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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to William Livingston, 1765 February 19

ms-number: 765169.2

[note (type: abstract): Wheelock writes that Occom has had to return home from his mission, that the petition for incorporation has been postponed, and that the king would like the school to be moved to the Illinois River and put under Episcopal management.][note (type: handwriting): Informal handwriting is small and crowded, with several additions and deletions. There are some uncrossed t’s that have been corrected by transcriber][note (type: paper): Single sheet is in good condition, with light-to-moderate creasing, staining and wear.][note (type: ink): Brown-black.][note (type: noteworthy): This document appears to be a draft.]

events: Occom’s First Mission to the Oneidas, Mason Land Case


My dear Sir.
I Suppose [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Brainerd[pers0004.ocp] [inform'd | informed]inform'dinformed You of the
Sad [con[illegible]ſequen[illegible]tſ | consequences]con[illegible]ſequen[illegible]tſconsequences of [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp]'s returning as he did from
New York[place0166.ocp] after he [Sat | set]Satset out on his Tour for the Indian
Country — My Prayer for an Incorporation was
[Suſpended | suspended]Suſpendedsuspended ['till | 'til]'till'til M[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): y]yay next[1766-05] by our [Gen.l | General]Gen.lGeneral [Aſsembly | Assembly]AſsemblyAssembly[org0027.ocp] on
[Acco.t | account]Acco.taccount of the Reports, [& | and]&and [Jealouſies | jealousies]Jealouſiesjealousies of his being active
in the old [Maſon | Mason]MaſonMason Case, as it is [Calld | called]Calldcalled, which is of late
revived, in which [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Occoms Tribe[org0063.ocp] are Plaintiff [againſt | against]againſtagainst
the Government[org0027.ocp]. and I fear the [Biaſs | bias]Biaſsbias on the minds
of people is Such that there is little [proſpect | prospect]proſpectprospect of my
[Succeſs | success]Succeſssuccess in a further Application.
I have had nothing from [Gen.l | Gen.]Gen.lGen. Lyman[pers0344.ocp] Since I wrote
you. but [underſtand | understand]underſtandunderstand he has made his Pitch on the
Illi[illegible]nois River[place0322.ocp]. And conclude from the Nature of
the Case as well as from Hints in the public News
that it would be [agreable | agreeable]agreableagreeable to his Majesty[pers0305.ocp] and all
about him to have this School[org0098.ocp] carried thither
with the General[pers0344.ocp] ([illegible]if a Grant there Should be made
him) provided they could have [reaſonable | reasonable]reaſonablereasonable [Aſsuranc[gap: worn_edge][guess (h-dawnd): e]e | assurance]Aſsuranc[gap: worn_edge][guess (h-dawnd): e]eassurance
that Episcop[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): ac]acy would be encouraged [& | and]&and promoted
by it. —
Several Gentlemen have [Aſsured | assured]Aſsuredassured me that large [above] DonationsDonations and
as large as I [pleaſed | pleased]pleaſedpleased would be made by the Society[org0129.ocp]
you [above] mentionmention Speak of [above] in yours of [Augt | August]AugtAugust 29[1764-08-29].in yours of [Augt | August]AugtAugust 29[1764-08-29]. if I would only [Submitt | submit]Submittsubmit the School[org0098.ocp]
to their Conduct. But [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. DeBerdt[pers0014.ocp] [& | and]&and others think
there is no Hope of Favour being [Shewn | shown]Shewnshown by them [above] from that Quarterfrom that Quarter
tofor a [Diſcenter | dissenter]Diſcenterdissenter from that [Eſtabliſhment | establishment]Eſtabliſhmentestablishment
If You and a Number of Gentlemen of Character and
Influence Should write the General[pers0344.ocp] or other Suitable
Gentlemen [above] at Homeat Home in Favour of the [Deſign | design]Deſigndesign it might be of Special
[left] Letter to [W.m | William]W.mWilliam [Livingſton | Livingstone]LivingſtonLivingstone[pers0333.ocp] [Eſq.r | Esq.]Eſq.rEsq.
[Feby | February]FebyFebruary 19. 1765[1765-02-19].
Letter to [W.m | William]W.mWilliam [Livingſton | Livingstone]LivingſtonLivingstone[pers0333.ocp] [Eſq.r | Esq.]Eſq.rEsq.
[Feby | February]FebyFebruary 19. 1765[1765-02-19].

