abstract: Wheelock requests a copy of the letter slandering Whitaker, Occom and himself, and refutes its contents. He denies attempting to lure away James Dean.
handwriting: Handwriting is formal and clear; it is not Wheelock's.
paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages has been heavily reinforced, which makes it difficult to gauge the condition of the paper. There appears to be light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear.
ink: Brown-black ink is somewhat dimmed by the reinforcement.
noteworthy: This document is marked “Copy.” An unknown editor has added a note in pencil to the trailer on two verso; this note has note been transcribed.
Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.
To the Honourable London Commissioners
I would now inform you, that if Mr. Oliver and Mr. Pemberton
understood, that those small Circumstances which I men‐
‐tioned as being untrue, in your Letter to Mr. Mauduit,
were the only, or chief objections I had against that Letter,
they were much mistaken. I heard the Letter but one read,
And did not think I was thereby well qualified to point out
the things which seemed at first view, either asserted or plainly
suggested therein, which were very unfriendly both to my
character, and to the design which Mr. Whitaker was gone upon:
Nor did I think it would have been modest in me, after such
strong assertions, as they repeatedly made “that there was not
a word, nor suggestion therein, unfavourable to any Cha‐
‐racter, or to Mr. Whitakers design,” to contradict them without
a further Examination of what was written; but I assure
you, Sirs, that had I not apprehended there were things, both
untrue, and unfriendly to Mr. Whitaker’s, Mr. Occom’s and my
own characters, and also to Mr. Whitakers design; I should not
have so earnestly desired a copy of it. And I now assure you, sirs,
that I apprehend there is not one material Article narrated
in that Letter that is true, excepting that Mr. Occom was a Mohegan,
which I never yet heard denied, and which I had long before
your said letter, published in my narrative, 1700 Copies of which
(If I mistake not) were printed at Boston, and sent into all your
Country round about you.
it, and I dont make it appear that there is not one material
Article in that letter that does not contain gross falsehood
I will freely confess I did not understand it when it was
read to me. — And if I dont find such things expressed
in England, reasonably understood to be unfriendly, and design‐
edly conveyed by it, I will faithfully inform them of their
mistake, and cheerfully do what I can to retrieve the —
Injury which your characters sustain by their misunder‐
‐standing your letter.
viz. my attempting to take James Dean away from you etc.
by promising to take him into my school etc.
I answer. By word and letter from Boston. I was repeat‐
‐edly informed that James Dean designed to leave your
service, being dissatisfied that you refused to give
him such an Education as you had encouraged him
to expect, and sent his desire to me to take him, to which
I made no reply at all. After some Time the Rev. Mr.
Hopkins wrote me at Deans desire that I would take
him, — in answer to which I let him know I would
do nothing to get him out of your hands — but in case
he should be discharged from you I should be willing to
take him, and treat him, as I did the rest of my english
scholars — and that what I wrote might be no inducement
to his leaving you; I wrote that I should expect Bonds
for his entering upon and pursuing the business
proposed, which I had heard, you had offered, and he
had refused, and which I should not have mentioned
if it had not been for the Reason I have given.
discoursed with him about it (but not as a Confident
or counselor in any plot against you, but as I should
have discoursed with you yourselves, if I had been fa‐
‐voured with the same opportunity) I told him I should
be glad to have the young man, if he left you, but
told him I had no disposition to undermine you, or
defeat you of his service, or to do anything that could
be thought underhanded, or not fair, and above board;
and to this purpose Mr. Moseley said repeatedly in my house,
last week, before sufficient witnesses, that he had told you.
and I dont remember to have discoursed with any but those two
Gentlemen on the affair. where then you got that Knowledge of my
doings in this Matter, I cant conceive. I think it must be from
somebody who had no Knowledge of it himself.
I could no doubt have taken him out of your hands, by
speaking the word, at any Time after you sent him into your
service, 'til that very day on which that fact viz. that I
had been attempting to get him out of your hands, came
to your Knowledge; and nothing ever prevented my doing
it, but the consideration that it would disoblige you. —
Complaint is now, having never heard it 'til I was
last at Boston, from Mr. Oliver, not as his own, but as
what he had from others — And am now so far from
being conscious of the Justice of the Charge, that I really
believe it may be found on search, to lie on the other side.
