abstract: Cleveland reports on the Indian Congress at Fort Stanwix.
handwriting: The document is written in Wheelock’s hand; it is informal, small and cramped. The signature appears to be in Cleveland's hand.
paper: Large single sheet is in poor condition, with heavy staining, creasing and wear that results in some loss of text. There is also damage from remnants of tape along both sides and the bottom. There is some tape remaining on the central horizontal crease.
ink: Black ink is faded in spots.
noteworthy: This document is possibly a copy or draft.
Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.
Lebanon October 18. 1768
from the Rev. Dr. Wheelock I set out with Mr. Allyn Mather on a
Tour to wait upon the honorable Sir William Johnson Baronet Superintendent of
Indian affairs in North America, and their Excellencies the governors of the
Several Provinces concerned in the business of the congress of the Several Tribes here
Convened by Sir Williams Order at Fort Stanwix, with a Memorial to the
said Governors from Dr. Wheelock in favour of the design of Introdu‐
‐cing missionaries and Schoolmasters among their Remote Tribes. etc.
Delawares, Shawnees, and Some from Kahnawake and others to the Number of
3120. Condolation of their loss of a Number of their Chief men,
and mutual Speeches and Belts of Peace to Strengthen and brighten the chain of friendship,
which was the business of two Days, being past. I Soon found the Attention of the
chiefs to the business of the congress, was Such, as forbid any treaty with them publicly on matters of Religion, 'til
that was finished. I continued eleven days and conversed with Numbers and
made Several observations on the great difficulties and embarrassments in the
way to the Christianizing them. 1. Such a long custom in their Savage practices — as
has made them even a second Nature and Such attachment to them as nothing but
the Power of Divine Grace can alter. — 2. their Manner of living being Such as
Naturally creates and promotes in them an insatiable thirst for Strong Drink. So that
the Nearer they live to their almost Heathen European neighbors and the more
their Traders deal among them the worse and more Wretched they are made
and unless this evil can be remedied they must continue to waste away as the
Dew before the rising Sun.
3. The Generality of Their nearest European neighbors appearing to be far from any desire to promote
true Religion or So much as civilization among them, their Traders continually preying upon
them, and some Gentlemen of Character who treat with them upon important Secular
affairs, and whose Examples are most likely to influence them, being Irreligious
etc. etc. gives them
a bad Idea of the people who profess the knowledge of the True God, and naturally
Settles them in a better opinion of their paganism which has not So much Debauchery
in it — and in an abhorrence of the christian Religion.
4. The Tribes who live nearest and most exposed to Europeans being , much the
most corrupted thereby greatly increases the Prejudices of remoter Tribes
who have not understanding enough and scarcely opportunity if they had. to distinguish between those who are truly religious and Such
as may hardly deserve the christian Name.— Sir William Johnson told me that
Some of the chiefs with Whom he conversed on the Head objected that the
Mohawks who are Surrounded by Such white people who have had the Gospel preached to them more than Others were made
worse by it, and that they themselves were waiting to See a better Effect before
they would receive the Gospel.
encouraging. 1. that the Oneidas to Whom the Gospel has been successfully preached
encamped by themselves and looked behaved and talked like Christians, excepting a few of them
their air, and Temper was modest, kind, humble etc. insomuch that Strangers took notice
of it, a Number of them appeared much grieved and their Souls vexed on account of the
wickedness that was committed round about them. I discoursed with a Number of them
of the things of Religion, and they seemed glad of the Opportunity, and appeared to be
truly and genuinely Affected with the Same. Which I thought abundantly com‐
pensated all the labor and expense we thereto bestowed for them.—
2. By private conversation with the chiefs of Several Tribes they appeared willing to
have missionaries and schoolmasters come among them. And chose that they
Should come upon their Ground in order to Settle the Affair of their Receiving them, as the
business of the congress would not allow them to consult and deliberat[gap: tear][guess: e]
[gap: tear] it at that Time. Towards the close of the congress Mr. Kir[gap: tear][guess: tland]
[gap: tear][guess: Chr]istian Indians received him with all possible expressions of Joy. his [gap: tear]
his coming and Solicited him, as did others of the Senecas to visit that Tribe again. —
get his Son into Dr. Wheelocks School, and manifested a great desire to Send him
I told him there was talk of the School's going to Coos. he Said if it should
be fixed there he believed that many of that Tribe would Send their children to it.
