Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Nathaniel Shaw, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1768 January 14

ms-number: 768114

abstract: Shaw writes Wheelock to request payment for what Occom owes him.

handwriting: Handwriting is formal and clear.

paper: Single sheet is in fair condition, with moderate creasing, staining and wear. Some tearing results in minor loss of text.

ink: Light brown.

noteworthy: On one verso, the date 1768 is written repeatedly in what appears to be Wheelock's hand. In a different hand, someone has written the name of Yale College in different configurations.

signature: The signature is abbreviated.

events: Fundraising Tour of Great Britain


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



Sir
when Mr. Occom sailed for England you
wrote me that you would Engage to see me
paid for what he then was Indebted to me
and Likewise for any further Supplies I
should let his Family have during his Absence
and I have supplied them to a Considerable
Amount the account of which I gave his wife
Six months ago —and Since that she has
had Nothing from me, and I Suppose has
applied to some other Person, so that I should
be Extremely glad if you would pay me
the amount of my account as I am now much in
want of some Cash or a sterling Bill would
Equally suit —should be glad if you'll
let me know by the Return of the Post
if I shall wait on you with the account
and you'll Really much Oblige Sir

Your very humble servant
Nathaniel Shaw Jr.
Nathaniel Shaw Jr.'s
January 14th. 1768.
[illegible]To
The Rev. Eleazar Wheelock
at
Lebanon

Received January 20 1768

1768.
1768 1768. D. 1768.
1768. 1768. 1768.
[illegible] A. B.
College Yale. AB. 1768.
 Collegium Yalensis
Yale College.
 AD 1768. 1768—
Yale University
Yale University is a private research university and member of the Ivy League located in New Haven, CT. It was founded in nearby Saybrook in 1701 by a group of 10 Congregationalist ministers from Harvard, who felt their alma mater had become too liberal in terms of church polity. They established the "Collegiate School," whose mission was to educate men for public service, and ministers in theology and the sacred languages, in the hopes the school would maintain Puritan religious orthodoxy. Chartered by the Colony of Connecticut, Yale is the third oldest institution of higher education in the US. It moved to New Haven in 1716 and in 1718 was renamed "Yale College" in recognition of a gift from Elihu Yale, a Welsh merchant and philanthropist who had made his fortune in trade through the East India Company. In 1777, the College's curriculum began to incorporate humanities and sciences, and during the 19th century it established graduate and professional courses, awarding the first doctoral degree in the US in 1861, and becoming a university in 1887. Today, the undergraduate school is called "Yale College." From its inception, Yale was committed to training Christian missionaries. During the first Great Awakening, Yale graduates missionized Indian tribes in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic; in the Second Great Awakening in the 19th century, Yale missionaries travelled world-wide. Many Yale graduates, some associated with Wheelock, who graduated in 1733, became missionaries. The best-known of these include: Jonathan Edwards (Yale MA 1720), who missionized to the Stockbridge Indians; David Brainerd, who had to leave Yale because of illness and died young, but whose diary inspired many to missionary work; John Sergeant (Yale MA 1729), whose outline for an Indian boarding school influenced Wheelock; John Brainerd (Yale MA 1746) who continued the work of his brother David. Other associates of Wheelock who graduated from Yale, such as James Davenport, a notorious itinerant preacher (who converted Occom), and Benjamin Pomeroy, a life-long friend and colleague, became caught up in the New Light revivalism of the 1740s. Their "enthusiasm" did not necessarily sit well with their alma mater; President Clap refused to allow Wheelock to preach at Yale in 1742, at the height of the revivals. Still, Wheelock had strong connections with the school. During the 1740s and 1750s, to help support his growing family, Wheelock prepared young men, including Occom, to enter Yale (In 1744, Wheelock took Occom to see the commencement exercises, but Occom did not matriculate because of severe eye strain). The initial curriculum at Dartmouth College was closely modeled on Yale's.
New London

