., a Narragansett lay minister. Tobias and John received their basic education from Edward Deake at Charlestown and then attended Moor's from December 1766 to the fall of 1767. By all accounts, Tobias was an especially promising student. Both Tobias and John left Moor's to try to defend Narragansett land claims. The Narragansett sachems had run up massive debt over the course of the 18th century, and were trying to sell Narragansett land to the colony of Rhode Island to settle them. Much of the Narragansett Tribe opposed this course of action. Tobias and John Jr. took the lead in the Tribe's efforts to recruit powerful allies for their cause. Tobias appealed to Sir William Johnson and Andrew Oliver, who were able to secure a temporary halt on land sales. Then, with the support of Wheelock, Whitefield, and Sir William Johnson, the brothers set out to plead their case before the Privy Council in London in January 1768. They arrived in Edinburgh on April 15, 1768, where Tobias died of smallpox on May 6. John continued on to London, but was unsuccessful in his appeal. He returned to the colonies where he died in 1770.

Wheelock, Rodulphus

Ralph Rodulphus Wheelock was Wheelock's oldest son and heir apparent. While Wheelock believed that Ralph showed great aptitude for the "Indian business," others saw Ralph as arrogant and abrasive. He also suffered from epilepsy, which seriously impeded his ability to work. He died in Hanover as an invalid under almost constant care and guardianship. Wheelock's struggle to accept his son's illness and his son's struggle to overcome it provide an undercurrent for some of the stranger events in the history of Moor's Indian Charity School and Dartmouth College. Ralph grew up surrounded by and dedicated to Indian education, but also with an inflated sense of Wheelock's, and his own, importance, which stayed with him for much of his life. Joseph Brant recounts a telling anecdote: Ralph once ordered William Major, Sir William Johnson's son, to saddle his horse on the grounds that he was the son of a gentleman and William Major was not. Ralph was unable to finish coursework at the College of New Jersey, which he attended from 1761-1763, although he graduated from Yale in 1765. He made three tours of the Six Nations (in 1766, 1767, and 1768), assisting ministers in bringing back children and negotiating with tribes. He taught at Moor's for two years, and was briefly considered as a companion for Occom on the Fundraising Tour. Wheelock formally named him as his heir in the 1768 draft of his will. However, Wheelock's reliance on Ralph brought disastrous consequences for the school. In the spring of 1768, Wheelock sent Ralph to the Onondagas and Oneidas to negotiate about schoolmasters and missionaries. Once there, Ralph managed to offend the assembled chiefs beyond repair. Ralph blamed his failure on Kirkland, and it was not until 1772 that Wheelock learned the truth of the matter. It is likely that Ralph's conduct influenced the Oneidas' decision to pull their children out of Moor's later in 1768: Wheelock himself implied as much in his 1771 Journal. By the early 1770s, Wheelock had realized that Ralph was never going to take over Dartmouth College. In a later will, Wheelock provided Ralph with £50 per annum for his care, to be paid out by the College, and stipulated that his other heirs should look after his oldest son. Because Ralph was unable to serve as Wheelock's heir, the presidency of the College passed to John Wheelock, a soldier who had no theological training or desire to run a college.

HomeSamuel Niles and Edward Deake, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 January 15
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