But it would be with the greatest reluctance, If I should
ever be constrained to [illegible][guess: make] up what has been said and
done on your side, which I could understand [illegible][guess: in a]
other light, and which have been concealed on purpose
that no difference might appear between us. And I do
assure you, sirs, I have the greatest Reluctance to
a controversy with you, Gentlemen, whom I love, and
honour, and especially, as there are some of your number,
particularly Mr. Oliver, and Mr. Cushing, of whom I never
think, but with the kindest sentiments of gratitude
for the past expressions of their friendship towards the
Important Cause I have been pursuing. And I believe
I shall ever be disposed to acknolwedge the same, in
the fullest and strongest Terms, whatever prejudices,
or ill opinions they may conceive of me.
that notwithstanding the reports of great Injury
done me, and the Cause, by your letter, I had
determined not to trouble my head about it, but
leave the Issue and consequence of it with the great
the letter, had not Mr. Oliver, by his letter of July 6,
without any motion of mine, kindly invited me to
hear it, that I might be convinced there was nothing
contained in it unfavourable, either to Characters, or
Mr. Whitakers design. And I dont determine to this
Day, but that, Friends and Enemies at home, and
particularly the venerable Society to whom it
was wrote, have all mistaken the true Import,
Aim, design, and Tendency of that Letter, and
if so, I should be glad for your sakes that it might
appear. as I am sincerely
Much Honoured Sirs,
very humble Servant
in Boston October 7th 1767.
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.
Andrew Oliver was an influential Boston merchant and politician, who was a member of several societies that funded Eleazar Wheelock, including the Boston Board of the New England Company (treasurer) and Massachusetts General Assembly (secretary). Oliver played an important political role in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts and, as a firm advocate of Indian missions, attended multiple conferences with Indian tribes. He believed that Anglican and Dissenter missionaries and societies could cooperate, and after Oliver and Wheelock were introduced in 1756, Oliver helped Wheelock access funding from the New England Company, the Massachusetts Assembly, and the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Their relationship deteriorated, however, when the London Board of the New England Company turned against Wheelock late in 1765. Wheelock became aware of the London Board’s change of heart through the “Oliver letter,” a letter purportedly written by Oliver (actually written by Ebenezer Pemberton) that was “injurious” to the characters of Wheelock, Whitaker, and Occom. In 1765, Wheelock also lost his funding from the Massachusetts Assembly. It is unclear what role Oliver played in these events. On the one hand, the breach between Wheelock and the New England Company coincided with the collapse of Oliver’s political career over his attempts to enforce the Stamp Act. Oliver may have been too preoccupied to be involved in the London Board’s change of heart; after all, Boston mobs were burning him in effigy. On the other hand, if Oliver was not involved, it is more difficult to explain why his correspondence with Wheelock ended abruptly in 1767 or why Wheelock lost funding from the Assembly and the London Board at the same time. Oliver would be the obvious link; but of course, Wheelock had many detractors in Boston and another explanation is certainly possible.
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.
