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

Author Whitaker, Nathaniel

Date23 October, 1764

ms number764573.2

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.

Persistent Identifier
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 kind­neſs 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, & ſingle­neſs of Eye to the grand point, free of ſelfisſh Motives from worldly Gain has ever appeared to influence him in this great & weighty Undertak­ing, 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 Diſad­vantage 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