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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.


Sir.
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

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
Moor’s Indian Charity School
Moor’s Indian Charity School was a grammar school for Native Americans that Eleazar Wheelock opened in North Lebanon, Connecticut in 1754. The school was named for Colonel Joshua Moor, also spelled More, who donated the land and school building. Moor’s was essentially an expansion of the grammar school that Wheelock opened in 1743 to support himself during the fallout from the First Great Awakening, when Wheelock, who'd participated in itinerant ministry during the Awakening, had his salary confiscated by the colony of Connecticut. In December of that year, Samson Occom asked Wheelock to teach him as well. Wheelock's work with Occom was so successful that Wheelock decided to replicate the experiment with other Native American boys. He accepted his first Indian students in 1754, and in 1761 began taking female students as well. Wheelock believed that in time, his school would become just one part of a larger missionary enterprise. He planned to send his Anglo American and Native American students to various tribes as missionaries and schoolmasters, with explicit instructions to pick out the best students and send them back to Moor’s to continue the cycle. His ultimate goal was to turn his school into a model Christian Indian town that would include farms, a college, and vocational training. However, Wheelock’s grand design did not survive the decade. Wheelock lost the vast majority of his Native American students; he fought with many of the best, including Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, and other former and current students accused him of subjecting Native Americans to disproportionate amounts of manual labor. In 1769, perhaps due to concerns about corporal punishment, the Oneida withdrew all their children from Moor’s. When Wheelock relocated to Hanover in 1769, only two Native American students came with him, and it became clear that Wheelock’s focus was on Dartmouth and that Dartmouth was for white students. After Wheelock’s death in 1779, Moor’s Indian Charity School receded further into the background as John Wheelock, his father’s reluctant successor, stopped taking Indian students. Some Native American students were enrolled in Moor’s until 1850, when the school unofficially closed.
Narragansett Tribe
The Narragansetts are an Algonquian tribe based in Southern Rhode Island. Narragansett students (including the Simons, the Shattocks, and the Secutors) attended Eleazar Wheelock’s Moor’s Indian Charity School, and Charlestown, RI, was also one of the seven communities that participated in the Brothertown movement (the pan-Algonquian coalition organized by former Moor’s students). The Narragansetts were recognized in the 18th-century for their indigenous Christian Separatism, and a Separatist congregation under the leadership of Samuel Niles commanded much of the Tribe’s spiritual life from the 1740s onward. While Separatism is an imprecise word, it generally denotes congregations that formally separated from Congregationalist churches and were characterized by an increased emphasis on charismatic Christianity. Samuel Niles was an illiterate preacher who had himself been ordained by lay persons (thus breaking with the formal laying on of hands by an ordained person that created a theoretical chain from the Apostles to contemporary clergy). The congregation’s practices and theology diverged from the Anglo-American norm in meaningful ways, which shocked many Anglo-American observers but also gave the Narragansetts the autonomy needed to expel Rev. Joseph Fish, a New England Company (NEC) sponsored minister, and Edmund Deake, the schoolmaster who accompanied him, in 1776. Like other New England tribes, the Narragansetts struggled with land dispossession. In this case, the sachem and colony cooperated with one another to the Tribe’s disadvantage: the sachem family, the Ninigrets, had tied themselves closely to the colony of Rhode Island when they converted to the Anglican Church in 1727. They adopted a lavish English lifestyle and funded it by selling off tribal land. By the 1760s, land sales were a massive problem, and the anti-sachem party began trying to put a halt to them. Narragansetts with powerful connections, including former Moor’s students, appealed to Eleazar Wheelock and Sir William Johnson and, in 1767, secured a temporary halt to land sales through the intervention of NEC treasurer Andrew Oliver. The next year, Tobias and John Shattock traveled to London to appeal to the privy council for a permanent solution; however, Tobias died of smallpox, and John failed. Sachem Thomas Ninigret died in 1769, and the Tribe solved the land sales problem by abolishing the office of sachem in the 1770s. The Narragansetts continued to struggle with the state of Rhode Island after the Revolution. Rhode Island unilaterally (and illegally) dissolved the Narragansett’s tribal standing in 1880, but the Narragansetts maintained tribal structures and, as much as possible, residence on their territory. They were officially re-recognized in 1983.
Lebanon

Lebanon is a town located in the state of Connecticut southwest of the town of Hartford. The land that became Lebanon was inhabited at least 10,000 years ago based on the archeological record. By the 1600s, the land was permanently inhabited by the Mohegan Indians, who used the area primarily for hunting. Lebanon was officially formed in 1700 when English settlers consolidated a number of land tracts, including several land grants by the Connecticut General Assembly and lands purchased from the Mohegans. However, these purchases were controversial. In 1659, the Mohegans entrusted their reserve land to Major John Mason, and in the following year, Mason transferred this land to the Connecticut colonial government with the understanding that there would be enough land left for the Mohegans to farm. The Mohegans claimed that they never authorized a transfer to the colonial government and only Mason’s heirs were entrusted with their land. In 1662, Connecticut, which included the Mohegan land that had been entrusted to the Masons, was incorporated by a royal charter. Based on this charter, the colony argued that the land was now the property of the government. In 1687, the colony began granting the Mohegan land to townships, and in 1704 the Masons petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, claiming that such transfers of land to townships were illegal. Between the years of 1705 and 1773 legal disputes and controversies persisted, finally ending in a verdict by the Crown against the Mohegans. In 1755, Wheelock received property and housing in Lebanon that he would use as his house and school. While Lebanon was originally incorporated as a part of New London County in 1700, in 1724 it became a part of New Windham, before once again becoming a part of New London County in 1826. Lebanon was central to the American Revolution with half of its adult population fighting for the colonists and hundreds of meetings convened in the town for the revolutionary cause.

