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Hezekiah Calvin, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 August 14

ms-number: 767464

abstract: Calvin writes seeking permission to marry and advice about his future.

handwriting: Clear, formal and legible.

paper: Paper is in good condition, with light-to-moderate staining and wear.


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


Reverend Sir,
With sincerity of Heart I would tempt to write out
now my Mind, — My Cogitations have been these, —
1st. after Mr. Wheelock had made the proposition to me about my
going Home, My Mind was eased, in thinking that if I returned
Home and liked the school, I should tarry with it if
I could support myself that way, without an Companion: and if
I did not like the School or could not have maintained myself
that way, I concluded in my Mind to go to Sea and follow them.
  And yet at the same time never to return here again —
2ndly. I thought of Marrying at home and so follow farming
business, to maintain Me and my Companion, etc.
3rdly. And again the state And condition of my Friends and fellow
Brethren would be hovering in my Mind daily, so
that I was almost ready to conclude to spend my life
amongst them anywhere, if it were among the very
wildest of them if I could but have it in my Mind
that I should be likely of doing them any good

And so I left these thoughts in a [illegible][guess: Par] leaving them to be
concluded when I got home etc. — —
As Mr. Wheelock has made another proposition, I
know not what to say, it is true that we have concluded
to join. And my affections are so great for her, I should be
very loathe to leave her, — Yet if Mr. Wheelock has a mind that
we should part I can leave her if you will let me go home and never to
return again, but conclude to one of the two of my first
thoughts. I leave the affair wholly with you to conclude;
for thou canst advise as a father, etc. — —
And as for the thoughts of my going home
I greatly have a fond for, that I might learn somewhat
of my own Native Language, that I might be the better
fitted for the design you have in view, that I might
be able to carry on a free discourse with the Indians if no more,
And not be as A dumb stump that has no tongue
to use, like as when I was among the Mohawk Indians
how tiresome was my life; couldn't understand, them
[gap: stain][guess: no]body to keep [gap: stain][guess: at a free] discourse with. — this is

what lays in my Mind.
But however sometimes I mourn and grieve for my breaking
Friendship with the Mohawks, — I should be very glad
it seems to me to see my Brethren become christians and live like Christians
My Mind is full. I cant express myself
And thus I End Subscribing
myself to be your Dutiful Pupil

Hezekiah Calvin

Hezekiah Calvin's
August 14. 1767

To
The Rev. Mr. E. Wheelock
at
Lebanon
Calvin, Hezekiah

Hezekiah Calvin was one of Eleazar Wheelock's first Native American students. Like Wheelock’s other early Delaware students, he was sent by the minister John Brainerd. Calvin was certified as a schoolteacher on March 12, 1765, and was sent to the Mohawks at Fort Hunter in June 1765. The Mohawks threw him out at the end of September 1766, and he returned to Moor's. Samuel Johnson, an Anglo-American Yale student who replaced Calvin at Fort Hunter, reported that the residents unanimously accused Calvin of being abusive and rude. Calvin, in turn, maintained that the Fort Hunter Mohawks had mistreated him. Calvin’s second stint at Moor’s did not go well. He wrote several confessions for drunkenness and bad behavior, and frequently spoke ill of Wheelock. He left the school in the spring of 1768, and took up residence with the Secutor family (Narragansett) at Charlestown, Rhode Island. Calvin left the Narragansetts sometime late in 1768, presumably after the dissolution of his relationship with Mary Secutor. Wheelock heard reports early in 1769 that Calvin had been imprisoned at Little Ease, NJ, for forging a pass for a Black man (Calvin does not appear in the county records, so either he was never indicted or Wheelock had his information wrong). By 1777, Calvin was in a position of prominence at Brotherton, NJ (a town of Christian Delawares founded under John Brainerd’s ministry). At some point after 1788, Calvin moved west with the Delawares: he may have moved directly to join the Delawares in Ohio territory, or he may have relocated to Stockbridge in 1802 and then moved west.

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.

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