Service to [illegible]itThe [Deſign | design]Deſigndesign
I have been [adviſed | advised]adviſedadvised by Some to [aſk | ask]aſkask the Favour of an
[Eſtabliſhment | establishment]Eſtabliſhmentestablishment from [above] Incorporation inIncorporation in Your Government[above] ProvinceProvince[place0166.ocp] and to fix the School[org0098.ocp]
in Some place within the Same [conviently | conveniently]convientlyconveniently Situate for
the Purpose —
My own [Pariſh | parish]Pariſhparish [& | and]&and the [friſt | first]friſtfirst Society in Hebron[org0130.ocp] are Now
[Subſcribing | subscribing]Subſcribingsubscribing towards a Building [&c | etc.]&cetc. for it provided [above] to inviteto invite its be‐
‐ing [Settledm.t | settlement]Settledm.tsettlement among them, [& | and]&and many Appear very Zealous for it.
when they have done You will likely know what Sums they
offer for it. —
I Sent a Prayer to Your Board of [Corriſpondents | Correspondents]CorriſpondentsCorrespondents[org0069.ocp] that they
Some weeks ago, that they would unite their Endeavours with
ours in these parts in promoting the General [Deſign | design]Deſigndesign, and
in order thereto that they would Send the Rev. John Brain‐
to Europe[place0070.ocp] this Spring with an Indian from this [ſchool | school]ſchoolschool[org0098.ocp]
to [Sollicit | solicit]Sollicitsolicit the Charities of Good people towards the Support
of thise School[org0098.ocp] [& | and]&and [Miſsionaries | missionaries]Miſsionariesmissionaries, but have heard nothing of it [ſince | since]ſincesince.
I directed it to [Wm | William]WmWilliam Peartree Smith[pers0788.ocp] [Esqr | Esq.]EsqrEsq. [above] of [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): Eliza]Eliza town[place0067.ocp]of [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): Eliza]Eliza town[place0067.ocp]. If it has not [reachd | reached]reachdreached
them I Should be glad to know it as Soon as [poſsible | possible]poſsiblepossible, for
it will Soon be too late to [Accompliſh | accomplish]Accompliſhaccomplish what will be [neceſsary | necessary]neceſsarynecessary
preparatory to their going [above] So [Seaſonably | seasonably]Seaſonablyseasonably as on many [accots | accounts]accotsaccounts will [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): be [beſt | best]beſtbest]be [beſt | best]beſtbestSo [Seaſonably | seasonably]Seaſonablyseasonably as on many [accots | accounts]accotsaccounts will [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): be [beſt | best]beſtbest]be [beſt | best]beſtbest. I Should have [firſt | first]firſtfirst [illegible][calld | called]calldcalled [above] [obtain[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): d]d | obtained]obtain[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): d]dobtained a meeting of[obtain[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): d]d | obtained]obtain[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): d]dobtained a meeting of our
together but the Snow was [above] ([& | and]&and is Still)([& | and]&and is Still) So Deep that it was
not Practicable. — andor if they [above] your [Com̅iſs.rſ | Commissioners]Com̅iſs.rſCommissioners[org0069.ocp]your [Com̅iſs.rſ | Commissioners]Com̅iſs.rſCommissioners[org0069.ocp] have had a meeting [& | and]&and
have acted upon it I Should be glad of a Return as [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon
as [poſsible | possible]poſsiblepossible by the [Poſt | post]Poſtpost in order to lay [y.e | the]y.ethe [ſame | same]ſamesame before this Board[org0034.ocp].
My Son[pers0578.ocp] left me 2 months ago when he [Sat | set]Satset out on his
Journey to Princeton[place0325.ocp] [&c | etc.]&cetc. and I expected to have heard
from him by the [Poſt | post]Poſtpost next [poſt | post]poſtpost after his [arival | arrival]arivalarrival but
have had no News of him [ſince | since]ſincesince he left New [illegible]Haven[place0162.ocp]. If
you can inform me [any thing | anything]any thinganything of him, pray be So good
as to do it by the Next [Poſt | post]Poſtpost. [& | and]&and direct it to the Care of
[M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Ichabod [Robinſon | Robinson]RobinſonRobinson[pers0449.ocp] of Lebanon[place0122.ocp].[above] ##
[right] [above] ##I have been more anxious
to hear from him Since on [acco.t | account]acco.taccount of a
late report among us [above] [w.c | which]w.cwhich agrees to him in many [Circumſtances | circumstances]Circumſtancescircumstances[w.c | which]w.cwhich agrees to him in many [Circumſtances | circumstances]Circumſtancescircumstances that a Traveller in
your [Gov.t | government]Gov.tgovernment[place0067.ocp] [paſsd | passed]paſsdpassed his way and [periſhed | perished]periſhedperished in [y.e | the]y.ethe Cold [& | and]&and could not be known from whence he was.
[above] ##I have been more anxious
