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Daniel Simon, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1771 September

ms-number: 771540

abstract: Simon writes a plain-spoken letter stating that if he is not allowed to pursue his studies rather than work, he will find another school.

handwriting: Handwriting is small and uneven, yet mostly clear and legible.

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

ink: Black.

noteworthy: Notations at the top of one recto appear to be modern, and so they have not been included in the transcription.

layout: The first page of the letter is on one recto, but the second page is on two recto, not one verso.


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


I
I now make bold to write to the most
Reverend Doctor, when I Came first to
this School, I understood that this
School was for to bring up Such
Indians, as was not able to bring
up themselves, but the doctor is to learn
them to work, but I have been to
work Ever Since I have been able;
and therefore if the doctor will let
me follow my studies, I Shall be
thankful, as I understood the doctor.
when I talked with him, that we
must work as much as to pay our way;
and if we Should, what good will the
Charity money do the Indians; which was
given to them, if we poor Indians Shall
work as much as to pay for our learning,
we Can go Some other place, as good as here
for learning, if we are able to work and
pay for our learning, and I Say now,
woe unto that poor Indian; or white man
that Should Ever come to this School,
without he is rich; I write as I think,
Blank page.
and the doctor must not get mad with me,
as I am a going to tell the doctor, what I
think. I intend to deal with the doctor, as
honest is Ever the doctor had a Indian, and
if the doctor dont let me follow my studies
more that I have done; I must leave the
School
, I Cannot spend my time here,
I am old, and I must improve all the
time I Can if I undertake to get learning,
and if I Cannot get learning here as I
understood I might; I have no business
here, and I must leave the School and if the
doctor will let me go home to Charlestown,
this fall I will will Strive to get somebody to
pay the doctor, his money for my learn‐
ing, and if I Cannot I will come back,
and pay the doctor for the journey; and I
will go to studying arithmetic this winter, and
in the Spring I will go among the Indians
if the doctor and I Can agree, and if So be
I Can get anybody to pay for my learn‐
ing I Shall follow my studies, and if I Cannot
I must leave the School, and if I have
a wrong understanding of this school, I am
willing to acknowledge but I believe I
have not and So I write no more but
your most Dutiful pupil Daniel Simon
I should be glad if the doctor will
give an answer to this
From Daniel Simons
September 1771.

Simon, Daniel

Daniel Simon was a member of the Narragansett Simon family (Mrs. Sarah Simon, Miss Sarah Simon, Abraham Simon, Daniel Simon, James Simon, and Emmanual Simon—all five children attended Moor’s Indian Charity School for at least some time). Daniel arrived at Moor’s Indian Charity School with his brother Abraham either very late in 1768 or early in 1769. The two brothers remained with Eleazar Wheelock during his relocation to Hanover, New Hampshire. Daniel Simon graduated from Dartmouth College in 1777 (the college’s first Native American graduate, and the only one during Wheelock’s lifetime). He was licensed as a minister by the Grafton Presbytery on January 19, 1778. After a stint keeping school at Stockbridge, MA, he took over John Brainerd’s ministry at Cranbury, NJ in 1783 (John Brainerd, the long-term Anglo-American missionary in the region, had died in 1781). In 1784, Simon was suspended from the ministry on charges of intemperance, and began serving “informally” as minister at Brotherton, NJ, until at least 1788. He married a sister of Hezekiah Calvin (a Delaware who had attended Moor’s, and who became prominent at Brotherton), which may explain why he settled at Brotherton, NJ, instead of Brothertown, NY (where all four of his siblings resided).

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.

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