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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Erskine, 1763 September 21

ms-number: 763521.2

[note (type: abstract): Wheelock writes to update Erskine on the the missions of Occom and Ashpo, and relates the dangers of an impending war with the Indians.][note (type: handwriting): Handwriting is informal and frequently difficult to decipher. There are many deletions and additions.][note (type: paper): Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light creasing, staining and wear.][note (type: ink): Brown-black.][note (type: noteworthy): Given the informal handwriting and the abundance of additions and deletions, this document is likely a draft.]

events: Occom’s Third Mission to the Oneidas

[Rev.d | Rev.]Rev.dRev. and [Hond | Honoured]HondHonoured Sir
Yours of [8th | 8th]8th8th April[1763-04-08] [laſt | last]laſtlast came to hand July [17th | 17th]17th17th[1763-07-17]
and the next Day I had unexpectedly an opportunity to make
an [Anſwer | answer]Anſweranswer [above] itit by [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Blake[pers0087.ocp] which I hope you have or will [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon
Receive — and I also [above] [incloſed | enclosed]incloſedenclosed[incloſed | enclosed]incloſedenclosed a Narrative of the [Riſe | rise]Riſerise [above] [Progreſs | progress]Progreſsprogress[Progreſs | progress]Progreſsprogress [&c | etc.]&cetc. of this School[org0098.ocp]
with a proposal of a Plan [above] proposedproposed for the more [Succeſsfully | successfully]Succeſsfullysuccessfully [Proſecuting | prosecuting]Proſecutingprosecuting of the
I was glad grand [Deſign | design]Deſigndesign. — I also [inform'd | informed]inform'dinformed you of [ye | the]yethe
ordination [& | and]&and [Miſsion | mission]Miſsionmission of [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Charles Jeffery Smith[pers0500.ocp], who has [in
­liſted | en
in this the Warfare at his own Charges, [deſigning | designing]deſigningdesigning by divine Leave
to devote [himſelf | himself]himſelfhimself and [above] aa plentiful Fortune to the Service of
the Redeemers Kingdom in that Capacity [above] of a [Miſsionary | missionary]Miſsionarymissionaryof a [Miſsionary | missionary]Miſsionarymissionary — and I am now
able to Inform you that he went near to the [Oniyada | Oneida]OniyadaOneida
and preached in Several Places to the Indians who
appeared [above] muchmuch affected; and well [diſposed | disposed]diſposeddisposed towards him, and [above] SincerelySincerely very
[deſirous | desirous]deſirousdesirous of his continu[illegible]ing Among them But the [above] aa Reports of
the Approach of the Enemy viz. an Army of the Nations who
are combining [againſt | against]againſtagainst the [Engliſh | English]EngliſhEnglish, [above] approaching nearapproaching near The apprehension of Danger,
and the great Ruffle [& | and]&and fright the Indians were put into de­
termined him it was his duty to return [above] nor could theynor could they and they could not
[adviſe | advise]adviſeadvise him that it was Safe [above] for himfor him to continue with them, he left them
many [above] SomeSome of them in Tears, [earneſtly | earnestly]earneſtlyearnestly [deſiring | desiring]deſiringdesiring his Return to them again
as [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon as the war is [above] [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould be[ſhould | should]ſhouldshould be over — [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp] also, returned [illegible]
[illegible] [above] apprehendingapprehending it was by in no [meaſure | measure]meaſuremeasure Safe for him to continue with them
also [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. [Aſhpo | Ashpo]AſhpoAshpo[pers0002.ocp] [above] from this School[org0098.ocp]from this School[org0098.ocp] whom I informed You had been Examined [& | and]&and Approved
by a [Comtee | committee]Comteecommittee of [Miniſters | ministers]Miniſtersministers appointed [above] by [y.e | the]y.ethe Conventionby [y.e | the]y.ethe Convention at our [Gen.l | General]Gen.lGeneral Election in this
Government[place0048.ocp], went out on his proposed [Miſsion | mission]Miſsionmission to [Jeningo | Chenango]JeningoChenango[place0110.ocp]
and [Seſquaana | Susquehanna]SeſquaanaSusquehanna River[place0206.ocp] and continued [above] with themwith them 10 Dayswith them, and [preachd | preached]preachdpreached
every Day they appeared much affected came with [Eagerneſs | eagerness]Eagerneſseagerness to
hear him and appeared much affected and the [Proſpect | prospect]Proſpectprospect appear
­ed very Encouraging — but Such was the Ruffle, and fear they
were in, apprehending their [ſelves | selves]ſelvesselves [above] LivesLives in Danger both from the Nations
back of them, and also from the [Engliſh | English]EngliſhEnglish who would be put to it [above] not be ablenot be able
to [Diſtinguiſh | distinguish]Diſtinguiſhdistinguish their Enemies from their Friends — and the more
afraid as the [Engliſh | English]EngliſhEnglish had then lately [kill'd | killed]kill'dkilled three of their people
who were and have been [above] (as they [ſaid | said]ſaidsaid)(as they [ſaid | said]ſaidsaid) all along [faſt | fast]faſtfast in the [Engliſh | English]EngliſhEnglish Interest as they
were abroad on their [illegible] [Deſign | design]Deſigndesign [above] [ſome | some]ſomesome of their Ramble[ſome | some]ſomesome of their Ramble[Aſhpo | Ashpo]AſhpoAshpo[pers0002.ocp] apprehending the Danger
great Left them. (as had done [above] alsoalso the [Miſs[above] rsrs | missionaries]Miſs[above] rsrsmissionaries among them from your [Corriſpondts | Correspondents]CorriſpondtsCorrespondents
at in [Boſton | Boston]BoſtonBoston[org0096.ocp]
near two months before) — he returned about a fortni[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): gh]ght ago,
and [Deſigns | designs]Deſignsdesigns to go again next Spring. — The [Proſpect | prospect]Proſpectprospect of [Succeſs | success]Succeſssuccess is at
[preſent | present]preſentpresent [above] isis as [incouraging | encouraging]incouragingencouraging [above] in those parts as perhaps [any where | anywhere]any whereanywherein those parts as perhaps [any where | anywhere]any whereanywhere and in any part at all. — but by means of this
Rupture every thing [illegible] attempt both by [Engliſh | English]EngliſhEnglish [& | and]&and Indian [Miſsionaries | missionaries]Miſsionariesmissionaries
[muſt | must]muſtmust be [Suſpended | suspended]Suſpendedsuspended for the [Preſent | present]Preſentpresent — I hope it may be [tho't | thought]tho'tthought [ſafe | safe]ſafesafe
for the Indian [Miſsionaries | missionaries]Miſsionariesmissionaries to go again next Spring. — [eſpecially | especially]eſpeciallyespecially
if the [Engliſh | English]EngliſhEnglish in the Several Governments [ſhall | shall]ſhallshall be forehand [Sutably | suitably]Sutablysuitably notified of it
[above] beforehandbeforehand [ſo | so]ſoso as not to [Eſteem | esteem]Eſteemesteem them Enemies and [Traytors | traitors]Traytorstraitors if they Should be found among
[thoſe | those]thoſethose who are our Enemies. I dont pretend [above] attemptattempt to give you [acco.t | account]acco.taccount of the
[Hoſtilites | hostilities]Hoſtiliteshostilities and Butcheries they have committed of Late Supposing you [above] toto have
had public [& | and]&and authentic [accots | accounts]accotsaccounts of it be thereof before now.
This Rupture has [occaſioned | occasioned]occaſionedoccasioned [above] [raiſed | raised]raiſedraised[raiſed | raised]raiſedraised Such a Spirit [above] TemperTemper in great numbers of our people
that they Seem [Diſposed | disposed]Diſposeddisposed to contribute nothing but Powder [& | and]&and Ball to them
and [there for | therefore]there fortherefore it is [tho't | thought]tho'tthought prudent that the Brief I Obtained of this [Gov.t | Government]Gov.tGovernment[org0027.ocp]
in [Fav.r | favour]Fav.rfavour of this School[org0098.ocp] Should be [ſuſpended | suspended]ſuſpendedsuspended for the present [till | 'til]till'til the
minds of people [ſhall | shall]ſhallshall [above] bebe more Calm and better [Diſposed | disposed]Diſposeddisposed towards them.
 Fearing my Letter [reffer'd | ]reffer'd to will fail I [ſhall | shall]ſhallshall also [above] herehere add the Nomina
­tion [above] of Gentlemen recommendedof Gentlemen recommended I [ſend | send]ſendsend You to be [Commiſsioned | commissioned]Commiſsionedcommissioned for Indian Affairs if the [Honle | Honourable]HonleHonourable