Connecticut River

The Connecticut River is the largest and longest in New England. It originates in northern New Hampshire, runs south through western Massachusetts and Connecticut and empties into Long Island Sound. Although Governor Wentworth offered several parcels of land in the colony of New Hampshire as potential sites for the Indian school and college, Wheelock lobbied hard to locate them in Hanover, on a parcel that bordered the Upper Connecticut River, in part because the waterway provided an important means of transportation in unsettled territory with few roads. It gave him access to western Massachusetts and Connecticut, where, in fact, many of the settlers already in the area had come up the river from Connecticut, and also provided proximity to the Canadian Indian tribes, who, after the Oneidas pulled all their children from the School in 1769, became Wheelock’s prime target for recruitment.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island is a U.S. state located in southern New England along the Atlantic coast. What would become Rhode Island was originally inhabited by the Narragansett, Niantic, and Wampanoag peoples, who established semi-permanent villages of longhouses. They hunted deer, fished for tautog and striped bass, grew corn, beans, pumpkin, and squash, and gathered clams, oysters, and quahogs. From the quahog shell, the Narragansett Indians made the Native American currency wampum, which bolstered their wealth among other tribes in the region. In 1636, Roger Williams founded Providence following his expulsion from the Massachusetts Bay colony for what was perceived as his radical religious beliefs. Williams advocated dealing fairly with Native Americans and purchased the lands for Providence from the Narragansett sachems Canonicus and Miantonomi. In 1644, Williams received a charter from the British Parliament incorporating the towns of Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport as Providence Plantation and guaranteeing religious liberty. A 1663 charter issued by Charles II more firmly established the colony of Rhode Island, which tolerated different religions and maintained friendly relations with Native Americans until the outbreak of King Philip's War in 1675. This conflict resulted in the destruction of many colonial towns, including Providence. The Narragansett tribe was initially skeptical of missionaries, because of their experience of English land-grabbing, and because the church in Charlestown, RI had its own homegrown minister, a Narragansett separatist named Samuel Niles. Although the Narragansett tribal council approved the mission of Joseph Fish in 1765, which met with initial success, the tribe eventually asked Fish and Edward Deake, the schoolmaster he engaged, to leave Rhode Island in favor of Native ministers and teachers. Rhode Island residents actively protested British rule over the colonies and openly agitated for war. In 1772, a number of Rhode Islanders attacked and destroyed the British ship the Gaspee, and Rhode Island was the first state to openly declare independence from Great Britain prior to the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Between two and five percent of Rhode Island Native Americans migrated to Brothertown.

New Hampshire

The state of New Hampshire is in northern New England, bordered by Vermont to the west, Maine to the east, Massachusetts to the south, and Canada to the north. The Connecticut River, which begins in Canada and empties into the Long Island Sound, runs along the western border of New Hampshire and, in the colonial period, functioned as a route for trade -- both of commodities and ideas -- between southern New England and the northernmost parts of America. New Hampshire was originally inhabited by large groups of Abenakis who spoke a dialect of Algonquin distinct from New England tribes to the south, but by 1617, disease and war had brought their number to only 5,000. European fishing fleets had travelled to the coast of New Hampshire since at least 1497, but English settlement of New Hampshire formally began when Captain John Mason, Governor of Portsmouth in Hampshire, England, was granted land in the region in 1622. Settlers arrived in 1623, establishing a base near what is now Portsmouth and entering the fur, fish, and timber trade. In 1641, New Hampshire agreed to come under Massachusetts' jurisdiction, but in 1679, Charles II gave New Hampshire its own charter. From then on, the Province of New Hampshire had its own government, consisting of a royal Governor and Council and an elected House of Representatives. By the time Wheelock moved Moor's Indian Charity School to New Hampshire, the colony was experiencing unprecedented growth. English victory in the French and Indian War stabilized the region, and as a result New Hampshire's Governor Benning Wentworth began to grant hundreds of townships to new settlers, many from the colony of Connecticut. Though Wheelock considered moving Moor's Indian Charity School to several different places, he finally decided on Hanover, NH, in 1768. Because Benning Wentworth was not receptive to Wheelock and his school, it was his nephew and successor Governor John Wentworth who signed Dartmouth College's charter in 1769. In August 1770, Wheelock moved his family to New Hampshire and established Dartmouth College. Moor's and the College would exist side-by-side in Hanover for decades. Soon after Wheelock founded Dartmouth in New Hampshire, the Revolutionary War began and the colony declared its independence. While several buildings and locations around Hanover bear Occom's name, he never visited the town or the college.

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.

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