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David Fowler, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 March 17

ms-number: 767217.1

[note (type: abstract): Fowler writes to apologize for his previous letter, which he wrote in anger at Kirtland’s condescending treatment, and to request that Kirtland no longer have or exercise authority over him.][note (type: handwriting): Handwriting is bold and legible; the nib of the pen appears to change midway through one recto.][note (type: paper): Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light staining, creasing and wear.][note (type: ink): Black.]
[Revd | Rev.]RevdRev., and [Hon.d | honoured]Hon.dhonoured Sir,
I suppose you have [receiv'd | received]receiv'dreceived my
[preſumptuous | presumptuous]preſumptuouspresumptuous Letter; Which I [beleive | believe]beleivebelieve has given
you much Sorrow and Trouble of Mind. — For I was in
a very bad frame of Mind; [occ[illegible]aſion'd | occasioned]occ[illegible]aſion'doccasioned by [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Kirtland[pers0315.ocp]s
[reſuming | resuming]reſumingresuming too much of [greatneſs | greatness]greatneſsgreatness before Company
he [appeard | appeared]appeardappeared to me, that he wanted [above] toto [ſhow | show]ſhowshow what
great man he was that he could order us about
where and how he [pleasd | pleased]pleasdpleased; this [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon [ſtuck | stuck]ſtuckstuck in
my Crop; and at this time [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Kirtland[pers0315.ocp] had
[left] LettersLetters come to hand and none for me; this [encreased | increased]encreasedincreased my
angryer, and [illegible]in the [Midſt | midst]Midſtmidst of my [Paſſion | passion]Paſſionpassion I wrote
your Letter I indeed wrote [whatſoever | whatsoever]whatſoeverwhatsoever come
out [firſt | first]firſtfirst; I hardly know what. I was writing
about, nor can I now tell what I wrote, for
as [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon as I [finiſh'd | finished]finiſh'dfinished writing I [ſeal | seal]ſealseal it up —
but I remember [ſome | some]ſomesome [haſh | harsh]haſhharsh Word in it. —
—For which [baſe | base]baſebase and haughty [expreſ­
ſions | expres
to [above] youyou. I [above] dodo now in [ſincerity | sincerity]ſinceritysincerity [aſk | ask]aſkask [forgiveneſs | forgiveness]forgiveneſsforgiveness
for I acknowledge I [ſpoke | spoke]ſpokespoke very ungratefully
and improperly to a Benefactor, yea more a Fa­
ther who has been [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): [ſ | s]ſs][ſ | s]ſsat [ſo | so]ſoso much Trouble for me to
fit me to be [uſeful | useful]uſefuluseful in the Wordld. again I [ſay | say]ſaysay,
I [aſk | ask]aſkask your [Forgiveneſs | forgiveness]Forgiveneſsforgiveness I hope you will not take
hard no longer. — I don't now think [myſelf | myself]myſelfmyself to
be worthy of your Notice, I wonder you did
not turn me out [off | of]offof the School[org0098.ocp] — I now
beg a Favour of you which will Afford me
Comfort and [Eaſe | ease]Eaſeease, which, is this, [whenſoever | whensoever]whenſoeverwhensoever
you write to [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Kirtland[pers0315.ocp] charge him
not mention one Syllable of to me, for cuts
me very much: though I [ſee | see]ſeesee [myſelf | myself]myſelfmyself a mean
and [worthleſs | worthless]worthleſsworthless Fellow an[illegible]d yet I am [ſuch | such]ſuchsuch
[fooliſh | foolish]fooliſhfoolish Creature or to give as to trouble
[myſelf | myself]myſelfmyself when others receive a Letter
I [ſpeak | speak]ſpeakspeak [calmy | calmly]calmycalmly and [ſincerely | sincerely]ſincerelysincerely not in [ruf­
f[illegible]ele | ruf
— Another Favour for [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Kirtland[pers0315.ocp]s
Comfort, which is this. Dont try [above] toto give him
[ſo | so]ſoso much Authority as that he would [per­
ſuad | per
or take upon [himſelf | himself]himſelfhimself to [goven | govern]govengovern me or
order me about. as [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon as he try to do that
he wont be [ſo | so]ſoso comfortable here; for he cant
order me, [illegible] nor [above] nono [Miſſonary | missionary]Miſſonarymissionary that [ſhall | shall]ſhallshall come
into these Parts. [illegible] As I am an [Inſtructor | instructor]Inſtructorinstructor
I am able to act for [myſelf | myself]myſelfmyself. [with-out | without]with-outwithout having
a [maſter | master]maſtermaster over me [.&c | etc.].&cetc.
I am well anyd contented, Han­
[alſo | also]alſoalso is well only [ſhe | she]ſheshe has [ſome | some]ſomesome [ſmall | small]ſmallsmall
turns of [illneſs | illness]illneſsillness which Women of her Condition
are apt to have — I [ſuppose | suppose]ſupposesuppose [ſhe | she]ſheshe will like­
ly have a trial of pain in June, —
Give our Duty Madam[pers0577.ocp] and love to whole Family and
I am in the [main time | meantime]main timemeantime your [affect | affectionate]affectaffectionate and
unworthy [Sevant | servant]Sevantservant,
David Fowler[pers0155.ocp]
[note (type: editorial): Blank page.]
From David Fowler[pers0155.ocp]
March 1767[1767-03-17]
To— the Reverend.
[M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. [Eleazer | Eleazar]EleazerEleazar Wheelock[pers0036.ocp]
[Inn | in]Innin
[New-England | New England]New-EnglandNew England[place0158.ocp]
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.