to hear from him Since on [acco.t | account]acco.taccount of a
late report among us [above] [w.c | which]w.cwhich agrees to him in many [Circumſtances | circumstances]Circumſtancescircumstances[w.c | which]w.cwhich agrees to him in many [Circumſtances | circumstances]Circumſtancescircumstances that a Traveller in
your [Gov.t | government]Gov.tgovernment[place0067.ocp] [paſsd | passed]paſsdpassed his way and [periſhed | perished]periſhedperished in [y.e | the]y.ethe Cold [& | and]&and could not be known from whence he was.
I [aſk | ask]aſkask your Pardon
for Such a Lengthy Scrawl. and am with [Sincereſt | sincerest]Sincereſtsincerest
[Reſpect | respect]Reſpectrespect, [above] my dear dear Sir. yours [moſt | most]moſtmost heartily
Eleazar Wheelock[pers0036.ocp]
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.
Mohegan Tribe
The Mohegans are an Algonquian tribe located in New London County, Connecticut. The Mohegan Tribe spent most of the 18th century struggling to regain control over its territory from the colony of Connecticut in a protracted affair known as the Mason Land Case. The groundwork for the dispute was laid in 1659, when Uncas, the first Mohegan sachem after the tribe separated from the Pequot, entrusted the Tribe’s lands to John Mason, an Anglo-American who had been Uncas’ ally in the war against the Pequot. The following year, the colony of Connecticut persuaded Mason to transfer his stewardship of the Mohegan land to the colony. However, since Mason continued to act as trustee, it was unclear to what degree the colony was the tribe’s legal steward. Nonetheless, in the 1690s, Connecticut began selling off the land specifically set aside for Mohegan use. The Tribe brought its first legal challenges in 1704, and the case was tried multiple times in the colonies and England before it was decided in favor of the colony in 1773. The case split the Mohegan Tribe into two camps and led to serious interference in tribal self-government. When the sachem Caeser died in 1723 (when his son Mahomet was too young to lead), the Tribe split over whether the new sachem should be Caesar’s younger brother Ben Uncas, or John Uncas Jr., a more direct descendent of Uncas I. When Ben took the post, John gathered his supporters and moved half a mile down the road in protest. The Mohegans thus split into “Ben’s Town” and “John’s Town” (these designations correlated with the “sachem party” and the “Mason party,” respectively). When Ben Uncas II, Ben Uncas I’s son, became sachem in 1726, he maintained his family’s shaky hold on power by allying himself with the colony of Connecticut. In an unstated quid pro quo, Ben Uncas II and his son, Ben Uncas III, did not pursue the Mason Case, and in return, they received favors and political support from the colony, which proved critical on multiple occasions when the Mohegans elected alternate sachems. The colony, meanwhile, got to parade a supposedly legitimate sachem in front of Anglo-American and British authorities as proof that the Mason party was composed of rabble rousers. Ben Uncas II and Ben Uncas III, as part of their project of tying themselves to the colony, worshiped at the Anglo-American parish in New London under the ministry of David Jewett, a minister sponsored by the New England Company, a powerful missionary organization. As a form of resistance to Jewett and, by extension, the sachem party, many Mohegans elected to worship with indigenous leaders such as Samson Occom and Samuel Ashpo. Jewett was none too pleased, and the affair drew the New England Company in on the side of the sachem party and inspired its backlash against Samson Occom and his mentor, Eleazar Wheelock, throughout the 1760s. Something of a resolution came in 1769, when Ben Uncas III died. At his funeral, the pallbearers (Occom included) dropped his coffin in front of the representatives from the Connecticut Assembly — a clear indication of what they thought of the company the sachem kept. The Tribe dissolved the office of sachem rather than instituting Ben Uncas III’s son Isaiah (who died shortly afterwards, in 1770), but the damage had been done. The case was decided in favor of the colony in 1773. Samson Occom and Joseph Johnson, both Mohegan, were essential architects of the Brothertown movement, a coalition of Southern New England Algonquians that migrated to Oneida territory in 1775 and again in 1783. However, the majority of the Tribe did not emigrate, and today the Mohegan Tribe is federally recognized and still holds land in Connecticut.
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.
The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts
