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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Wentworth, 1769 December 5

ms-number: 769655

abstract: Wheelock writes that part of the Narragansett Tribe would like to move to a new settlement; he suggests that they might be given a township on the Connecticut River.

handwriting: The clear, careful handwriting in the body of the letter is not Wheelock's, although the trailers are in Wheelock's hand.

paper: Single sheet is in good condition, with light staining and wear.

noteworthy: This document is likely a copy kept by Wheelock for his records. Wheelock also mentions the desire of some Charlestown Narragansetts to resettle in a letter to Occom -- manuscript number 769125. An editor, likely 19th-century, has added the note "respecting Indians" beneath the trailer. This note has not been transcribed.

signature: Abbreviated signature is not Wheelock's.

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

May it please Your Excellency.
John Shattock, an Indian Youth of the Narragansett Tribe in
Rhode Island, who, after he had for some time been a member of my School
went with his Brother to England, as agent for their Tribe, and is now one of
the Council of that Tribe, and I esteem him to be a man of good sense, and
Integrity, came to me, last week, at the Desire of the civilized and Christiani
zed part of that Tribe, privately to inquire of me, whether I could by any means
direct them where they might purchase a Township of good lands, on which they
might settle by themselves, and live by Husbandry, and enjoy all the Liberties
and Priviliges of English Inhabitants — I mentioned to him the Lands
yet uncharted (as I supposed) in your Province, above the new Settle
=ments on Connecticut River, as being very good, and told him.
you had given the fullest demonstration of your friendship to the Indians
both in Europe and America; And that I doubted not your Excellency would
be ready to show them any reasonable Favour within your Power, and
be glad of an opportunity for it — The Young man seemed —
much animated with the prospect; and immediately Advised his Constituents
of it by a line, and concluded to continue for a while with me and pursue
his Studies — On his mentioning their desire to me, so many circum
=stances appeared, at first view, so inviting that I could but think the Matter
worthy of consideration, viz, whether such a Town of Civilized Indians
in that place will not be a Barrier and safeguard to the new Settle­
=ments, if Canada should ever be given back to the French, and the Savages,
again moved to invade our Frontiers. — And Whether the Example
of such a Town of christianized Indians, might not likely have a happy
Influence to credit our Design of Civilizing the Tribes back? — And whether
such a town may not be a most proper place for some of their savage
Children to get Instruction in Husbandry, and the other Arts of civilized
Life, as well as of the first principles of Christianity? — And as to
their manner of living be a proper Medium between the Savages and the
English, and so obviate an Objection which they have sometimes made
against coming into the English manner of living "that the first
step was too high for them." and whether, in a word, you might not
do much to Credit, encourage and facilitate, the general Design in view
and be well approved, and applauded Abroad? they dont mean nor desire to
have the Township given them; but to have it upon the same terms and
hold it by the same Tenure, as if they were English Inhabitants; and perhaps

any proposal more favourable, would occasion Jealousies in some
who have been wont to be imposed upon. that there was some secret snare laid
for them — I thought proper to Advise your Excellency of the matter, and
if you should think favourably of it, and find that they may be accommodated
agreeable to their mind, with good Lands, near some fishing place, please
to let me know your Excellency's pleasure therein by a Line; and that without
the publication of it, as they apprehend their way will likely be embarrass
ed if it should be known before the sessions of the General Assemb
ly of that Colony in February next; to which they design to petition
for Liberty to Sell their Lands — I submit the whole to
your Excellencys superior wisdom, and will rely upon your —
pardon if I have been too officious, Since I can assure
your Excellency, with how much Affection and Esteem.

I am
 Your Excellency's
 most Obedient, and
 most Humble servant

  Eleazar Wheelock
Letter to Governor Wentworth
 December 5. 1769.

John Wentworth Esq. Gov. of New Hampshire
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.

Wentworth, John

Sir John Wentworth was the last of the Royal Governors of the Province of New Hampshire. He served as governor from 1767-1775, succeeding his uncle Benning Wentworth. He also shares a name with his grandfather, John Wentworth (1671-1730), who served as Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of New Hampshire from 1717-1730. During his tenure, Wentworth worked to develop the interior of New Hampshire through the creation of the five original counties, the granting of tracts of land and the building of roads between the seacoast and the Connecticut River. He also secured the land and signed the charter for Dartmouth College in 1769. Wentworth remained loyal to the crown throughout his time in office. The increasing tensions created by his loyalist sentiments in the years leading up to the American Revolution eventually ended his reign as governor in 1775. Wentworth was later appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia.

Shattock, John Jr.

John Shattock Jr. was a Narragansett council member and schoolmaster. Along with his brother Tobias, he briefly attended Moor's from December 1766 to the fall of 1767. Like many Moor's students, John and Tobias came from a prominent family: their father was John Shattock Sr., a Narragansett lay minister. Tobias and John Jr. received their basic education from Edward Deake at Charlestown, and then attended Moor's until they withdrew late in 1767 to try to prevent Narragansett land sales. The Narragansett sachems had run up massive debt over the course of the 18th century, and were trying to sell Narragansett land to the colony of Rhode Island to settle them, while much of the Narragansett Tribe opposed this course of action. John Jr. and Tobias took the lead in recruiting powerful Anglo-American allies for the Tribe, including Andrew Oliver, Sir William Johnson, George Whitefield, and Eleazar Wheelock. With these men's help, John Jr. and Tobias were able to secure a halt to land sales and plan a trip to London to plead their case before the Privy Council. They departed in January 1768 and arrived at Edinburgh on April 15, where they both fell ill with smallpox. John survived, but Tobias died on May 6th. John continued on to London, but failed in his appeal. He returned to the colonies where he took an active role in Narragansett leadership. He considered urging his tribe to move to Oneida territory, and even talked with Wheelock about relocating the Tribe to the upper Connecticut River, in New Hampshire territory (the Tribe decided it would be too cold there). In 1770, John briefly taught the Lantern Hill Pequots in North Stonington, CT before he died of consumption that December.

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