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David McClure, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 December 17

ms-number: 767667.3

abstract: McClure writes of his progress at Yale, and his desire to go on a mission and serve the design.

handwriting: Handwriting is small yet formal and clear. McClure occasionally includes a flourish or mark next to an uppercase R and, in one case, an uppercase I.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in fair condition, with moderate-to-heavy creasing, staining and wear that leads to a minor loss of text.

ink: Brown-black ink is slightly faded.

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

Reverend and Honoured Sir/
We received the Doctor's kind epistle yes‐
terday, with the greatest Joy and Gratitude; and would return
most unfeigned Thanks for the sincerest expressions of usu‐
al parental unmerited Love. agreeable to the Doctor's
Direction I presented respects to Messrs. Bird and [illegible][guess: Whitlesy]
with the Narratives they return respects to the Doctor.
likewise one to Mr. Mitchel our Tutor and desired him to
peruse the Letter to us as the Doctor mentioned, that
he might understand more thoroughly the design in which
we are embarked. I was some time with him; he inquired
concerning the School and the Doctor's proposed method
for our Learning and the like; I endeavoured to inform
him in short according to my best Understanding of the Affair.
 He expressed a very great desire for the continuance and
 prosperity of the School, was much rejoiced to hear of
such surprising success from home, should be very
sorry he said, if the School should be within Gen. Lyman's
Government on the Ohio; but for what particular reason
I did not ask him — Mr. Baldwin happened to be pre‐
sent in our Room when the Doctor's Letter arrived, he
accepted the Narrative very thankfully and returns his re‐
spects to the Doctor.
I am very glad to understand the Doctor
is so well satisfied with our Behaviour and proficiency in
 Learning here; I hope I shall always so conduct at College
as to merit the Doctor's Approbation and honour the Design with
which I have the happiness to be so intimately connected.
With Regard to my daily employ tis as much as I possibly
can go through with. We still continue three Recitations a day.
at present we recite chiefly the Languages and philosophy the
latter is both very pleasing and profitable; which the Doctor
recommends; I hope to keep my standing and make my way
good in classical Studies — Some of our Studies I appre‐
hend not to be so useful to us, as Mathematics and the like
which I in a great measure omit; which for us who are employed
in the Indian Design, I imagine to be of little or no Service.
— A Knowledge of the Indian Language is of vastly great‐
‐er Importance, and which I am sensible must be attained, else
everything will in a manner be discouraging — Mr. Johnson's
and I converse rarely in any other Language; I hope [gap: tear][guess: not]
to loose what little I have already attained. It much rejoices
my Heart to hear of such unexpected Encouragments from Home.
that God has put into the Hearts of the great and wise such a
benevolent Principle towards the Design. O may the great
End in View be obtained, when the Heathen shall hear of a
crucified Redeemer and put their Confidence only in his meri‐
‐torious Blood. I long to be fitted and prepared for this great
and glorious Cause. But alas! my unpreparedness! how amaz‐
‐ingly lukewarm am I in an Affair of such infinite Importance
to the Souls of Men! I desire to wait on God for every
thing necessary for me. his time is the best. I think I should
be highly favoured and greatly happy in being the Instrument
of good to my fellow Men! I should be glad to understand if the
Doctor pleases whether he designs I shall take a Tour among [gap: stain][guess: the]
Indians in the Spring; my Heart and my Hands are ready if there
be a Door open among the Indians and it be the Doctor's Mind.
I am sensible in some measure of my present distinguished
privileges for which I hope ever to retain the most feeling
sense of Gratitude. Those Branches of literature the
Doctor recommended we are at present in pursuit of, and
particularly Oratory which at present flourishes and wears
a very agreeable aspect — I fear I have already wearied
the Doctor's Patience by an unbecoming Prolixity; for
which I humbly ask forgiveness, and gratefully subscribe my‐
The Doctor's
Most dutiful, obedient and
affectionate Pupil,

David McClure
The Rev. Doctor Wheelock
From David McClure
December 17th 1767
To The Reverend
Doctor Eleazar Wheelock
per favour}
Mr. Leonard}
McClure, David