Oneida is a city in Madison County located at the geographical center of New York state. Before European settlement of the area, the Oneida Tribe, one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, inhabited a large territory adjacent to nearby Oneida Lake. Around 1533, they built their first village on the south shore of the lake, at or near the mouth of Oneida Creek. At the end of the 17th century, this area began suffering raids by parties from the French colony of Quebec, in a battle to control the fur trade. In 1696, Oneida village was burned by the French. As a result, the Oneidas moved their chief village east of the original site, called Old Oneida, to a new site called Kanawalohale, also known as Oneida Castle, which was fortified by tall palisades and a moat. This is the site of the present-day village of Oneida Castle, a small hamlet west of the city of Oneida in the northwest corner of the town of Vernon. When used in Occom Circle documents, the place name "Oneida" usually refers to the territory inhabited by the Tribe east of Oneida Lake, but can also refer specifically to Oneida Castle. Although the Oneidas sided with the patriots during the Revolutionary War, much of their territory was sold or appropriated by the state of New York. In 1790, the first European settlers moved into the area of Old Oneida village, and the district began to expand. In the 1830s, the state built a feeder from Oneida Creek through the present city site to provide water for the new canal system, which enabled canal boats to ship freight into the town. Eventually, the railroad came through the town and helped with its expansion. This led to the incorporation of the Village of Oneida in 1848 and the establishment of the Town of Oneida in 1896. The town was chartered as the City of Oneida in 1901, and with two more railroad lines transecting the area, it became a thriving manufacturing center for the first half of the 20th century.

New England
Fowler, David

David Fowler was Jacob Fowler's older brother, Samson Occom's brother-in-law, and an important leader of the Brothertown Tribe. He came to Moor's in 1759, at age 24, and studied there until 1765. While at school, he accompanied Occom on a mission to the Six Nations in 1761. He was licensed as a school master in the 1765 mass graduation, and immediately went to the Six Nations to keep school, first at Oneida and then at Kanawalohale. Fowler saw himself as very close to Wheelock, but their relationship fragmented over the course of Fowler's mission, primarily because Wheelock wrote back to Kirkland, with whom Fowler clashed, but not to Fowler, and because Wheelock refused to reimburse Fowler for some expenses on his mission (767667.4 provides the details most clearly). Fowler went on to teach school at Montauk, and played a major role in negotiations with the Oneidas for the lands that became Brothertown. He was among the first wave of immigrants to that town, and held several important posts there until his death in 1807.