James Dean, an adopted member of the Oneida tribe, was an interpreter and American government agent. When he was nine years old, his parents sent him to live with the Oneidas at Onaquaga; they may have thought that interpreting would be a secure career, or they may have acted out of a missionary impulse. Dean lived at Onaquaga for four or five years and was formally adopted by the Oneidas. He may have lived at Good Peter's house. Dean learned an array of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and Indian languages. In 1762, Rev. Forbes retrieved Dean on a mission to Onaquaga under the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. After that Society folded, the New England Company educated Dean and employed him as a missionary. Naturally, Wheelock coveted the services of this Anglo-American boy who was fluent in multiple Indian languages. Dean was also interested in working for Wheelock because he wanted a college education, which the New England Company was not going to provide. Thus, Dean became yet another point of contention between Wheelock and the New England Company: the New England Company's Boston Board accused Wheelock of trying to poach their best interpreter, while Wheelock maintained that it was Dean who was pursuing him. Dean finally joined Dartmouth College in November of 1769; as Chase points out, by this time Wheelock's relations with the Boston Board were irreparable and he had nothing to lose by accepting Dean as a student. Dean graduated from Dartmouth in 1773 and served Wheelock for the next two years. He worked primarily with Abenakis in Canada and the Oneidas, and was often paired with Kirkland. In August of 1775, Wheelock gave Dean his blessing to leave the missionary service and work as an interpreter and Indian agent for the Continental Army. Dean interpreted at several important conferences and, along with Kirkland, was instrumental in convincing the Oneidas to side with the colonies during the Revolution. After the war, Dean continued to work as a liaison between Indian tribes and American governments, especially between the Oneidas and the New York Government. Although one might expect Dean to have protected his adoptive tribe's interests, he did not. Dean was heavily involved in land speculation, and did not see a cooperative future between Indians and Anglo-Americans. He helped New York State acquire massive amounts of Oneida land, and amassed substantial territory for himself in the process. While Dean did not help the Oneidas hold on to their land, he did make some efforts to defend Oneida sovereignty from New York intervention. Dean farmed his land and turned it into the settlement of Westmoreland. He was a prominent citizen in Central New York: he served as a judge and assemblyman and played an important role in establishing the region's trade lines. Occom refers to visiting Dean several times in his later diaries.
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.
Samuel Hopkins was named after his uncle, Samuel Hopkins (1693-1755), who was a minister in West Springfield, MA. Hopkins the younger grew up on a farm in Waterbury, CT, and attended Yale. There, he was friends with David Brainerd, who would become the well-known missionary to the Delaware Indians, and was influenced by the famous theologian Jonathan Edwards, who served as missionary to the Stockbridge Indians. After graduation, Hopkins studied divinity with Edwards, until he was ordained pastor of the North Parish church of Sheffield at Housatonic, now Great Barrington, MA. Although he wasn't a missionary, in 1753, Hopkins published "Historical Memoirs relating to the Housatonic Indians." His strict theological views got him dismissed from his post in 1769, and in 1770 until his death in 1803, he preached at the First Congregational Church in Newport, RI. There, he was active in opposing the slave trade, freed his own slaves, lobbied for laws against the importation of Africans and for the freeing of children of slaves, and originated the idea of sending freed slaves to Africa as missionaries. These ideas appeared in his pamphlet, "Dialogue Showing it to be the Duty and Interest of the American States to Emancipate all their African Slaves," published in 1776. He originated a revision of Calvinist theology that become known as Hopkinsianism, described in his major work, "The System of Doctrinces Contained in Divine Revelation" (1793). Based on the ideas of Jonathan Edwards, it argued that people can overcome sin by disinterested benevolence and complete submission to God's will. He was an associate of Eleazar Wheelock, writing to him about reports of Occom's first mission to the Oneidas, and was also acquaintanted with Occom, who stayed with Hopkins during a preaching tour of western Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Jasper Mauduit was born in London, England, and served as Agent in London for the Province of Massachusetts Bay from 1762 to 1765. Englishmen appointed as agents in the 18th century were often merchants with trading interests in America. In this capacity, Mauduit represented the interests of the colony to the British government and was the complement of the colony's royal governor. Agents also solicited royal approval of enactments passed by colonial legislatures, were a source of information, and represented colonial interests in British courts. Mauduit then served as Governor of the Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America (New England Company), a powerful missionary society active in the colonies from 1649-1786 that supported a range of efforts, including the missionary work of Wheelock's alumnus Samuel Kirkland, as well as Occom's education at Moor's and his salary during his time with the Montauks on Long Island. In his capacity as governor, Mauduit received a controversial letter on October 2, 1765 from the Boston Commissioners of the Company, signed by Andrew Oliver, that downplayed Wheelock’s role in Occom’s conversion and education. Wheelock pushed back against these claims, writing to many correspondents about the situation, though we do not have a record of Mauduit's position. In response to this controversy, Occom wrote his short Narrative to verify the facts of his life and conversion.
