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Hezekiah Calvin, letter to Eleazar Wheelock, 1768 March

ms-number: 768240.1

abstract: Calvin confesses to a troubled mind and to regret at having considered marrying at too young an age. He asks permission to go home.

handwriting: Formal handwriting is clear and legible.

paper: Single, medium-sized sheet is in good condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Dark-brown. The nib of the pen appears to change midway through one recto.

noteworthy: On one verso, an unknown hand that may or may not be Calvin's has started and abandoned an address.

signature: The signature is abbreviated.


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



Reverend Doctor
These Lines I write in order to inform you under
my unsteadiness of Mind, what it is, that so much besets me
in those most horrid Crimes of lately, is (1st) because I have
thought myself past hopes of forgiveness from God, and that I could not
make myself any better after it. and that my Days were but
few, and that those few I intended to spend to serve Satan;
and to take what pleasure I could here on Earth, while I tar
ried here in the World, such were my wicked thoughts.
2dly. My Mind has been uneasy, but being some bashful I had it not
in my heart to tell, but thought in myself to break away
privately, and yet I cant tell now without blushing, but think‐
ing it my Duty, it constrains me to break forth in this
manner, Wretched now that I am, that ever I thought of
a Conjugal state when I was, and am yet Young for that state
which has Continually been in my Breast since the Doctor
encouraged me in it,(I don't mean to reflect on the Doctor)
but on myself, being so foolish as to entertain such a
thought in my Breast, then being so Young. I must
own that, that it was a Strong Motive in my misbehaving
at Fort Hunter among the Mohawks; nothing was in
my thoughts but being married, and My thoughts being
captivated with this, has been a strong Motive to get
me into intemperance, thinking I should be turned
away from the School, and so it was from one Crime
to another hoping the same, but what a sordid
thoughts are these attempting such an Action
as this without the Doctor's knowledge etc.
There is something that makes me want to go home,
what, I cant tell, Home is in my Mind all the time
I want to go Home soon and see my Relations, and it seems
to me to Tarry home a while or all the Time, and let me see
if that I am able to support myself, I have tarried upon
Charity long enough, when I have had no more Gratitude
to my Benefactors than I have had done, but all prove
to the Contrary, instead of being grateful, I am as ungrate‐
ful as a Beast, which lays near to my Mind I had rather
go home and be turned out of the School which I have
thought has been my Portion for some time I am
uneasy while I am here and think upon home, if
the Doctor is pleased to give me liberty to I will go, but
with much shame and Contempt of myself, etc.

 I remain Your Undutiful
 and Ungrateful Servant
Hezekiah Calvin
From Hezekiah Calvin
 March 1768

 For the Reverend
Mr. Eleazar Wheelock D. D.
 Lebanon
T
To—
The Reverend
Calvin, Hezekiah

Hezekiah Calvin was one of Eleazar Wheelock's first Native American students. Like Wheelock’s other early Delaware students, he was sent by the minister John Brainerd. Calvin was certified as a schoolteacher on March 12, 1765, and was sent to the Mohawks at Fort Hunter in June 1765. The Mohawks threw him out at the end of September 1766, and he returned to Moor's. Samuel Johnson, an Anglo-American Yale student who replaced Calvin at Fort Hunter, reported that the residents unanimously accused Calvin of being abusive and rude. Calvin, in turn, maintained that the Fort Hunter Mohawks had mistreated him. Calvin’s second stint at Moor’s did not go well. He wrote several confessions for drunkenness and bad behavior, and frequently spoke ill of Wheelock. He left the school in the spring of 1768, and took up residence with the Secutor family (Narragansett) at Charlestown, Rhode Island. Calvin left the Narragansetts sometime late in 1768, presumably after the dissolution of his relationship with Mary Secutor. Wheelock heard reports early in 1769 that Calvin had been imprisoned at Little Ease, NJ, for forging a pass for a Black man (Calvin does not appear in the county records, so either he was never indicted or Wheelock had his information wrong). By 1777, Calvin was in a position of prominence at Brotherton, NJ (a town of Christian Delawares founded under John Brainerd’s ministry). At some point after 1788, Calvin moved west with the Delawares: he may have moved directly to join the Delawares in Ohio territory, or he may have relocated to Stockbridge in 1802 and then moved west.

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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