Samson Occom, letter, to Susanna Wheatley, 1771 March 5


abstractOccom writes of the dire straits his family is under from lack of provisions, and of his trust in God. His eldest son has recently died. He requests a singing book for his children.

handwritingHandwriting is small and crowded, yet mostly clear and legible.

paperLarge sheet folded in half to make four pages has been heavily reinforced, which makes it difficult to gauge the condition of the paper. It appears to be in fair-to-poor condition, with moderate-to-heavy staining, creasing and wear. The reinforcement, which appears to be aging, is also beginning to tear at the central crease.

inkBrown ink is dimmed by the reinforcement.

noteworthyThere is an uncharacteristically emotional trailer written by Wheelock at the top of two verso. Several modern notations have been made by unknown editors, including red-wax pencil marks and the notation, likely 19th-century, “S. Occom 1771.” These edits have not been included in the transcription. An addition above the address appears to be contemporary to the letter, and is possibly a postage mark. A photocopy exists in Rauner Special Collections that appears to have been made before the paper was reinforced.

signatureThe letter is signed three times, once in full after body of letter, then abbreviated after each postscript.

  Most kind Madam, 
Your most acceptable and very animating  Favour of Decr 3d –70 Came Safely to Hand a few Days a  go, for which I return you ten thouſand Thanks —   I am in great Hopes, Your Letter to Esq.r Thornton  will attract Bowels of Compaſsion towards me and  mine. And I pray the Lord to reward You & yours  Bountifully in Both worlds, — I am in Greater Straights  and Neceſsities than ever, we had but little Corn last  year and Conſequently little meat. it was Dry Seaſon  with us; I have no proviſsions now at all only what  I buy, and I have no Money to buy with, I am oblig'd  to Sell any thing I have to get meat and Corn with, &  my Family Conſiſts ten Souls Conſtantly, and a great  Number of Viſiters Continually from all quarters  there has not been one Week, nor 3 Days as I [gap: worn_edge][guess: re‐]  member in the Year paſt, but that we have had  Some Stranger or other — My being acquainted with the  World in Some Meaſure, has made my Houſe a Sort ^of^ an Asy‐  lum for Strangers both English and Indians, far and  near, — I Labour under Bodily Indiſpoſiſion Conſtantly  near a Year, I have not been able to do much in hard  Labour, which puts me back very much; under theſe Dif‐  ficulties, my unbelieving Heart brings me upon the Borders  of Diſcouragement ^at times^, but my Reaſon and better underſtand‐  ing tells me, this is the Time to Truſt and Hope in god,  and I believe God never made any Creature with a  Mouth, but that he will provide for it, in his ^own^ way and  Time — and when I Come to recollect what I have Seen  in my Travels, and what I have Read alſo, I am Struck  with amazement and Stand Speechleſs; I am Sure if god  Shou'd Deal with me according to my Deſerts I Shoud ^have^ no‐  thing that is Comfortable in this World nor in that which  is to Come — How many poor Creatures have I Seen in  the World as good by Nature as I am, go almoſt Na  ked in the Severeſt weather, and have no where to  Lay their Heads, and not one Mouthful of the mean  eſt Bread, that they Can Command, but are oblig'd  to go from Houſe to Houſe, and from Door to Door, with  Tears Streaming Down their Dirty Cheeks beging a   
a Crum of Bread, and when they have one mouthful giv  en them, they know not who will ^give^ them the next, — when  I Come to Conſider how much better God has Dealt with  me, I am Astoniſh'd at my ſelf, that I have no more  Senſe of the Diſtinguiſhing Goodneſs of God to me, and to mine —  I have greateſt Reaſon to Call upon my Soul and  all that is within ^me^ to Bleſs and Praiſe God Night and  Day; and when I come to Conſider further, how many  Holy Souls, I mean the Children ^of god^, have Sufferd, in  Times ^of^ Perſecution, all manner of Torments, and  Depriv'd of every Comfort in this World, Yet how  ful of Praiſes and thankſgivings were they — Yea  when I Come to trace the Son of the moſt High, from  the Manger to his Croſs, I am Struck Dumb, I am Con‐  founded, I am Aſhamed, I have no Room to open my  Mouth in a way of Complaint, I pray god to learn  me by theſe Small Tryals I meet with in the World  to Hope and Truſt in god alone, and not in the Crea‐  ture — I ^Pray^ god to kill me to the world, and that he woud  kill the World to me — that I may be Dead to the World  and the World to me — God has Seen fit to take away  my eldeſt Son by Death a few weeks ago, the Lord  Sanctify this afflective Diſpenſation to me and to  mine — my wife is not well, andbut the reſt of my  Family are well thro' the goodneſs of god at pre‐  ſent — I Pray God theſe may find you and yours  in Health of Body and Soul Proſperity, — my ^wife^ Joins  me in Chriſtian Reſpects to you and Yours —  I am, moſt kind madam   
  your moſt unworthy and moſt  obliged Humble Servant   Samson Occom 
PS:   Pleaſe to remember ^me^ to Phillis and the reſt of your Servants  Pray madam, what harm woud it be to Send Phillis to her  Native Country as a Female Preacher to her kindred,  you know Quaker women are alow'd to preach, and why  not others in an Extraordinary Caſe —  S: O   
2 PS   Madam I have ^a^ favour to beg of you  that is, to get me a Singing Book, I think it  was Printed at Salem lately price, I was told  S8 my Children are much Inclin'd to Singing  and I woud [illegible]Encourage them in Time, — and  I will endeavour to Send you Money Some Time  or other Send by any Careful Hand to Mr  JB Brimmer at Norwich Landing  yours &c  S: Occom   
Recd Septr 1772   why could he never write in this ſtrain to me  when he knew me ſinking under Labr & trial for his  Nation.   
[illegible][guess: NL] 2..16  To  Mrs Susanna Wheatley  In Kings Street  Boston    [illegible][guess: Lebanon]