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Solomon Williams, letter, to Andrew Oliver, 1751 October 7

ms-number: 751557

[note (type: abstract): Williams gives his opinion of the recent decision by the Boston Commissioners to send Samson Occom on a mission to Susquehanna and to pay him 20 pounds sterling per annum. He notes that, though Occom intends to marry, he has assured Williams this would not interfere with his missionary work.][note (type: handwriting): Loose, informal handwriting is frequently difficult to decipher. There are several deletions and additions][note (type: paper): Medium-sized sheet is in good condition, with light-to-moderate creasing, staining and wear.][note (type: ink): Brown.][note (type: noteworthy): As noted in the trailer, this document is Williams's copy of his own letter.]

events: Occom’s Marriage


[Opener]

[Hond | Honoured]HondHonoured Sir
I [illegible]On the 7 of [Septr | September]SeptrSeptember[1751-09-07] 7 [above] I [Red | received]Redreceived from youI [Red | received]Redreceived from you the vote of [ye | the]yethe [Honle | Honourable]HonleHonourable [Commiſsi­
oners | Commissi­
oners]
Commiſsi­
oners
Commissi­
oners
[org0095.ocp]
[Reſpecting | respecting]Reſpectingrespecting [Samſon | Samson]SamſonSamson [Occum | Occom]OccumOccom[pers0030.ocp] [ſignifying | signifying]ſignifyingsignifying their
[guess (ivys): Judination]Judination that the [Sd | said]Sdsaid [Samſon | Samson]SamſonSamson[pers0030.ocp] (upon the [de
ſire | de
sire]
de
ſire
de
sire
[& | and]&and Motion of [ye | the]yethe [Revd | Rev.]RevdRev. [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Pemberton[pers0415.ocp] of [N | New]NNew York)[place0166.ocp]
[above] their [guess (maggiec): Judination]Judination that Hetheir [guess (maggiec): Judination]Judination that He [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould go on a [Miſsion | mission]Miſsionmission to [Suſquehana | Susquehanna]SuſquehanaSusquehanna[place0360.ocp] [& | and]&and offi
ciate as a [Catechiſt | catechist]Catechiſtcatechist, [& | and]&and that They have voted
him after the Rate of Twenty pounds [Sterng | Sterling]SterngSterling
[p | per]pper Annum [& | and]&and are [Pleaſed | pleased]Pleaſedpleased to [Deſire | desire]Deſiredesire My opinion
[Reſpecting | respecting]Reſpectingrespecting Their votes. I take leave to Inform
you That [Samſon | Samson]SamſonSamson[pers0030.ocp] when he was [laſt | last]laſtlast here
intimated his [deſire | desire]deſiredesire to Marry a woman at
[Mantauk | Montauk]MantaukMontauk[place0144.ocp]. I [deſird | desired]deſirddesired[adviſd | advised]adviſdadvised him heto [muſt | must]muſtmust be Cautious in
[Chooſing | choosing]Chooſingchoosing a wife [leſt | lest]leſtlest he [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould be intangled [above] Put [him ſelf | himself]him ſelfhimselfPut [him ſelf | himself]him ſelfhimself in
[ſuch | such]ſuchsuch [Circumſtances | circumstances]Circumſtancescircumstances as Might Render him [leſs | less]leſsless
able to [anſwer | answer]anſweranswer the [deſign | design]deſigndesign of his Education
for it being uncertain where the [Commiſsioners | Commissioners]CommiſsionersCommissioners[org0095.ocp]
would [illegible][Imploy | employ]Imployemploy him. he [ſaid | said]ſaidsaid his Marrying there
would not prevent his [Readineſs | readiness]Readineſsreadiness to go where
the [Commiſioners | Commisioners]CommiſionersCommisioners[org0095.ocp] [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould [pleaſe | please]pleaſeplease to Employ [above] sendsend him
Either on the [Iſland | Island]IſlandIsland[place0129.ocp] or the Main. I am not
[ſo | so]ſoso acquainted with the [Proſpect | prospect]Proſpectprospect of his doing
[ſervice | service]ſerviceservice at [Suſquehana | Susquehanna]SuſquehanaSusquehanna[place0360.ocp] as to be able to Judge
whether it be [beſt | best]beſtbest to [adviſe | advise]adviſeadvise to his going there
[above] be [adviſable | advisable]adviſableadvisable I know not [illegible][guess (maggiec): but]butbe [adviſable | advisable]adviſableadvisable I know not [illegible][guess (maggiec): but]but. The [Sallery | salary]Sallerysalary may at [Preſent | present]Preſentpresent be Sufficient [illegible]to Support
[illegible]Him. In [theſe | these]theſethese [illegible]Things I beg to be [Excuſed | excused]Excuſedexcused from
[above] [offerg | offering]offergoffering my[offerg | offering]offergoffering my advice.ing I only [deſired | desired]deſireddesired [above] onlyonly to know what the [Plea
ſure | plea
sure]
Plea
ſure
plea
sure
of the [Commiſsioners | Commissioners]CommiſsionersCommissioners[org0095.ocp] was that I might
be able to direct him [ſo | so]ſoso long as They [Tho't | thought]Tho'tthought fit
to give him their orders [Thro | through]Throthrough My hands.—
[Closer]
I am [Sr | Sir]SrSir with all due [Reſpect | respect]Reſpectrespect [Yr | your]Yryour [Hum.b | humble]Hum.bhumble [Sert | servant]Sertservant
[Solm | Solomon]SolmSolomon Williams[pers0039.ocp]
[Trailer]
Copy of My [Lr | letter]Lrletter to
[Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Oliver[pers0031.ocp] [Octobr | October]OctobrOctober 7 1751[1751-10-07]
The Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America
The Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America was a missionary society active in America from 1649 until 1786. It was first called the "New England Company" in 1770. Most secondary literature uses that name for convenience and to distinguish it from other missionary societies. The company was first chartered in 1649 as the "President and Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England," largely in response to John Eliot's missionary efforts. After the Restoration (1660), it was rechartered as the "Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America." The New England Company was very powerful and influential, in large part because it was a coalition between Anglicans and Dissenters. It supported a range of missionaries from the Mayhews to the Sergeants to Moor's alumnus Samuel Kirkland. After the Revolution, the New England Company refocused its attentions on New Brunswick and Canadian Indians. Wheelock had a very rocky relationship with the New England Company. Initially, it supported Wheelock's efforts. The Company funded Occom's education at Moor's and paid him a small salary during his time among the Montauketts. However, from 1765 onwards, its relationship with Wheelock rapidly deteriorated. The Company opposed the fundraising tour of Great Britain and went so far as to interfere with it by sending a widely circulated letter to England questioning Occom's background. The New England Company also interferred with Titus Smith's mission to Onaquaga by sending a rival missionary, Mr. Moseley, and stealing Titus' interpreter, Elisha Gunn. In 1767 it formally withdrew its financial support from Wheelock on the grounds that the fundraising tour had raised sufficient money. It is unclear what led the New England Company to suddenly change its stance towards Wheelock. Perhaps it wanted exclusive power over missionary distribution in New England, or perhaps it was thought that focusing on education over numbers in the field was counterproductive. Most secondary sources have conflated the New England Company's Boston Board and the Society in Scotland for Promoting Christian Knowledge's Boston Board, an easy mistake to make since both are sometimes referred to as the Boston Board and both vigorously opposed Wheelock. Any secondary source's statement about either should be carefully researched.
Lebanon

