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David Crosby, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 November 4

ms-number: 767604.1

abstract: Crosby writes to Wheelock about a conversation among gentlemen who suspected Wheelock of insincerity, and criticized his plan for converting Indians before “civilizing" them by means other than force.

handwriting: Formal, somewhat stylized handwriting is largely clear and legible.

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

ink: Black.

noteworthy: The date at the top of one recto appears to have been added in a different hand and ink.

Reverend, & dear ſir

The unmeritted friendſhip you have ſhewn to me, & the generous
regard you ſeem to have for Man-kind in general; eſpecia‐
ly ye poor Heathen of ye Land, diſcover'd in yr indefatuga‐
ble endevours after thir ſalvation, has, I confeſs, brought
me under ſome obligations of love & friendſhip to yourſelf,
And I'm conſtrain'd to own, (that while you ſeem diſintruſted
in yr views, while exerciſing yr kind offices to others) that
I feel myſelf, ſtrongly atteched to yr Intruſt in all its Branch
es: accomponied, with my conſtent Prayers. for ye
bleſsing of Heaven on yr Perſon, & Famoly, and that
your endevours for ye convertion of ye Poor Heathen might meet
with ſucceſs. I could willing, at this time give you
a Naritive of ſome converſation which Paſ'd at a gentelman'
Tabel, the other Day, at Middletown, concerning yr Perſon
and Intruſt, as alſo ſome acount, of ye mortification, &
pain I induer'd [illegible][guess: an] [illegible] [illegible][guess: account this Mallevelant] at ye diſcove‐
ry of that mallevelant diſpoſition, harber'd in ye Breſt's of
[left]too too many gentelmen, pretenders to honour, & Chriſtianity.
Did I not foreſee how much my officiousneſs might be liable
to be miſconſtru'd into a meenneſs, which rather becomes
a meddling Fool, than a hearty Friend. but ye confidence
I place in yr charitable diſpoſition, join'd with the Teſtemo
‐nies of my greatful friendſhip as expreſ'd above ſhall ſerve in
ye room of any further apoligy at this time.
I Din'd the other Day with several Gentelmen whoes
converſation ran for ſome time on indeferent things, and
finding my place quite at ye lower end of ye Table, I thought
my wiſeſt part to learn my Diſtence & to uſe my Knife
& fork hanſomly, than to let my Tongue run, Eſpecially, as
[left]I heard nothing utter'd worthey of my attention untill ye
Reverand Mr Whelock's Name was brought on ye Board
neither can I perſwaid myſelf I ſhould then have ben ſo
ſaucy, had you been Preſent to have ſpoake for yourſelf.
While the gentelman of ye Houſe was only Pleaſd to
to obſerve that Mr Whelock was a very cuning
Man, and one who took care to Look before he Leep'd
and that he did not commenly act with out diſsigne
I dont know but I could have bourn that well anough
but when he came to deride yr Plan for Chriſtianiſing
ye Heathing, and to Inſinnuatting as tho yr love for ye Heathing was
a pretence only, and ſprandg from ye meen Motives of
Avorice, & a deſire of worldly welth Priccipelly, I muſt
confeſs I loſt all patience. 'Tiswas well ye ſeveral gentelmen
were ſo well pleaſ'd with ye countenances of each other
as that they took no notice of mine: other ways they would
have diſcoverd ye emotion of my Heart by ye Blood in my face
Whiſe I was chiding my Heart for having offered to have betray'd
an angrey perty— the aforeſaid gentelman was giving it
as his humble Opinion; that ye only way to Chriſtian‐
iſe ye Heathens was firſt to ſiveliſe them. The other gentelman
repli'd, that he humbly conciv'd that Powder & Ball ware
ye beſt ingreediences to affect either. Havindg baniſhed as I
hoped, that officious g [illegible] thing could anger, who is apt ſometimes
to intrude himſelf, when his componny would do more hurt
than good, and ſomened reaſon into her office, I boldly de‐
manded of them what they thought would have become of
us gentiles: if ſo be the Lord Jeſus & his Apoſtels had ſayd ye
ſame of us & ſo have denigh'd us ye Meens of ſalvation.
Upon this bold queſtion, the compony ſem'd to ſtart, and look
at each other, as much as to ſay, who have we got here? but
ye gentelman who was juſt now, ſo free with his Powder & Ball,
having recollected himſelf, as boldly demanded of me if I ware a
Married Man? upon my anſwer in ye afermative, he demand
ed again; thaf if in caſe I ware ſingle, could I conſent to Marry
an Indian ſquaw? I am ſure you will not blaim me, if I own
I took time to deliberate what anſwer to give. My Antagoniſt perciving
me, firſt to paus, then about to reply; prevented me, with an heir of
inſult, Why (ſaid he) yr put to yr Trumps, now, it ſeems?
Why, I thought by ſhuch a queſtion, I ſhou'd ſoon f?proove yr
Love to ye Indians? but let me inform you (continued he)
that ye only way to ſiviliſe ye Indians, is firſt to Marry & in‐
ter-marry with them: unleſs we have recorſe to Powder & Ball
as I juſt now hinted. Ah rejin'd ye other gentelman. you per‐
fectly acord with my Judgment, 'twas ever my opinion they
muſt in this way, firſt be ſiviliſed, before Chriſtianiſ'd: but
as I am we ſo well acquainted with human nater, as to know
the ireconſilable avertion, that white people muſt ever have
to black, I think I'm warranted to judge of Mr Whelock's attemps
as altogether abſurd & fruitlis. For continued he,— ſo long as ye Indians
are diſpiſed by ye [illegible]Engliſh we may never expect ſucceſs in Chriſ‐
tianiſing of them. I reply'd that what he ſaid laſt might
probably be true, but then I was at a loſs to acount for ye
concluſion they ſeem'd to draw from this premiſe, viz. That becauſe
I could not Marry a ſquaw, I muſt therefore of neceſaty conſequence deſpiſe
the Indians. They both warmly reply'd, that this muſt be
ye neceſary, & unavidable conſequyene of not Marrying and
inter-marrying with them, and that for thir own parts
they could never reſpect an Indian, Chriſtian or no Chriſtian ſo as
to put him on a level with white people on any account eſpecially
to eat at ye ſame Table. no— not with Mr Ocham himſelf be
he ever ſo much a Chriſtian or ever ſo Learned. I was not ſuffed
to make a reply neither can I ſay I much deſir'd it, but was more
glad to make my Exit ſo ſoon as ye Table was diſmiſ'd. I muſ deſir giv‐
ing you my privet reflections on this diſcorſe 'till further opertunity

