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

Author Eleazar Wheelock

Date4 July, 1761

ms number761404

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

Persistent Identifier
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 Miſ­ſion 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 pre­ſerve 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 ap­pointed 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 Inter­preter, 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 Con­ſequences 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 pro­per 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^ con­ſtantly 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 Al­bany; 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 pre­cious 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] Ru­­mours 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 offer­ing 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 Bos­ton 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 WheelockJoseph 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