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Samuel Johnson, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 November 12

ms-number: 767612.3

[note (type: abstract): Johnson writes from Yale of his progress, and that of other Wheelock students.][note (type: handwriting): Somewhat scrawling hand is occasionally difficult to decipher, yet is nontheless formal and mostly legible.][note (type: paper): Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear.][note (type: noteworthy): Although it is not wholly certain, it is likely that the Indians to whom Johnson refers are the Mohawks at Fort Hunter. The trailer is in an unknown hand; it appears that this same hand is the one that has overwritten the month in dateline. An unknown hand has made pencil marks at the third paragraph on one recto.]

[Rev,d | Rev.]Rev,dRev. [& | and]&and [Hon,d | Honoured]Hon,dHonoured Sir
Yours of [20th | 20th]20th20th [inſt | instant]inſtinstant[1767-10-20] came [ſafe | safe]ſafesafe for which
I return [moſt | most]moſtmost gr[illegible]ateful thanks, and rejoice in God for
his [Goodneſs | goodness]Goodneſsgoodness thus [manifeſted | manifested]manifeſtedmanifested towards the Heathen.
may [farther | further]fartherfurther [Succeſes | successes]Succeſessuccesses exceed your [greateſt | greatest]greateſtgreatest Expectations.
and that you may tlive long under the peculiar Smiles of
Heaven and ([ſeeing | seeing]ſeeingseeing [thouſands | thousands]thouſandsthousands of poor Indians, flocking to
the Redeemer) very late [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): [aſſend | ascend]aſſendascend][aſſend | ascend]aſſendascend is the Prayer of Myriads
 I have [recoverd | recovered]recoverdrecovered my [Helth | health]Helthhealth and able to [illegible]Study
hard. Affairs go on very [guess (h-dawnd): [ſtil | still]ſtilstill][ſtil | still]ſtilstill here I believe a Reverenti
al Love [univerſally | universally]univerſallyuniversally [riegns | reigns]riegnsreigns towards our worthy [Teacho[above] uurs | teachers]Teacho[above] uursteachers
[Dr | Dr.]DrDr. Wheelock[pers0036.ocp]s Pupils are all well except
[Meather | Mather]MeatherMather[pers0361.ocp] who as he told me was [ſeck | sick]ſecksick of College not being
[uſd | used]uſdused to [ſo | so]ſoso wicked [aplace | a place]aplacea place and under [Sophemorical | sophomorical]Sophemoricalsophomorical Govern­
ment; but I hope he will ere long recover for I am [ſure | sure]ſuresure he
hath many Friends here. I can,t but admire at the [uni­
verſal | uni­
Love which Wheelock[pers0036.ocp] [illegible]hath [acquird | acquired]acquirdacquired by that [modeſt | modest]modeſtmodest
and very [agreable | agreeable]agreableagreeable [Meene | [guess (h-dawnd): mien]mien]Meene[guess (h-dawnd): mien]mien which is [ſo | so]ſoso natural in all his
Behaviour. I want to write the Indians and to hear what
become of [thoſe | those]thoſethose I wrote [laſt | last]laſtlast Spring. but at [preſent | present]preſentpresent know
of no [Oppertunity | opportunity]Oppertunityopportunity[Revd | Rev.]RevdRev. [& | and]&and [Hond | Honoured]HondHonoured Sir
by the [Stricteſt | strictest]Stricteſtstrictest Bonds of Gratitude I am
Your very dutiful
Humble Servant
Samuel Johnson[pers0879.ocp]
P,S, Would the [Dr | Dr.]DrDr. [pleas | please]pleasplease to let
me know (when you have
an [oppertunety | opportunity]oppertunetyopportunity) whether my
[Horſe | horse]Horſehorse is heard of or not
[note (type: editorial): Blank page.][note (type: editorial): Blank page.]
From Samuel Johnson[pers0879.ocp]
[Nov.r | November]Nov.rNovember [ | 12th]12..th12th 1767[1767-11-12]
The [Rev,d | Rev.]Rev,dRev. Doctor. [E. | Eleazar]E.Eleazar Wheelock[pers0036.ocp].