Society which you inform me the [Honle | Honourable]HonleHonourable Society[org0096.ocp] were [ſo | so]ſoso Good
as to grant, but the Completion of it prevented by [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. [Roſs | Ross]RoſsRoss[pers0457.ocp]'s
Death and the [Loſs | loss]Loſsloss of the Papers [&c | etc.]&cetc. which Nomination was
as I here give it only with this [illegible] addition of the [Revd | Rev.]RevdRev.
David Jewett[pers0023.ocp] of New London[place0164.ocp] in the Room of Comfort Starr[pers0034.ocp] [Eſqr | Esq.]EſqrEsq.
[Deceaſed | deceased]Deceaſeddeceased, I Should be glad of a Return as [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon as may be, and
cant but think the cause may be really Served by it
viz. Jonathan Huntington[pers0269.ocp] [Esq.r | Esq.]Esq.rEsq. of Windham[place0243.ocp]
[Eliſha | Elisha]EliſhaElisha Sheldon[pers0480.ocp] [Esq.r | Esq.]Esq.rEsq. of Litchfield[place0127.ocp]
[Sam.l | Samuel]Sam.lSamuel Huntington[pers0022.ocp] Attorney at Law of Norwich[place0174.ocp]
[left] The
[Revd | Rev.]RevdRev.
[Meſsrs | Messsrs.]MeſsrsMesssrs.
[Revd | Rev.]RevdRev.
[Meſsrs | Messsrs.]MeſsrsMesssrs.

Solomon Williams[pers0039.ocp] of Lebanon[place0122.ocp]
Joseph [Fiſh | Fish]FiſhFish[pers0015.ocp] of Stonington[place0226.ocp]
William Gaylord[pers0217.ocp] of Norwalk[place0173.ocp]
[Sam.l | Samuel]Sam.lSamuel [Mosely | Moseley]MoselyMoseley[pers0381.ocp] of Windham[place0243.ocp]
Eleazar wheelock[pers0036.ocp] of Lebanon[place0122.ocp]
Benjamin Pomeroy[pers0432.ocp] of Hebron[place0099.ocp]
David Jewett[pers0023.ocp] of New London[place0164.ocp]
Richard Saltar[pers0033.ocp] of [Manſfield | Mansfield]ManſfieldMansfield[place0131.ocp]
[Nathl | Nathaniel]NathlNathaniel Whitaker[pers0037.ocp] of Norwich[place0174.ocp]
all within the [Coloney | Colony]ColoneyColony of Connecticut[place0048.ocp]
I Should be glad of a Return as Soon as may be
and can't but think the general [Deſign | design]Deſigndesign in view may
be much promoted by [ſuch | such]ſuchsuch a [Commiſsion. | commission]Commiſsion.commission
[above] Those Good Gentlemen you mentionThose Good Gentlemen you mention [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. [Preſidt | President]PreſidtPresident Clap[pers0010.ocp] and [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Bellamy[pers0078.ocp] are [ſo | so]ſoso remote
that they cant with any convenience be [Joyned | joined]Joynedjoined attend
if they Should Be [Joyned | joined]Joynedjoined. [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Bellamy[pers0078.ocp] lives in a remote
Corner of the Government towards 100 miles from hence
upon no direct Road from hence, and where I have very
Seldom an opportunity to [ſee | see]ſeesee either of them
Since I wrote you [above] oror to know their minds but presume they
would not freely consent [above] think proper to be [joyned | joined]joynedjoined as their [Diſtance | distance]Diſtancedistance [woud | would]woudwould forbid a [freq.t | frequent]freq.tfrequent attendancethink proper to be [joyned | joined]joynedjoined as their [Diſtance | distance]Diſtancedistance [woud | would]woudwould forbid a [freq.t | frequent]freq.tfrequent attendance as their being [Joyned | joined]Joynedjoined would not
likely be of much Service. and [above] and their being [Joyned | joined]Joynedjoinedand their being [Joyned | joined]Joynedjoined would make the Body more
[unweildy | unwieldy.]unweildyunwieldy.
. † [Pleaſe | Please]PleaſePlease to Direct Yours to me to [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. John Smith[pers0497.ocp]
Merchant or [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Moses Peck[pers0032.ocp] watchmaker in [Boſton | Boston]BoſtonBoston[place0013.ocp] and
they will likely be well taken Care of.
[beſides | Besides]beſidesBesides the Donations [above] to this School[org0098.ocp]to this School[org0098.ocp] mentioned in my [laſt | last]laſtlast, [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. James [Leſley | Lesley]LeſleyLesley[pers0326.ocp] a Scot
Gentleman graduated at New [Jerſie | Jersey]JerſieJersey College[org0067.ocp] has made a Donation to
this School[org0098.ocp] of all his indefatigable Labours for [theſe | these]theſethese Indian Youth
in the capacity of a [School maſter | schoolmaster]School maſterschoolmaster the [Laſt | last]Laſtlast year. So that the
[Inſtruction | instruction]Inſtructioninstruction of this School has been given by [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Smith[pers0500.ocp] [& | and]&and [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. [Leſley | Lesley]LeſleyLesley[pers0326.ocp]
for near 14 months [laſt paſt. | last past.]laſt paſt.last past. but the [preſent | present]preſentpresent Rupture will likely
[above] at [preſent | present]preſentpresentat [preſent | present]preſentpresent prevent Such an [Increaſe | increase]Increaſeincrease of My Number [above] this Fallthis Fall from Remote Tribes as I
[deſigned | designed]deſigneddesigned [above] [& | and]&and hoped for[& | and]&and hoped for by the [aſsiſtance | assistance]aſsiſtanceassistance of the [Miſsionaries | missionaries]Miſsionariesmissionaries before mentioned. but
the whole of which you will likely have opportunity to [ſee | see]ſeesee before
long [publiſhed | published]publiſhedpublished as a continuation of my Narrative.
[pleaſe | please]pleaſeplease to direct (vid. [ſupra | supra]ſuprasupra)
 The [Preſent | present]Preſentpresent Rupture looks so much like a [Deſperate | desperate]Deſperatedesperate Effort [& | and]&and
dying Struggle of the Grand adversary, that I am not at all [diſ­
­couraged | dis­
on [acco.t | account]acco.taccount of it, [tho' | though]tho'though the [Progreſs | progress]Progreſsprogress of the [Deſign | design]Deſigndesign may be for a while
retarded by it. I doubt not [above] butbut God has great and glorious things yet to
[below] [accompliſh | accomplish]accompliſhaccomplish in This Land [& | and]&and the [preſent | present]preſentpresent [illegible] #[accompliſh | accomplish]accompliſhaccomplish in This Land [& | and]&and the [preſent | present]preſentpresent [illegible] #
[left] # of his work in this [amg | among]amgamong many other places at [preſent | present]preſentpresent [dos | does]dosdoes not a little [incourage | encourage]incourageencourage
Hope † [pleaſe | please]pleaſeplease to Direct [&c | etc.]&cetc.
# of his work in this [amg | among]amgamong many other places at [preſent | present]preſentpresent [dos | does]dosdoes not a little [incourage | encourage]incourageencourage
Hope † [pleaſe | please]pleaſeplease to Direct [&c | etc.]&cetc.

I have acknowledged [above] as I did in my [laſt | last]laſtlast Goodas I did in my [laſt | last]laſtlast Good [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. [Dickſon | Dickson]DickſonDickson[pers0167.ocp]'s Liberality to this School
and pray God to requite it. and propose a Remittance of it to
[M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Dennys DeBerdt[pers0014.ocp] of London[place0128.ocp], which you will likely hear of
from him.