The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) is an Anglican missionary organization. It was founded in 1701 to promote Anglicanism worldwide. In the American colonies, the SPG not only pursued missionary efforts among Indians and African slaves, it also strove to convert members of dissenting sects, or sects that had split off from the Church of England (including Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Quakers, and Baptists). Wheelock clashed with the SPG over access to the Six Nations. Starting in 1704, the SPG sent periodic missionaries to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), especially the Mohawks. Anglican influence in the area expanded with the appointment of Sir William Johnson, the Superintendent for British Indian Affairs in the Northeast, an Anglican who set up his headquarters in Mohawk territory. Johnson was also Wheelock's link to the Six Nations. He was willing to help Wheelock as long as the SPG was not trying to place missionaries among the Six Nations; however, as soon as Anglican missionaries were available, he supported them to exclusion of Wheelock's missionaries. Thus, religion was yet another factor in the dissolution of Johnson and Wheelock's relationship. Once Wheelock withdrew from the Six Nations in 1769, the SPG took over entirely. The SPG also interfered with Occom's fundraising tour of Great Britain in 1765. They sent over their own ordained Indian to try to pre-empt Occom; however, their Indian minister spoke no English and was not a success.
First Society in Hebron
From its earliest settlement, Connecticut's established religion was Congregationalism, also known as Presbyterianism, the secular business of which was run by ecclesiastical societies or parishes. As towns grew, the societies established for each new Church were named numerically. The First Society in Hebron is, thus, the first ecclesiastical society established in the town to govern the first Church established in Hebron, and dates from October 1716. It then expanded and part of it became the Andover Society in May 1747, the Marlborough Society in May 1747, and the Gilead Society in 1748. Hebron is a neigboring town to Lebanon, Wheelock's "own Parish" (ms. 765169.2) and home of Wheelock's good friend and supporter Benjamin Pomeroy.
Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
The Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the SSPCK was founded in 1764 at Wheelock's request. He wanted a public board's support so that his school would seem more credible since it was a private organization with no charter. The Boston Board of the SSPCK would not do since they generally opposed Wheelock, so his solution was to petition the SSPCK for his own board. The SSPCK acquiesed, and the board met for the first time on July 4, 1764. While the board was nominally separate from Wheelock's school, in practice, he exercised considerable control over it. The members of the board were Wheelock's handpicked friends and supporters: Jonathan Huntington, Elisha Sheldon, Samuel Huntington, Solomon Williams, Joseph Fish, William Gaylord, Samuel Moseley, Benjamin Pomeroy, Richard Salter, Nathaniel Whitaker, David Jewett, and Wheelock himself. Wheelock used this board to send Occom and Whitaker to England, hold exams for Moor's Indian Charity School, and generally support his designs. When Wheelock moved to New Hampshire, he tried to establish a New Hampshire Board as well, but by that point the SSPCK was much more cautious when it came to Wheelock's plans and refused. The Connecticut Board dissolved in 1771 as Wheelock was its raison d'etre.
The New York/New Jersey Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
The New York/New Jersey Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge was the Presbyterian SSPCK board in the colonies and oversaw the Society's missionary efforts in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It was established in 1741 at the request of Jonathan Dickinson, Aaron Burr (Sr.), and Ebenezer Pemberton, who employed several missionaries including Azariah Horton and both David and John Brainerd. Since these same men founded the College of New Jersey (Dickinson was the first president, Burr the second), the New York Board became somewhat conflated with the trustees of the College of New Jersey. The two bodies were not formally combined in the eyes of the SSPCK until February 1769, but as early as 1765, Wheelock wrote addressing the "Board of Correspondents in the Province of New York and New Jersey." The New York Board was almost exclusively Presbyterian, and many of Wheelock's Presbyterian acquaintances, including David Bostwick, Aaron Burr, John Brainerd, etc., were involved in it. The Board as a whole does not seem to have been particularly helpful or hostile towards Wheelock and his plans. They certainly supported missionary efforts for Native Americans, but refused to release John Brainerd from missionary obligations to accompany Occom to England.
Illinois River

