Joseph Johnson, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1773 August 30


abstractJoseph Johnson writes to ask for help funding a trip into the wilderness for the purpose of Brothertown business. There is also a brief narrative of Johnson’s life.

handwritingHandwriting is small and cramped. Letters case is difficult to decipher, as is the difference between commas and periods.

paperSmall half sheet is in fair condition, with moderate-to-heavy wear, especially along central vertical crease; that, and some repair work results in a minor loss of text.

inkDark brown.

layoutThe narrative of Joseph Johnson's life is upside-down at the bottom of one verso.

noteworthyOn the top of one verso, another hand, likely 19th-century, has written "Joseph Johnson" in a different ink. This has not been transcribed.

Modernized Version Deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.

  Rev. and much respected Sir. 
With much humility, I undertake to Write to your  worthy Person. and I would inform you that I ever have a grateful Sense of your favours in time  past. for which I desire at this time renewedly to express my thanks. if I was an Englishman, and  was thus respected by you. I should be very thankful. but much more doth it now, become me  being an Indian, to be humble. and very thankful in very [illegible][guess: deed] Me thinks the more I am resp ected the more humble it makes me. but to conclude this my Indian introduction let me  assure you. that a law of gratitude is wrote as it were upon the table of my Once savage  heart. for all your Remarkable favours in times Past. and I [illegible][guess: ever] think of your worthy  person with love, and Reverence in my heart. But what I would more particularly inform you of this time  is what may follow. Rev. Sir. by leave of kind Providence. I purpose to leave  this Place next monday being the time appointed that I .and the rest of the chosen  men. should go into the wilderness. to visit our savage Brethren. and to con verse with them Concerning our proposals. etc.: and as the time is drawing nigh.  I find I am Obliged to solicit your favour this once more. for which I am very sorry.  I am Sorry to try your good Nature so soon. But still I would humbly. and earnestly solicit  your favour at this time. I was considerably disappointed down Country, not seing Mr.  Occom whose note I have with me still. [illegible][guess: also] 2 English friends added disappo intments to me. not letting me have my reasonable due their Plea was this  that they Did not expect I should return 'til next Winter or in spring. so  they thought it best to lay out the money. intending to allow for use.  but not to be further tedious. my earnest desire is that you would help  me to some Money. I know not who else Can. I am a stranger. but as for  my Indian friends. if I lean upon them at present they are like a broken staff.  but I have nothing again my Brethren. they have a will. had they but ability  and if you please to pity. and to help me at this time you have no reason to fear but that  you shall have your own. again in due time. if I return well. perhaps. I shall  [illegible][guess: receive], money from down Country by last of October. then I will pay you your  reasonable due. but if any Accident happen. to me so as that I shall never return. still  you need not fear. as doubtless you know. that my reward from Boston will  Come into your hands. so you then can take your Money again. Please 
[gap: tear] to help me if possible. I know not [gap: tear][guess: ex]actly how much I stand in need of.  but I should be glad to have little to [illegible][guess: spar[gap: tear][guess: e]] not knowing what may befall me by the  way. I [illegible][guess: shall] in some measure be expos[gap: tear][guess: ed] to smallpox. by the way, and how many  more accident. I know not. I view my [gap: tear][guess: self] to be feeble Creature. if I should have the sm  all-Pox. I should at least want 8 or 5 Pounds of money. but hoping I shall escape that danger  ous distemper. I Should be glad to have Six Pounds if possible. doubtless we shall be obliged  to lay out some money. besides our bare expences, by the way. 
To [illegible] Enquiring friends, or to Strangers.  would you know kind Sir, who the composer of this Discourse is.  Be pleased to read the following. I am an Indian of the mohegan Tribe,  known by the Name of Joseph Johnson. Educated by the Rev. Eleazar Wheel  ­ock D. D. whose School I left when I was 14 years of age. and in the  3rd month of my 15th year, I was sent amongst the Six nations, and I spent  about 2 years in those Parts. keeping school. afterwards I left the school Rev. Eleazar Wheelock D. D. entirely. and from that time, I have been  wandering up, and down, in this delusive World. some of my time I  spent at Providence Town. keeping a school. some of my time, I have  spent upon the Ocean wide. I have been down Eastward, as far as to the  Western Islands twice. [illegible][guess: Curvo], and [illegible][guess: florus], I have seen. and to the southward I  have been as far, to the West Indies. Seen also the islands between Antigua  and Grenadines. and again from antigua I have sailed down leward sailed by  the virgin Islands, also by Santa Cruz, Puerto Rico. down as far as to mo[illegible][guess: ria].  and after so long time Even in my 21st year I safely arrived to my Native  place. their I spent one year in working upon my farm.