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.

Kirkland, Samuel

Samuel Kirkland (b. Kirtland) was Eleazar Wheelock’s most famous Anglo American student. He conducted a 40-year mission to the Oneidas and founded Hamilton College (established in 1793 as Hamilton Oneida Academy). Kirkland won acclaim as a missionary at a young age by conducting an adventurous and risky mission to the Senecas, the westernmost of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. After his year and a half among them, which was well publicized by Wheelock, he was ordained and sent as a missionary to the Oneidas under the auspices of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. He spent most of the rest of his life serving the Oneidas as a minister. Kirkland’s sincere devotion to serving as a missionary was excellent publicity for Wheelock’s program, but it also brought the two men into conflict. Wheelock became jealous of Kirkland when the school’s British benefactors began urging Wheelock to make Kirkland his heir, and Kirkland, meanwhile, was upset that Wheelock had failed to provide him with sufficient supplies on his mission — a complaint that he was unafraid to publicize (and that almost all of Wheelock’s other students shared). The breaking point came in 1770, when Kirkland split from Wheelock’s Connecticut Board and affiliated with the New England Company, a missionary society that had abruptly turned against Wheelock in 1765. Wheelock and Kirkland briefly made up in 1771, but their relationship quickly dissolved into further acrimony. Although Kirkland spent most of his life as a missionary to the Six Nations, he generally held disparaging views of Native Americans. He did not approve of Wheelock’s plan to educate Indians as missionaries, and was haughty towards the Moor’s alumni that worked with him (notably David Fowler, Joseph Johnson, and Joseph Woolley). Prior to the Revolution, Kirkland had been stringent in his refusals to take Oneida land, even when offered to him. The Revolution seems to have shifted his loyalties from the Oneidas to local Anglo Americans. Kirkland served as a chaplain in the American army and was instrumental in convincing the Oneidas to remain neutral (or, more accurately, to side with the Americans). At one point he was the chaplain with General Sullivan’s army, the force sent to ransack Seneca and Cayuga territory in 1779. It is unclear what emotions this aroused in Kirkland, who had served the Senecas less than 15 years earlier, yet after the war, Kirkland freely engaged in Oneida dispossession. Along with James Dean, another Wheelock alumnus with close ties to the Oneidas, Kirkland played a pivotal role in urging the Oneidas to sell land illegally to the state of New York. The land deals that resulted gave Kirkland the property, financial capital, and connections to establish Hamilton Oneida Academy. The last decades of Kirkland’s life were difficult. He found himself in a three-way battle with Samson Occom and John Sergeant Jr., who were also ministers in Oneida territory, for the hearts and minds of their congregations; he was fired as a missionary in 1797, although he continued to serve sans salary; one of his son’s business enterprises failed, leaving Kirkland nearly destitute; and two of his three sons died unexpectedly. Hamilton Oneida Academy, like Moor’s Indian Charity School, largely failed at its goal of educating Indians, and in 1812, four years after Kirkland’s death, it was re-purposed as Hamilton College, a largely Anglo-American institution. At some point in the mid-to-late 18th century, Kirkland changed his name from Kirtland, although the reasons for this are uncertain.

Fowler, Hannah (née Garrett)

Hannah Fowler (née Garrett) was a Pequot woman who married David Fowler. The Garrett family boasted sachems and interpreters and was influential among the Stonington Pequots. Hannah grew up among the Charlestown Narragansetts, as her parents had affiliated with that tribe (a not-uncommon occurrence, given the close ties between the groups, especially in the realm of Christian spirituality). At Charlestown, Hannah received her basic education and was recruited for Moor’s Indian Charity School. She studied at the school from 1763 until she married David Fowler in 1766. Hannah and David’s marriage is especially noteworthy because it is the only instance where a female Moor’s student married a Native American missionary from Moor’s and joined him on missions — which had been Wheelock’s intent in admitting Native American women in the first place. Hannah assisted David on his mission to Kanawalohale from the time of their marriage in 1766 until his departure for Montauk in 1767. In 1783, the pair moved to Brothertown, where their house was the town center. Both Fowlers proved influential in town affairs, and their children and grandchildren also played a central role in the town’s administration.

