Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to George Whitefield, 1761 July 4


abstractWheelock writes to Whitefield about first Occom's mission to the Oneidas, and about the difficulties of teaching Indian students. He mentions the idea of appealing to the Earl of Dartmouth for charity.

handwritingHandwriting is small and cramped, with several deletions and additions.

paperPaper appears to have minimal creasing, staining and wear, yet overall condition is difficult to assess due to the paper being completely encased in protective covering.

inkDark brown

noteworthyThe letter is noted as a copy. Some contents are similar to those of 761515. The abbreviation "proc." at the bottom of one verso is an abbreviation for "proclamation money," a term that described colonial currency the value of which was set at the currently imposed rate determined by a royal proclamation issued by Queen Anne in 1704, passed into law by parliament in 1707.

EventsOccom’s First Mission to the Oneidas

  Rev.d & dear Sir.   
I hope you have recd mine from Boſton laſt   May, incloſing a letter of Thanks to the ^noble^ Marqueſs of Lothain   for £50 Sterling which I rec.d of M.r Smith. It came at  a Time when it was much needed and I dont know how to  expreſs my Gratitude ſuitably either to God or man. I preſume   his good Lordſhip wants nothing ^in return^ more than I can readily give  that is, the fulleſt aſsurance that it was received thankfully,  and ſhall be improved in the beſt manner I am able for the  furtherance of the great Deſign of ſpreading the Gospel  among the poor Indians.
M.r Occom the Indian Miniſter went from hence on a Miſ­ ſion to the Oneida Indians, at the Motion & Direction of a  number of Gentlemen in New York Government, on the 10th  of Laſt month. David Fowler one of my Indian Schollars   accompanied him in order to obtain if he could, and bring  hither to this School ſix Boys of the Six Nations to be  :fitted as ſoon as poſsible for Interpreters or Miſsionaries.  Three of the Six are at the Expence of the Scotiſh Com̅iſs.n in  Boſton ; the other Three I take in addition to the Six Boys  now with me, at my own Riſque. The Journey which David  is upon if he goes to the Seenecas is about 500. miles.  1200 Miles he will ride in our Wilderneſs if he accompliſhes   what he purposed when he ſet out. The Lord mercifully pre­ ſerve him and make his way proſperous. I have heard nothing  from them ſince they left me. But I heard a few Day ago that  one of the Oneida Indians had killd a Dutchman, and that  the whole Tribe were moving off under Apprehenſion that the  Engliſh will riſe and cut them off.
There is among ſeveral Tribes near Seſquaanna River. a very  great concern, and Deſire to be taught the way of Salvation by  Chriſt. and ſuch a Door open to preach the Gospel among  them as never was before, if we could find any way to com̅u­ -nicate it to them. The London Com̅iſsrs in Boſton have ap­ pointed M.r Amos Thompſon Miſsionary, & M.r Eliſha Gunn  Interpreter to the Tribe at Onohoquagke, on S.d River, and  beſides him I know not of one ſuitable for the Buſineſs of Inter­ preter, nor is he a thorough Maſter of their Language.
There is a vaſt deal to be done, and at preſent it ſeems   it muſt be done by perticular Perſons. Our Government  have done nothing yet, nor do I hear of any Proposals of  a publick Nature in Favour of the Indians. The Diſpoſition   of a great number ſeems to be rather to riſe and cut them all  off, than to do any thing to ſave their Souls. nothing can be done  without money, and our people complain much of the weight of  ^[left]our^ charges of late years.
My School is in a growing State; though but one of the Girls  which
which I have been ſo long expecting is yet come. nor have  I heard a word from M.r Brainerd ſince laſt Fall, when he  informed me that the Girls were detained by Sickneſs, but  might be expected early this Spring.
I have taken a pious youth Son to the Rev. M.r Kirtland  of Norwich into this School as a Charity Schollar; who  is fitting as faſt as he can to accompany my Indian Boys  on a Miſsion to diſtant Tribes as ſoon as they are fit for  it. he and they deſign to learn the Languages of the ſix   nations, of the Boys which David is gone for if they ſhall   come.