The Illinois River is a tributary of the Mississippi River, running from the southwestern to northern part of the present-day state of Illinois. It was named after the Illinois Confederacy, a coalition of American Indians who lived west of the Great Lakes, and who first made contact with Europeans when, in 1666, a group of eighty Illinois Indians came to a French trading post on Lake Superior. This was the start of a long-standing trading relationship. Contact with the French and British colonists significantly changed the Illinois Indians' way of life, and by the middle of the 19th century, the tribe had moved west to Indian Territory, in what is present day Oklahoma. In a 1765 letter, Wheelock expresses his concern about Occom’s reinvestment in the Mason Land Case and wonders what influence that might have on a school he plans to establish with General Phineas Lyman, who has “made his Pitch on the Illinois River” as a site for this school.


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.

New Haven

New Haven is a city in south central Connecticut on New Haven Harbor and the Long Island Sound. The Quinnipiac Indians, specifically the Momauguin band of the Algonquin-speaking Tribe, were the area’s original inhabitants. The Quinnipiacs lived along the banks of Connecticut's many rivers; fittingly, Quinnipiac means long water country. After Dutch explorer Adrian Block first sailed up the Connecticut River in 1614, Quinnipiac lands and peoples began to dwindle, especially as English settlement expanded. In 1638, Reverend John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton, a London merchant, sailed into New Haven Harbor from Massachusetts Bay Colony and formally established New Haven as a Puritan settlement. Though he did not have a royal charter for his new colony, Davenport signed a treaty with Quinnipiac sachem Momauguin in 1738, which gave the English formal ownership over the land. Davenport had left Massachusetts in the midst of the Anne Hutchinson controversy, likely coming to Connecticut to found his own Puritan theocracy. New Haven existed as its own colony distinct from Connecticut until 1665, when Charles II united the two under the Colony of Connecticut. From then on, New Haven referred to the city specifically, which in 1701 became the co-capital of Connecticut along with Hartford. In 1716, the college that would become Yale, where Eleazar Wheelock received his degree in 1733, moved to its permanent home in New Haven. From its creation, Yale was committed to training Christian missionaries; several of Wheelock’s Anglo-American missionaries studied at Yale while many of his Anglo-American students from Moor’s went on to study there. Wheelock took Occom to New Haven in 1744 to see Yale's commencement exercises, but due to terrible eye strain, Occom never attended the College. Because New Haven was the co-capital of Connecticut, any of Occom's or Wheelock’s dealings with the Colony of Connecticut often involved New Haven. By the Revolutionary War, the city had a population of 3,500, almost none of whom were Quinnipiac Indians. New Haven remained co-capital of Connecticut until 1873, when it lost to Hartford in what is known as the "single capital contest."


