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Daniel Simon, Daniel Babitt, Benjamin Burt, and Peter Pauquunnuppeet, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1773 February 16

ms-number: 773166

abstract: Simon, Babitt, Burt and Pauquunnuppeet write to complain that the Indians who live next to them make so much noise they are unable to study.

handwriting: Small, formal handwriting appears to be that of Simon; it is largely clear and legible. Words added above the line are frequently indicated below line by an x rather than a caret; corrections appear to have been made (by same hand) after the initial writing of the letter.

paper: Single fragile sheet is in fair condition, with light staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Dark brown ink is faded at the top of one recto.

signature: There are four signatures and each appears to be in a different hand.


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


Honoured Sir
We the subscribers do hereby take it upon our
Selves to petition and inform the most honourable
President of our Situation and condition of our Studies
But when we came to view the goodness of providence
whereby we are entertained with we have the
greatest reason to be thankful for the many privileges that
which we are indulge with and would further
Make bold to acquaint the Doctor with the injury
That is done to our Studies by the Indians that
Lives in the room against us they interrupt our
Studies So that many times we cannot get
So much at our recitations as we Should do
They are Still no longer than the School last
And all the rest of the time they are hollering
And making all manner of noise we have been
In the room by times to ask them to be Still but
They Seem to increase the noise more, we had Some
Thoughts by the consent of the Doctor that they
Should change rooms with Joseph that is
Next to the Hall and there they will nobody to
Interrupt and we thought it our duty to
Inform the Doctor this being hindered So much
In our Studies
and So we remain your dutiful
Pupils —
Daniel Simon
Daniel Babitt
Benjamin Burt—
Peter Pohqunnoppeet
From Daniel Simon etc.
February 16th 1773

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).

Babitt, Daniel
Burt, Benjamin
Pauquunnuppeet, Peter

Sir Peter Pauquunnuppeet (there are several variant spellings), a son of an Indian deacon by the same name, was a Stockbridge Mohican Indian and student of Eleazar Wheelock, who studied at Moor’s Indian Charity School from 1771 until 1775, and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1780. Together with Daniel Simon, class of 1777, and Lewis Vincent, class of 1781, he was one of the three Indian students to graduate before the turn of the century, and they became the last native graduates until 1835. The “Sir” that precedes Pohquonnoppeet’s forename originated from his status as a senior in school, and remained a part of his name for the rest of his life. After graduating, Pauquunnuppeet returned to Stockbridge, where he taught school and was involved in tribal affairs. Joseph Quanaukaunt (Quinney) became sachem in 1777, and along with Hendrick Aupaumut and John Konkapot, Pauquunnuppeet was a member of the his council. Pauquunnuppeet was also influential in the Brothertown movement and the founding of New Stockbridge six miles from Brothertown, New York. In 1785, when Americans in New York were driving the Oneidas to cede land that bordered Pennsylvania, Pauquunnuppeet represented the Stockbridge Indians in what became the Treaty of Herkimer. Pauquunnuppeet had an influential friendship with Samson Occom. Occom recorded many occasions in his diary during his missionary tours of 1785-1787 when Peter hosted him, and noted a few instances when they traveled together. Often during Occom’s visits to New Stockbridge Captain Hendrick and Pauquunnuppeet would translate his sermons for those who could not understand English. The Stockbridge Indians favored Occom over the white missionary John Sergeant, Jr., and on August 29, 1787 Pauquunnuppeet was one of nine Indians to write to Occom declaring their devotion and inviting Occom to become their minister. However, the tribe had no means by which to pay Occom, and so, in the winter of 1787 Pauquunnuppeet, Occom, and David Fowler embarked on a fundraising journey through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. They were not, however, able to raise as much money as they had sought to collect. Pauquunnuppeet’s strong presence within the tribe may have led to his death, although the precise date and circumstances of his decease is unknown. Sectionalism within New Stockbridge was growing due to the friction between those who supported Occom and those who preferred Sergeant, Jr. as their minister. The politics of Brothertown as an independent entity contributed to the tension. Finally, when Hendrick Aupaumet rose to the position of chief, Pauquunnuppeet became the leader of a rival faction. It has been suggested that Pauquunnuppeet’s increasing authority provoked his enemies to poison him.

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.

HomeDaniel Simon, Daniel Babitt, Benjamin Burt, and Peter Pauquunnuppeet, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1773 February 16
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