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Samuel Johnson, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 December 1

ms-number: 766651.1

[note (type: abstract): Johnson writes of his mission's progress and reports that the Mohawks at Fort Hunter don't want to have Moses for their teacher.][note (type: handwriting): Handwriting is somewhat scrawling and occasionally difficult to decipher.][note (type: paper): Large single sheet is in good condition, with light staining, creasing and wear.][note (type: ink): Black-brown.]

[Revd | Rev.]RevdRev. [& | and]&and [Honourd | Honoured]HonourdHonoured Patron
I wrote with a trembling Hand when I gave
[Mr | Mr.]MrMr. [Whelock | Wheelock]WhelockWheelock[pers0036.ocp] (or rather [endeverd | endeavoured]endeverdendeavoured to) [ſome | some]ſomesome Information of Affai[above] rsrs
here but was [ſurpriſd | surprised]ſurpriſdsurprised when I had acqu[above] aainted [myſelf | myself]myſelfmyself by what I hear
and [ſee | see]ſeesee of the Indians for I [conſeder[above] eed | considered]conſeder[above] eedconsidered that I wrote [wholy | wholly]wholywholly y from Hezekiah[pers0008.ocp]
Information and knowing the Trouble of Mind it would be to
[Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Wheelock[pers0036.ocp] (and [unneeſſeſary | unnecessary]unneeſſeſaryunnecessary Trouble too) I [ſought | sought]ſoughtsought and as [above] II thought
found an [Oppertunety | opportunity]Oppertunetyopportunity to [ſend ſome | send some]ſend ſomesend some Letters that if [poſable | possible]poſablepossible
I might be able to [leviate | alleviate]leviatealleviate [thoſe | those]thoſethose Pains which the late Informa­
tion [hath | has]hathhas been the [Occation | occasion]Occationoccasion of but alas I [miſt | missed]miſtmissed my [Oppertunety | opportunity]Oppertunetyopportunity
 [Honour’d | Honoured]Honour’dHonoured Sir I [ſend | send]ſendsend the [ſd | said]ſdsaid Letters now
in which you will [ſee | see]ſeesee perhaps what [hath | has]hathhas been the [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): [Diſeas | Diseas]DiſeasDiseas][Diſeas | Diseas]DiſeasDiseas [amongſt | amongst]amongſtamongst
[theſe | these]theſethese Indians their Narrations on Hezekiah[pers0008.ocp]s Conducts are too nume
rous to mention here and I [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould think it was not to be minded
did not I [receiv | receive]receivreceive the [ſame | same]ſamesame from every one who knew the Affairs
I have [livd | lived]livdlived one Week at a [Houſe | house]Houſehouse [untill | until]untilluntil I have gone round once
I live well and am treated [ſo | so]ſoso[illegible] my Number of [Schollers | scholars]Schollersscholars is
not [ſomany | so many]ſomanyso many [aſ | as]aſas before [becauſe | because]becauſebecause of late there is [a bout | about]a boutabout half [adozen | a dozen]adozena dozen
gone on the Hunt but I hope to have them [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon.
 After [illegible]ing my [renewd | renewed]renewdrenewed Obligations to [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. W[pers0036.ocp]
for his favor by [Moſis | Moses]MoſisMoses[pers0677.ocp] I hope to be [excuſd | excused]excuſdexcused from delivering the [guess (h-dawnd): [Meſ | message]Meſmessage][Meſ | message]Meſmessage­
to the Indians [be fore | before]be forebefore I know further what will be thought
of [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Wheelock[pers0036.ocp] [moſt | most]moſtmost proper for I think the Affairs here
never [ware | were]warewere better than at [preſent | present]preſentpresent, the Indians here would
not [receiv | receive]receivreceive [Moſes | Moses]MoſesMoses[pers0677.ocp] for they Said they wont acquainted with him
and they [ware | were]warewere [affeard | afraid]affeardafraid for one Namely Hezekiah[pers0008.ocp] had
[uſd | used]uſdused them badly and and if I would [l[above] [illegible][illegible]eve | leave]l[above] [illegible][illegible]eveleave them they would
not [venter | venture]venterventure to take [an other | another]an otheranother at [preſent | present]preſentpresent but they would keep
me [aſ | as]aſas long as I would [ſtay | stay]ſtaystay. I [aſked | asked]aſkedasked [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. [Chamberlin | Chamberlain]ChamberlinChamberlain[pers0009.ocp] (than whom
I think none more [zelous | zealous]zelouszealous in the [Cauſe | cause]Cauſecause and [deſſirous | desirous]deſſirousdesirous of [beind | being]beindbeing
if [poſable | possible]poſablepossible a Guide to the blind [Heathan | heathen]Heathanheathen and [weth out | without]weth outwithout [whos | whose]whoswhose Ad­
vice I dont pretend to act) what [ſhall | shall]ſhallshall I do he [ſaid | said]ſaidsaid I will [ſtay | stay]ſtaystay
and run all [venters | ventures]ventersventures this Winter and [ſaid | said]ſaidsaid he if you wont this
School is [loſt | lost]loſtlost but act for [your ſelf | yourself]your ſelfyourself. [ſaid | said]ſaidsaid he [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. W[pers0036.ocp] dont know how
affairs are here [thare fore | therefore]thare foretherefore we [muſt | must]muſtmust act as well as we can [untill | until]untilluntil we
can [ſet | set]ſetset the [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): [mater | matter]matermatter][mater | matter]matermatter in its true light with hoping to hear further
[aſ | as]aſas [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon [aſ | as]aſas can be I beg [lieve | leave]lieveleave to [Subcribe | subscribe]Subcribesubscribe [Revd | Rev.]RevdRev. [& | and]&and [Honourd | Honoured]HonourdHonoured Patron

