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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Samuel Huntington, 13 May 1765

ms-number: 765313.3

[note (type: abstract): Wheelock relates the meeting of the board at which Occom and Jewett resolved their differences.][note (type: handwriting): Informal handwriting is crowded and occasionally difficult to decipher.][note (type: paper): Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear. A tear at the bottom of the paper indicates that it was separated from a larger sheet.][note (type: ink): Black-brown.][note (type: noteworthy): This document appears to be a draft.]

events: Mason Land Case, Jewett Controversy

Dear Sir,

The [incloſed | enclosed]incloſedenclosed is a Copy of short mi‐
nutes of the doings of our Board [above] of [Correſpondents | Correspondents]CorreſpondentsCorrespondents of [Correſpondents | Correspondents]CorreſpondentsCorrespondents [org0034.ocp] in the
[caſe | case]caſecase of [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp]. In which the Board[org0034.ocp]
was [unanimouſly | unanimously]unanimouſlyunanimously agreed.
When [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Jewett[pers0023.ocp] laid in the Charge he de‐
‐clined [purſuing | pursuing]purſuingpursuing it, [leſt | lest]leſtlest it [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould appear
like a [perſonal | personal]perſonalpersonal [controverſie | controversy]controverſiecontroversy , he also [ſaid | said]ſaidsaid
that there were Evidences in the Case who
were not here. Where upon [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp]
[above] removed [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Jewett[pers0023.ocp]s objection [againſt | against]againſtagainst [purſuing | pursuing]purſuingpursuing [y.e | the]y.ethe charges [againſt | against]againſtagainst him bothremoved [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Jewett[pers0023.ocp]s objection [againſt | against]againſtagainst [purſuing | pursuing]purſuingpursuing [y.e | the]y.ethe charges [againſt | against]againſtagainst him both
[inſiſted | insisted]inſiſtedinsisted that it should be delayed [till | 'til]till'til all
the Evidences could be had and [Shewed | showed]Shewedshowed a
great [Deſire | desire]Deſiredesire that Everything any[above] BodyBody had
to [alledge | allege]alledgeallege [againſt | against]againſtagainst him [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould be [brougt | brought]brougtbrought
to the Light — [ſo | so]ſoso as to leave nothing more
to be [ſaid | said]ſaidsaid afterwards — it was [above] thenthen proposed
that [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp] should own all that
[M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Jewett[pers0023.ocp] Supposed any could [ſay | say]ſaysay [againſt | against]againſtagainst
him. and or if there Should be any material
contradiction which Should [illegible] [Requre | require]Requre require proof we
might [above] thenthen Adjourn. [above] WhereuponWhereupon we proceeded to a hearing
and were more than a Day upon it. they
agreed in their Accounts of th[illegible]ng without
any [above] materialmaterial contradiction Which they did not [ſettle | settle]ſettlesettle
and [adjuſt | adjust]adjuſtadjust between them. the [Conſequence | consequence]Conſequenceconsequence of
which you [ſee | see]ſeesee in the [inclosed | enclosed]inclosedenclosed. After [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Jewett[pers0023.ocp] [below] hadhad
had agreed to [illegible] to Repair the Injury he
had done [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp]'s Character at [Boſton | Boston]BoſtonBoston[place0013.ocp] they
Shook hands, renewed their [Friendſhip | friendship]Friendſhipfriendship, [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp]
told him that as [faſt | fast]faſtfast as he could [conſiſtantly | consistently]conſiſtantlyconsistently [illegible]
he Should have proof of the Sincerity of his [ Friend‐
‐ſhip | friend‐
towards him, but told him that the Indians
were at [preſent | present]preſentpresent [againſt | against]againſtagainst him [above] ([M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Jewett)[pers0023.ocp]([M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Jewett)[pers0023.ocp] that
if he [above] [himſelf | himself]himſelfhimself [himſelf | himself]himſelfhimself [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould appear open and full
in it at once it would prejudice the Indians [ſo | so]ſoso [againſt | against]againſtagainst
[above] himhim as to [diſable | disable]diſabledisable him to [ſerve | serve]ſerveserve them in their [moſt | most]moſtmost
important concerns and defeat the great [Deſign | design]Deſigndesign
of his bringing them back to [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Jewett[pers0023.ocp]s [Miniſtry | ministry]Miniſtryministry , which
[above] he was sincerely [deſirous | desirous]deſirousdesirous to dohe was sincerely [deſirous | desirous]deſirousdesirous to do the proposal was agreeable and thought to be judicious
It was then moved that the writing between
them relative to the Case [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould be all burnt
and [ſo | so]ſoso the [Hatchett | Hatchet]HatchettHatchet forever buried — [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Jewett[pers0023.ocp]