[pleaſe, | please,]pleaſe,please, Sir, to remember in your [neareſt | nearest]neareſtnearest [approaches | approaches]approachesapproaches
to God yours with the [moſt ſincere | most sincere]moſt ſinceremost sincere Duty [& | and]&and Affection

Eleazar Wheelock[pers0036.ocp]
Rev. [Jn.o | John]Jn.oJohn Erskine[pers0185.ocp]

[Lettr | Letter]LettrLetter to [Rev.d | Rev.]Rev.dRev. John
21. [Sept.r | September]Sept.rSeptember 1763[1763-09-21].
Moor’s Indian Charity School
Moor’s Indian Charity School was a grammar school for Native Americans that Eleazar Wheelock opened in North Lebanon, Connecticut in 1754. The school was named for Colonel Joshua Moor, also spelled More, who donated the land and school building. Moor’s was essentially an expansion of the grammar school that Wheelock opened in 1743 to support himself during the fallout from the First Great Awakening, when Wheelock, who'd participated in itinerant ministry during the Awakening, had his salary confiscated by the colony of Connecticut. In December of that year, Samson Occom asked Wheelock to teach him as well. Wheelock's work with Occom was so successful that Wheelock decided to replicate the experiment with other Native American boys. He accepted his first Indian students in 1754, and in 1761 began taking female students as well. Wheelock believed that in time, his school would become just one part of a larger missionary enterprise. He planned to send his Anglo American and Native American students to various tribes as missionaries and schoolmasters, with explicit instructions to pick out the best students and send them back to Moor’s to continue the cycle. His ultimate goal was to turn his school into a model Christian Indian town that would include farms, a college, and vocational training. However, Wheelock’s grand design did not survive the decade. Wheelock lost the vast majority of his Native American students; he fought with many of the best, including Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, and other former and current students accused him of subjecting Native Americans to disproportionate amounts of manual labor. In 1769, perhaps due to concerns about corporal punishment, the Oneida withdrew all their children from Moor’s. When Wheelock relocated to Hanover in 1769, only two Native American students came with him, and it became clear that Wheelock’s focus was on Dartmouth and that Dartmouth was for white students. After Wheelock’s death in 1779, Moor’s Indian Charity School receded further into the background as John Wheelock, his father’s reluctant successor, stopped taking Indian students. Some Native American students were enrolled in Moor’s until 1850, when the school unofficially closed.
Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
The Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) is a Presbyterian missionary society formed in 1709 and still active today. The SSPCK was founded to anglicize the Scottish Highlands, which at the time were predominantly Gaelic and had little in common with lowland Scotland. British Protestants identified many of the same “problems” in Gaelic and Native American society, and in 1730, the SSPCK expanded into the colonies via a board of correspondents in Boston. Although most of Wheelock’s contact with the SSPCK took place through its Boston, New Jersey/New York, and Connecticut boards, he did work directly with the SSPCK parent organization during Occom’s fundraising tour of Great Britain (1765-1768). Since Occom was technically sent to England by the Connecticut Board of the SSPCK, it was only natural that his tour include a visit to the parent organization in Edinburgh. The SSPCK, headed by the Marquis of Lothian, issued a bulletin to its member churches which allowed Whitaker and Occom to collect a substantial sum of money with little time or travel. While most of the money that Occom raised went into a trust under the Earl of Dartmouth (the English Trust), the money he raised in Scotland (approximately £2,500) went into an SSPCK-controlled fund that ultimately proved difficult to access. While the English Trust essentially gave Wheelock a blank check for the money it controlled (much of which went toward clearing land and erecting buildings for Dartmouth College), the SSPCK was much more stringent about requiring that the money Occom had raised be applied only to Native American education. As was often the case in the 18th-century British-Atlantic world, religious politics were a powerful motivator. Wheelock and the SSPCK both practiced Reformed Protestant Christianity, but New Hampshire was an Episcopalian colony. To make Wheelock’s Reformed Protestantism more palatable to Episcopalian New Hampshire, the New Hampshire governor attempted to make the Anglican Bishop of London a member of the English Trust and possibly the Dartmouth Trustees (the Bishop of London seems to have never replied to the invitation). Dartmouth’s geographic association with the Episcopalian Church, in addition to concerns about the use of the fund, gave the SSPCK an incentive to withhold money from Wheelock. It only issued Wheelock £190 throughout his life, although it did provide financial support to Samuel Kirkland out of the fund. It is worth noting that Wheelock seems to have been well aware that he would have trouble getting money from the SSPCK: he went through the entirety of the English Trust’s fund before soliciting the SSPCK. Subsequent Dartmouth presidents struggled to access the money, with limited success, until 1893. In 1922, the SSPCK concluded that since Moor’s Indian Charity School had become defunct, it was within its rights to devote the remainder of the fund—then valued at £10,000—to other missionary operations.
Colony of Connecticut
The government of the colony of Connecticut was organized into an upper house, comprised of the governor and other magistrates; and a lower house, comprised of representatives from towns. Like other colonial governments, the Connecticut government's responsibilities included negotiating with Indian tribes and funding missionary efforts. Naturally, the Connecticut government had a substantial impact on both Occom's and Wheelock's lives. For Occom, the colony's most defining act may have been the Mason Case. For Wheelock, it may have been the colony's refusal to support a charter for Moor's Indian Charity School. The Mason Case or Mason Controversy was a land dispute between the colony of Connecticut and the Mohegan tribe that formally lasted from 1703 until 1773. The Controversy spanned most of Occom's life and ended with the Mohegan tribe losing legal control of almost all their land. Although the case became very complicated, in brief, it was a question of whether the Mohegans had entrusted their land to John Mason, a private individual and ally of the tribe, or to the colony of Connecticut. If the lands were in trust to Mason, then Mason and his heirs could protect Mohegan land rights. However, if the lands were in trust to the colony, then the colony could do with them as they pleased. In 1703, the colony forcibly expelled Mohegans from their land and redistributed it for towns and private property. For the next 70 years, the Mohegan tribe appealed the case in both Connecticut and London. The colony took increasingly aggressive steps to maintain control over the land, including ignoring a 1721 royal order to return it and interfering in Mohegan succession to make sure that Ben Uncas, a man who was not inclined to oppose the colony on the Mason issue, became sachem. The ensuing dispute over sachemship split the tribe into two different settlements. Occom was born in 1723, at the height of the controversy over the sachemship. Because he and his father both participated in the Mohegan tribal council, the Mason Case and the problems it brought must have played a substantial role in Occom's young adulthood and also affected his later missionary career. (In 1764 and 1765, Occom was censured by the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge for speaking openly about the Mason Case.) Wheelock also had a difficult relationship with the colony of Connecticut. While Connecticut's government helped quite a few missionary efforts, it rarely gave Wheelock any kind of support (and never any money). Wheelock initially sought a charter from Connecticut in 1758. However, Connecticut would not grant a charter without royal support, and Wheelock's allies in England would not seek royal support without a Connecticut charter. In 1764, Wheelock again petitioned the CT Assembly for incorporation (legal control over the town his school was in). Again, they refused. The 1764 rejection likely stemmed from the Mason Case because Wheelock, via Occom, was implicitly on the side of the Mohegan tribe. The Connecticut government also rejected Wheelock on several more minor matters related to funding and legal power. It is not a stretch of the imagination to conclude that part of Wheelock's motivation for leaving Connecticut was his inability to obtain support from the colony's government.
Princeton University
Princeton University is a College and Graduate School of liberal arts and sciences located in the town of Princeton, New Jersey. A member of the Ivy League, it enrolls about 8,000 students. When it was chartered in 1749, it was known as the College of New Jersey. It was founded by New Light Presbyterians as the educational arm of Scotch-Irish religion, and is the fourth institution of higher education established in British North America. For its first 50 years, the College was housed in Nassau Hall, one of the largest buildings in colonial America, set on land donated by Nathaniel Fitz Randolph. When expansion earned the College university status in 1896, it was officially renamed Princeton University, after the town. After the untimely deaths of its first five presidents, including Aaron Burr, Sr., and the noted Protestant theologian Jonathan Edwards, a prominent evangelical Presbyterian minister from Scotland named John Witherspoon took the helm in 1768. Witherspoon trained a generation of men who would lead the American Revolution, including James Madison, Aaron Burr, Philip Freneau and John Breckenridge. As a New Light minister, Wheelock was part of the same evangelical movement, and the College of New Jersey played a significant role in his educational experiment. Jacob Woolley, one of the first students at Moor's Indian Charity School, went on to enter the College of New Jersey in 1759, leaving in his senior year under a cloud of scandal. Several of Wheelock's Anglo-American students who studied at his Latin School and at the Indian Charity School graduated from "Nassau Hall" and became missionaries or schoolmasters in his "great design."
Oneida Lake