mean time beg leve, dear ſir— to ſubſcribe myſelf yr affectionate
Friend & very Humble Sarv.t
David Croſby
Eaſt Hartford 1767.
PS I've not forgo't the incuregement Mr Whelock gave me of an honarable
Imployment, nor ye reaſons for which I ſoſpected he might alter his mind
From David Crosbe
East Hartford. 1767.
[top]Rec.d Nov.r 4th 1767

To the Reverand
Elezar Whelock
Lebanon Crank
East Hartford

As its name suggests, East Hartford is located east of the town of Hartford, Connecticut. What were known as the River Tribes, including the Podunks, lived in what would become East Hartford. Thomas Burnham purchased “a large tract of land of Tantinomo, the ‘one-eyed’ Sachem of the Podunks” that covered East Hartford (Goodwin 58). The residents of East Hartford petitioned the Connecticut General Assembly to grant East Hartford the privileges of a distinct town on five separate occasions (1726, 1728, 1737, 1769, and 1774), but East Hartford did not officially become a town separate from Hartford until 1783. An aspiring minister for the Connecticut Indians, David Crosby, wrote Eleazar Wheelock several correspondences from East Hartford.

Lebanon Crank

Lebanon Crank was the name of an area in the northwest part of the town of Lebanon, Connecticut, on both sides of the Hop River, which was created by the Connecticut legislature in 1716, in response to the demand of residents who did not want to travel to the First Church in Lebanon proper for services. It was also known as Lebanon North Parish and the Second Society or Second Church in Lebanon, names that refer to religious organizations of the Congregational Church. The two dozen families who started the parish built their first meetinghouse near the site of the present structure, around which the religious and political life of the community revolved. Eleazar Wheelock served as minister in this parish from 1735 to 1769, and his house, built around 1735, is the oldest building still standing. Lebanon Crank played a major role in his life. It was his base of operations when he became an itinerant mininster during the religious awakenings of the 1730s and 1740s, and he presided over a revival in the Second Church in 1740. His Indian Charity school was located nearby in Lebanon, and his students attended the Second Church in Lebanon Crank as part of their education. The parish was so invested in Wheelock's School that they tried to keep him from moving it up to New Hampshire when he founded Dartmouth College, but failed. Lebanon Crank was subsequently renamed Columbia and established as a separate town in May 1804.

Crosby, David

David Crosby was born, 1729, in Billerica, MA to David Crosby and Sarah Foster. There is very little information about his life. He married Elizabeth [Unknown] in 1756. They would have three children. By Sept. 1766, Crosby was acquainted with Eleazar Wheelock, whom Crosby admired and championed. He wrote and visited Wheelock at least through the late 1760’s. It is likely that Elizabeth died within the few months following November 1767. Mentioning his own mortality and his wish for a useful life, Crosby writes to Wheelock in March 1768 offering to indenture himself in order to join Wheelock’s school and be prepared as a missionary. Sometime after June 10, 1768, he married Anne Thomas of Lebanon, CT. They would have four children together. Crosby then returned to or settled in East Hartford where he died in 1819; Anne died there also the following year.

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.

Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

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