abstract: Wood writes to outline the touring and preaching schedule that he has prepared for Whitaker and Occom. He mentions a penny paper denouncing Occom.
handwriting: Formal handwriting is stylized, yet largely clear and legible.
paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good-to-fair condition, with moderate staining, creasing and wear.
signature: The signature is abbreviated.
layout: The first page of the letter is on one recto, but the second page is on two recto, not one verso. The third page of the letter is on one verso and is written in landscape orientation, not portrait orientation as on the other pages.
noteworthy: Wood consistently punctuates the contraction "I've" as "Iv'e."
events: Fundraising Tour of Great Britain
Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.
Monday evening 8. o'clock
My dear Sir/
mouth, and suppose You received my Letter
Since writing that Letter Iv'e wrote and
sent Papers to all the Places therein men
tioned and which You purposed to visit this
Week (Stowmarket only excepted, which
I know You could send to from Ipswich)
This will meet You (I hope well) at
Bury, where, I expect, our Friends will
be ready for You, in consequence of the
Notice had from me — they'll also
be ready for You at Melford on Friday
Forenoon — and at Sudbury that evening
where I expect Mr. John Gainsborough
(if at Home) will receive You —
Today Iv'e wrote to Mr. Ford of Castle
Heddingham and have sent Papers — I
inform him you'll be there Monday next
(October 5th) Forenoon and that one of You will
preach at 2. or 3. Afternoon if desired, and
as may be agreed upon by them next Lord's
Day — Iv'e also wrote and sent Papers to
Mr. Field of Halstead informing that
Halstead, from Heddingham, either on
Monday evening (October 5.) or Tuesday Forenoon and will
(one of You) preach for him at 2. or 3. o'clock Tuesday
if agreeable and so appointed by him and the People on Lords
Day — and have also wrote to Mr. Davidson Brain
tree, sending Papers, and informing him of your Design
to be at Braintree, either Tuesday evening (October 6th) or
on Wednesday morning (October 7.) time enough to preach the
Lecture there which begins about 10. Forenoon — To Mr. Da
vidson's Friendship and affection Iv'e committed You, and
have asked him to plan for You both to the westward
and Eastward of Braintree in Essex — You'll see by what
Iv'e done You are fixed for next week until Wednesday
without any further Trouble to You of writing to Hed
dingham Halstead or Braintree — The Paper which
Ive sent to these ministers and to all others are a Pamphlet
(the Narrative) the brief account and the Testimonials — These
Iv'e accompanied with a Letter to the minister or principal
Person — I expect all were received before Yesterday — and
these 3 parcels into Essex (Heddingham, Halstead and Braintree)
will get into their Hands tomorrow — I expect, as I shall
send them by this Midnight's Coach — at Weathersfield
[illegible][guess: Stormbourn], Dunmow, Thaxted and other Places that You
may go to Westward of Braintree You may show my
Letter of recommendation (if You go to these Places) so
You may Eastward at Coggeshall, Dedham, Colchester,
[illegible][guess: Wisham] Chelmsford — Had I time and was it necessary
necessary — Since You left Us I received a Guinea from good Mrs.
Corsbie (Mother to Mr. Corsbie of Bury) which was off Mr. Occom's Bill
with Mr. Ollyett completely — Here I receive your Letter of 26th instant
from Ipswich— I'm glad Youv'e done so well at Yarmouth and Woodbridge —
I should rather think it best to proceed to Heddingham Halstead and Braintree
(for to Melford and Sudbury You must go) and so go over Essex (West and East) as pro
posed — You may afterwards go to Cambridge and take in Bishop Stortford and
some other [illegible][guess: Place] in your Tour to Cambridge —
of the Brief representations for I'm got to the last of them, and must send to
[illegible][guess: Lynn], Walpole, Framlingham, and several other small congregations in Norfolk
and Suffolk — On Friday last was a Grubstreet penny Paper published at
Norwich aiming foolishly (but without Wit) to expose the Instititution
and good Mr. Occom in particular — A very low Affair it is and utterly
below Notice — I'm sure Mr. Occom is Soldier good enough to despise a
Squib, and therefore would have sent You one to excite your Laughter and to show what
Sort of People we have among Us, was it not for this expense of Carriage which
it would not answer to You — I shall be glad to hear from You at Leisure
Many have inquired whether Iv'e word from You and now I can satisfy them —
This famous Catchpenny is called a Cry from the wilderness, or a converted
Indian's Application to a christian congregation, both indeed it's below Grub
street and as innocent as to doing any mischief, as it's low, foolish and malicious —
Mr. Scott remains confirmed — Mrs. Wood, Mr. and Mrs. Newton and M[illegible] Ruggles and
our little Girl and Boy all think and speak of You both and join in salutations to yourself
and good Mr. Occom — May God bless You both! May He prosper this glorious
Cause! and May You live to see the blessed Effects of your Labours — Adieu heartily,
The rev. Dr. Whitaker
To be left at Mr. Corsbie's
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.
William Ford was descended from a long line of dissenting ministers and martyrs. His mother, the daughter of an eminent nonconformist, Reverend Nathaniel Vincent, married a successful London merchant named Mr. Ford. They had two sons, John and William, who both became distinguished dissenting ministers. John was pastor of several congregations at Sudbury, in Suffolk, from 1729 until his death in 1750. William was educated for the ministry in London under Dr. Thomas Ridgley and Mr. John Eames. He then served as chaplain to the family of Sir Daniel Dolins at Hackney and preached around London. On December 18, 1730 he was ordained as minister at Haberdasher’s-Hall with another young minister, Mr. Samuel Parks, who afterwards settled at Oxford. In May 1732, Ford received a call from the Independent church at Castle Hedingham, in Essex, which he joined that summer. He served there for more than 40 years. Ford's congregation at Castle Hedingham was large, around 700, and he was noted for never having preached twice from same text. At the end of 1773, he had a paralytic seizure; he soon left his post, and died at Islington, London, on 26 April 1778. Occom and Whitaker preached at Ford's church on their fundraising tour of England in the Fall of 1767 and Wheelock recorded the amount collected from the congregation in his "Narrative" for that year.
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.