Wheelock, Mary (née Brinsmead)

Mary Wheelock was born Mary Brinsmead on July 26, 1714 in Milford, Connecticut. In the year following the death of his first wife, Eleazar began to court Mary Brinsmead, and the two married on November 21, 1747. Mary and Eleazar had five children together, including John, who would succeed his father as President of Dartmouth College. Little appears in the historical record about Mary, but many of the people who wrote to Wheelock, especially his Native correspondents who often lived with the family, referred to her warmly. In September 1770, Mary dismantled her longtime home in Connecticut, and travelled with her children to the Wheelocks' new home in the wilderness of New Hampshire. They rode in a coach sent over from England by John Thornton, accompanied by 30 Charity School students on foot. Eleazar, who had gone ahead to build housing for everyone, wrote a letter to Mary with many instructions about the move; the disposition of domestic animals, people, supplies; and the acquisition of money that suggests she was an able and trustworthy manager (manuscript 770510.1; this manuscript is not included in Occom Circle documents). She died in 1784 in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she is buried in the Dartmouth College Cemetery.

Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0315.ocp M r Mr. Kirtland mentioned Kirkland, Samuel
pers0742.ocp Han­ nah mentioned Fowler, Hannah (née Garrett)
pers0577.ocp Madam mentioned Wheelock, Mary (née Brinsmead)
pers0155.ocp David Fowler writer Fowler, David
pers0036.ocp M. r Mr. Eleazer Eleazar Wheelock recipient Wheelock, Eleazar

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0179.ocp Onoyda Oneida Oneida
place0158.ocp New-England New England New England

Organizations identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
org0098.ocp the School Moor’s Indian Charity School
org0098.ocp School Moor’s Indian Charity School

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1767-03-17 March 17 1767
1767-03-17 March 1767

Regularized text:

Type Original Regularized
variation Onoyda Oneida
modernization Revd Rev.
modernization preſumptuous presumptuous
variation beleive believe
modernization Mr Mr.
modernization reſuming resuming
modernization greatneſs greatness
variation appeard appeared
modernization ſhow show
variation pleasd pleased
modernization ſoon soon
modernization ſtuck stuck
variation encreased increased
modernization Midſt midst
modernization Paſſion passion
modernization whatſoever whatsoever
modernization firſt first
modernization ſeal seal
modernization ſome some
modernization haſh harsh
modernization baſe base
modernization expreſ­
modernization ſincerity sincerity
modernization aſk ask
modernization forgiveneſs forgiveness
modernization ſpoke spoke
modernization ſ s
modernization ſo so
modernization uſeful useful
modernization ſay say
modernization Forgiveneſs forgiveness
modernization myſelf myself
variation off of
modernization Eaſe ease
modernization whenſoever whensoever
modernization ſee see
modernization worthleſs worthless
modernization ſuch such
modernization fooliſh foolish
modernization ſpeak speak
variation calmy calmly
modernization ſincerely sincerely
variation ruf­
variation per­
modernization himſelf himself
variation goven govern
variation Miſſonary missionary
modernization ſhall shall
modernization Inſtructor instructor
variation with-out without
modernization maſter master
modernization .&c etc.
modernization alſo also
modernization ſhe she
modernization ſmall small
modernization illneſs illness
modernization ſuppose suppose
variation main time meantime
variation Sevant servant
modernization M.r Mr.
variation Eleazer Eleazar
variation Inn in
variation New-England New England

Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
Hon.d honoured
receiv'd received
occ[illegible]aſion'd occasioned
finiſh'd finished
affect affectionate

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 12)
Number of people/places/organizations with unknown keys: 0 (out of 13)
Number of "add" tags with unknown 'place' attributes: 0 (out of 6)
Mixed case attribute values in header (potential error): 0 (out of 102)
HomeDavid Fowler, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 March 17
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