— while the business of The congress lasted Rum was withheld, and moderation
harmony and decency was maintained through the whole. The whole was conducted
with great Deliberation and great care taken that all parties should be mutually understood
when the business of the congress was Ended before the Rum was given out to them
Sir William Johnson and his Family removed in the Night and advised that it was
safest for all the English to remove as Soon as they could which they accordingly
did. I tarried 'til about 10' o'clock in the morning it being Sabbath Day when the Rum had been
delivered out not more than two hours, in consequence of which I beheld a Scene too
awful and horrid to describe. the Whole street and place of Parade was filled with
drunkenness nothing to be heard or Seen but hollering Yelling and fighting as though
hell itself had broke loose, in which we heard that four were killed before we came
away and in this the Mohawks were not behind any of their Brethren — here the behavior of the few Sober and godly persons among them did
in the strangest Light exemplify those metaphors used for Such a purpose viz. as the Apple Tree among the
Trees of the wood etc.: as the lily among Thorns — as Sheep Among Wolves. etc.
and they Separated themselves from among them as fast as they could. — this Scene as it
was no more than is common upon Such occasions. led me to the pleasing con‐
they would not likely have the like occasion for a congress for many Years to come, and the
Mohawks who were the worst of the Tribes, will likely never have another occasion as
all the Lands they can Spare are now gone. The Lands they Sold (as I was informed) was about
800 miles in Length and 100 in breadth.
would be done to them by the Tribes who were to return through that Town.—
Upon the whole it fully appeared that Whoever engages in the Work of Christ‐
ianizing them have to encounter not only perils from the heathen but perils
from false Brethren, and Such obstinate prejudices, and mountainous Difficulties
as that the Remnant that are Saved will commonly appear to be Brands plucked
out of the Burning.
and his promise to countenance and Suitably encourage all Such missionaries and
schoolmasters as Dr. Wheelock Shall See fit to Send among them.
to My understanding and apprehension of the Same in testimony Whereof
I have hereunto Set my Hand this 21 Day of November 1768.
Journal at the congress
October 18. 1768.
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.
Allyn Mather was an Anglo-American charity scholar at Moor’s Indian Charity School who had a brief career as a minister before succumbing to illness. Mather arrived at Moor’s in 1766 and entered Yale in 1767. He had a strong distaste for the college: hazing bothered him, and he found the atmosphere singularly unreligious (his dislike was not fleeting: in 1778, he wrote to the Connecticut Courant to criticize the college course of study). Mather volunteered for missions in 1768. He accompanied Ralph Wheelock on his ill-fated third trek to Oneida territory, where Ralph acted intemperately at the tribal council at Onaquaga. Mather then attended Fort Stanwix with Rev. Ebenezer Cleaveland to try to patch up the damage done to Eleazar Wheelock’s agenda by Jacob Johnson. After his adventures, Mather returned to Yale, where he obtained his degree in 1771. However, he did not return to the missionary business: instead, in 1772, he became the pastor of Fair Haven Church, or Fourth Presbyterian, in New Haven, CT. It was a conservative Old Light (or more properly, Old Side) church, largely populated by parishioners who had defected from Jonathan Edwards’ congregation. It is unclear how strongly Mather himself identified with Old Side beliefs; he seems to have described the church to Wheelock as “despised” (773208), but he may have used strong language because he was trying to get out of paying his debt as a defunct charity scholar. Wheelock never seems to have collected from him, nor did he pursue Mather as vigorously as he pursued some other students. In 1779, Mather began having serious health issues, which forced him to travel south regularly. He died in 1784 on one such trip, in Savannah, Georgia.