Oneida Lake is located ten miles north of Syracuse in west-central New York state, and is the largest lake wholly within the state. It is named for the Oneida Nation, one of the nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, who called it Tsioqui or white water, because of the wave action caused by the wind. Oneida and Onondaga people settled the area around the lake, fishing for eels, salmon, catfish and pike. Around 1533, the Oneidas built their first village on the south shore of Oneida Lake, at or near the mouth of Oneida Creek. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, Oneida Lake and its tributary Wood Creek were part of the Albany-Oswego waterway connecting the Atlantic seaboard to the west via the Hudson and the Mohawk Rivers. There was a portage over the Oneida Carry to the Wood Creek-Oneida Lake system, which connected, via the Oneida River and the Oswego River, to Lake Ontario and the other Great Lakes. Occom, who made three missionary trips to the Oneida Indians from 1761 to 1763, and Samuel Kirkland, who lived with the Oneidas and ran the mission after 1764, wrote about travels around Oneida Lake during their sojourns. The Oneida Indians and others in that area, including missionaries, used the Lake and its connecting waterways as a means to travel to and from the forts along the Mohawk River, to Johnson Hall, home of Sir William Johnson, the superintendent for Indian Affairs for Britain, and to New England. After the American Revolution, when the U.S. forced many Haudenosaunee tribes, who had allied with the British, to cede their lands, white settlers constructed a canal over the Oneida Carry, which significantly improved the waterway and commercial shipping across the lake and region. In 1835, Oneida Lake was connected to the Erie Canal system.

Susquehanna River

Chenango, a small Oneida Indian settlement near present-day Binghamton, New York, was known as "Jeningo" before 1787, when it was settled by Anglo-Americans and then incorporated as a town. Wheelock sent the Mohegan Indian Samuel Ashpo to Jeningo/Chenango to preach among the Indians in 1760, 1761, 1763, and 1766 with moderate success. The Oneida Indians there requested Ashpo specifically in 1760, wanting a Native-American rather than white missionary living among them. In 1762, Wheelock writes a letter to a British supporter, Dennys DeBerdt, recounting Ashpo and Charles Jeffrey Smith’s missionary expedition to Jeningo/Chenango. Ashpo writes to Wheelock in 1763 that “Onohoquagee and Jeningo Indians” are in need of missionaries since their missionary left and proposes that Ashpo go himself. In 1769, Wheelock writes to Occom asking that he and Jacob Fowler go to Jeningo/Chenango to establish a village for Christianized Indians.


The first English immigrant to settle on a peninsula in a harbor on the northeastern coast of North America the local Algonquin Indians called "Shawmet" was William Blackstone in 1629. A year later, John Winthrop arrived with a group of English Puritans and other settlers and named the area Boston after his hometown in Lincolnshire, England. The colony quickly developed representative political institutions that would help shape a democratic nation. Over the next few centuries, Boston emerged as an intellectual and educational center, and, because of its excellent harbor, became a leading commercial hub and a primary port for North America. It is the capital and largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the largest city in New England. Boston was the home for the Boards of Commissioners of several overseas religious societies who sent missionaries throughout the colonies in the 18th century, and was the site of many important events of the American Revolution.

New London

New London is a city located in southeastern Connecticut along an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean called Long Island Sound. The area that would become New London was inhabited by the Pequots who called it Nameaug when the Europeans arrived in North America. Pequot villages bordered Long Island Sound and the Tribe had authority over the neighboring Tribes of the Mohegans and Niantics (all Algonquian-speaking tribes). The Dutch first explored this land in 1614 and established trade with the Native peoples, but the English soon gained possession of the land east of the Hudson in the 1630s. English animosity toward their Indian neighbors led to the Pequot War (1634-38), part of which took place in the present city of New London. The Pequots lost the war and their population deteriorated due to the violence and disease. The General Court of Massachusetts granted John Winthrop possession of Pequot territory in 1644 after which it was to be opened for settlement. By 1646, which is considered the official year of its founding, New London had permanent colonial inhabitants and municipal laws, and jurisdiction was granted to the colony of Connecticut in 1647. In 1658, the inhabitants renamed the town New London after London, England. New London was the colony of Connecticut’s first trading port and was a hub of trade with the West Indies and other colonies. Though initially part of the town of New London when it was first settled by the colonists, Groton, Montville, and Waterford were each separated from New London in 1705, 1786, and 1801 respectively. Present-day Salem was also part of New London when it was settled, but in 1819, it became a separate incorporated town composed of parts of Lyme, Colchester, and Montville. Occom kept a school in New London in the winter in 1748. New London was the home of Captain Nathaniel Shaw, one of the wealthiest merchants in the area, who gave money to Occom in the 1750s for the missionary cause and also sold materials to Occom for the building of his home. However, their positive relationship ended when Shaw refused to provide supplies for Mary Occom while Occom was in England. New London served as the port from which Occom and other missionaries traveled to reach Long Island. During the American Revolution, New London’s location and its status as a seaport made it both vulnerable to invasion and integral to colonial naval operations as well as the exchange of prisoners.New London was incorporated as a city in 1784.


Windham is a town in Windham County in the northeastern corner of Connecticut. Historically, the area was home to the Nipmuck Indians, but when the English began to settle Connecticut in 1634, possession of what would become Windham passed to the Pequots. In 1637, following the Pequot War, the English-allied Mohegans took possession of the area and eventually sold what would become Windham County to John Winthrop Jr. in 1652. The town of Windham, named for Wyndham in England, is at the southwest corner of this land purchase and was incorporated in 1692. Eleazar Wheelock was born in Windham in 1711, the son of a prominent farming family. He lived on his family’s 300-acre farm until leaving for Yale in 1729. After graduating and moving to to Lebanon, CT–-a mere 6 miles from Windham-–Wheelock often returned to his hometown to preach and do other business. When Wheelock needed support to advance his “great design,” he turned to his friends in Windham, many of whom were members of the Windham Association, a group of Congregationalist ministers who examined and ordained area ministers. The Windham Association examined Occom in preparation for his ordination in 1757 at Wheelock’s Lebanon home. Like Wheelock, Occom also travelled through and preached in Windham throughout his life. After a period of growth due to mills and textile factories, Windham was incorporated as a city in 1893. A village within the modern-day city of Windham still keeps its Algonquin name, Willimantic or “land of the swift running water.”


The town of Litchfield is located in central Connecticut. The land was inhabited by the Potatuck Tribe, members of the Paugussett confederacy, when the British colonists arrived in the seventeenth century. In the earliest written records, the town’s Native American name is referred to as Bantam, or alternatively Peantam, meaning "he prays" in Algonquian. The name Peantam may have derived from Christian Indians who lived in the area. In 1715, colonists John Mitchell, Joseph Minor, and John Minor purchased a 44,800 acre tract of land for fifteen pounds from the Potatucks, but a provision in the deed stipulated that the Potatucks reserve a piece of land near Mount Tom for their hunting houses. The town was incorporated in 1719 by the Colonial Assembly of Connecticut, and the name was changed to Litchfield after a market center in England. Throughout the 1720s, colonists inhabiting the town built forts and sent alerts to stave off the threat of Native American raids, but throughout the 1730s and 1740s, threats diminished and the town began to stabilize. During the American Revolution, Litchfield served as a center of patriotic activity.


Norwich is a city in New London County in the southeast corner of Connecticut. It was founded in 1659 when Major John Mason and Reverend James Fitch led English settlers inland from Old Saybrook, CT, on the coast. They bought land from Uncas, sachem of the local Mohegan tribe, and divided it into farms and businesses mainly in the three-mile area around the Norwichtown Green. In 1668, a wharf was built at Yantic Cove and in 1694 a public landing was built at the head of the Thames River, which allowed trade with England to flourish. The center of Norwich soon moved to the neighborhood around the harbor called "Chelsea." During the revolutionary period, when transatlantic trade was cut off, Norwich developed large mills and factories along the three rivers that cross the town: the Yantic, Shetucket and Thames, and supported the war effort by supplying soldiers, ships, and munitions. Norwich was the largest town in the vicinity in which Occom, Wheelock and their associates lived and worked, and it was possible to get there by water because of the harbor and access to the Long Island Sound. Lebanon, CT, the site of Wheelock's school, is 11 miles north and present-day Uncasville, the center of the Mohegan tribe, is a few miles south of Norwich. James Fitch did missionary work among the Mohegans in Norwich until his death in 1702, and Samuel Kirkland, the most important Protestant missionary to the Six Nations trained by Wheelock, was born in Norwich in 1741. On his evangelical tour of North America in 1764, George Whitefield planned to travel to Norwich to meet with Wheelock. The Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge frequently met in Norwich, and many letters by people involved in the missionary efforts of Wheelock were written from Norwich.


