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Abraham Simon, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1775 August 13

ms-number: 775463

abstract: Simon writes to Wheelock expressing his gratitude and telling of his experiences as a soldier working in a field hospital in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

handwriting: Handwriting is clear and legible.

paper: Large sheet folded into four pages is in poor condition, with heavy yellowing, creasing and wear that occasionally obscures text. Aging repair work is discolored and somewhat obscures text.

ink: Black ink is heavily faded in spots.

noteworthy: An editor, likely 19th-century, has added the note "Abm Simons Indian" to one verso, and “Indian Soldier at Roxbury Ms” to two verso.

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


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


Rev. Sir
as I have had and often been favoured
with your kindness and good conduct
towards me I think I should not Pay
you the Gratitude that I owe you if
I did not mention it in my writing
though I do not think that ever I shall
be able to Pay you or make returns
for them
 Sir I can assure you although I did
not mention them I have had them
Still in my Mind and as I have
had some disappointments in the world
and am some thing Poor all that I can
do is to not forget them but remember
them and hope and wish for your Wealth
and prosperity and I think I do as far
as I know myself both to you and your
Family I want to come and see you
all but I cannot tell at present
when I can so I must hasten and
give my account where I have Lived
Since
Blank page.
Since I left Dartmouth
I was Round about last Summer and
Did not get much until Fowler
went to Dartmouth and then I took
the School which h[gap: tear][guess: e] left and kept
it 'til sometime [gap: tear] April and then
I sent Down for my Money and I could
not get it from the Boston Board so
I was oblige to break [gap: tear]up School upon
the Account the Indians wanted me
to keep Longer but I thought it would
not do
Then these listing [gap: tear][guess: or]ders came out
and I was so foolish as to enlist
myself in the Service and am now
at Roxbury in one of the hospital
Taking Care of the Sick and very bad
[gap: tear] but th[gap: tear][guess: ey] seem to choose me
I nothing strange [illegible] [illegible]ite only now and
then we have had the bullets and
bombs flying over our Heads and the
Small Pox got amongst us sometime
ago

I am your unworthy servant
Abraham Simon

From Mr. Abraham
Simon
August 13. 1775
To The Rev. D.D Elea[gap: faded][guess: zar Wheelock]
of
Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College is small liberal arts institution in Hanover, New Hampshire. It has about four thousand undergraduate students taking courses in Arts and Sciences, and another two thousand in graduate schools in the Sciences, Comparative Literature, and Liberal Studies, as well as the Geisel School of Medicine, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business. It is a member of the Ivy League, and the ninth oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S. The charter establishing the College was signed in 1769 by John Wentworth, Royal Governor of New Hamsphire, who wanted an academy of higher learning in the colony. Its founder, Eleazar Wheelock, was a Congregational minister from Connecticut who, after his success in educating Samson Occom as a school teacher and Indian missionary in the 1740's, started Moor's Indian Charity School in 1754 to continue what he regarded as a divine mission to educate Native boys and girls to become missionaries. As the school grew, Wheelock began looking for a new location closer to Indian Country where he could expand. But in the 1760's he became disillusioned by the relative failure of his progam and began turning his attention to the education of Anglo-American men as missionaries. After a protracted search, he secured the royal charter in New Hampshire and in 1769 moved his family and base of operations to Hanover, where he established the College. It is named for William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, who contributed to the funds raised by Occom and Whitaker on their fund-raising tour of Great Britain in 1766-68 and became a member of the London Trust that administered those funds. The College's charter announced its purpose as "the education and instruction of youth of the Indian tribes in this land [in] all parts of learning which shall appear necessary and expedient for civilizing and christianizing children of pagans…, and also of English youth and any others." But Wheelock's priorities were, in reality, the reverse. While he gave public notice in 1770 that "My Indian charity school … is now become a body corporate and politic, under the name of DARTMOUTH COLLEGE," he created this parallel structure to allow him to use the funds that were collected specifically for the education of Indians. Only around 75 Native students enrolled at the College before 1972, when it rededicated itself to educating Indians and established the Native American Studies Program. This is also the year Dartmouth went co-ed. Occom was angry and embittered at Wheelock’s abandonment of his “great design,” for which he had sacrificed so much. Their relations cooled after Occom’s return from England, and he never visited his mentor again, or, for that matter, Dartmouth College.
Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
The Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) was established in 1730 to support local missionary efforts. It was the SSPCK's first board in the British colonies in America. The SSPCK later founded a New York Board (1741) and a Connecticut Board (1764). Although Wheelock lobbied for a New Hampshire board after his 1770 relocation, by that time the SSPCK had had enough of him and his request was denied. The Boston Board of the SSPCK sponsored many missionaries to Native Americans, including David and John Brainerd. However, it did not provide very much support to Wheelock or his school, in large part because Wheelock and Charles Chauncy, chair of the Boston Board, clashed over Congregationalist politics. The Boston Board did provide £20 to support Samson Occom and David Fowler on a 1761 mission to the Six Nations to procure Moor's students, but it was then reluctant to support the boys Occom and Fowler obtained. The Board eventually paid £58.10.1 in 1762. They never gave money to Wheelock again. Wheelock was instrumental in forming the Connecticut Board of the SSPCK in 1764, over which he exerted considerable influence. From that point forward, he was largely able to avoid dealing with the Boston Board of the SSPCK. The The Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America is also called the Boston Board in some letters, and most secondary sources have mixed the two Boston Boards. This is an easy mistake to make since both are sometimes called the Boston Board and vigorously opposed Wheelock. However, the general confusion in the literature means that any secondary source's statement on either board should be taken with some skepticism.
Boston

