abstract: Wheelock expresses his gratitude for a gift of books, and relates the progress of various missionary enterprises in the face of drunkeness and outside influences.
handwriting: Handwriting is, for Wheelock, exceedingly formal and clear.
paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear. Some preservation work has been done on the central vertical crease.
ink: Brown ink is somewhat faded.
noteworthy: As is marked on one recto, this document is a copy.
Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.
Rev. and dear Sir,
of 14th ultimo, from my dear Mr. C. Jeffry Smith, in‐
‐forming me of your just complaint for not having
received my Receipt of the Books sent to my School
through his Hands, I was indeed ashamed and affected
with such a Neglect of mine, and can only plead, what
I am obliged often to plead, as excuse for Neglect, and
that too, in cases of Importance, viz My Want of
Time for it, 'til it had slipped my Mind — The Books
came safe, and a choice Present I esteem them — I
have to the best of my Ability disposed of a Number
of them, among the Indians of Several Tribes, and
to such as I judged your Charity would point out —
The rest are waiting for such occasions, and they shall,
you may depend upon it, my dear Sir, by God's help,
be faithfully disposed of according to my discretion,
for the pious Purpose for which you designed them.
And God grant you may meet Numbers of those
poor Savages, on the blissful Shore, by whom you
may hear the Mention of your Charity, as the Means
under God of preparing them for, and bringing them there
In addition to my ordinary Work in the ministry,
The care of my School, preparing, planning for,
supplying and sending missionaries, and schoolmasters,
into the Wilderness, disposing, and directing their
respective Services etc. God has of his abundant Grace
been pleased to grant another special and sweet Season
of the Outpouring of a Spirit of Conviction, and
conversion upon my people.
It began last October in a Small neighborhood,
first occasioned by the Death of a pious Youth
Rev. Mr. McCullock
about 5 years ago; while he was a Member of my School —
this Concern soon spread through the parish; but has been
almost wholly confined to the youths. Their Terrors in
general have been nothing like so great, as they have been
in several former Seasons of Awakening; and particularly
that about 27 Years ago: yet appeared genuine; and I trust
in many instances effectual, and the Fruits exceeding
good. And by the Mercy of God, the whole has been con‐
ducted with such Decency and discretion, that even the
accuser of the Brethren has not been able, that I have
ever heard of, to find so much as a plausible objection
against, either the work itself, or the Subjects, or in‐
struments of it — There seems at present to be an Abate‐
‐ment of it, but peace and oneness of Heart is yet to a happy
Degree our Character. God grant we may not, as we have
heretofore repeatedly done, under such a Mercy, neglect
our Watch, and indulge to sleepiness, and Security. There are
about 50. in this Season, who, in a Judgment of rational
Charity, are become Subjects of a Saving Work of God's
Grace. About the same Number were hopefully added to
the Lord in the aforementioned Season about 5 years
ago: there is of late a beginning of it in Several Neigh‐
‐bouring parishes — and it is at present very great in
a Town called Canaan in the northwest Corner of
this Colony, under the Ministry of the Rev. Mr. Farrand,
about 70 or 80 Miles from me. there is also considerable
appearance of it in Middletown, about 40 miles from me,
but the progress of it there, it is to be feared, will be ob‐
structed, and many perverted by wild and enthusiastic
people called Separates in those parts.
The Work of God among the Indians at Oneida has
been indeed Wonderful. The Town called Kanawalohale
Mr. Kirtland, are become a people near to God,
a church has been lately gathered there, the Number
first embodied was 17, and about 8 or 10, more were es
teemed qualified, who were by the Providence of God
prevented joining with them at that Time, but
expected to have the opportunity very soon — of this
Number were many, if not most of their wise
men (as they call their Counselors)
In this affair there has been from first 'til
now, great opposition from Earth and Hell—
Frequent Reflections between the Tribes themselves
— and between them and the English — The bad con‐
duct of Traders and unrighteous Dealers with them,
— Several large, and long congresses in which they
have sold large Tracts of their Lands to the English;
and after that been rendered incapable of doing
or getting Good, so long as their Money lasted etc.
they able to buy Rum at any rate — By this
Means several of their Tribes are much diminish‐
ed — Some perishing in their drunkenness —
frequent Murders committed among them —
their Children perishing through Neglect — and their
Tribes in a continual Ferment for Months
together, as though Hell had broke loose. —
But after all My Hope is in God, who has ma‐
nifested the Riches of his Grace towards the Oneidas,
that we shall yet see Numbers of the poor taw‐
ny Wretches flocking to Christ; and that the
Grace of God towards these, who were but a little
while ago like their Brethren; will prove but
through the Wilds of America —
I doubt not your fervent Prayers and the united Cries of
thousands in Scotland, are daily ascending to the God
of all Grace for the success of every attempt agreeable
to his Word and Will, in this great Affair —
Please, my dear sir, when you are nearest, and warmest
at the Throne of Grace, to remember in particular, him
who, though now unknown, hopes soon to rest with you,
where the wicked shall cease from troubling, and where Savage
brutishness, and indian Ingratitude shall vex no more.
Please to accept my tender of much brotherly Affecti
‐on to you — and permit me to subscribe myself
Your much obliged Friend
and very Humble Servant
June 9th 1769.
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.
William McCullock was a Scottish evangelical who oversaw a revival in his congregation at Cambuslang, near Glasgow, comparable to Jonathan Edwards' at Northampton. George Whitefield inspired both men, and together they demonstrate the Transatlantic nature of the Great Awakening. Occom and Whitaker preached at McCullock's church during their fundraising tour, and McCullock sent Wheelock boxes of books thereafter.
Charles Jeffery Smith was an independently funded Presbyterian missionary and itinerant preacher. After his father's early death, Smith inherited a large private income. Instead of enjoying a life of leisure, he chose to complete his education at Yale and then become a missionary. After graduating, he taught at Moor's Indian Charity School, gratis, for a few months in 1763. His first mission, and his only mission among Indians, was a 1763 endeavor to the Six Nations, accompanied by then-student Joseph Brant as an interpreter. However, Pontiac's War forced them to return. Although Smith continued his missionary career, he focused on slaves in the Mid/South-Atlantic region and English-colonist congregations. Smith held several important roles in Wheelock's Grand Design. He was Wheelock's heir-once-removed (after Whitaker) in Wheelock's 1767 will, and was proposed as Occom's companion on the 1765 fundraising tour. Wheelock consulted Smith about the location of what was to be Dartmouth College (Smith proposed Virginia or South Carolina), and solicited him as an envoy to the Six Nations in 1768; when Smith refused, the job fell to Ralph Wheelock, who severely alienated the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and Sir William Johnson. Smith's residence was in Virginia at the time of his death, but he actually died in Long Island while visiting his family, from a gunshot wound sustained while hunting. It is unclear whether this was murder, an accidental shot, or suicide.
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.