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.


Stonington is a town on the Long Island Sound by the Pawcatuck River in the southeastern corner of Connecticut. Before colonists arrived, the Algonquin-speaking Pequots who originally inhabited the area referred to it as “Mistack.” In 1649, however, Europeans opened a trading house near the Pawcatuck, and in 1666 they named the town Stonington. Relations between the Pequots and colonists were tense, especially because of the 1637 massacre of Pequot Indians at nearby Mystic, CT. Eventually, settlers set aside North Stonington for the Pequots, establishing one of the earliest Indian reservations that the Pequots have continually occupied since 1670. The town grew in the years leading up to the Revolution as a result of the shipbuilding and fishing industries. Occom visited Stonington to preach, often to crowds of Pequots in North Stonington, which became its own town in 1724. Its high Pequot population led some to call North Stonington “Stonington Indian Town.” Occom was acquainted with Joseph Fish, a Congregationalist minister, who in the 1760s opened a school for local Pequots and Narragansetts in Stonington. Moor’s alumni John Shattock Jr. and Jacob Fowler both spent time as schoolmasters there. During the Revolutionary War, Stonington was the site where patriots successfully deterred two British naval attacks. Following the war, many Stonington Pequots, along with other New England tribes, settled in Brothertown, in central New York.


Hebron is a town located in central Connecticut, on the Connecticut River. The area was occupied by the Mohegan Tribe in the 17th century. During the Pequot War, the Mohegans under Chief Uncas allied with the English against the Pequots, and after the war, the Mohegans fought neighboring tribes with the help of the English. Following these battles, Chief Uncas and his two sons, Owaneco and Attawanhood (who was also known as Joshua), deeded particular Mohegan land to the English colonists. Attawanhood and Oweneco further aided the English settlers during Metacom’s War, and upon his death, Attawanhood’s will granted the land that would comprise Hebron to a variety of English colonists. The first English settlers of the deeded land came from Windsor, Saybrook, Long Island, and Northampton; the town of Hebron was eventually incorporated in 1704. But because some of those who were granted the land did not settle there and because of some Mohegan resistance, the town was slow to grow. With the help of the local government, the town grew large enough by 1711 to sustain a meeting house and a minister. A letter written in 1764 to the Committee of Correspondents with the Scotch Society appoints a number of representatives for the organization within Connecticut, including Benjamin Pomroy from Hebron. In 1768, missionary Aaron Kinne wrote a letter to Wheelock, who was staying in Hebron, to inform him of the state of the Indians in the Kanawalohale Indian School in upstate New York. Also, in a 1771 letter to his father Eleazar, Ralph Wheelock expresses his sorrow at the loss of his brother but informs him that all else is well in Hebron where he recently visited.


The capital and largest city of the United Kingdom, London is located in the southeastern region of England along the Thames River. The outpost that would become London originated as a military storage post for the Romans when they invaded Britain in the year 43. It soon developed as a trading center and financial hub for Roman Britain. During a revolt against the Romans in 61, London was burned to the ground; the rebuilt town appeared in Tacitus’s Annals as Londinium. With the decline of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, Londinium became a Saxon trading town. Following the Norman Conquest, London retained its central political and commercial importance. In the 14th century, under Edward II, Westminster became an administrative center and London became the capital of England. In the early 18th century, London was an important hub for evangelical Christianity and home to many influential people, like the charismatic Anglican minister, George Whitefield, who were sympathetic to Wheelock’s missionary endeavors. Occom arrived in London in February 1766 on his fundraising tour for Wheelock’s school and preached his first sermon at Whitefield’s Tabernacle. London would be Occom’s home base for the next two years, as he and Whitaker travelled throughout England and Scotland. Occom made many friends in London who would continue to support him after his break with Wheelock and the School. By the late 18th century, London had replaced Amsterdam as the center of world commerce, a role it would maintain until 1914.


Connecticut is a state in southern New England that borders Massachusetts to the north and the Long Island Sound to the south. Its name is derived from the Algonquian "Quonehtacut," meaning "long river," referring to the Connecticut, which runs from the border with Canada into the Long Island Sound. The area was originally inhabited by Algonquian-speaking Pequots, Mohegans, and Quinnipiacs. European settlers took advantage of tribal divisions to establish dominance in the region. Dutch explorer Adrian Block sailed up the Connecticut River in 1614, establishing an active Dutch trading post at what is now Hartford. English claims to Connecticut began in 1630, but settlement truly began when Thomas Hooker, a Congregationalist minister now known as "The Father of Connecticut," left Boston to found Hartford in 1636. Hartford became the center of the Colony of Connecticut, which did not receive its charter until 1662 when Governor John Winthrop, Jr. secured it from Charles II. In 1665, the Colony of New Haven, established in 1638 by the Puritan minister John Davenport, joined the Colony of Connecticut under this charter. Early settler relations with local Indians were tense, and encouraged the New England colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven to unify as the "United Colonies" or "New England Confederation" and fight together, with Indian allies, in the Pequot War and again in King Philip's (Metacom's) War. These wars helped establish a specifically Connecticut and specifically American identity; the latter drove the colony to join the rebellion against Britain in 1776. Occom, born into a Mohegan household in Connecticut, was closely associated with the Colony and retained strong ties to the region throughout his life. He converted to Christianity in 1743 when the Great Awakening spread through Connecticut, and inspired Wheelock's Indian Charity School, which was founded in Lebanon, CT in 1754. He also became involved in the Mason Land Case, a long-standing dispute over the ownership of reserve Mohegan lands in Connecticut. Wheelock also had strong ties to Connecticut, moving his Indian Charity School only when the colony would not grant it a charter.

Wheelock, Eleazar

Eleazar Wheelock was a New Light Congregationalist minister who founded Dartmouth College. He was born into a very typical Congregationalist family, and began studying at Yale in 1729, where he fell in with the emerging New Light clique. The evangelical network that he built in college propelled him to fame as an itinerant minister during the First Great Awakening and gave him many of the contacts that he later drew on to support his charity school for Native Americans. Wheelock’s time as an itinerant minister indirectly brought about his charity school. When the Colony of Connecticut retroactively punished itinerant preaching in 1743, Wheelock was among those who lost his salary. Thus, in 1743, he began operating a grammar school to support himself. He was joined that December by Samson Occom, a Mohegan Indian, who sought out an education in hopes of becoming a teacher among his people. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to train Native Americans as missionaries. To that end, he opened Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754 (where he continued to train Anglo-American students who paid their own way as well as students who functionally indentured themselves to Wheelock as missionaries in exchange for an education). Between 1754 and 1769, when he relocated to New Hampshire, Wheelock trained approximately 60 male and female Native American students from nearby Algonquian tribes and from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of central New York. At the same time, he navigated the complicated politics of missionary societies by setting up his own board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, although he continued to feud with the Boston Board of the SSPCK and the London Commissioners in Boston (more colloquially called the New England Company). By the late 1760s, Wheelock had become disillusioned with the idea of Native American education. He was increasingly convinced that educating Native Americans was futile (several of his students had failed to conform to his confusing and contradictory standards), and, in late 1768, he lost his connection to the Haudenosaunee. With his inclination and ability to sponsor Native American missionaries largely depleted, Wheelock sought instead to fulfill his ultimate ambition of obtaining a charter and opening a college, which he did in 1769. To fund this new enterprise, Wheelock drew on the £12,000 that Samson Occom had raised for Moor’s Indian Charity School during a two-and-a-half year tour of Great Britain (1765 to 1768). Much of this money went towards clearing land and erecting buildings in New Hampshire for the Charity School’s relocation — infrastructure that also happened to benefit Dartmouth. Many of Wheelock’s contemporaries were outraged by what they saw as misuse of the money, as it was clear that Dartmouth College was not intended for Indians and that Moor’s had become a side project. Although Wheelock tried to maintain at least some commitment to Native American education by recruiting students from Canadian communities, the move did a great deal of damage to his public image. The last decade of Wheelock’s life was not easy. In addition to the problems of trying to set up a college far away from any Anglo-American urban center, Wheelock experienced the loss of relationships with two of his most famous and successful students, Samson Occom and Samuel Kirkland (an Anglo-American protégé). He also went into debt for Dartmouth College, especially after the fund raised in Britain was exhausted.