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.

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.

Mather, Allyn

Allyn Mather was an Anglo-American charity scholar at Moor’s Indian Charity School who had a brief career as a minister before succumbing to illness. Mather arrived at Moor’s in 1766 and entered Yale in 1767. He had a strong distaste for the college: hazing bothered him, and he found the atmosphere singularly unreligious (his dislike was not fleeting: in 1778, he wrote to the Connecticut Courant to criticize the college course of study). Mather volunteered for missions in 1768. He accompanied Ralph Wheelock on his ill-fated third trek to Oneida territory, where Ralph acted intemperately at the tribal council at Onaquaga. Mather then attended Fort Stanwix with Rev. Ebenezer Cleaveland to try to patch up the damage done to Eleazar Wheelock’s agenda by Jacob Johnson. After his adventures, Mather returned to Yale, where he obtained his degree in 1771. However, he did not return to the missionary business: instead, in 1772, he became the pastor of Fair Haven Church, or Fourth Presbyterian, in New Haven, CT. It was a conservative Old Light (or more properly, Old Side) church, largely populated by parishioners who had defected from Jonathan Edwards’ congregation. It is unclear how strongly Mather himself identified with Old Side beliefs; he seems to have described the church to Wheelock as “despised” (773208), but he may have used strong language because he was trying to get out of paying his debt as a defunct charity scholar. Wheelock never seems to have collected from him, nor did he pursue Mather as vigorously as he pursued some other students. In 1779, Mather began having serious health issues, which forced him to travel south regularly. He died in 1784 on one such trip, in Savannah, Georgia.

Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0036.ocp D r Dr. Wheelock recipient Wheelock, Eleazar
pers0361.ocp Meather Mather mentioned Mather, Allyn
pers0036.ocp Wheelock recipient Wheelock, Eleazar
pers0879.ocp Samuel Johnson writer Johnson, Samuel
pers0036.ocp E. Eleazar Wheelock recipient Wheelock, Eleazar

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0049.ocp Connecticut-Hall Connecticut-Hall
place0122.ocp Lebanon Lebanon

This document does not contain any tagged organizations.

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1767-11-12 decembrNov.rNovember 12 1767
1767-10-20 20th20th inſtinstant
1767-11-12 Nov.rNovember 12..th12th 1767

Regularized text:

Type Original Regularized
modernization Rev,d Rev.
modernization 20th 20th
modernization inſt instant
modernization ſafe safe
modernization moſt most
modernization Goodneſs goodness
modernization manifeſted manifested
variation farther further
modernization Succeſes successes
modernization greateſt greatest
modernization ſeeing seeing
modernization thouſands thousands
variation aſſend ascend
variation recoverd recovered
variation Helth health
modernization ſtil still
modernization univerſally universally
variation riegns reigns
variation Teacho[above] uurs teachers
modernization Dr Dr.
variation Meather Mather
modernization ſeck sick
modernization uſd used
modernization ſo so
variation aplace a place
variation Sophemorical sophomorical
modernization ſure sure
modernization uni­
variation acquird acquired
modernization modeſt modest
variation agreable agreeable
variation Meene [guess (h-dawnd): mien]mien
modernization thoſe those
modernization laſt last
modernization preſent present
variation Oppertunity opportunity
modernization Revd Rev.
modernization Stricteſt strictest
variation pleas please
variation oppertunety opportunity
modernization Horſe horse
modernization 12th

Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
Nov.r November
& and
Hon,d Honoured
Hond Honoured
E. Eleazar

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 8)
Number of "add" tags with unknown 'place' attributes: 0 (out of 1)
Mixed case attribute values in header (potential error): 0 (out of 92)
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