Sir William Johnson was a powerful British colonial official who amassed wealth and influence by integrating into the Mohawk tribe. For a brief window of time (1761-1768), he provided support for Wheelock’s missionary efforts among the Six Nations. He also helped the Brothertown Nation of Indians procure land from the Oneidas. Johnson was born in Ireland in 1715. His family had been part of the Catholic elite, but after William of Orange’s 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne, they at least nominally converted to the Episcopalian Church. In 1738, Johnson emigrated to America to manage his uncle Peter Warren’s estate in Mohawk territory. Over the next decade, Johnson became wealthy in his own right through trade and land sales, acquiring a vast estate crowned by his manor house, Johnson Hall, which became the central location for British and Indian treaty making. In 1745, Johnson began collecting official British titles and positions. He played an important military role in the French and Indian War and was named Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1756 and first baronet of New York in 1757. Much of Johnson’s success was due to his influence among the Mohawks, which he obtained by learning their language and customs and integrating himself into their society. He participated in Mohawk rituals and entered into a common-law marriage with a powerful Mohawk woman, Molly Brant (also called Mary Brant). Because Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) society is matrilineal, this marriage was an essential element of his participation in Indian affairs. Wheelock desperately wanted to wield missionary influence among the Six Nations, and sought to obtain Johnson as an ally in his endeavors. At first, the two found grounds for cooperation. Wheelock sent Occom as a missionary to the Oneidas in 1761 and again in 1762, and sent a substantially larger group of missionaries and schoolmasters in 1765, 1766, and 1767. Johnson, meanwhile, encouraged Haudenosaunee children, including his brother-in-law Joseph Brant, to attend Moor’s. Johnson’s support proved indispensible to missionaries in the field; he helped with supplies, language skills, and relations with the Mohawks and Oneidas. Wheelock also valued Johnson for his influence in Britain, and drew on him for recommendations and public statements of support numerous times. From 1763 on, however, Johnson found himself decidedly uncomfortable with Wheelock’s missionary efforts, and by 1769, their relationship had dissolved completely. In 1766, Johnson was invited to join the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), the largest and most influential Anglican missionary society in the 18th-century British-Atlantic world. He began working to place Anglican missionaries, rather than Congregationalist and Presbyterian ones, among the Six Nations, which alarmed Wheelock. Johnson was generally supportive of Native American tribes’ efforts to maintain their land and sovereignty. As the historian Linford Fisher has noted, “virtually every major Native group in southeastern New England successfully petitioned Johnson to act on their behalf during the late 1760s and early 1770s.” Among these groups was the Brothertown Nation, a Christian composite tribe formed by Southern New England Algonquian Moor’s alumni. Johnson helped them negotiate with the Oneidas, which proved essential to their successful land purchase and relocation to central New York.
Samuel Kirkland (b. Kirtland) was Eleazar Wheelock’s most famous Anglo American student. He conducted a 40-year mission to the Oneidas and founded Hamilton College (established in 1793 as Hamilton Oneida Academy). Kirkland won acclaim as a missionary at a young age by conducting an adventurous and risky mission to the Senecas, the westernmost of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. After his year and a half among them, which was well publicized by Wheelock, he was ordained and sent as a missionary to the Oneidas under the auspices of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. He spent most of the rest of his life serving the Oneidas as a minister. Kirkland’s sincere devotion to serving as a missionary was excellent publicity for Wheelock’s program, but it also brought the two men into conflict. Wheelock became jealous of Kirkland when the school’s British benefactors began urging Wheelock to make Kirkland his heir, and Kirkland, meanwhile, was upset that Wheelock had failed to provide him with sufficient supplies on his mission — a complaint that he was unafraid to publicize (and that almost all of Wheelock’s other students shared). The breaking point came in 1770, when Kirkland split from Wheelock’s Connecticut Board and affiliated with the New England Company, a missionary society that had abruptly turned against Wheelock in 1765. Wheelock and Kirkland briefly made up in 1771, but their relationship quickly dissolved into further acrimony. Although Kirkland spent most of his life as a missionary to the Six Nations, he generally held disparaging views of Native Americans. He did not approve of Wheelock’s plan to educate Indians as missionaries, and was haughty towards the Moor’s alumni that worked with him (notably David Fowler, Joseph Johnson, and Joseph Woolley). Prior to the Revolution, Kirkland had been stringent in his refusals to take Oneida land, even when offered to him. The Revolution seems to have shifted his loyalties from the Oneidas to local Anglo Americans. Kirkland served as a chaplain in the American army and was instrumental in convincing the Oneidas to remain neutral (or, more accurately, to side with the Americans). At one point he was the chaplain with General Sullivan’s army, the force sent to ransack Seneca and Cayuga territory in 1779. It is unclear what emotions this aroused in Kirkland, who had served the Senecas less than 15 years earlier, yet after the war, Kirkland freely engaged in Oneida dispossession. Along with James Dean, another Wheelock alumnus with close ties to the Oneidas, Kirkland played a pivotal role in urging the Oneidas to sell land illegally to the state of New York. The land deals that resulted gave Kirkland the property, financial capital, and connections to establish Hamilton Oneida Academy. The last decades of Kirkland’s life were difficult. He found himself in a three-way battle with Samson Occom and John Sergeant Jr., who were also ministers in Oneida territory, for the hearts and minds of their congregations; he was fired as a missionary in 1797, although he continued to serve sans salary; one of his son’s business enterprises failed, leaving Kirkland nearly destitute; and two of his three sons died unexpectedly. Hamilton Oneida Academy, like Moor’s Indian Charity School, largely failed at its goal of educating Indians, and in 1812, four years after Kirkland’s death, it was re-purposed as Hamilton College, a largely Anglo-American institution. At some point in the mid-to-late 18th century, Kirkland changed his name from Kirtland, although the reasons for this are uncertain.