Erskine, John

John Erskine was a prominent clergyman in the Church of Scotland. He came from a wealthy family, but despite his eventual inheritance decided to dedicate his life to the evangelical revival in Great Britain and America. In the mid-1730s, Erskine attended Edinburgh University where he took arts courses and began the law program, but in 1742, he transferred to divinity hall (after finally convincing his family of his desire to join the clergy). He was a leading member of Scotland’s Popular party, which opposed the law of patronage and supported popular votes for the clergy. By 1768, he became the party’s unofficial leader. Erskine was known for his dissemination of books with the hope of propagating religious ideas, and he used his influence to encourage booksellers to publish or print further editions of evangelical works at affordable prices. He regularly donated books to Harvard, Yale, the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), Dartmouth, and Dickinson College, as well as Eleazar Wheelock’s Indian School. He served as one of the chief directors for the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK), securing funds for Indian Affairs and donating £600 to Wheelock's school in 1765. However, he objected to what he perceived as Wheelock's promotion of Presbyterianism as opposed to the Church of England. Nathaniel Whitaker worried about how Erskine's objection would affect the funds provided to Wheelock by the Trust in England. Still, Erskine remained committed to Native American causes and was present at the death of John Shattock in 1768, one of two Narragansett brothers who travelled to England in the hope of preventing the Niantic Sachem from selling further Niantic lands to the colony of Rhode Island. By the end of the 1760s, Erskine had become disillusioned with Wheelock and his school, and expressed displeasure with Wheelock's management of donated funds. He feared that Dartmouth would fall under Episcopal influence and questioned Wheelock's frankness in his procurement of the College’s charter. He was also disappointed that Occom and Kirkland were the only two distinguished missionaries with ties to Wheelock. When Erskine decided that Dartmouth College, with which Moor’s had merged, was not serving the intended purpose of providing a Christian education to Indians, he stopped providing funds. Throughout his life, Erskine penned pamphlets, sermons, and five theological treatises. During the Great Awakening, Erskine established relationships with a number of ministers in America, and because of these contacts became sympathetic to the American cause against Great Britain.

Smith, Charles Jeffery

Charles Jeffery Smith was an independently funded Presbyterian missionary and itinerant preacher. After his father's early death, Smith inherited a large private income. Instead of enjoying a life of leisure, he chose to complete his education at Yale and then become a missionary. After graduating, he taught at Moor's Indian Charity School, gratis, for a few months in 1763. His first mission, and his only mission among Indians, was a 1763 endeavor to the Six Nations, accompanied by then-student Joseph Brant as an interpreter. However, Pontiac's War forced them to return. Although Smith continued his missionary career, he focused on slaves in the Mid/South-Atlantic region and English-colonist congregations. Smith held several important roles in Wheelock's Grand Design. He was Wheelock's heir-once-removed (after Whitaker) in Wheelock's 1767 will, and was proposed as Occom's companion on the 1765 fundraising tour. Wheelock consulted Smith about the location of what was to be Dartmouth College (Smith proposed Virginia or South Carolina), and solicited him as an envoy to the Six Nations in 1768; when Smith refused, the job fell to Ralph Wheelock, who severely alienated the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and Sir William Johnson. Smith's residence was in Virginia at the time of his death, but he actually died in Long Island while visiting his family, from a gunshot wound sustained while hunting. It is unclear whether this was murder, an accidental shot, or suicide.

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.

Ashpo, Samuel

Ashpo was born into a very powerful Mohegan family, considered equal to the Uncas line, and became an influential Mohegan preacher. He was converted at Mohegan during the Great Awakening, and became a schoolteacher among the Indians at Mushantuxet from 1753 until 1757 and from 1759 until 1762, when he left to attend Moor's. Between 1757 and 1759, he worked as an interpreter, and supposedly struggled with alcohol. He attended Moor's for only six months, and then continued his teaching and missionary career on successive trips to Chenango (the first was cut short because of violence in the region). On July 1, 1767, the Connecticut Board dismissed him from their service because of further charges of drinking. He continued to preach successfully to various New England Indian tribes until his death in 1795. The variations of his name exist in part because Ashpo is an abbreviated form of Ashobapow.

Jewett, David

David Jewett was a white minster at Mohegan who developed a hostile relationship with Samson Occom. He become the pastor of the North Church in New London, CT (now Montville) in 1739. Jewett initially served as the clergyman for the English congregation, and attempts to merge the white church with the local Indians were unsuccessful. In 1742, when plans to establish a pastor for the Indians also proved to be futile, Jewett became the minister for them as well, supported by the Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America (New England Company). Indians received religious materials, and many, including Sarah Occom, Samon's mother, became members of his parish. In 1756 when Connecticut gathered a regiment to go to Crown Point, Jewett served as chaplain. He also became a member of the Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) when Wheelock assembled it in 1764. In addition to his role as minister, Jewett oversaw Robert Clelland’s school at Mohegan, which became one source of his animosity toward Occom. Occom criticized Clelland’s performance as schoolmaster, implicating Jewett as the supervisor, and Jewett rejected Occom’s intrusion. Furthermore, since Occom had been appointed to preach at Mohegan, several Indians as well as English, primarily those who sided with the Indians in the Mason Case, left Jewett’s church to follow Occom, as Jewett supported the Colony due to his land interests. Jewett brought charges against Occom to the Boston Board of the SSPCK and to the New England Company Commissioners, and the Connecticut Board of the SSPCK tried Occom in March of 1765. They found Occom to be innocent except for his involvement in the Mason Case; therefore, the Board declared that Jewett must write to the Boston Commissioners again to clear Occom. Although Jewett assented to the task, he did not pen the letter until Wheelock pressured him that June. While Jewett and Occom’s relationship was officially mended, bitterness remained until Jewett’s death in 1783.

Starr, Comfort
Sheldon, Elisha
Huntington, Samuel

Samuel Huntington was a Norwich lawyer who went on to become one of Connecticut’s most important politicians during the Revolution and Early National Period. During his tenure in Norwich, he became a member of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, the missionary society that Eleazar Wheelock established in 1764 to sponsor Moor’s Indian Charity School. Huntington remained active on the board until its dissolution in the 1770s, and seems to have been an important political connection for Wheelock during the volatile 1760s. Although he never attended college, Samuel Huntington began practicing law in Windham, CT in 1754. In 1758, he moved to Norwich, where family connections helped him rise to prominence. His influence expanded gradually: he was elected to Connecticut’s lower house (1765) and appointed to New London County’s superior court (1773). From 1770 on, he had clients throughout the state. Because Huntington was a widely known and respected figure, he was a natural choice for Connecticut’s delegation to the Continental Congress. He is especially well-known for signing the Declaration of Independence. Politically, Samuel Huntington was a moderate Whig, and thus commanded a broad base of support. He was a popular politician even in the early National Period: after a brief stint in Congress in 1783, he became Lieutenant-Governor and Chief Justice of Connecticut in 1784. He was elected governor in 1786 and consistently reelected until his death in 1796.

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).

Fish, Joseph

Joseph Fish was a moderate Congregationalist minister who held the pulpit at North Stonington, CT, from 1731 until his death in 1781. He is notable as 1) an ally of Wheelock and a member of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, 2) a moderate in the throes of the Great Awakening, and 3) a missionary to the Pequots and Narragansetts. The first point requires no explanation; the second two are closely related. Fish graduated from Harvard in 1728 and took a temporary post at Stonington in 1731. He was so popular with the congregation that they offered him a permanent position. For the first 10 years of his ministry all was well, but the Great Awakening segmented his congregation. The problem was that Fish was not strongly opposed to or strongly in favour of the Awakening, which led his church to split into not two, but three factions. As Fish's congregation dwindled so did his salary; however, when other congregations offered him their pulpits, what was left of the North Stonington congregation interfered, jealously guarding Fish's services. In addition to his career as a minister, Fish acted as a missionary to Native Americans throughout his life. From the 1730s on, he delivered sermons to the nearby Pequots and employed a schoolmaster for them (his employees included Moor's alumni John Shattock Jr. and Jacob Fowler). In 1765, Fish also began preaching to the Charlestown Narragansetts. He secured financial support from the Boston Board of the New England Company to open a school there as well, and hired Edward Deake to fill the post. However, Fish did not get along well with the Narragansetts, who had an established indigenous ministry, led by Samuel Niles and based around separatist principles. For Bible-centric Fish, illiterate and popular Samuel Niles was a ministerial nightmare. Fish and Deake served the Narragansetts until the mid-1770s, when the tribe politely requested that they stop.