was [firſt | first]firſtfirst in gathering the Papers [& | and]&and [calld | called]calldcalled [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp]
to it. They both took hold of them and [Joyntly | jointly]Joyntlyjointly
[caſt | cast]caſtcast them into the fire — which they were
Exhorted [above] CautionedCautioned not to burn the House down.
And [above] as I [underſtand | understand]underſtandunderstand it, it was onlyas I [underſtand | understand]underſtandunderstand it, it was only I hear on [Acco.t | Account]Acco.tAccount of the Settlement which
we all hoped would be [laſting | lasting]laſtinglasting that no Record
to perpetuate the [illegible] [above] memory of the [controverſie | controversy]controverſiecontroversy memory of the [controverſie | controversy]controverſiecontroversy has been hitherto made.
and I apprehend that after [ M.r | Mr.] M.rMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp] had made his
Defence [& | and]&and [Submiſsion | submission]Submiſsionsubmission he [ſtand | stand]ſtandstand in as good a light
before this Board[org0034.ocp], as ever he did in the world.
what [M. r | Mr.]M. rMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp] has done or how defective [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Jewett[pers0023.ocp]
was in giving the [acco.t | account]acco.taccount of him I cant tell, but
that the case [above] as it was laid before usas it was laid before us was impartially heard [above] and determinedand determined I have no doubt.
and am [perſuaded | persuaded]perſuadedpersuaded it will be [ſo | so]ſoso thought of by all
impartial Judges. before we could not propose [above] nono any
manner of advantage to [ourſelves | ourselves]ourſelvesourselves [above] or [y.e | the]y.ethe causeor [y.e | the]y.ethe cause by favouring him [below] inin
in Any Iniquity When [above] asas [illegible: [guess (h-dawnd): we[illegible] all]we[illegible] all] knew [y.t | that]y.tthat all the [illegible]
affairs [above] which we judgedwhich we judged had been [tranſacted | transacted]tranſactedtransacted upon the [illegible] [illegible: [guess (h-dawnd): [Baſe | base]Baſebase][Baſe | base]Baſebase].
I have done every thing in my power [above] as I had [opporunity | opportunity]opporunityopportunity as I had [opporunity | opportunity]opporunityopportunity to keep [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp]
back from [medling | meddling]medlingmeddling in [Maſons | Masons]MaſonsMasons Case, and we were all
heartily Sorry that he [above] wrote [& | and]&and wrote [& | and]&and Signed the Indians [ſtory | story]ſtorystory with
the Tribe[org0063.ocp] [above] which I [ſuppose | suppose]ſupposesuppose is [y.e | the]y.ethe whole he has done in the [caſe | case]caſecase which I [ſuppose | suppose]ſupposesuppose is [y.e | the]y.ethe whole he has done in the [caſe | case]caſecase but it cant now be helped but how far
[above] [& | and]&and if he had not been a [min.r | minister]min.rminister I [ſuppose | suppose]ſupposesuppose none [wo.d | would]wo.dwould [ha' | have]ha'have [diſputed | disputed]diſputeddisputed his right to do it [ſo | so]ſoso long[& | and]&and if he had not been a [min.r | minister]min.rminister I [ſuppose | suppose]ſupposesuppose none [wo.d | would]wo.dwould [ha' | have]ha'have [diſputed | disputed]diſputeddisputed his right to do it [ſo | so]ſoso long high [Reſentments | resentments]Reſentmentsresentments on this case or any appearance to
bear him down by Majoration will serve the
[Deſign | design]Deſigndesign or what [y.e | the]y.ethe Effects of it will be at Home
belongs to men of Penetration to Judge.
as he Supposed he had right and [juſtice | justice]juſticejustice on his Side is —
and how far high [Reſentments | resentments]Reſentmentsresentments in the [caſe | case]caſecase, or [any
thing | any
that looks like Endeavors to bear him down by
Majoration will [ſerve | serve]ſerveserve our [Cauſe | cause]Cauſecause at Home, or what
will be their [above] [ſentiments | sentiments]ſentimentssentiments [ſentiments | sentiments]ſentimentssentiments of [any thing | anything]any thinganything of that Nature, if any [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould
be Ill Natured enough to make Such a [Repreſentation | representation]Repreſentationrepresentation
of us there, belongs to Gentlemen of Penetration
to judge —
If you think [beſt | best]beſtbest let his [Hon.r | Honour]Hon.rHonour the [Gov.r | Governor]Gov.rGovernor[pers0691.ocp] [ſee | see]ſeesee this
Freedom of
Yours [Moſt | most]Moſtmost Heartily
[Eleaz.r | Eleazar]Eleaz.rEleazar Wheelock[pers0036.ocp]
PS. [pleaſe | please]pleaſeplease to [ſhew | show]ſhewshow this [Litter | letter]Litterletter
and the [incloſed | enclosed]incloſedenclosed to [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Davenport[pers0154.ocp]
[Sam.l | Samuel]Sam.lSamuel Huntington, [Esq.r | Esq.]Esq.rEsq.[pers0022.ocp]
now at the [Aſsembly | Assembly]AſsemblyAssembly in Hartford[org0027.ocp]
[Lettr | Letter]LettrLetter to [S. | Samuel]S.Samuel Huntington [Esqr | Esq.]EsqrEsq.[pers0022.ocp]
May 13. 1765
Member of [Aſsembly | Assembly]AſsemblyAssembly at
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.
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.

