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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Thornton, 1768 August 25

ms-number: 768475

[note (type: abstract): Wheelock writes that Occom refuses to return money that was inadvertently advanced to him; he fears Occom has been given delusions of grandeur by his treatment in England.][note (type: handwriting): Handwriting is relatively neat and clear. Letter case is frequently difficult to decipher. The trailer is in an unknown hand.][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-brown.][note (type: noteworthy): It is uncertain to whom Wheelock refers when he mentions Occom's "Youngest Child," and so he or she has been left untagged. In the left margin of one recto, Wheelock notes that the letter was never sent. When Wheelock mentions the Messrs. Lathrop, he is referring to Daniel Lathrop[pers1476.ocp] and Joshua Lathrop[pers1477.ocp]. The contents of this letter are similar to those of manuscript 768673.1]

events: Fundraising Tour of Great Britain


 My dear Sir.
On [ſight | sight]ſightsight of [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Keen[pers0301.ocp]'s order by, [& | and]&and [inFav.r | in favour]inFav.r in favour of
[M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Occom[pers0030.ocp], I drew on [Meſsrs | Messrs.]Meſsrs Messrs. Lathrops [illegible] in [illegible] [Fav.r | favour]Fav.r favour for the
Money before I had been informed that he had received of
the [Truſt | Trust]TruſtTrust in England[org0103.ocp] an Allowance for the Support of his [Fami‐
‐ly | fami‐
in his [Abſence | absence]Abſenceabsence, the [greateſt | greatest]greateſtgreatest part of which had been at the
[Expence | expense]Expenceexpense of the School[org0098.ocp] — Soon after [D.r | Dr.]D.r Dr. Whitaker[pers0037.ocp] arrived, [& | and]&and
had [inform'd | informed]inform'dinformed me of the true State of the Affair I Sent [Mr | Mr.]Mr Mr.
my Bookkeeper to Settle the [Acco.t | account]Acco.t account with him, and
receive what was due to the School[org0098.ocp]. But, [illegible] [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Woodward[pers0610.ocp] [ſays | says]ſayssays
he treated him with an air of Slight [& | and]&and Contempt, Said he would
Settle [y.e | the]y.e the [acco.t | account]acco.t account with none but with me — that he laid out all
the money in England[place0068.ocp] which he received of the [Truſt | Trust]TruſtTrust [org0103.ocp] as an Allow
‐ance for Support of his Family. And that He had paid away the
[greateſt | greatest]greateſtgreatest part of what he had [rec.d | received]rec.d received of [Meſsrs | Messrs.]Meſsrs Messrs. Lathrops by virtue
of my order; and had [occaſion | occasion]occaſionoccasion for the [reſt | rest]reſtrest to lay out in
Labour upon his Farm [&c. | etc.]&c.etc. and that, though it was [reaſonable | reasonable]reaſonablereasonable
the money Should be refunded to the School[org0098.ocp], it [illegible] [Muſt | must]Muſtmust wait [till | 'til]till'til
he could get it Some Other way — On [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Woodward[pers0610.ocp]s [Enqui
‐ry | inqui‐
how it came to [paſs | pass]paſspass that the Allowance made him in
England[place0068.ocp] was so Soon Spent? he [aſsigned | assigned]aſsignedassigned this as one [Reaſon | reason]Reaſonreason
that he bought a [conſiderable | considerable]conſiderableconsiderable Collection of Books for the
but [after wards | afterwards]after wardsafterwards for fear of Blame he took them to [him
‐ſelf | him‐
and charged them to his own [Acco.t | account]Acco.t account — upon which [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Woodward[pers0610.ocp]
proposed taking those Books for the School[org0098.ocp], as he wanted to
Sell them, but he would not [conſent | consent]conſentconsent to it without a [cuſtomary | customary]cuſtomarycustomary
Advance. Neither (as [appeard | appeared]appeardappeared upon Trial) with Such Advance.
but would have the Money in Hand or not part with the
Books. — [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Woodward[pers0610.ocp] finally [deſired | desired]deſireddesired him to [viſit | visit]viſitvisit me
Soon and Settle the Affair [otherwiſe | otherwise]otherwiſeotherwise an [acco.t | account]acco.t account of it [muſt | must]muſtmust
be [tranſmitted | transmitted]tranſmittedtransmitted to England[place0068.ocp]. this he [promiſed | promised]promiſedpromised to do in a few
Days, Since which Six Weeks have elapsed and I have heard
nothing from him — After [illegible] this I was [informd | informed]informdinformed that half
the Order he had on [Meſsrs | Messrs.]Meſsrs Messrs. Lathrops remained unpaid; on which
[M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Woodward[pers0610.ocp] wrote [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Occom[pers0030.ocp] in my Name, informing him
that I had heard of it. and expected that he would order [Meſsrs | Messrs.]Meſsrs Messrs.
Lathrops to pay it to the School[org0098.ocp], upon the Receipt of which
[left] This Letter was never Sent.This Letter was never Sent.

