Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Daniel Simon, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1778 December 7

ms-number: 778657

abstract: Simon has been keeping school at Stockbridge, but is now uncertain as to whether he will continue there.

handwriting: Handwriting is small, yet mostly formal and legible. Letter case, especially with regard to the letter S, is frequently difficult to decipher. When in doubt, the transcriber has used the lower case.

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

noteworthy: On two recto, “Taussar’s son” could refer to Benjamin Towsey, a Stockbridge Indian student sent to Dartmouth by his father David Towsey.

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.



Honoured and worthy
sir,
The duty that I am under to
my worthy Patron, lays me under
the greatest obligation to
write every opportunity not only
to unfold to you my personal
circumstances, but to inquire after
your peace, Health and welfare,
and not only so, but the grand cause
that you are engaged in, my
Education being from there, it
becomes me to speak high of the
College, the generality of the People
speak well Concerning the College,
but here and there one, little tainted
or tardy, — I would inform you, sir,
that I have kept out my time
in keeping school at Stockbridge,
Blank page. and after that — I was sent as an
Agent to the Boston Board for the
Stockbridge Tribe of Indians, and
the memorial and Petition that I
laid before the Board was granted,
which was for the establishment
of a school among this Tribe,
and the Board applied to me how and in
what manner that I would reside
among the Indians, for a number
of years, but finding the depreciation
of the Money is such, — the Board
thought fit to defer my Contract,
and it is to be much with Mr.
sergeant
, at Stockbridge, and it is
some uncertain whether I shall
engage in the business of the Boston
board
, — I don,t know but
that I shall take the English
school, — and and, the stockbridge Tribe of
Indians
are concerned about that
Boy who lives this Side of the College,
Taussar,s son, that he may not
be disposed of in an unlawful
way, and in a clandestine manner
and so remain wishing the peace
and health of your own person and
family and the prosperity of all that
concerns you
Daniel simon
Daniel Simons
Indian
Dec 7. 1778
To —
Eleazar Wheelock
D.D. President
at
Dartmouth College
The Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America
The Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America was a missionary society active in America from 1649 until 1786. It was first called the "New England Company" in 1770. Most secondary literature uses that name for convenience and to distinguish it from other missionary societies. The company was first chartered in 1649 as the "President and Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England," largely in response to John Eliot's missionary efforts. After the Restoration (1660), it was rechartered as the "Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America." The New England Company was very powerful and influential, in large part because it was a coalition between Anglicans and Dissenters. It supported a range of missionaries from the Mayhews to the Sergeants to Moor's alumnus Samuel Kirkland. After the Revolution, the New England Company refocused its attentions on New Brunswick and Canadian Indians. Wheelock had a very rocky relationship with the New England Company. Initially, it supported Wheelock's efforts. The Company funded Occom's education at Moor's and paid him a small salary during his time among the Montauketts. However, from 1765 onwards, its relationship with Wheelock rapidly deteriorated. The Company opposed the fundraising tour of Great Britain and went so far as to interfere with it by sending a widely circulated letter to England questioning Occom's background. The New England Company also interferred with Titus Smith's mission to Onaquaga by sending a rival missionary, Mr. Moseley, and stealing Titus' interpreter, Elisha Gunn. In 1767 it formally withdrew its financial support from Wheelock on the grounds that the fundraising tour had raised sufficient money. It is unclear what led the New England Company to suddenly change its stance towards Wheelock. Perhaps it wanted exclusive power over missionary distribution in New England, or perhaps it was thought that focusing on education over numbers in the field was counterproductive. Most secondary sources have conflated the New England Company's Boston Board and the Society in Scotland for Promoting Christian Knowledge's Boston Board, an easy mistake to make since both are sometimes referred to as the Boston Board and both vigorously opposed Wheelock. Any secondary source's statement about either should be carefully researched.
Stockbridge Tribe
The Stockbridge Indians were the inhabitants of the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, a Christian Indian town modeled on John Eliot’s 17th-century “praying towns” (Indian towns where the inhabitants lived an Anglicized life style). Established in 1734, Stockbridge was composed of Mahicans, Housatonics, Wappingers, and Esopus (at the end of the 18th century, the Stockbridge Indians also adopted many New Jersey Delaware). The Stockbridge Indians had close ties to the Brothertown Nation, a composite tribe of Algonquian Indians from around the Long Island Sound which was organized by alumni of Moor’s Indian Charity School. The town played host to a series of famous missionaries and ministers, including John Sergeant Sr., Gideon Hawley, Jonathan Edwards, and John Sergeant Jr. (Sergeant Sr. established a boarding school at Stockbridge that provided the model for Eleazar Wheelock’s Moor’s Indian Charity School.) Eventually, the problems that the Stockbridge Indians encountered with white families who owned land in their town (most notably the Williams family) convinced them of the dangers of white land expansion and influenced their later land policies. In 1785, the Stockbridge Indians relocated to a tract of land in Oneida territory adjacent to the Brothertown settlement. (During the Revolution, Stockbridge played host to displaced Brothertown and Oneida Indians who had fled central New York. These ties were extremely influential in the decision to relocate.) They called their town New Stockbridge. By the turn of the 19th century, land pressures again overwhelmed the Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians and, along with many Oneida, they sought land in the west where they could attempt to escape white expansion.
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.
Stockbridge