The first English immigrant to settle on a peninsula in a harbor on the northeastern coast of North America the local Algonquin Indians called "Shawmet" was William Blackstone in 1629. A year later, John Winthrop arrived with a group of English Puritans and other settlers and named the area Boston after his hometown in Lincolnshire, England. The colony quickly developed representative political institutions that would help shape a democratic nation. Over the next few centuries, Boston emerged as an intellectual and educational center, and, because of its excellent harbor, became a leading commercial hub and a primary port for North America. It is the capital and largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the largest city in New England. Boston was the home for the Boards of Commissioners of several overseas religious societies who sent missionaries throughout the colonies in the 18th century, and was the site of many important events of the American Revolution.

Simon, Abraham

Abraham Simon was a Narragansett Moor’s student who played a prominent role in Brothertown’s early civic life. Abraham was born in 1750 into the prominent Simon family, a Charlestown Narragansett family that sent five children to Moor’s (James, Emmanuel, Sarah, Abraham, and Daniel). The minister at Groton, Jacob Johnson, recommended Abraham Simon to Wheelock during the Fort Stanwix Congress in 1768 (how Jacob Johnson knew Abraham and why he had brought him to Stanwix is unclear. His ministry was only 30 miles away from Charlestown, so that may have been the connection). Abraham studied at Moor’s from 1768 until 1772, and, with his brother Daniel, was one of the few Indian students to relocate with Wheelock from Connecticut to New Hampshire. In 1772, Abraham made a brief journey on Wheelock’s behalf to the Tuscaroras, who proved uninterested in missionaries or schoolmasters. The next written record of Abraham Simon dates to 1774, when he wrote to Wheelock to inform him that he was going to keep school among the Pequots, which he did for approximately six months. In 1775, he enlisted in the army and served as a medic at Roxbury for at least part of the Revolution. Abraham immigrated to Brothertown in 1783 and was elected to the town’s first council. His house was a center of communal life, and appears many times in Occom’s diary as the location of religious meetings. Abraham died in Brothertown sometime before 1795, when his land was recorded under his widow’s name. Some confusion exists regarding Abraham’s death and burial. In 1925, some Dartmouth students became aware of an Indian named Abraham Symons who had lived in East Haddam, Connecticut, from 1790 until 1812. They assumed that this Abraham Symons was the Narragansett Abraham Simon, and erected a tombstone for him in East Haddam. Had they consulted William DeLoss Love’s account of Brothertown, perhaps they would not have done so. The town of East Haddam remains convinced that Abraham Simon is Abraham Symons, despite the fact that their account of Abraham’s life and connection to East Haddam relies on conflating his life with his brother Daniel Simon’s.

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.

Fowler, Jacob

Jacob Fowler was a Montauk Indian whose life was dramatically shaped by Samson Occom, his brother-in-law. Occom taught Jacob when he was a child, and in 1762, Jacob followed his older brother David Fowler to Moor's. After three years he was approved as an usher in the 1765 examination, and in 1766 he went to assist Samuel Johnson at Canajoharie. He taught among the Six Nations until at least mid-1767. In early 1770, Occom procured him a job teaching at Mushantuxet through the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Jacob taught and preached among the Pequots at Mushantuxet and Stonington until 1774, when Wheelock hired him to teach at Moor's, which had relocated to Hanover, NH as a complement to Dartmouth College. During this time, Jacob also assisted Joseph Johnson with efforts to rally the New England Christian tribes for a move to Oneida territory (the Brothertown Movement). By 1776, there were no Indians enrolled in Moor's and Jacob moved on to serve Governor John Trumbull of CT as a messenger to the Six Nations during the Revolution. After the Revolution, he continued organizing the Brothertown Movement and was among those who initially emigrated in 1784. He was elected clerk at Brothertown, and died sometime in the spring of 1787.

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