None know, nor can any, without Experience, well conceive  of, the Difficulty of Educating an Indian. They would ſoon   kill themſelves with Eating and Sloth, if conſtant care weres  not exerciſed for them at leaſt the firſt year — they are  used to ſet upon the Ground, and it is as natural for them as  a ſeat to our children — they are not wont to have any Cloaths   but what they wear, nor will they without much Pains be bro.t   to take Care of any. — They are used to a Sordid Manner of  Dreſs, and love it as well as our Children to be clean. —  They are not used to any Regular Government, the ſad Con­ ſequences of Which You may a little gueſs at — they are  used to live from Hand to Mouth (as we Speak) and have  no care for Futurity — they have never been used to the  Furniture of an Engliſh House, and dont know but that  a wine glaſs is as Strong as an Hand Iron — our Language  [gap: tear][guess: when] they Seem to have got it is not their Mother Tongue  and they cannot receive nor communicate in that as in  their Own. — It is a long time before they will learn the pro­ per Place & use of the Particles. A, an, the &c. and they are  as unpoliſhed & uncultivated within as without. however  Experience has taught us that it may be done. and they  be as open to Conviction of the Truth of their State, when  proper matter of Conviction is com̅unicated to them as any,  and there is as much Ground to hope for their Converſion.  and I am ſtill of Opinion that the Time of Gods Mercy  to them is now near at Hand.
May'n't I, my Dear Sir, look upon the generous Grant of the  Marqueſs of Lothain as an Earniſt of further and greater Benefits  to the great Deſign. You will eaſily beleive he weight of Change  is heavy upon me. It is now almost Seven years ſince I began  with two, and above four years I have had four and the moſt   of the Time five & Six, and now Eight upon my Hands ^as^ con­ ſtantly devoted to School as their Health will allow. and if  all come which I now expect, I ſhall have Eighteen, male, &  feemale who will live only on the Charities of Such as Deſire   the enlargement of the Redeemers Kingdom.
The Honle London Com̅iſsrs have made ſeveral Grants for  my Help. and laſt fall ^they^ settled £20. proc. p.r annum upon  this School; which with the private Donations I have had  have enabled me to Scrabble along hitherto.
The Scotiſh Com̅iſsrs have but little to do with at preſent;  [illegible]The firſt Laying out of that new formed Com̅iſsion is for the  Support of the Three Boys before mentioned. I hope they will ſoon   be enabled to do ſomething greater. nor was that received from the  Society but y.e contribu.n of M.r W.m Hyſlop one of y.r membrs. they hope ſoon to be enabled  by y.e Society to do something greater.  I hear
I hear that a large number of Captives whom the Indians have  taken at one time & place & another are lately brought into Al­ bany; among which there are 29. who have forgotan their Names  and the Place they were taken from, and it cant as yet be known what  Family they are of. I have a mind, if it may be, to chuſe out  a number of them for an Education for our Purpose  in this School.
There is a religious youth of about 14 Years old of  The Tribe at Farmington, who has learnt to read & can  ſpeak Engliſh, who has a great Thirſt for Learning, and  appears to be very Sprightly: his Mother brought him  hither while I was at Boston laſt may, with Hopes y.t   I would take him into this School. what ſhall I do for him?
If I knew how to addreſs the Earl of Dartmouth (whoſe   Name among the Religious Part of our Country is like pre­ cious Oyntment) I would pray his Lordſhip to conſider,  among the many objects of his Charity, the vaſt Swarms  in this Land who are periſhing for Lack of knowledge and  that the Expence of getting the Gospel among them muſt   needs be very great, their Different Languages being almoſ[gap: worn_edge][guess: t]   as numerous as their Tribes. and no Books to aſsiſt in  learning them — and few or none ſkillful enough to be  their Interpreters, eſpecially in matters of Religion. nor any  except ſome low lived ignorant, & commonly vitious Persons  who have been their Captives — I would also urge upon his  Lordſhip, that divine Providence has now opened the Door  wide for that purpose. and great numbers, by the [illegible] Ru­ ­mours they have heard, are ^now^ perſwaded there is ſomething to  be known