Ebenezer Moseley was a New England Company missionary and a captain in the Connecticut militia during the Revolution. His father, Samuel Moseley, was a minister in Windham, CT, and a supporter of Eleazar Wheelock. It initially appeared that Ebenezer would follow in his father’s footsteps. He graduated from Yale in 1763, was licensed to preach in 1765, and was ordained in 1767 in preparation for a mission to Onaquaga, an Oneida village, under the auspices of the New England Company. Moseley’s mission to the Onaquagas represented yet another front in the New England Company’s war with Eleazar Wheelock. The New England Company had sporadically hosted missionaries in Onaquaga between the 1740s and early 1760s, and clearly considered the town its turf. Wheelock had sponsored Joseph Woolley (Delaware) as a schoolmaster there in 1765, during which time the promising young man had fallen ill and died. Wheelock thought that he, too, had a claim to Onaquaga. In 1766, Wheelock approached the New England Company and, in his mind, secured permission to send Titus Smith, a young Yale graduate, as a missionary. Adding insult to injury, he hired Elisha Gunn, an NEC interpreter, to accompany Smith (interpreters were in high demand, and were yet another point of conflict between the NEC and Wheelock). The New England Company retaliated by sending Ebenezer Moseley to Onaquaga, where he picked up Gunn’s contract, leaving Smith without an interpreter. Moseley was accompanied and introduced by Gideon Hawley, who had been a long-time missionary among the Onaquagas in the 1740s and 50s. Titus Smith had no choice but to return home. Moseley served at Onaquaga until 1773, when he returned home, married, and became a local merchant. He enlisted in the Connecticut militia when the Revolution broke out and led troops at the Battle of Bunker Hill. By the time he retired from the militia in 1791, he had advanced to the rank of captain. Between 1776 and 1806, Moseley was a regular representative in the Connecticut legislature, and he oversaw the 1786 incorporation of Hampton as an independent town from Windham. In 1788 he was made a deacon in his father’s church.
Ebenezer Pemberton was a New Light minister who wrote the infamous "Oliver letter" to try to discredit Samson Occom during the latter's 1765 fundraising tour. He also opposed Wheelock's efforts to obtain funding from the Massachusetts Assembly. After graduating from Harvard in 1721, Pemberton served a five-year stint as chaplain at Boston's Castle William (Fort Independence). In 1726, First Presbyterian Church in New York hired him, although they allowed him to be ordained Congregationalist in Boston. Pemberton served First Presbyterian until 1753, when battles within the Presbyterian Church drove him out. He is noteworthy as the only minister in New York who welcomed George Whitefield, transatlantic superstar of the First Great Awakening, into his pulpit. While in New York, Pemberton was a member of the New Jersey Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. This board hired several missionaries, including David Brainerd, John Brainerd, and Azariah Horton, and established the College of New Jersey (which awarded Pemberton an honorary D.D. in 1770). Pemberton also preached at the ordination of John Brainerd, a Presbyterian minister with whom Wheelock worked closely. After the fissure in his congregation, Pemberton returned to the comforts of Congregationalism in Boston at the Old North Church (also known as the New Brick Church, and not the same Old North Church connected to the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere). Pemberton joined the New England Company once he reached Boston. Along with other New England Company board members, he discouraged Occom's fundraising tour. He was also the author of the 1765 letter attempting to discredit Occom and Wheelock. Pemberton opposed Wheelock's efforts to secure money from the Massachusetts Assembly on at least two occasions, once in 1762 and once in 1766. After Andrew Oliver retired from the New England Company around 1770, Pemberton took over as de facto secretary. The Revolution forced Pemberton to give up his pulpit. He was a Tory, and Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts was a loyal member of his Boston congregation. The rest of the congregation was not pleased by Pemberton's politics. From February 1774 on, Pemberton was more or less in early retirement, and he died a few years later. Pemberton should not be confused with 1) his father, Ebenezer Pemberton Sr., who was minister at the Boston Old South Church, or 2) Israel Pemberton, a wealthy Philadelphia businessman who gave money to Moor's.