Your [deutiful | dutiful]deutifuldutiful [Samll | Samuel]SamllSamuel Johnson[pers0879.ocp]
John Crane[pers0144.ocp] is [comeing | coming]comeingcoming and
if I dont hear with [mr | Mr.]mrMr. [C. | Chamberlain]C.Chamberlain[pers0009.ocp]
advice I [ſhall | shall]ſhallshall come with him
From [Saml | Samuel]SamlSamuel [Johnſon | Johnson]JohnſonJohnson[pers0879.ocp]
[Dec..r | December]Dec..rDecember [ | 1st]1..st1st 1766[1766-12-01]
Fort Hunter

Located in Montgomery County, and named after Governor Hunter of New York, Fort Hunter refers to the land located where the Mohawk River and the Schoharie Creek converge in Old Albany County, New York, as well as to the fort built on that land. Fort Hunter was also referred to as the Lower Mohawk Castle, while Upper Mohawk Castle referred to another Mohawk village located near present day Danube, New York. The Mohawk people, who originally occupied this land, referred to the village as Tionondoroge (also spelled Thienderego, Teantontalago, Tiononderoga, Tienonderoga, and Icanderoga). In 1686, the city charter gave Albany the right to the land that would comprise Fort Hunter. According to a European account, "Four Mohawk Kings," including Hendrick Peters Tejonihokarawa who hailed from the Fort Hunter area, met with Queen Anne in 1710 to request protection from the French and aid for the Anglican missionaries; she complied in 1711 and authorized the building of the actual fort. The following year, Anglican clerics, who were funded by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in England, built a mission on the land. Because the Mohawk tribe fought with the British against the American colonists, most Mohawks from Fort Hunter fled to Montreal after the American Revolution.

Johnson, Samuel

Samuel Johnson was a Yale student who, after first traveling to Canajoharie, taught the school at Fort Hunter (the smaller Mohawk town) from October 1766 until at least February 1767, possibly as late as June. Johnson returned to Yale by July 1767. Wheelock may have provided him with some financial support at college up until the end of 1767, when Johnson and Wheelock parted ways. It is possible that Johnson simply decided he did not want to be an Indian missionary, and, thus, withdrew from Wheelock’s support. It is more likely that the pair split over Wheelock’s treatment of his students. Johnson’s last letter to Wheelock expressed his opposition to Wheelock’s plan to pull Avery and McClure out of college for missions (767667.5); Johnson may have feared he would meet the same fate. Four years later, he wrote to Samuel Kirkland about Wheelock’s mistreatment of Crosby, whom Wheelock expelled from Dartmouth, and David Avery, whom Wheelock required to repay large portions of his tuition because his health prevented him from serving as a missionary. Johnson graduated from Yale in 1769, was ordained the same year, and served as a minister at New Lebanon, New York and West Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In 1780, he converted to the Shaker faith, along with his wife, their children, and much of his former New Lebanon Congregation.