Lebanon is a town located in the state of Connecticut southwest of the town of Hartford. The land that became Lebanon was inhabited at least 10,000 years ago based on the archeological record. By the 1600s, the land was permanently inhabited by the Mohegan Indians, who used the area primarily for hunting. Lebanon was officially formed in 1700 when English settlers consolidated a number of land tracts, including several land grants by the Connecticut General Assembly and lands purchased from the Mohegans. However, these purchases were controversial. In 1659, the Mohegans entrusted their reserve land to Major John Mason, and in the following year, Mason transferred this land to the Connecticut colonial government with the understanding that there would be enough land left for the Mohegans to farm. The Mohegans claimed that they never authorized a transfer to the colonial government and only Mason’s heirs were entrusted with their land. In 1662, Connecticut, which included the Mohegan land that had been entrusted to the Masons, was incorporated by a royal charter. Based on this charter, the colony argued that the land was now the property of the government. In 1687, the colony began granting the Mohegan land to townships, and in 1704 the Masons petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, claiming that such transfers of land to townships were illegal. Between the years of 1705 and 1773 legal disputes and controversies persisted, finally ending in a verdict by the Crown against the Mohegans. In 1755, Wheelock received property and housing in Lebanon that he would use as his house and school. While Lebanon was originally incorporated as a part of New London County in 1700, in 1724 it became a part of New Windham, before once again becoming a part of New London County in 1826. Lebanon was central to the American Revolution with half of its adult population fighting for the colonists and hundreds of meetings convened in the town for the revolutionary cause.

