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David Crosby, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1768 March 12

ms-number: 768212.1

abstract: Crosby writes asking to be admitted to the school and expressing his desire to be useful.

handwriting: Formal handwriting is clear and legible. The trailer is in an unknown hand.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good-to-fair condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Brown.

layout: The first page of the letter is on one recto, but the second page is on two recto, not one verso.


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


Reverend and honoured Doctor
The last time you was pleased to honour me
with your company in Your study. You was pleased to observe
that you allowed your scholars, frequently to write to you, and
of Things indifferent, when Things of greater importance
did not accrue By which means as you said, you had the
Advantage of making observations, useful to yourself, as
well as of gaining opportunity to set them right in
their notions of Things. And although I may not as
yet claim the right of a Scholar, yet I must
own, that the , hope I cherish,
and desires I feel of being some time or other, so
happy as to be taken into your service and under you care and —
protection, has moved me at this time to use a li‐
berty, which perhaps will not be granted. I do not mean
by this to suggest as though I thought that anything I could
write could be of Advantage to you, Yet as I know it is
in the goodness of your Nature to do good to all Men,
so I am encouraged to hope, that it may by some means, or‐
other give you opportunity of doing good to me. and whatever
I have writ or may write, I beg you would correct as you
may see occasion, but indulge me at this time with fling‐
ing myself at your Feet and requesting the Thing of you,
you was pleased to observe I stood in so much need of
viz. of being in your house and school, to be made acquainted
with good Rules, and taught to follow good Examples, in order
thereby to be the better fitted for future usefulness. I am so

Blank page. animated with desires of being made serviceable to God,
and useful to my fellow Men, the little time I may yet
be continued in Life, as that I am impatient of Delay
If you could see it in your Way to let me come into
your family and serve with your meanest servants, methinks
I should count no services too hard, nor nothing too dear
to part with, to purchase such a favour. If it should
seem good to you sir, to make use of such a Method in
order to be better acquainted with my Motives and sincere
desires and purposes, I can assure you there can be no Method
I can think of that so much falls in with my own
Inclination or for which I should look on myself more
obligated to you. If it should seem good to you to make
trial in this Way, as I observed: and after all you should
not think fit to employ me in any future services whereby I
might make you amends for the Pains and trouble
I may give you, yet I hope through the blessing of a
kind Providence, and the smiles of Heaven on an honest
industry, to be enabled to make you amends some o‐
ther way. But as I fear I have already been too presuming
I shall only add that I beg your Prayers to Almighty
God for me, that I might be kept continually in his
Love Fear, and service. As also that I am,
Reverend Sir

In all Respects and Obedience yours to serve
 David Crosby
Lebanon March 12th}
1768
}
PS. I have purpose of advising with (so soon as opportunity
shall serve) about putting myself under your pastoral care and
watch of the Church


David Crosby's
March 12th 1768

To the Reverend Doctor
Eleazar Wheelock
Pastor of a Church
of Christ in Lebanon
Crosby, David

David Crosby was born, 1729, in Billerica, MA to David Crosby and Sarah Foster. There is very little information about his life. He married Elizabeth [Unknown] in 1756. They would have three children. By Sept. 1766, Crosby was acquainted with Eleazar Wheelock, whom Crosby admired and championed. He wrote and visited Wheelock at least through the late 1760’s. It is likely that Elizabeth died within the few months following November 1767. Mentioning his own mortality and his wish for a useful life, Crosby writes to Wheelock in March 1768 offering to indenture himself in order to join Wheelock’s school and be prepared as a missionary. Sometime after June 10, 1768, he married Anne Thomas of Lebanon, CT. They would have four children together. Crosby then returned to or settled in East Hartford where he died in 1819; Anne died there also the following year.

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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