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.


Located just northwest of Staten Island, Elizabeth, New Jersey, was originally called Elizabethtown. Richard Nicolls, governor of the territories of North America, gave permission to John Bailey, Daniel Denton, and Luke Watson to purchase 500,000 acres from the Indians of Staten Island in 1664; however, the whole of New Jersey had been conveyed to Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, who commissioned his relative Philip Carteret to be governor. Governor Carteret established Elizabethtown, named after George Carteret’s wife, as the capital of the province of New Jersey. In 1855 the legislature of New Jersey officially established this land as the City of Elizabeth. Josiah Wolcott wrote a letter from Elizabethtown to Eleazar Wheelock asking to enroll his son into Wheelock’s school.

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.

Livingston, William
Brainerd, John

John Brainerd was an ardent missionary with an important role in Wheelock's design. He was the younger brother of the famous missionary David Brainerd, who died as a young man after being expelled from Yale and serving as a missionary to New Jersey tribes. John completed his Yale degree and was immediately commissioned to replace David. Even in his own time, he was seen as a man as pious as, but less talented than, his brother, though Brainerd missioned to Indians during a more volatile period, and saw his congregation forcibly removed from their lands in 1755 and relocated at Brothertown in 1758 (this Brothertown should not be confused with the one founded in New York after the Revolution by many Moor's alumni). Brainerd was extremely devoted to the Indian cause. He often had the opportunity to serve wealthy English congregations, but preferred to remain an Indian missionary. He invested signficant sums of his own money into his missions, for which he was never reimbursed. Brainerd was a very prominent Presbyterian figure, active in the Presbytery and Synod of New York, holding several elected positions, and in the Presbtery and Synod of New York and Philadelphia once the two reunified in 1758. He was a Trustee of the College of New Jersey from 1754 until his death, and a member of the New York Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Occom had planned to work with Brainerd in 1750, but political upheaval prevented it. Brainerd was one of several men nominated to accompany Occom to England, but the New York Board refused to let him go. While Brainerd and Wheelock were not close personal friends, the two had a similar interests and a long-lasting correspondence. John Brainerd sent Wheelock his first Indian boys, and also recruited female students in the 1760s. Throughout their lives, Brainerd and Wheelock updated one another on Indian missions, and Brainerd seems to have been one of Wheelock's "point people" in the Presbyterian Church.

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.

Lyman, Phineas

General Phineas Lyman was a longtime friend of Eleazar Wheelock’s and a supporter of his school. He was born in Durham, CT in 1715 and studied law at Yale. After graduating in 1738, Lyman became a tutor then successful lawyer, and he managed a law school in Suffield, MA. When Suffield was incorporated into Connecticut, Lyman became involved with the Connecticut General Assembly. He served in the French and Indian War, commanding 5,000 Connecticut troops, and was integral in the battle of Lake George in 1755 although General Johnson was credited with the victory. After the war, General Lyman went to England in search of acknowledgment for his war endeavors, and to secure land on the Mississippi or Ohio River for himself and fellow officers. Lyman assured Wheelock he would endeavor to incorporate his school into the territory. However, in April of 1769, Lord Dartmouth wrote to Wheelock indicating that General Lyman had excluded the school from his plea; Sir William Johnson had denounced Wheelock for supposedly deterring Indians from ceding their property. In 1774, after 11 years of negotiations, General Lyman finally obtained the grant for the Mississippi and Yazoo lands; nonetheless, Wheelock had already established his school in New Hampshire. In 1775, General Lyman died en route to the newly acquired territory in West Florida.