Susquehanna
Montauk

Montauk is an unincorporated hamlet located on the eastern tip of Long Island in southeastern New York. The town was named after the Montaukett Indians who lived on much of eastern Long Island when Europeans first made contact in the 17th century. Archeological records show that Native Americans occupied eastern Long Island at least 3,000 years prior to European contact. The Montaukett Indians derived their name from the land they lived on, Montaukett meaning hilly country. The Montauketts made great use of Long Island’s abundant resources, and the nation subsisted by growing crops such as corn, squash, and beans as well as gathering berries, herbs, and roots. In addition to game such as deer and fish, the Montauketts also hunted whales and used every part of the whale, including its oil, which they burned in large clamshells. Living on an island at first isolated the Montaukett people, but they soon became a strong economic force in the region thanks to the production of the American Indian currency wampum. Wampum was constructed out of polished sea shells, which were found in abundance along Long Island’s beaches. The Montauketts' rich resources, however, led to wars with surrounding Indian nations, including the Pequots and Narragansetts to the north. The Pequots eventually forced the Montauketts to forfeit wampum as tribute. By the early 17th century, the Montauketts were faced with wars against surrounding Native Americans and an onslaught of European diseases, and in order to preserve his nation’s territorial integrity, the Montaukett sachem, Wyandanch, established an alliance with English settlers in Connecticut in 1637. Over time, however, the Montauketts' began selling off land to the English settlers, and disease further decimated their numbers. A 1650 smallpox epidemic killed around two-thirds of the Montaukett people. In 1665, Wyandanch granted the English permission to pasture livestock on Montaukett lands. In 1686 a group of East Hampton settlers known as the Proprietors bought the territory of Montauk from the Montauketts, and would continue to hold on to the land in a joint trust for the next 200 years. Despite attempts over the years, the town has never been incorporated as a village. Many years later, the Montauketts attempted to reassert their land rights on Long Island by petitioning New York State Judge Abel Blackmar in 1909. Blackmar refused to recognize the Montauketts as an Indian tribe, which has to this day left them without a reservation on the land that still bears their name.

Long Island

Long Island is an island located in southeast New York State. In 1824, historian Silas Wood claimed that 13 different tribes inhabited the island when the Dutch and English arrived in 1639: the Canarsie, the Rockaway, the Matinecock, the Merrick, the Massapequa, the Nissequoge, the Secatoag, the Seatuket, the Patchoag, the Corchaug, the Shinnecock, the Manhasset, and the Montaukett. This is the commonly accepted tribal history of Long Island, and Wood’s theory is taught in New York textbooks today. Yet, in 1992, historian John Strong challenged this dominant narrative, arguing that tribal systems did not develop on Long Island until after Europeans arrived. Based on Dutch and English colonists’ accounts, the Algonquian communities on western Long Island likely spoke the Delaware-Munsee dialect and those to the east spoke languages related to the southern New England Algonquian dialects. These indigenous peoples organized themselves by language and kinship, but beyond village systems and the occasional alliance, there existed no formal tribal structure. Rather, internal structures arose among the Montauks, the Shinnecocks, the Poospatucks, and the Matinnocks to cope with English settlers, and became integral to these peoples’ survival. Although new diseases and land negotiations severely encroached on the freedom of Long Island’s Native population, these groups that developed tribal structures retain a sense of community today. By the 18th century, much of the island had fallen into the hands of the English, who were the sole European power on Long Island once the Dutch relinquished their claims to the land after the second Anglo-Dutch War in 1664. During the Great Awakening of the 18th century, Occom spent 12 years serving as a missionary to the Montaukett Indians of Long Island, along with Presbyterian minister Azariah Horton. Today, the western half of the island is densely populated due to its proximity to Manhattan, and its eastern half is mainly devoted to resort towns. The Shinnecocks and the Poospatucks retain autonomous reservations on Long Island.