which nearly concerns them and are very deſirious   to be taught — I would also urge ^w.t his Ldſhp has ſo often tho't of^ that the Heart of the  # great Redeemer is infinitely Set upon it, and [illegible] ^conſequently ^ an offer ­ing to this Purpose muſt needs be acceptable to him. and ^methinks^ I  ſhould feal quite bold in the Cauſe, for it is none of my  own, more than his. and I know if his Lordſhip believes  these things, he muſt have a Heart very Different from his  Character if it be not ^disposed to^ moved with Compaſsion towards them  [illegible]. yea I am not afraid to rely upon his Lordſhips   Candour if you ſhall think fit to ſhew him what I have wrote.
as to an Incorporation for this Purpose when I went to Bos ­ton I had in view ſomething Relative thereto. but found there that a  number of the Principle men in Boſton viz. The Leiu.t Gov.r a number  of his Majeſty's Councel, all the aſsociated Miniſters & Others, had  been upon the like Deſign, but were then ſtoped by Reaſson of ſome   differing Sentiments &c when they came to underſtand my ^Deſign ^ Buſineſs   Several who were principle movers in the affair earneſtly deſired   we would not proceed without them. and you will likely hear  more about it before long.
We had an acco.t of your Death in the publick Prints. I ſupposed you  had ſeen the End of your Faith. and had arived to full viſion of thoſe   Glories of the Mediator, which all your Eloquence had but imperfectly  repreſented to your attentive admirers, and that you were now  ſwollowed up in and feaſted to ye full with, that Goodneſs which Eye hath  not ſeen nor Ear heard &c. and y.t I muſt think no more of an Interview  with you 'till I come to the world of Spirits. but now ^my dear Sir^ I will hope a little  to
to ſee you again in New England.
M.r Pomeroy was well the laſt time I heard from him but from  Home and full of Buſineſs. Indeed Sir, I do love to pray for  you. and truſt I have, and ſhall feal the Benefit of Your Prayers for, My Dear Sir,
Yours in the Deareſt Bonds  Eleazar Wheelock   
P.S. July. 9. my letter wait.g for opportunity for conveyance gives me  opportunity to add. y.t the night before laſt I received yours of Feby [illegible].  and yesterday I received one from M.r Occom Dated New York  June 24. where^in^ he informs me yt y.e Sabath Evening before there  was a Collection at M.r Boſtwicks ^meeting House^ for him of £60:15:7.  and the Evening following at the Baptiſt meeting House of  £13. & that he and David deſind to purſue [illegible] their Journey  to Oneida the next morning: & by another Hand I am informd   that previous ^antecedent^ to ſd Collection he ^Mr Occom^ preachd to the moſt numerous  aſsembly that was ever known in those parts:
and this [illegible] day I ^have^ received a Letter from M.r Brainerd which  Informed me that one of the Girls who were to come  hither laſt fall was ſtill ſick and not like to recover. but  that he ſhould ſend me two by the firſt veſsel. ſo that  now I expect my number very ſoon.
and illegible ^by^ another at the Same Time from dear M.r Amos  Thompſon ^I'm^ informedng me that he was on his way from the  Jerſies to Boſton to [gap: tear][guess: conclude] on the Buſineſs of his  Miſsion & was taken ſick, his Physican ſays going into  a Conſumption ſo that there is no hope of his ſerving   in that Capacity. Gods Judgments are a great Deepe
^Rev.d ^ M.r Finley is chosen Preſid.t of y.e College of New Jerſie   in the Room of the much lamented M.r Davies.
# and would not his Lordſhip think whether, or no, an offering  for this Purpose at leaſt of ſome ^Small^ part of that which the Lord  of all Lords has honourd him to be the ſteward of in this  Life, would not be acceptable to him, whoſe Heart is ſo   much ſet upon the ſucceſs & Progreſs of this work.   yours &   Eleazar Wheelock Joseph Woolley complains that diſuſe of their pen thro' ſo cloſe   an application to the[illegible] Languages and: Hez. Calvin. will now read  Tulley, Virgil & the Greek Teſtament very Handſomly.  David Fowler who is gone into the Mohawke Country is  a very Promiſing youth indeed.   Isaiah Uncas is Eldeſt ſon and Heir apparent to the  Sachem of Mohegan. he but little more than knew his  Litters when he came to me laſt fall. aged about 10 years.  he begins to read in the Bible.  Copy of Letter to M.r   Whitefield.  July 1761