Stockbridge is a small town on the Housatonic River in Berkshire County in western Massachusetts. The area was the home of the Mohekanew or Muh-he-ka-nuk people (people of the continually flowing waters), also known as the Mahicans, (or Mohicans and not to be confused with Mohegans from the Connecticut area), who had been driven there because of tensions with the Mohawk tribe over the expansion of the fur trade with the Dutch in the 17th century. European traders and settlers in the area brought disease and land greed, weakening the Mahicans and their traditional lifeways. In 1734, a missionary named John Sergeant from New Jersey came to live in the Mahican village of Wnahktukuk, baptizing those who accepted his teachings. In order to survive in a rapidly changing world, the Tribe accepted the misson and in 1736, the town of Stockbridge was created, named after a village in Hampshire, England, the last of the "praying towns" in Massachusetts, also known as "Indian Town." It was, for the English, strategically located along a military trail to Canada and created a Protestant buffer against Indian allegiance to the Catholic French. Sergeant built a church and schoolhouse, and brought four English families to settle there, ostensibly as models. Wappinger, Nipmuck and Tunxis Indians joined the community and the Mahicans made Stockbridge their chief village. They and the other Native peoples who lived there were called the "Stockbridge Indians." With the end of the French and Indian war, new settlers flooded into the town, buying up land and excluding the Indians from town government; the experimental community became divided into white and Indian neighborhoods. Although the Massachusetts General Court promised that the land given to the Indians as a reward for their service in the recent war and held in common would never be sold, that agreement was breached. In 1774, Indians from seven praying towns––Charlestown, Groton, Stonington, Niantic, Farmington, Montauk, and Mohegan––who were also in debt and dispossesed, accepted the invitaion of the Oneidas to settle on their lands in central New York state, but were driven back by the Revolution and retreated to Stockbridge. Eventually, in 1783 many Stockbridge Indians moved to Oneida lands and founded "new" Stockbridge near the Brotherton settlement established by Occom and other Mohegan Indians. Stockbridge, MA, was a destination for many of the missionaries trained by and associated with Wheelock and his Indian school, and eight Stockbridge Indians enrolled at Dartmouth College between 1771 and 1780. In 1778, Daniel Simon, a Narragansett Indian, one of five children in his family to go to Wheelock's Charity School, and the first Indian educated by Wheelock to receive a degree from Dartmouth College in 1777, was licensed to preach and taught at Stockbridge. As late as 1785, Occom recounts in his journals traveling to Stockbridge, MA to preach and visit Sergeant, Jr. and Kirkland, and finds the Indians "scattered," many removed to Oneida country.

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).

Towsey, Benjamin
Towsey, David
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.

Sergeant, Jr., John

John Sergeant Jr., like his father, served as a minister in Stockbridge, MA. In 1773, Stephen West, the minister to the Stockbridge Indians since 1757, decided to leave his post and turned over ministering duties to John Sergeant Jr. Stockbridge, MA, which John Sergeant Sr. helped establish, failed as a Christian Indian town when the Stockbridge Indians lost ownership of their land. When the Oneida Tribe offered the Stockbridgers land in central New York after the American Revolution, many of them moved to the Brothertown and New Stockbridge settlements. The Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge funded Sergeant Jr. in 1787 to continue serving as a minister to the Stockbridge Indians who moved to New York. Sergeant travelled from Stockbridge, MA, to New Stockbridge every year to serve as their minister. In 1788, the Stockbridge Indians at New Stockbridge were divided in their support for Occom or John Sergeant as the town’s minister. Mohican sachem Hendrick Aupaumut led the community members who favored Occom. According to Sergeant, 30 members of the Tribe were in favor of Occom while 50 were in favor of him (later, half of Occom’s supporters defected to Sergeant). The relationship between Sergeant and Occom was contentious, with Occom disliking Sergeant’s manner of preaching. Occom moved to Munhegunnack or New Stockbridge in 1791 and suggests in a letter that many of Sergeant’s supporters were shifting support to Occom. In his sermons, Sergeant blamed the Indians’ loss of land on what he described as their drunkenness and idleness. He suggested that the whites’ encroachment on their lands was God’s punishment for their sins. Sergeant remained the New Stockbridge minister until his death in 1824.

HomeDaniel Simon, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1778 December 7
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only