Williams, Solomon

Solomon Williams was a Congregationalist pastor in Lebanon, CT from 1722 until his death in 1776. As pastor at Lebanon, Williams rose to prominence as a theologian and engaged in extensive correspondence and debate with some of the most eminent minds of the day. He was one of the rare truly moderate New Lights during the Great Awakening: he managed to maintain the respect of both Charles Chauncy, the rabid anti-revivalist, and George Whitefield, the famous evangelical. Williams also established a library in Lebanon and a very well-known grammar school, which became something of a feeder for Yale. Williams supported Eleazar Wheelock and Moor’s Indian Charity School through much of the 1750s and 1760s. He was something of a mentor to Samson Occom, and he became president of Wheelock’s Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK). It is unclear why Williams is not named as a trustee of Moor’s in Wheelock’s 1768 will; perhaps Wheelock feared that Williams would not outlive him. Williams continued to run the Connecticut Board even after Wheelock relocated to New Hampshire in 1770. Despite the SSPCK’s disappointment in Wheelock, Williams and Wheelock seem to have remained on cordial terms. Their correspondence ceased in 1772, after Wheelock tried (and failed) to open a New Hampshire Board to replace the one in Connecticut (with, it might be added, the Connecticut Board’s blessing).

Oliver, Andrew

Andrew Oliver was an influential Boston merchant and politician, who was a member of several societies that funded Eleazar Wheelock, including the Boston Board of the New England Company (treasurer) and Massachusetts General Assembly (secretary). Oliver played an important political role in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts and, as a firm advocate of Indian missions, attended multiple conferences with Indian tribes. He believed that Anglican and Dissenter missionaries and societies could cooperate, and after Oliver and Wheelock were introduced in 1756, Oliver helped Wheelock access funding from the New England Company, the Massachusetts Assembly, and the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Their relationship deteriorated, however, when the London Board of the New England Company turned against Wheelock late in 1765. Wheelock became aware of the London Board’s change of heart through the “Oliver letter,” a letter purportedly written by Oliver (actually written by Ebenezer Pemberton) that was “injurious” to the characters of Wheelock, Whitaker, and Occom. In 1765, Wheelock also lost his funding from the Massachusetts Assembly. It is unclear what role Oliver played in these events. On the one hand, the breach between Wheelock and the New England Company coincided with the collapse of Oliver’s political career over his attempts to enforce the Stamp Act. Oliver may have been too preoccupied to be involved in the London Board’s change of heart; after all, Boston mobs were burning him in effigy. On the other hand, if Oliver was not involved, it is more difficult to explain why his correspondence with Wheelock ended abruptly in 1767 or why Wheelock lost funding from the Assembly and the London Board at the same time. Oliver would be the obvious link; but of course, Wheelock had many detractors in Boston and another explanation is certainly possible.

Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

Pemberton, Ebenezer Jr.

Ebenezer Pemberton was a New Light minister who wrote the infamous "Oliver letter" to try to discredit Samson Occom during the latter's 1765 fundraising tour. He also opposed Wheelock's efforts to obtain funding from the Massachusetts Assembly. After graduating from Harvard in 1721, Pemberton served a five-year stint as chaplain at Boston's Castle William (Fort Independence). In 1726, First Presbyterian Church in New York hired him, although they allowed him to be ordained Congregationalist in Boston. Pemberton served First Presbyterian until 1753, when battles within the Presbyterian Church drove him out. He is noteworthy as the only minister in New York who welcomed George Whitefield, transatlantic superstar of the First Great Awakening, into his pulpit. While in New York, Pemberton was a member of the New Jersey Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. This board hired several missionaries, including David Brainerd, John Brainerd, and Azariah Horton, and established the College of New Jersey (which awarded Pemberton an honorary D.D. in 1770). Pemberton also preached at the ordination of John Brainerd, a Presbyterian minister with whom Wheelock worked closely. After the fissure in his congregation, Pemberton returned to the comforts of Congregationalism in Boston at the Old North Church (also known as the New Brick Church, and not the same Old North Church connected to the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere). Pemberton joined the New England Company once he reached Boston. Along with other New England Company board members, he discouraged Occom's fundraising tour. He was also the author of the 1765 letter attempting to discredit Occom and Wheelock. Pemberton opposed Wheelock's efforts to secure money from the Massachusetts Assembly on at least two occasions, once in 1762 and once in 1766. After Andrew Oliver retired from the New England Company around 1770, Pemberton took over as de facto secretary. The Revolution forced Pemberton to give up his pulpit. He was a Tory, and Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts was a loyal member of his Boston congregation. The rest of the congregation was not pleased by Pemberton's politics. From February 1774 on, Pemberton was more or less in early retirement, and he died a few years later. Pemberton should not be confused with 1) his father, Ebenezer Pemberton Sr., who was minister at the Boston Old South Church, or 2) Israel Pemberton, a wealthy Philadelphia businessman who gave money to Moor's.

