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Sarah Simon, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1768 May 27

ms-number: 768327

abstract: Simon writes that she is ill and unable to work. She suggests that some time on the sea would help, and asks Wheelock's advice.

handwriting: Hand is loose and slanting, though mostly clear and legible. Letter case, especially with regard to the the letter S, is frequently difficult to discern.

paper: One small sheet is in good condition, with light-to-moderate creasing, staining and wear.

ink: Brown-black.

noteworthy: Trailer is in a different hand, and notes a date that is different from that of the opening salutation.


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



Rev. and Honoured Sir
this is to inform you that I wanted some
of your advice if you please Sir. that is I am so much unwell
that I am not able to do any, work the greatest part of my
time: and my being So unwell it make me uneasy: because I
it is no profit to the School for anyone to be here and cant
do any good to themselves or others. but Sir when I am well
I am willing to devote myself to the cause that is if I thought I
Ever Should do any good in the world. there Should be nothing
in this life Should discourage me: —
but the advice that I Should be glad to have from the doc
tor is, I think it is best for my health to go off on the salt
water: It used to do me good when I was Sick—
but then if the Doctor is not willing I have
nothing more to Say for I would not do anything to disp
lease Mr. Wheelock not for nothing at all.
So I remain your / most unworthy
 and Ever dutiful servant

 Sarah Simons
From Sarah Simons
 May 28. 1768

Simon, Sarah

Miss Sarah Simon was a member of the Narragansett Simon family: Mrs. Sarah Simon, Miss Sarah Simon, James Simon, Abraham Simon, Daniel Simon, and Emmanual Simon. All five children (there was at least one other) were educated at Moor's, to some degree. The Simon family spells their name Simon, but Wheelock and others vary it. Miss Sarah was one of Wheelock's female students, and wrote a spiritually troubled letter to him before departing (769900.1).

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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