New London is a city located in southeastern Connecticut along an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean called Long Island Sound. The area that would become New London was inhabited by the Pequots who called it Nameaug when the Europeans arrived in North America. Pequot villages bordered Long Island Sound and the Tribe had authority over the neighboring Tribes of the Mohegans and Niantics (all Algonquian-speaking tribes). The Dutch first explored this land in 1614 and established trade with the Native peoples, but the English soon gained possession of the land east of the Hudson in the 1630s. English animosity toward their Indian neighbors led to the Pequot War (1634-38), part of which took place in the present city of New London. The Pequots lost the war and their population deteriorated due to the violence and disease. The General Court of Massachusetts granted John Winthrop possession of Pequot territory in 1644 after which it was to be opened for settlement. By 1646, which is considered the official year of its founding, New London had permanent colonial inhabitants and municipal laws, and jurisdiction was granted to the colony of Connecticut in 1647. In 1658, the inhabitants renamed the town New London after London, England. New London was the colony of Connecticut’s first trading port and was a hub of trade with the West Indies and other colonies. Though initially part of the town of New London when it was first settled by the colonists, Groton, Montville, and Waterford were each separated from New London in 1705, 1786, and 1801 respectively. Present-day Salem was also part of New London when it was settled, but in 1819, it became a separate incorporated town composed of parts of Lyme, Colchester, and Montville. Occom kept a school in New London in the winter in 1748. New London was the home of Captain Nathaniel Shaw, one of the wealthiest merchants in the area, who gave money to Occom in the 1750s for the missionary cause and also sold materials to Occom for the building of his home. However, their positive relationship ended when Shaw refused to provide supplies for Mary Occom while Occom was in England. New London served as the port from which Occom and other missionaries traveled to reach Long Island. During the American Revolution, New London’s location and its status as a seaport made it both vulnerable to invasion and integral to colonial naval operations as well as the exchange of prisoners.New London was incorporated as a city in 1784.

Lebanon

Lebanon is a town located in the state of Connecticut southwest of the town of Hartford. The land that became Lebanon was inhabited at least 10,000 years ago based on the archeological record. By the 1600s, the land was permanently inhabited by the Mohegan Indians, who used the area primarily for hunting. Lebanon was officially formed in 1700 when English settlers consolidated a number of land tracts, including several land grants by the Connecticut General Assembly and lands purchased from the Mohegans. However, these purchases were controversial. In 1659, the Mohegans entrusted their reserve land to Major John Mason, and in the following year, Mason transferred this land to the Connecticut colonial government with the understanding that there would be enough land left for the Mohegans to farm. The Mohegans claimed that they never authorized a transfer to the colonial government and only Mason’s heirs were entrusted with their land. In 1662, Connecticut, which included the Mohegan land that had been entrusted to the Masons, was incorporated by a royal charter. Based on this charter, the colony argued that the land was now the property of the government. In 1687, the colony began granting the Mohegan land to townships, and in 1704 the Masons petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, claiming that such transfers of land to townships were illegal. Between the years of 1705 and 1773 legal disputes and controversies persisted, finally ending in a verdict by the Crown against the Mohegans. In 1755, Wheelock received property and housing in Lebanon that he would use as his house and school. While Lebanon was originally incorporated as a part of New London County in 1700, in 1724 it became a part of New Windham, before once again becoming a part of New London County in 1826. Lebanon was central to the American Revolution with half of its adult population fighting for the colonists and hundreds of meetings convened in the town for the revolutionary cause.

Shaw, Nathaniel Jr.

Nathaniel Shaw Jr. was the son of Captain Nathaniel Shaw, one of the wealthiest merchants in New London. Shaw Jr. took over the family business around 1763, when trade resumed after the Seven Years War. Subsequently, he was faced with the unenviable task of trying to collect debts from Eleazar Wheelock in the late 1760s. The debts in question were incurred by Samson Occom with Captain Shaw in the early to mid 1760s; it is unclear whether Wheelock ever paid them (the apparent absence of an entry in Wheelock’s published accounts suggests that he may not have). Nathaniel Shaw Jr. was an important figure in the Revolution. Along with his father, he organized many of New London’s efforts in the Revolution, and opened the Shaw Mansion to wounded soldiers and to George Washington himself. Furthermore, Shaw Jr. transformed his merchant ships into a privateering corps, and worked vigilantly to collect supplies of gun powder from his trade connections in the French West Indies. He was rewarded with the post of Naval Agent of the Colony of Connecticut in New London, which put him in charge of caring for sick sailors, and organizing privateering. His wife, Lucretia, died in 1781 from a fever she caught while caring for said sailors, and Shaw Jr. himself died one year later from a hunting accident.

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.

Occom, Samson

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.

Fundraising Tour of Great Britain
After many months of planning and shifting personnel, Occom, accompanied by the minister Nathaniel Whitaker, sets sail in December 1765 for a two-and-a-half year tour of England and Scotland in order to solicit contributions to Wheelock’s Indian Charity School and missionary efforts. Introduced to aristocrats and prominent clergy by the minister George Whitefield, Occom preaches many sermons, travels widely, and collects a large sum of money.
HomeNathaniel Shaw, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1768 January 14
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only