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.


Hartford is the capital city of Connecticut, located in the central part of the state. The land that would become Hartford was first inhabited by the Saukiog Indians (Saukiog was also the name of a village on the Connecticut River) along with the Podunks to the east and the Tunxis to the west. The Dutch explorer Adriaen Block was the first European to visit Saukiog, and by the early 1620s, the Dutch had established a fort in the area. They brought with them a smallpox epidemic that killed many Native Americans. By the mid-17th century the Dutch, outnumbered by the English, had retreated south. In order to protect themselves against the powerful Mohawk and Pequot Indians, tribes around Saukiog allied with the English. By 1635, the Puritan preacher Thomas Hooker and one hundred of his followers moved into the area, first calling their new home Newtown but later changing it to Hartford after Hertford, England. In a 1638 sermon, Hooker claimed that the new Connecticut government should authorize itself according to the consent of the people, words that inspired Connecticut’s Fundamental Orders, considered America’s first written constitution. Missionaries began to preach to the Tunxis near Hartford in 1670. By 1734, Indians at Hartford requested and received English ministers for reading and religious instruction, and used the missionary interest in their community to their advantage in several ways. Minister Samuel Woodbridge reported that Indians at Hartford would attend his church and learn to read if they had the proper clothing, and the New England Company sent blankets and primers as encouragement. Hartford served as the meeting place for Congregational ministers associated with Wheelock and his School to examine the acceptability of Native missionaries, such as Mohegan minister Samuel Ashpo. In 1775, Joseph Johnson went to the Hartford Assembly to deliver letters declaring the allegiance to the colonists of the Indians who had moved to upstate New York.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fitch, Thomas
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.
Jewett Controversy
This crisis comes to a head in 1764 when Occom returns to Mohegan from Montauket and gains a following among the Indians and English. Robert Clelland, schoolmaster at Mohegan, fears he is being supplanted, and his patron, the minister David Jewett, thinks Occom is interfering and not sufficiently respectful. More importantly, Occom supports the Mohegan tribe’s claims in the Mason Land Case, in which Jewett, who opposes them, stands to lose considerable property. Finally, Jewett brings an official complaint to the Boston Board of Correspondents for the Society in Scotland for progagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK), which employs Clelland, and to his own employers, the New England Company. The Connecticut Board of Correspondents for the SSPCK (of which Jewett was a member) tries Occom, and acquits him on all charges except that of involvement in the Mason Case. Despite a nominal reconciliation, bitter feelings linger between Occom and Jewett.
Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0030.ocp M. r Mr. Occom mentioned Occom, Samson
pers0023.ocp M. r Mr. Jewett mentioned Jewett, David
pers0023.ocp ( M. r Mr. Jewett) mentioned Jewett, David
pers0030.ocp M. r Mr. Occom mentioned Occom, Samson
pers0030.ocp M. r Mr. Occom mentioned Occom, Samson
pers0691.ocp Hon. r Honour the Gov. r Governor mentioned Fitch, Thomas
pers0036.ocp Eleaz. r Eleazar Wheelock writer Wheelock, Eleazar
pers0154.ocp M. r Mr. Davenport mentioned Davenport
pers0022.ocp Sam. l Samuel Huntington, Esq. r Esq. recipient Huntington, Samuel
pers0022.ocp S. Samuel Huntington Esq r Esq. recipient Huntington, Samuel

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0122.ocp Lebanon Lebanon
place0013.ocp Boſton Boston Boston
place0097.ocp Hartford Hartford

Organizations identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
org0034.ocp Board of CorreſpondentsCorrespondents Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
org0034.ocp Board Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
org0063.ocp Tribe Mohegan Tribe
org0027.ocp AſsemblyAssembly in Hartford Colony of Connecticut

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HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to Samuel Huntington, 13 May 1765
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