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.

Calvin, Hezekiah

Hezekiah Calvin was one of Eleazar Wheelock's first Native American students. Like Wheelock’s other early Delaware students, he was sent by the minister John Brainerd. Calvin was certified as a schoolteacher on March 12, 1765, and was sent to the Mohawks at Fort Hunter in June 1765. The Mohawks threw him out at the end of September 1766, and he returned to Moor's. Samuel Johnson, an Anglo-American Yale student who replaced Calvin at Fort Hunter, reported that the residents unanimously accused Calvin of being abusive and rude. Calvin, in turn, maintained that the Fort Hunter Mohawks had mistreated him. Calvin’s second stint at Moor’s did not go well. He wrote several confessions for drunkenness and bad behavior, and frequently spoke ill of Wheelock. He left the school in the spring of 1768, and took up residence with the Secutor family (Narragansett) at Charlestown, Rhode Island. Calvin left the Narragansetts sometime late in 1768, presumably after the dissolution of his relationship with Mary Secutor. Wheelock heard reports early in 1769 that Calvin had been imprisoned at Little Ease, NJ, for forging a pass for a Black man (Calvin does not appear in the county records, so either he was never indicted or Wheelock had his information wrong). By 1777, Calvin was in a position of prominence at Brotherton, NJ (a town of Christian Delawares founded under John Brainerd’s ministry). At some point after 1788, Calvin moved west with the Delawares: he may have moved directly to join the Delawares in Ohio territory, or he may have relocated to Stockbridge in 1802 and then moved west.


Moses was a Mohawk Indian and Wheelock student who was part of the mission to the Canajoharie, Onaquaga, and Cherry Valley areas from 1765-1766. He taught the displaced Oneidas under Good Peter and Isaac Dakayenensere at Lake Otsego (next to Cherry Valley), along with Smith and Gunn. He taught reading and writing to between eight and 12 students. Although Joseph Woolley was initially supposed to teach this school, he fell ill and Moses replaced him. Moses also subbed for Woolley when Woolley visited the Tuscaroras. Like the other schoolteachers, Moses left over the winter of 1765 and returned to Wheelock, but he was back at Canajoharie by the next fall to teach with Samuel Johnson and Jacob Fowler. Theophilus Chamberlain speculated they could set up a third school for Moses, but this did not come to pass because by December 1st, less than a month after Chamberlain’s letter, Moses had traveled to Wheelock and back to Fort Hunter delivering letters. The Indians at Fort Hunter would not take him as a teacher because they preferred Johnson and distrusted unknown teachers after their experience with Hezekiah Calvin (according to Johnson). Moses appears to have continued working in the area, because in 1768 he refused Aaron Kinne’s request that he act as interpreter.

Chamberlain, Theophilus

Theophilus Chamberlain was a Yale graduate and missionary employed by Wheelock. His interest in Indian ministry may have started during the French and Indian War, when he was taken captive by a tribe allied with the French (it is unclear which tribe) at Fort William Henry and spent a year in Nova Scotia. After his return to New England, Chamberlain attended Yale. Wheelock recruited Chamberlain, along with fellow Yale graduate Titus Smith, to spearhead Moor's 1765 mission to the Six Nations. Chamberlain was examined as a missionary on March 12, 1765, and ordained on April 24, 1765. During the mission, he was stationed at Canajoharie (the Mohawk "Upper Castle") and oversaw the mission to the Mohawks. While on his mission, he converted to Sandemanianism, a decision that profoundly shaped the rest of his life. It is difficult to evaluate his efficacy as a missionary: he had high praise for himself, and David Fowler said the Mohawks were affectionate towards him, but Occom described him as overzealous. Chamberlain served the duration of his contract, but clashed with Wheelock afterwards over who was responsible for debts he had incurred on his mission (e.g. transportation costs, support for schoolmasters and interpreters). After departing from Wheelock's service, Chamberlain was ordained as a Sandemanian bishop. He fled to New York and later Nova Scotia during the American Revolution because of his religious and political beliefs. In Nova Scotia, Chamberlain oversaw the establishment of the settlement of Preston.