Frederick, George William

George William Frederick (King George III) became heir to the throne of England in 1751 upon the death of his father Frederick, Prince of Wales. He became King George III of England in the fall of 1760 at age 22, following the death of his grandfather King George II. George III passed many important edicts during his reign including that of the Royal Marriage Act of 1772; the Treaty of Paris in 1762, which ended the Seven Years War; the Stamp Act of 1765; and the Townshend Duties of 1767. However, he is most well-known for being the reigning monarch during the Revolutionary War. After the surrender of British forces to the Americans in 1782, George III considered abdicating the throne, but chose not to do so because he felt it would be too detrimental to Britain. The last 30 years of George's life were plagued with illness. In 1788 he had the first of many attacks of insanity, now believed to have been caused by an inherited disease known as porphyria. With George III unfit to rule, it was decided that his son George would become regent, an arrangement which was made permanent in 1810. King George III died on January 29, 1820 at the age of 81 after a reign of nearly 60 years (the third longest in British history). He was succeeded by his son George IV.

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.

Smith, William Peartree

William Peartree Smith was a wealthy New York Presbyterian who became one of the founders of the College of New Jersey (Princeton). He was related to William Smith (Senior), who was his father's first cousin, another College of New Jersey Trustee and Eleazar Wheelock’s occasional legal consultant. Smith studied law at Yale and graduated in 1742, but he never practiced as a lawyer: between a large inheritance from his father and marriage to an even wealthier woman, Smith was able to spend his life managing his estate and promoting causes he found worthy. Among these was the College of New Jersey. He was named as a trustee in the 1748 charter, and remained one until he retired at age 70. He was also the secretary of the Presbyterian New York/New Jersey Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, which formally fused with the Trustees of the College of New Jersey in 1769 (although the two were functionally unified much earlier). Like other Presbyterian organizations, the College of New Jersey and the New Jersey SSPCK tended to express a polite tolerance for Wheelock, but did not seriously help or hinder him. Smith moved to Elizabethtown (the location of the College of New Jersey) in 1757, and became politically active as a mayor and, later, a judge. He sided with the patriots during the Revolution.

Wheelock, Rodulphus

Ralph Rodulphus Wheelock was Wheelock's oldest son and heir apparent. While Wheelock believed that Ralph showed great aptitude for the "Indian business," others saw Ralph as arrogant and abrasive. He also suffered from epilepsy, which seriously impeded his ability to work. He died in Hanover as an invalid under almost constant care and guardianship. Wheelock's struggle to accept his son's illness and his son's struggle to overcome it provide an undercurrent for some of the stranger events in the history of Moor's Indian Charity School and Dartmouth College. Ralph grew up surrounded by and dedicated to Indian education, but also with an inflated sense of Wheelock's, and his own, importance, which stayed with him for much of his life. Joseph Brant recounts a telling anecdote: Ralph once ordered William Major, Sir William Johnson's son, to saddle his horse on the grounds that he was the son of a gentleman and William Major was not. Ralph was unable to finish coursework at the College of New Jersey, which he attended from 1761-1763, although he graduated from Yale in 1765. He made three tours of the Six Nations (in 1766, 1767, and 1768), assisting ministers in bringing back children and negotiating with tribes. He taught at Moor's for two years, and was briefly considered as a companion for Occom on the Fundraising Tour. Wheelock formally named him as his heir in the 1768 draft of his will. However, Wheelock's reliance on Ralph brought disastrous consequences for the school. In the spring of 1768, Wheelock sent Ralph to the Onondagas and Oneidas to negotiate about schoolmasters and missionaries. Once there, Ralph managed to offend the assembled chiefs beyond repair. Ralph blamed his failure on Kirkland, and it was not until 1772 that Wheelock learned the truth of the matter. It is likely that Ralph's conduct influenced the Oneidas' decision to pull their children out of Moor's later in 1768: Wheelock himself implied as much in his 1771 Journal. By the early 1770s, Wheelock had realized that Ralph was never going to take over Dartmouth College. In a later will, Wheelock provided Ralph with £50 per annum for his care, to be paid out by the College, and stipulated that his other heirs should look after his oldest son. Because Ralph was unable to serve as Wheelock's heir, the presidency of the College passed to John Wheelock, a soldier who had no theological training or desire to run a college.