Gaylord, William
Moseley, Samuel

Rev. Samuel Moseley was the minister of the Second Church (also called the Canada Society) in Windham, CT (reincorporated as Hampton in 1786), from 1734 until his death in 1791. After graduating from Harvard in 1729, he kept school in Dorchester, MA and served as chaplain at Castle William until his ordination in 1734. It is a testament to his ministerial abilities that he was able to keep the post until his death in 1791, especially since he held a conservative view of church hierarchy (he even considered Episcopalian ordination), doubtlessly a difficult stance to maintain during the tumultuous period of the First Great Awakening. Moseley was an early proponent of Eleazar Wheelock’s plan for a charity school. He worked with Wheelock and Benjamin Pomeroy to solicit George Whitefield’s support in the 1750s, and he was a member of the original board entrusted with the land deeded by Joshua More. Moseley was also one of the ministers who examined Samson Occom prior to his ordination in 1759, and he was named to the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge when it was formed in 1764. In 1767, there was a potentially awkward incident when the New England Company hired Ebenezer Moseley, Samuel’s son, to conduct a mission to the Onaquaga -- a village to which Wheelock had also sent a missionary. However, Wheelock interpreted the spiritual coup as a political machination by the Boston Board and did not hold E. Moseley responsible. Due to the low volume of letters between Wheelock and S. Moseley, it is unclear whether this incident affected their relationship.

Pomeroy, Benjamin

Benjamin Pomeroy was a school friend of Eleazar Wheelock and a lifelong supporter of his cause. Like Wheelock, he was a New Light evangelical and a staunch ally of James Davenport, a radical New Light preacher whose beliefs got him in trouble with the law. After graduating from Yale in 1733, Pomeroy received the ministry at Hebron, CT, in 1734, and assisted Wheelock in myriad ways until his own death in 1784. He kept Wheelock's school during 1746, when Wheelock's first wife, Sarah, was dying, and he tutored Occom (primarily in Hebrew) after Occom had completed his studies with Wheelock. Pomeroy also supported Wheelock as a trustee of Moor's, and, later, Dartmouth, and as a member of the Board of the Correspondents in Connecticut for the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Pomeroy and Wheelock also had close family connections: Pomeroy was married to Wheelock’s sister, Abigail, and one of Pomeroy’s daughters, Hannah, married David McClure, one of Wheelock's most illustrious graduates. Outside of his liturgical career, Pomeroy served as an army chaplain in the French and Indian War and the Revolution.

Salter, Richard
Whitaker, Nathaniel

Nathaniel Whitaker was an outspoken Presbyterian minister with a long and wide-ranging career. Between his ordination in 1755 and his death in 1795, Whitaker ministered to five different congregations. His longest tenure was at Chelsea, CT (near Norwich), from 1761-1769, during which he joined Occom on his two-and-a-half-year fundraising tour of Britain. While in Chelsea, Whitaker was very involved in Wheelock's project. The two engaged in frequent correspondence, and Whitaker served on Eleazar Wheelock's Board of Correspondents in Connecticut, as well as on the Board of Trustees of Moor's Indian Charity School. At one time, he was Wheelock's presumed successor, but Dartmouth's Trustees demanded that Wheelock appoint another. Wheelock, in part due to his strongly-held belief that Native Americans were childlike and rash, was convinced that Occom needed an Anglo-American supervisor on his fundraising tour. After several candidates turned down the job, Wheelock selected Whitaker. He proved to be a poor choice; he was, by many accounts, a difficult man to get along with, and many of Wheelock’s British allies, including George Whitefield and the English Trust (the organization that took control of the money Occom raised in England) preferred to deal with Occom, although Whitaker insisted on handling the tour’s logistics. Furthermore, in Britain, Occom was the obvious star of the tour, and it was unclear to many why Whitaker asserted himself so prominently. Whitaker’s poor decisions seriously alienated the English Trust and increased their suspicion of Wheelock’s later dealings and treatment of Occom. He gave the English Trust the impression that they would have control over money raised in Scotland (which was in fact lodged with the parent organization of the SSPCK), and he was the executor of the “Eells Affair,” a plan initiated by the CT Board of the SSPCK to bring the money that Occom and Whitaker raised back to the colonies by investing it in trade goods and selling them at a profit (Eells was one of the merchants who was to help with the resale of goods). The English Trust learned about the plan by reading letters that Whitaker had given them permission to open in his absence, and were immediately shocked. The wording of certain letters made it appear that only a percentage of the profit from the resale of the goods would go towards Moor’s Indian Charity School, but beyond that detail, the English Trust was scandalized at the thought of money raised for charity being invested in trade. The English Trust blamed Whitaker entirely for these affairs, and issued specific instructions for Occom to notarize all documents requiring Whitaker’s signature. In short, they wanted Occom to supervise Whitaker, when Wheelock had envisioned the opposite relationship (both Occom and Whitaker seem to have ignored their instructions, preferring to have as little contact with one another as possible). In 1769, a year after his return to Connecticut in 1768, Whitaker found himself dismissed by his Chelsea congregation (likely because he had spent two and a half years away from them). He went on to serve several more congregations before his death in 1795. Whitaker was an outspoken Whig, and during the Revolution he published several pamphlets on his political opinions.

Clap, Thomas

Thomas Clap was an American academic and Congregational minister who is best known for his role as fifth rector and first official President of Yale University (then known as Yale College) from 1740-1766. While at Yale, Clap introduced courses such as mathematics and natural philosophy, popular "Enlightenment" subjects during the Great Awakening. These changes began the shift of Yale's focus from training Congregational ministers to educating colonial youth in a broader curriculum.

Smith, John

John Smith was an affluent Boston merchant who supported Wheelock’s school throughout the 1760s. It is likely that Smith and Wheelock were introduced by George Whitefield or someone similarly involved in evangelical and missionary efforts in the British Atlantic world: John Smith made somewhat regular trips to London for business, and had been in contact with Whitefield since the 1740s. Like the other Boston merchants who supported Moor’s Indian Charity School (including Moses Peck, William Hyslop, and Nathaniel Eells), Smith traded with Wheelock and kept him up to date on political developments in Boston, especially as they concerned attitudes towards Moor’s Indian Charity School. However, Smith was better educated (and likely more affluent) than the other merchants that Wheelock worked with, and, correspondingly, played a more important role than his brethren in Wheelock’s efforts. Smith publicized the school independently (his letter to an unnamed friend, catalogued as 764318.2, is one of the most cited letters on the organization of Moor’s) and assisted Wheelock in publishing the Narratives. John Smith’s greatest contribution to Wheelock’s design was his support during Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker’s fundraising tour of Great Britain (1765-1768). Smith set out for Britain in July 1765 to improve his health, and while there, acted as a vanguard for Occom and Whitaker. He managed their correspondence, suggested destinations, and served on an ad hoc advisory council that included George Whitefield, Samuel Savage, Robert Keen, and several other influential men. The pace of the journey caught up with John Smith, however, and he died in 1768 while in Britain.

Peck, Moses

Watchmaker Moses Peck took collections for Occom, and Wheelock had an account with him that involved shipping items to Lebanon and debits/credits for funding Occom. It is possible that Peck was Occom’s credit source in Boston. He was enthusiastic about and involved in the Indian education mission, and offered Wheelock advice about how to deal with Anglicans. Wheelock had Peck print his brief defense of Occom to counter the London Society’s rumors. Peck paid to send his son Elijah to school with Wheelock, although Elijah eventually failed his graduation examinations.

