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Edward Deake, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 June 1

ms-number: 767351.1

abstract: Deake writes to recommend admittance for the son of Samuel Niles into the school.

handwriting: Formal hand is clear and legible. The handwriting is the same as that in 765566.1, 767115.1, 767552, 767559, 767562.2, 767630.2, 767660.2, and possibly 767231, 767251 and 768371.2.

paper: Single sheet is in good-to-fair condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Brown-black.


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



Rev. Sir,

Samuel Niles has a mind his son
should come to your school, after a little time
more; that he may be furnished with a greater
degree of learning than I'm able to give him; he's
an Ingenious Boy of about fourteen years of age, for
ability to learn Inferior to none of his colour. He
can read tolerable well in the Bible: a line, or
too that he wrote this day I've enclosed for you
to look upon; if you please. He's now learning
to Cypher. — He's on every account as pleasant
a Youth as any in the whole Tribe.
These in the greatest hurry may assure you that
I am with great respect (Rev. Sir ) your most
obedient humble Servant —

Edward Deake
from Mr. Edward Deake
June 1. 1767.
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.
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.

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.

Niles, Samuel
Niles, Jr., Samuel
HomeEdward Deake, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 June 1
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