David McClure was an Anglo-American charity scholar at Moor’s Indian Charity School. He went on to become a minister, and remained exceptionally loyal to Eleazar Wheelock throughout his life. McClure is important as a primary source on Moor’s Indian Charity School: his diary (more accurately, an autobiography that he composed between 1805 and 1816) includes eyewitness accounts of the school, Samson Occom’s home life, and Separatist worship among the Charlestown Narragansett. McClure also became Wheelock’s first biographer (Memoirs of the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, 1811). McClure was a typical charity scholar, in that he attended Moor’s primarily to obtain an education that his family could not have afforded otherwise. After a year at Moor’s, McClure enrolled in Yale, where he attended sporadically between 1765 and September 1769, when he received his degree. After graduating, McClure kept school at Moor’s (then in New Hampshire) for several years, until he undertook his only career mission in 1772. McClure was exceptionally ill-suited to the missionary business. He was a city boy from Boston, and was so unfit for farm labor at Moor’s that Wheelock had him copy out correspondence instead. Aside from a brief 1766 foray into teaching at Kanawalohale under Samuel Kirkland’s tutelage, McClure’s only mission was an aborted sixteen month effort (1772-1773) to proselytize the Delaware of the Muskingum River, during which he spent far more time preaching to Anglo-American congregations. McClure had a long career as a minister, teacher, and writer. He remained close to Wheelock throughout his life: he married into Wheelock’s family in 1780, served as a trustee of Dartmouth from 1778 until 1800, consistently informed Wheelock of Dartmouth’s PR problems, and took Wheelock’s side in his dispute with former charity scholar Samuel Kirkland.

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.

Lyman, Phineas

General Phineas Lyman was a longtime friend of Eleazar Wheelock’s and a supporter of his school. He was born in Durham, CT in 1715 and studied law at Yale. After graduating in 1738, Lyman became a tutor then successful lawyer, and he managed a law school in Suffield, MA. When Suffield was incorporated into Connecticut, Lyman became involved with the Connecticut General Assembly. He served in the French and Indian War, commanding 5,000 Connecticut troops, and was integral in the battle of Lake George in 1755 although General Johnson was credited with the victory. After the war, General Lyman went to England in search of acknowledgment for his war endeavors, and to secure land on the Mississippi or Ohio River for himself and fellow officers. Lyman assured Wheelock he would endeavor to incorporate his school into the territory. However, in April of 1769, Lord Dartmouth wrote to Wheelock indicating that General Lyman had excluded the school from his plea; Sir William Johnson had denounced Wheelock for supposedly deterring Indians from ceding their property. In 1774, after 11 years of negotiations, General Lyman finally obtained the grant for the Mississippi and Yazoo lands; nonetheless, Wheelock had already established his school in New Hampshire. In 1775, General Lyman died en route to the newly acquired territory in West Florida.

Baldwin, Ebenezer

Ebenezer Baldwin was born in Norwich, Connecticut, on July 3, 1745, to Captain Ebenezer Baldwin and Bethiah Barker. He attended Yale College, graduating in 1763, and served as a clergyman and tutor there. In this capacity, Baldwin instructed, observed, and examined several of Wheelock’s students. David McClure reports to Wheelock in 1767 that his former Moor’s students are well-liked and excelling at Yale, and specifically mentions Levi Frisbee, whom, he notes, Baldwin advised to study the works of Horace and Homer. Evidently, Baldwin had some say over boarding at Yale; David Avery writes to Wheelock in 1769 that Wheelock’s son John may ask Wheelock to write to Baldwin regarding his boarding status at Yale. Baldwin was supportive and had respect for Wheelock. In 1770, he was ordained as pastor of the First Church of Christ in Danbury, and in 1776, he entered the army as a chaplain. When he fell ill during the Revolutionary War, he returned to Danbury, where he died on October 1, 1776. His brother Simeon Baldwin was a member of the US House of Representatives and a judge.

Johnson, Samuel

Samuel Johnson was a Yale student who, after first traveling to Canajoharie, taught the school at Fort Hunter (the smaller Mohawk town) from October 1766 until at least February 1767, possibly as late as June. Johnson returned to Yale by July 1767. Wheelock may have provided him with some financial support at college up until the end of 1767, when Johnson and Wheelock parted ways. It is possible that Johnson simply decided he did not want to be an Indian missionary, and, thus, withdrew from Wheelock’s support. It is more likely that the pair split over Wheelock’s treatment of his students. Johnson’s last letter to Wheelock expressed his opposition to Wheelock’s plan to pull Avery and McClure out of college for missions (767667.5); Johnson may have feared he would meet the same fate. Four years later, he wrote to Samuel Kirkland about Wheelock’s mistreatment of Crosby, whom Wheelock expelled from Dartmouth, and David Avery, whom Wheelock required to repay large portions of his tuition because his health prevented him from serving as a missionary. Johnson graduated from Yale in 1769, was ordained the same year, and served as a minister at New Lebanon, New York and West Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In 1780, he converted to the Shaker faith, along with his wife, their children, and much of his former New Lebanon Congregation.

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