Robinson, Ichabod
Occom’s First Mission to the Oneidas
Recruited in November by the New York Commissioners of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, Occom leaves in May 1761 with his brother-in-law David Fowler, for a mission among the Oneida in western New York. He preaches, establishes a school, and recruits three young Mohawk men to attend Wheelock’s Indian Charity School. He returns home at the end of September.
Mason Land Case
This enduring and complex controversy begins with an ambiguous agreement of September 28, 1640 in which Uncas, sachem of the Mohegans, either gives or entrusts a large tract of the Tribe’s territory to the Colony of Connecticut, to be overseen by Major John Mason, a long-time advisor to the Mohegans. Over the years, Mason’s heirs, on behalf of the Mohegan Tribe, resist the Colony’s claims that it owns the lands through a series of suits and appeals. In 1743, Occom attends hearings of the case, which has split the Tribe into opposing factions. The case is finally decided in the Royal Courts in London in 1773 against the Mohegans.
Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0004.ocp M. r Mr. Brainerd mentioned Brainerd, John
pers0030.ocp M. r Mr. Occom mentioned Occom, Samson
pers0344.ocp Gen. l Gen. Lyman mentioned Lyman, Phineas
pers0305.ocp his Majesty mentioned Frederick, George William
pers0344.ocp the General mentioned Lyman, Phineas
pers0014.ocp M. r Mr. DeBerdt mentioned DeBerdt, Dennys
pers0333.ocp W. m William Livingſton Livingstone recipient Livingston, William
pers0004.ocp Rev. John Brain‐ ‐erd mentioned Brainerd, John
pers0788.ocp W m William Peartree Smith mentioned Smith, William Peartree
pers0578.ocp My Son mentioned Wheelock, Rodulphus
pers0449.ocp M. r Mr. Ichabod Robinſon Robinson mentioned Robinson, Ichabod
pers0036.ocp Eleazar Wheelock writer Wheelock, Eleazar

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0122.ocp Lebanon Lebanon
place0166.ocp New York New York
place0322.ocp Illi nois River Illinois River
place0166.ocp Your Government Province New York
place0070.ocp Europe Europe
place0067.ocp Eliza town Elizabeth
place0325.ocp Princeton Princeton
place0162.ocp New Haven New Haven
place0067.ocp your Gov. t government Elizabeth

Organizations identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
org0027.ocp our Gen.lGeneral AſsemblyAssembly Colony of Connecticut
org0063.ocp M.rMr. Occoms Tribe Mohegan Tribe
org0027.ocp the Government Colony of Connecticut
org0098.ocp this School Moor’s Indian Charity School
org0129.ocp the Society The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts
org0098.ocp the School Moor’s Indian Charity School
org0098.ocp the School Moor’s Indian Charity School
org0130.ocp friſtfirst Society in Hebron First Society in Hebron
org0069.ocp Board of CorriſpondentsCorrespondents The New York/New Jersey Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
org0098.ocp this ſchoolschool Moor’s Indian Charity School
org0098.ocp thise School Moor’s Indian Charity School
org0034.ocp our Board Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
org0069.ocp your Com̅iſs.rſCommissioners The New York/New Jersey Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
org0034.ocp this Board Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1765-02-19 19th19th FebyFebruary 1765
1766-05 Myay next
1764-08-29 AugtAugust 29
1765-02-19 FebyFebruary 19. 1765

Regularized text:

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Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
Feby February
inform'd informed
Gen.l General
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& and
Augt August
W.m William
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HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to William Livingston, 1765 February 19
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