Crane, John
Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0036.ocp M r Mr. Whelock Wheelock recipient Wheelock, Eleazar
pers0008.ocp Hezekiah mentioned Calvin, Hezekiah
pers0036.ocp M r Mr. Wheelock recipient Wheelock, Eleazar
pers0036.ocp M r Mr. W recipient Wheelock, Eleazar
pers0677.ocp Moſis Moses mentioned Moses
pers0677.ocp Moſes Moses mentioned Moses
pers0009.ocp M r Mr. Chamberlin Chamberlain mentioned Chamberlain, Theophilus
pers0879.ocp Sam ll Samuel Johnson writer Johnson, Samuel
pers0144.ocp John Crane mentioned Crane, John
pers0009.ocp m r Mr. C. Chamberlain mentioned Chamberlain, Theophilus
pers0879.ocp Sam l Samuel Johnſon Johnson writer Johnson, Samuel

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0078.ocp Fourt Fort Hunter Fort Hunter

This document does not contain any tagged organizations.

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1766-12-01 decbDecember 1 AD 1766
1766-12-01 Dec..rDecember 1..st1st 1766

Regularized text:

Type Original Regularized
variation Fourt Fort
modernization Revd Rev.
modernization Mr Mr.
variation Whelock Wheelock
variation endeverd endeavoured
modernization ſome some
variation ſurpriſd surprised
modernization myſelf myself
modernization ſee see
variation conſeder[above] eed considered
variation wholy wholly
variation unneeſſeſary unnecessary
modernization ſought sought
variation Oppertunety opportunity
modernization ſend ſome send some
variation poſable possible
variation leviate alleviate
modernization thoſe those
variation hath has
variation Occation occasion
variation miſt missed
modernization ſend send
modernization Diſeas Diseas
modernization amongſt amongst
modernization theſe these
modernization ſhould should
variation receiv receive
modernization ſame same
modernization Houſe house
variation untill until
modernization ſo so
variation Schollers scholars
variation ſomany so many
modernization aſ as
modernization becauſe because
variation a bout about
variation adozen a dozen
modernization ſoon soon
variation renewd renewed
variation Moſis Moses
variation excuſd excused
variation be fore before
modernization moſt most
variation ware were
modernization preſent present
modernization Moſes Moses
variation affeard afraid
variation uſd used
variation l[above] [illegible][illegible]eve leave
variation venter venture
variation an other another
modernization ſtay stay
modernization aſked asked
variation Chamberlin Chamberlain
variation zelous zealous
modernization Cauſe cause
variation deſſirous desirous
variation Heathan heathen
variation weth out without
variation whos whose
modernization ſhall shall
modernization ſaid said
variation venters ventures
modernization loſt lost
variation your ſelf yourself
variation thare fore therefore
modernization muſt must
modernization ſet set
variation mater matter
variation lieve leave
variation Subcribe subscribe
variation deutiful dutiful
variation comeing coming
modernization mr Mr.
modernization Johnſon Johnson
modernization 1st

Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
decb December
& and
Honourd Honoured
Honour’d Honoured
ſd said
livd lived
Meſ message
Samll Samuel
C. Chamberlain
Saml Samuel
Dec..r December

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

Summary of errors found in this document:

Number of dates with invalid 'when' attributes: 0
Number of nested "hi" tags: (consider merging the @rend attributes, or using other tags) 0
Number of tags with invalid 'rend' attributes: 0 (out of 21)
Number of people/places/organizations with unknown keys: 0 (out of 16)
Number of "add" tags with unknown 'place' attributes: 0 (out of 5)
Mixed case attribute values in header (potential error): 0 (out of 94)
HomeSamuel Johnson, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 December 1
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