Nathaniel Whitaker, letter, to Moses Peck, 1764 October 23


abstractWhitaker writes about his disappointment in Occom’s return from his mission, and endorses the proposal to send Kirtland on a mission. Whitaker notes that those not involved in missionary efforts are too quick to judge when those efforts fail.

handwritingHandwriting is formal and clear.

paperLarge single sheet is in good condition, yet there is moderate wear around the edges, and some heavy creasing.


noteworthyAlthough this letter is from Whitaker to Peck, the trailer is in Wheelock's hand.

To Mr Peck  My very dear Brother 
As there is Nothing of ſuch Moment as promoting the Kindgom of our glorious  Redeemer among Men ſo the Enlargement of it by ſending his Knowledge  among the poor benighted Savages demands our ſerious and critical Attention.  This is what has engaged the Attention Minds of ſome of the moſt worthy and Uſeful  Men our Nation hath produced, inſtance Docr Colman, Sergeant, Brainerd,  and others, and by their experience and labour in Indian Affairs, others, who  have been deſirious to ſpread the Savour of Chriſt's Knowledge among them  have been lead to various projects for this purpoſe, all of which have had  ſome ſuitableneſs to this happy End; and doubtleſs all of them in the plan, or  in the Execution of it have had their Defects which have been more eaſily  diſcovered by the Spectators than by the Actors, and eſpecially when the  Events have diſcovered their Impropriety; and when this has been the Caſe  thoſe who have learned too little of the Difficulty & weight of ſuch Under-  takings have been too ready to condemn the Undertakers as raſh or fooliſh  &c and the plan as being poorly executed, whence if they had been the Actors  the Stage might have been much leſs entertaining, and much leſs been affected  by them —
What Wonder then if the Revd Mr Wheelock be often blamed and cenſured  as raſh, conceited, preſumptuous, imprudent and the like? eſpecially if any of  his Schemes (which in his Undertaking, you know, are very many) ſhould  miſcarry, even though this ſhould happen by the Influence, not to ſay the  Fault, of others. You, dear Brother, muſt be very ſenſible that the Return  of Mr Occom without purſuing his Miſsion has been, and is grievous to us; and  we would have done any thing in Reaſon to have forwarded it; But ſo  it is; he is returned and the Season is too late for him now to go, as he has  a numerous Family to provide for & little to do it with. Therefore it was  thought by ſome of the Commiſsioners who happened to be together, and by  ſome of the reſt who have been conſulted at other Times, that nothing could  ſo well ſupply this Defect & anſwer the End in View (which was procuring  ſome Indian Youth for the School from the Mohawks, Senecaes, and ſome  of the remote Tribes, & to conciliate their Friendſhip, & eſpecially to the  Deſign of ſending Miſsionaries among them &c) as to ſend Mr Kirtland  with one of the Indian Youth with him now before the Winter ſets in  which Circumſtance forbid calling the Commiſsioners together on this  Occaſion as they live remote ſome of them. This Advantage farther is  propoſed by Kirtland's & Joſeph the Indian Youth's going, that they may  learn the Seneca Language & by living with them may ſhew their kind­ neſs to them, & procure their Friendſhip.
As to Mr Kirtland, his Attainments in Learning are ſuch, and his  Induſtry ſo great, that there is not the leaſt Scruple with me, but he will  obtain a Degree at New-Jerſey College next fall, eſpecially as he hath  leave of the preſident to be at diſposal other Ways if thought beſt, and   
with the Aſsurance of his Influence for a Degree; and beſides all this his  Caſe is peculiar, & will require Abatements to be made if Needed, as he deſigns  on a Miſsion & is ſupported by Charity, and beſides he will be much improved  by this Tour as is likely from his active and induſtrious Turn, and as he  will have an Indian Scholar with him. Theſe conſiderations render it  highly probable that there will be no Difficulty as to his Degree, and there-  fore I hope his kind and generous Benefactors will not think hard,  tho' he turns aſide a little from his peculiar Studies, and that they will  continue their Benefactions, and ſo lay up for themſelves in Store a good  Foundation againſt the Time to come. You know Dear Brother, that every  thing that is done in this Affair muſt be done on the higheſt probability ^which the Actors can find in the Caſe^  & not on Certainties, and if they judge well & God ſhews by the Events, that  he favours the Deſign, Men will be ready to applaud the Managers, but  if otherwiſe they muſt expect Blame how well ſoever they have judged  But I hope thoſe who have been ſo generous in contributing to this good  Deſign have leaned to judge more according to Truth. I dare to  ſay this for Mr Wheelock, that uprightneſs, Integrity, Caution, & ſingle­ neſs of Eye to the grand point, free of ſelfisſh Motives from worldly Gain  has ever appeared to influence him in this great & weighty Undertak­ ing, ſince I have been acquainted with him which has been ever  ſince the School became the Object of public Attention, & I believe  I have had as great an Intimacy, & as thorough an Inſight into his  motives projects and Ends as any Man living, or as any could have, or  wiſh to have; & I would add that of all the Schemes he hath  proſecuted ſince my Accquaintance (and they have been many in  this new & difficult Affair) few, very few if any have miſcarried  which he has had the Direction of, or turned out to the Diſad­ vantage of the Cauſe. In a Word I verily believe the ſending of  Mr Kirtland will be no Diſadvantage to him, & will be much to  the furtherence of the Cauſe of Religion. You may make ſuch  a Uſe of this Letter as you ſhall think will add moſt to the  Advantage of the Deſign, only take ^Dear^ Mr Smith's Opinion about  it, and I need not tell you not to let it ſee the publick —   
I am your real Friend and Brother in Chriſt  Nathaniel Whitaker 
M.r Whitaker to M.r  Peck. Octr 1764