Jeremiah Halsey, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1768 April 25

Author Halsey, Jeremiah

Date25 April, 1768

ms number768275.2

abstractHalsey writes that he has seen a document in which Whitaker vastly overestimates the number of Indians in America, and that people unfriendly to the design will take advantage of the opportunity to ridicule the school.

handwritingHandwriting is small and informal, yet mostly clear and legible. The trailer is in an unknown hand.

paperLarge sheet folded in half to make four pages is in fair condition, with moderate staining, creasing and wear. There is evidence of old repair work at the top of the central vertical crease.


signatureThe signature is abbreviated.

Persistent Identifier
 Revd & Dr Sir
I have been lately at Boſton. There I had full opportunity of obſerving the spirit that prevails reſ:pecting your school; I saw plainly that some gentlemen (for reaſons beſt known to themſelves) would not be diſpleaſed if the whole affair should drop into non exiſtence. Mr. Mairhead, who seems to be a sincere freind of yours, communicated to me the Scots magazine for June 1767; in the front^beginning^ of this I obſerved a memorial of Dr Whitaker's to the Scots society for propagating chriſtian knowledge in foreign parts; there to impreſs the gentlemen of the society with the importance of his miſsion, he aſserts the number of Indians in the conti:nent (the northern continent of America he muſt mean, for he know we had no connections with the southern) to be [illegible] suppoſed to be twenty millions. This number is undoubtedly twenty, if not forty times too large. Nobody ^to the weſtward^ Suppoſes that Indians in all thoſe parts of the continent to which we have any aceſs, to exceed five hundred thouſand, if they come any thing near to that number. This I think muſt be given up as a miſtake: & you know, Sir very well the wretched improvement that some will make of it; the more candid will impute it to Dr Whitaker's ignorance, but I fear too many will call it a pious fraud. This has given me much  uneas.ſinſe: I cannot but look upon it as a moſt
 unhappy blunder. We have no reaſon to expect any thing elſe from the temper some men have manifeſted, [illegible] but that they will do all the miſchief they can with it. If your friends on the other side the water find that there has not been given a true repreſentation of facts either by yourſelf or Dr Whitaker, they will naturally grow suſpicious of the whole affair, and your Truſt, to whom you have conveyed such ample powers) may think it un:ſafe to truſt the many on this side the water. We may certainly depend upon it that perſons will not be wanting to sow the seeds of prejudice and [illegible][guess: raiſe] them up to the moſt enormous height. Prejudices you know, if they once take place, are not eaſily eradicated, eſpecially if they reſ:pect the management of public monies; [illegible]the greater part of mankind are [illegible]villains in heart; their own concien:ces tell them that if they had an opportunity of defraud;ing, they should defraud. Hence they will not readily see how another man can be honeſt in like circumſtances; for few bad men are willing to believe there are any better than themſelves. Therefore I cannot but think it of [illegible] great importance that this miſtake should be rectified as soon as poſsible. Mr. Whitaker had better candidly confeſs it by somithing publiſhed in the same magazine. It certainly will not anſwer to attempt to maintain it; [illegible][guess: B]becauſe you doubtleſs know that it can never be [illegible]shewn to be conſiſtent with truth; such an attempt will surely be regarded by the world as betraying either great ignorance or great impudence. Your school may be eaſily repreſented
in a sufficiently important light withouth exaggerat:ing the number of the Indians. It is evidently the happieſt scheme that ever was contrived to [illegible] engage the af:fections of the Indians, & so to prevent indian wars, & pro;mote the rapid extenſion of our settlements, & finally to eſtabliſh the pure religion of Jeſus in theſe uncultivat;ed deſarts. Excuſe Dr Sir, the freedom I have uſed: [illegible][guess: impart] it to a tender concern leſt so intereſting and benevolent a deſign shou'd be in any wiſe [illegible][guess: burthend ] or obſtructed.
I am D.r Sir ever yours  moſt affectionately  Jer. Halſey
P.S. My kindeſt regards to Mr. Kirtland. Tell him tho' abſent in body, I am often preſent with him in spirit. My love to your Son: & to your worthy neighbou^[below]r^ Mr. Lockwood, to all enquiring friends in your parts.
^[below]Dr Wheelock^
M.r Jer: Halsey's  April 25. 1768