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Sarah Simon, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1769 [month unknown] 16

ms-number: 769900.1

abstract: Simon writes to Wheelock that she fears she is irretrievably in the grip of the Devil.

handwriting: Handwriting is small, yet largely clear and legible.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Brown-black.


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



Rev. and Honoured Sir
I have been this Some time back
thinking upon things of religion; and I think they
do not look So plain to me as I have Seen them and I have great ma
ny wicked thoughts and I do not know what I
Shall do if I do not ask somebody's advice about
it for I feel very bad about it; I have thought a gr
eat while that I would Come and talk with the Doctor
but then I thought again that it will not do me
any good; for I have talked with the Doctor great many
times and If I do not mind them words that has
been already Said to me I Shall have the more to an
swer for; So I thought I would not go nowhere to
hear anything or no ask any questions about any

but I fear it is the works of Satan; and I have [illegible][guess: mind]
it 'til I am undone forever and I believe that
Satan is [illegible][guess: besser] with me than anybody else in
this world Even when I go to Read he takes all
my thoughts away upon something else
and my temptation he lays before me I thought
I never would not tell anybody of it but as
I was at home this afternoon all alone I was
thinking upon these things and wondering
what I should do and I thought of a book I [illegible][guess: heard]
Read once that when anyone was at lost
about any thing they must go to their —
minister and inquire of them and there
will lead you into it, and then I think it is my duty
to Come and take your advice. and I what want to know

is this am I incurable or not; the devil is [illegible][guess: just]
ready Sometimes to make me think that because I have
made a perversion and do not always keep upright.
and it seems to me all the true Christian never
meets with Such a struggle with Satan as
I do and so that makes me fear that I am
a Christian because the Devil is so be[illegible: [guess: s]]e with
me more than he is with any one else. for wh
en I go to try to pray he tell me that it
will not do any good neither will it merit
anything so he tries everything to put
me back. and o what shall I do it seem
to me I could write all this right to you
if it would do any good but i fear it will
not. —

So I desire to subscribe my
self your most humble and Ever
Dutiful Servant
Sarah Simon

From Sarah Simons
16th 1769.

for —

the Rev. Mr. Eleazar Wheelock DD
at
Lebanon
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.

HomeSarah Simon, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1769 [month unknown] 16
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