Lesley, James
DeBerdt, Dennys

Dennys DeBerdt was a London merchant of Dutch descent, a dissenter who took an avid interest in American affairs and politics. Although he was not especially prominent in British eyes, many Americans, including Wheelock, venerated him as a valuable ally. DeBerdt tried to help Wheelock secure a charter for Moor's, but his efforts failed because the Connecticut Assembly was opposed. Otherwise, DeBerdt helped Wheelock in much the same way as other supporters did: he collected and forwarded donations and circulated information. He also hosted Occom, Whitaker, and J. Smith on their fundraising tour. In 1765, the Massachusetts Assembly elected DeBerdt as their agent in London, a post he held until his death in 1770. He also served as an agent for the Assemblies of Connecticut and Delaware. He frequently advocated for American interests in London, and was instrumental in the repeal of the Stamp Act. DeBerdt invested heavily in American trade, with poor results for his estate. Perhaps because he was a Dissenter and enjoyed limited opportunities in England, he thought American religious freedom was well worth defending. Virtually all correspondence between DeBerdt and Wheelock dates from between 1757 and 1763. DeBerdt's last letter to Wheelock was written in 1763, and Wheelock wrote to DeBerdt only sporadically after that (his last two letters are dated October 1765 and February 1767). It is not clear why the two men stopped corresponding.

Occom’s Third Mission to the Oneidas
In May 1763, Occom, accompanied by Samuel Ashpo, another Mohegan minister, sets out on his third mission to the Oneidas but cannot get to New York because of the outbreak of Pontiac’s War.
Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0087.ocp M r Mr. Blake mentioned Blake
pers0500.ocp M. r Mr. Charles Jeffery Smith mentioned Smith, Charles Jeffery
pers0030.ocp M. r Mr. Occom mentioned Occom, Samson
pers0002.ocp M. r Mr. Aſhpo Ashpo mentioned Ashpo, Samuel
pers0002.ocp Aſhpo Ashpo mentioned Ashpo, Samuel
pers0457.ocp M. r Mr. Roſs Ross mentioned Ross
pers0023.ocp David Jewett mentioned Jewett, David
pers0034.ocp Comfort Starr mentioned Starr, Comfort
pers0269.ocp Jonathan Huntington mentioned
pers0480.ocp Eliſha Elisha Sheldon mentioned Sheldon, Elisha
pers0022.ocp Sam. l Samuel Huntington mentioned Huntington, Samuel
pers0039.ocp Solomon Williams mentioned Williams, Solomon
pers0015.ocp Joseph Fiſh Fish mentioned Fish, Joseph
pers0217.ocp William Gaylord mentioned Gaylord, William
pers0381.ocp Sam. l Samuel Mosely Moseley mentioned Moseley, Samuel
pers0036.ocp Eleazar wheelock writer Wheelock, Eleazar
pers0432.ocp Benjamin Pomeroy mentioned Pomeroy, Benjamin
pers0033.ocp Richard Saltar mentioned Salter, Richard
pers0037.ocp Nath l Nathaniel Whitaker mentioned Whitaker, Nathaniel
pers0010.ocp Preſid t President Clap mentioned Clap, Thomas
pers0078.ocp M. r Mr. Bellamy mentioned Bellamy
pers0497.ocp John Smith mentioned Smith, John
pers0032.ocp Moses Peck mentioned Peck, Moses
pers0326.ocp James Leſley Lesley mentioned Lesley, James
pers0500.ocp M. r Mr. Smith mentioned Smith, Charles Jeffery
pers0326.ocp M. r Mr. Leſley Lesley mentioned Lesley, James
pers0167.ocp M. r Mr. Dickſon Dickson mentioned Dickson
pers0014.ocp Dennys DeBerdt mentioned DeBerdt, Dennys
pers0036.ocp Eleazar Wheelock writer Wheelock, Eleazar
pers0185.ocp Jn. o John Erskine recipient Erskine, John
pers0185.ocp John Erskine recipient Erskine, John

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0122.ocp Lebanon Lebanon
place0181.ocp Oniyada Oneida Lake Oneida Lake
place0048.ocp Government Connecticut
place0110.ocp Jeningo Chenango Chenango
place0206.ocp Seſquaana Susquehanna River Susquehanna River
place0164.ocp New London New London
place0243.ocp Windham Windham
place0127.ocp Litchfield Litchfield
place0174.ocp Norwich Norwich
place0226.ocp Stonington Stonington
place0173.ocp Norwalk Norwalk
place0099.ocp Hebron Hebron
place0131.ocp Manſfield Mansfield Mansfield
place0048.ocp Coloney Colony of Connecticut Connecticut
place0013.ocp Boſton Boston Boston
place0128.ocp London London

Organizations identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
org0098.ocp this School Moor’s Indian Charity School
org0096.ocp CorriſpondtsCorrespondents at in BoſtonBoston Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
org0027.ocp this Gov.tGovernment Colony of Connecticut
org0096.ocp HonleHonourable Society Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
org0098.ocp this School Moor’s Indian Charity School
org0067.ocp New JerſieJersey College Princeton University

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1763-09-21 Sept.rSeptember 21. 1763
1763-04-08 8th8th April
1763-07-17 July 17th17th
1763-09-21 21. Sept.rSeptember 1763

Regularized text:

Type Original Regularized
modernization Rev.d Rev.
modernization 8th 8th
modernization laſt last
modernization 17th 17th
modernization Anſwer answer
modernization Mr Mr.
modernization ſoon soon
variation incloſed enclosed
modernization Riſe rise
modernization Progreſs progress
modernization &c etc.
modernization Succeſsfully successfully
modernization Proſecuting prosecuting
modernization Deſign design
modernization ye the
modernization Miſsion mission
modernization M.r Mr.
variation in
modernization deſigning designing
modernization himſelf himself
modernization Miſsionary missionary
variation Oniyada Oneida
modernization diſposed disposed
modernization deſirous desirous
modernization againſt against
modernization Engliſh English
modernization adviſe advise
modernization earneſtly earnestly
modernization deſiring desiring
modernization ſhould should
modernization meaſure measure
modernization Aſhpo Ashpo
modernization Miniſters ministers
modernization y.e the
variation Jeningo Chenango
variation Seſquaana Susquehanna
modernization Eagerneſs eagerness
modernization Proſpect prospect
modernization ſelves selves
modernization Diſtinguiſh distinguish
modernization ſaid said
modernization faſt fast
modernization ſome some
modernization Boſton Boston
modernization Deſigns designs
modernization Succeſs success
modernization preſent present
variation incouraging encouraging
variation any where anywhere
modernization Miſsionaries missionaries
modernization muſt must
modernization Suſpended suspended
modernization Preſent present
modernization ſafe safe
modernization eſpecially especially
modernization ſhall shall
variation Sutably suitably
modernization ſo so
modernization Eſteem esteem
variation Traytors traitors
modernization thoſe those
variation Hoſtilites hostilities
modernization occaſioned occasioned
modernization raiſed raised
modernization Diſposed disposed
variation there for therefore
modernization ſuſpended suspended
variation till 'til
modernization ſend send
modernization Commiſsioned commissioned
modernization Roſs Ross
modernization Loſs loss
modernization Revd Rev.
modernization Eſqr Esq.
modernization Deceaſed deceased
modernization Esq.r Esq.
modernization Eliſha Elisha
modernization Meſsrs Messsrs.
modernization Fiſh Fish
variation Mosely Moseley
modernization Manſfield Mansfield
variation Coloney Colony
modernization ſuch such
modernization Commiſsion. commission
variation Joyned joined
modernization ſee see
variation joyned joined
modernization Diſtance distance
variation unweildy unwieldy.
modernization Pleaſe Please
modernization beſides Besides
modernization Leſley Lesley
variation Jerſie Jersey
modernization theſe these
variation School maſter schoolmaster
modernization Laſt last
modernization Inſtruction instruction
modernization laſt paſt. last past.
modernization Increaſe increase
modernization deſigned designed
modernization aſsiſtance assistance
modernization publiſhed published
modernization pleaſe please
modernization ſupra supra
modernization Deſperate desperate
modernization diſ­
modernization accompliſh accomplish
variation amg among
variation dos does
variation incourage encourage
modernization Dickſon Dickson
modernization pleaſe, please,
modernization neareſt nearest
modernization approaches approaches
modernization moſt ſincere most sincere

Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
Sept.r September
Hond Honoured
inform'd informed
& and
Comtee committee
Gen.l General
preachd preached
kill'd killed
Miſs[above] rsrs missionaries
Corriſpondts Correspondents
tho't thought
acco.t account
accots accounts
Gov.t Government
Fav.r favour
Honle Honourable
Sam.l Samuel
Nathl Nathaniel
Preſidt President
woud would
freq.t frequent
tho' though
Jn.o John
Lettr Letter

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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 55)
Number of people/places/organizations with unknown keys: 0 (out of 63)
Number of "add" tags with unknown 'place' attributes: 0 (out of 47)
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HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Erskine, 1763 September 21
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