Occom’s Marriage
In the fall of 1751, Occom marries Mary Fowler, daughter of a prominent Montaukett family on Long Island, where Occom has established a school and mission.
Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0030.ocp Samſon Samson Occum Occom mentioned Occom, Samson
pers0030.ocp Samſon Samson mentioned Occom, Samson
pers0415.ocp Rev d Rev. M r Mr. Pemberton mentioned Pemberton, Ebenezer Jr.
pers0039.ocp Sol m Solomon Williams writer Williams, Solomon
pers0031.ocp M r Mr. Oliver recipient Oliver, Andrew

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0122.ocp Leb: Lebanon Lebanon
place0166.ocp N New York) New York
place0360.ocp Suſquehana Susquehanna Susquehanna
place0144.ocp Mantauk Montauk Montauk
place0129.ocp Iſland Island Long Island

Organizations identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
org0095.ocp HonleHonourable Commiſsi­onersCommissi­oners The Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America
org0095.ocp CommiſsionersCommissioners The Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America
org0095.ocp CommiſionersCommisioners The Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1751-10-07 OctobrOctober 7 1751
1751-09-07 7 of SeptrSeptember

Regularized text:

Type Original Regularized
modernization ye the
modernization Commiſsi­
oners
Commissi­
oners
modernization Reſpecting respecting
modernization Samſon Samson
variation Occum Occom
modernization ſignifying signifying
modernization de
ſire
de
sire
modernization Revd Rev.
modernization Mr Mr.
modernization ſhould should
modernization Miſsion mission
variation Suſquehana Susquehanna
modernization Catechiſt catechist
modernization Pleaſed pleased
modernization Deſire desire
modernization laſt last
variation Mantauk Montauk
variation deſird desired
variation adviſd advised
modernization muſt must
modernization Chooſing choosing
modernization leſt lest
modernization him ſelf himself
modernization ſuch such
modernization Circumſtances circumstances
modernization leſs less
modernization anſwer answer
modernization deſign design
modernization Commiſsioners Commissioners
variation Imploy employ
modernization ſaid said
modernization Readineſs readiness
modernization Commiſioners Commisioners
modernization pleaſe please
modernization Iſland Island
modernization ſo so
modernization Proſpect prospect
modernization ſervice service
modernization beſt best
modernization adviſe advise
modernization adviſable advisable
variation Sallery salary
modernization Preſent present
modernization theſe these
modernization Excuſed excused
modernization deſired desired
modernization Plea
ſure
plea
sure
modernization Thro through
modernization Reſpect respect

Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
Leb: Lebanon
Octobr October
Hond Honoured
Septr September
Red received
Honle Honourable
Sd said
& and
N New
Sterng Sterling
p per
offerg offering
Tho't thought
Sr Sir
Yr your
Hum.b humble
Sert servant
Solm Solomon
Lr letter

This document's header does not contain any mixed case attribute values.

Summary of errors found in this document:

Number of dates with invalid 'when' attributes: 0
Number of nested "hi" tags: (consider merging the @rend attributes, or using other tags) 0
Number of tags with invalid 'rend' attributes: 0 (out of 20)
Number of people/places/organizations with unknown keys: 0 (out of 16)
Number of "add" tags with unknown 'place' attributes: 0 (out of 7)
Mixed case attribute values in header (potential error): 0 (out of 99)
HomeSolomon Williams, letter, to Andrew Oliver, 1751 October 7
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