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Matthew Graves, letter, to the Earl of Dartmouth, 1770 August 5

ms-number: 770455

abstract: Graves writes that George Whitefield is dead, that Occom has become “vile” after having been “exalted” in England, and that Wheelock is building a new school that will be largely for whites.

handwriting: Formal handwriting is clear and legible.

paper: There are two separate sheets, one folded in half like a book. Both sheets are in good condition with light-to-moderate creasing, staining and wear. The edges appear to have been trimmed.

ink: Brown.

noteworthy: A note on top of one recto indicates that this document is a copy. A tag affixed to one recto reads: “One of 23 papers personally presented to Dartmouth College by Lord Dartmouth, Oct. 26, 1904.” There are markings in crayon on the address page:"84" in red crayon and crossed out in blue crayon, then "230" written and circled in blue crayon.

signature: The signature is abbreviated.

events: Fundraising Tour of Great Britain


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


= Copy =
My worthy, good and dear Friend/
This Opportunity is too favourable to be omitted; —
Long have I looked for the answer to my last, but am persuaded Hurry of
business or the Distraction of the times prevent me that desirable satisfaction
— Our dear Whitefield's Soul was carried by exulting Angels into the paradise
of GOD on the 30th of last Month. He died very Suddenly of an asthmatic
Fit at Newbury 40 Miles beyond Boston: I hear he is to be interred at Boston.
Our loss is great — mine inconceivable: We loved each other as Brethren ought
to do. I could enlarge, but really my heart is full, I can Scarce See to
write — the flowing Tears prevent my enlarging, the Subject too important
— I Shall go to him. O happy - happy Angel!— Our grand Indian scheme
is too apparently founded upon Self. The Doctor is turned Heretical — abomi­
­nably erroneous — Occom is become vile indeed — a base fellow — He was So
exalted in Europe that he has practically forgot his GOD, and pays more
respect to Bacchus and Mars than the true Jehovah — I hope the Holy
Spirit will direct the Trustees to improve that fine Collection to the designed
End, and not let our cunning, Scheming religious pharisees divide the spoil.
Dr. Wheelock has got bestowed upon him 3000 Acres of Land, on which
he is building an Academy for whites and blacks — the latter will have little Share,
less profit there! It is all a farce! Religion is at a very low Ebb here — New Doctrines
are daily broaching — the press groans with heresy, and Sandeman poisons the Dissenters,
who are virulently exposing each other. Had I Known of the Bearers going to London
I would have Sent you Some Specimens of their upstart Divinity — to believe that
Christ was a divine person is Sufficient Faith, and the Sure way to Heaven is to use
no means, but passively wait until regenerated and then You'll have true faith, with such
gross absurdities. Pray favour me with a Line and after wishing you the blessing of
pardoning Love, the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Communion of the Holy=
=Ghost, if you please to Send me Mr. Hartley as you promised you'll greatly oblige

Sir Your very loving and True Friend and
humble Servant signed
Matthew Graves
New London 8th 5th 1770.

Blank pageBlank pageBlank page
To the Right Honourable
The Earl of Dartmouth


Blank page
Graves, Matthew

Matthew Graves was an Anglican minister and missionary in New London, CT, whose friendship with Occom led to a minor controversy. Graves was born on the Isle of Man, of Irish descent. Sometime in his mid-30s, when he was master of a Latin grammar school and rector of a church in Chester, England, he was inspired by the religious revivals led by the Wesleys in western England to volunteer for foreign mission service through the The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG). In 1745, the organization sent him to St. James Church in New London, CT, where the pulpit had been empty for some time. His brother John also volunteered and was sent to a church in Providence, RI. The parishoners in New London, however, proved unwelcoming, and Graves began attending dissenting church services and missionizing to slaves and Indian tribes in the area. Through these activities, he became acquainted with Wheelock's missionary work and with Occom, with whom he was on friendly terms. Graves wrote a glowing testimony of him for the fundraising tour of Great Britain. According to Love, Occom joked in Graves' presence that on the trip he would "turn Episcopalian," a hope Graves communicated to his Bishop, who did offer to ordain Occom, which he refused, causing some offense and a flutter in the newspapers. Sharply disappointed, in 1771, Graves turned against both Occom and Wheelock. He served in New London for 33 years but came to a bad end. In 1778, when he refused to change the traditional prayer for King George to a prayer for the new American Congress, he was summararily ejected from his church, and in 1779 he asked to be allowed to move to New York, behind enemy lines, with his sister Joanna. There he acted as a pastor to Loyalist refugess and died suddenly the following year.

Legge, William

William Legge, the second Earl of Dartmouth, was the reluctant namesake of Dartmouth College. Like many of his countrymen, Legge became involved in Eleazar Wheelock’s plans through George Whitefield, the famous evangelical who introduced Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker to Legge shortly after the pair’s February 1766 arrival in London. Legge proved critical in promoting Occom’s tour among the nobility, and took on a logistical role by helping to collect and oversee donations. Although Legge and Whitefield both felt it would be best if Wheelock were in total control of the funds raised in England, Occom eventually collected so much money that a formal trust was necessary to preserve propriety. This trust was formed in late 1766, with Legge as its president, to guarantee that Wheelock used the money appropriately. It soon proved that the Trust and Wheelock had different ideas as to what was, in fact, appropriate, but they were largely able to cooperate until 1769, when Wheelock obtained a charter for his school without informing the trust. (The trust, feeling that a charter would obviate its control over the British funds, had vehemently opposed it.) Adding insult to injury, Wheelock named the resulting institution Dartmouth—again without consulting Legge, and perhaps more to reassure the multitudes who had donated money than to honor the Earl. Legge never wrote to Wheelock again. Outside of his involvement with Wheelock, Legge had a brief political career. Although he was generally more concerned with religious and philanthropic matters, his station and connections (he was the step-brother of Frederick North, who was prime minister from 1770 to 1782) led him to take his first political post in 1765 as a member of the Board of Trade. During his tenure (1765-1767), and again while he was Secretary of State for the Colonies (1772-1775), Legge’s search for cooperative solutions proved unsuccessful during the build-up to the Revolution. His later positions were primarily ceremonial.

Whitefield, George

George Whitefield, the English itinerant preacher who helped spark the Great Awakening, was an essential supporter of Eleazar Wheelock’s project. Whitefield studied at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he met the pioneers of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley. He was ordained in 1736, and he made the first of his seven trips to America two years later. While abroad in 1740, Whitefield founded an orphanage in Georgia, and went on a preaching tour during which he met Wheelock and spread ideals that prompted the Great Awakening. Although Whitefield was ordained in the Church of England, his enthusiastic preaching style and charismatic personality made him a controversial figure, and traditional clergyman on both sides of the Atlantic censured him. Nonetheless, he continued to be an important contact and friend of Wheelock’s, and his dedication to Wheelock’s vision was evident. He contributed money to the cause, secured various other funders, and donated an eighty-pound prayer bell to the school. More importantly, Whitefield not only suggested to Wheelock the idea of a fundraising tour in Great Britain, he hosted Occom and Whitaker shortly after they arrived in England, provided a house for them to reside in for the remainder of their tour, and introduced the pair to influential figures such as William Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth. Whitefield tabernacle’s was the setting of Occom’s first sermon in England on February 16, 1766, and many believe that Whitefield wrote the introduction to a pamphlet printed in London during the campaign (although he was not credited). Whitefield continued to be involved in Wheelock’s work until he died in Newburyport, MA in September of 1770.

Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

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.

Fundraising Tour of Great Britain
HomeMatthew Graves, letter, to the Earl of Dartmouth, 1770 August 5
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