Letter he immediately [Applyed | applied]Applyedapplied to them for the Money and
could not by them be [prevaild | prevailed]prevaildprevailed upon to [conſent | consent]conſentconsent that the
Should have it. —
 I [adviſed | advised]adviſedadvised him [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon after he came Home to dispose of his
Family [& | and]&and Affairs [agreably | agreeably]agreablyagreeably to make [himſelf | himself]himſelfhimself a Settlement in the
[Wilderneſs | wilderness]Wilderneſswilderness, where he may have an Advantage which no [Engliſhman | Englishman]EngliſhmanEnglishman
can have. viz. as much of the [beſt | best]beſtbest of their Lands as he could
[reaſonably | reasonably]reaſonablyreasonably [deſire | desire]deſiredesire. I proposed that he Should take his Wife[pers0029.ocp] and
two of his Children with him. viz. his [Eldeſt | eldest]Eldeſteldest Son[pers0026.ocp] and fix him in a
School under his Guidance and [Inſpection | inspection]Inſpectioninspection, and his [Youngeſt | youngest]Youngeſtyoungest Child to
live with him, and I would take all the [reſt | rest]reſtrest of his Children into my
['till | 'til]'till'til his [Circumſtances | circumstances]Circumſtancescircumstances Should invite to take them with him,
but he [Seemd | seemed]Seemdseemed [diſinclind | disinclined]diſinclinddisinclined to it — and I hear is [imploying | employing]imployingemploying a Number
of Labourers about his [Houſe | house]Houſehouse and Farm and I but little expect
either to get the [Ballance | balance]Ballancebalance of the School[org0098.ocp]'s [acco.t | account]acco.t account which is about
₤75. Sterling, or that he will ever Settle in Such a [Miſsion | mission]Miſsionmission
I fear his Tour to England[place0068.ocp], and the great [Reſpect | Respect]ReſpectRespect [Shewn | shown]Shewnshown him
there will have the Sad Effect to make him [aſpire | aspire]aſpireaspire after [Grandure | grandeur]Granduregrandeur
[& | and]&and [Eaſe | ease]Eaſeease, and prevent his [illegible] future [usefulneſs | usefulness]usefulneſsusefulness, at [leaſt | least]leaſtleast in a great
[Meaſure | measure]Meaſuremeasure. I [hant | haven't]hanthaven't Yet Seen him to [diſcourſe | discourse]diſcourſediscourse the Affair with
him. Nor can I flatter [my Self | myself]my Selfmyself with any great Benefit by it, if
I Should, Since I can offer no more forcible Arguments than
[M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Woodward[pers0610.ocp] urged without [Suceeſs | success]Suceeſssuccess.
 I have Confidence in Your Prudence and have [Obſerved | observed]Obſervedobserved [illegible] with
[Pleaſure | pleasure]Pleaſurepleasure, the [Expreſsions | expressions]Expreſsionsexpressions of Your [Eſteem | esteem]Eſteemesteem [& | and]&and [Friendſhip | friendship]Friendſhipfriendship towards
him, or I Should not have [dar'd | dared]dar'ddared to [expreſs | express]expreſsexpress [myſelf | myself]myſelfmyself with So much
freedom as I have done upon this Head.
 I have, Since I [tranſmitted | transmitted]tranſmittedtransmitted my [laſt | last]laſtlast [accots | accounts]accots accounts, [beſides | besides]beſidesbesides the ₤100.
to pay [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Occom[pers0030.ocp], drawn on You for the following Sums viz.
₤100. [Sterl.g | sterling]Sterl.g sterling in [Fav.r | favour]Fav.r favour of [Meſsrs | Messrs.]Meſsrs Messrs. Lathrops. June [20th | 20th]20th 20th [1768-06-20]
₤100— in [Fav.r | favour]Fav.r favour of [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. John Baker Brimmer[pers0096.ocp] June 20[1768-06-20].
₤39.5.— in [Fav.r | favour]Fav.r favour of [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. George Green[pers0233.ocp] June 25[1768-06-25].
₤100. — in [Favr | favour]Favr favour of [Meſs rs | Messrs.]Meſs rs Messrs. Lathrops [Aug.t | August]Aug.t August 12[1768-08-12].
 I have drawn for no more than has been [Neceſsary | necessary]Neceſsarynecessary; and
have used the [greateſt | greatest]greateſtgreatest [illegible] economy [& | and]&and Prudence I have been
[Maſter | master]Maſtermaster of in all my layings out.
 I conclude You will See what I write my [Hon.d | Honoured]Hon.d Honoured Patrons[org0103.ocp]
to which I [muſt | must]muſtmust refer you for Intelligence in the great Affair.
 And [Subſcribe | subscribe]Subſcribesubscribe with much Affection [& | and]&and [Eſteem | Esteem]EſteemEsteem.

Yours in the [deareſt | dearest]deareſtdearest Bonds
  Eleazar Wheelock[pers0036.ocp]
John Thornton [Esq.r | Esq.]Esq.r Esq. [pers0541.ocp]

[note (type: editorial): Blank page.]

To [Esq.r | Esq.]Esq.r Esq. Thornton[pers0541.ocp]
  [Aug.t | August]Aug.t August 25. 1768[1768-08-25].
Trust in England
The Trust in England was an organization formed in 1766 to safeguard money raised by Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker on their fundraising tour of Great Britain. Initially, no trust had been planned, but less than a year into their trip, Occom and Whitaker had raised so much money it became clear that a trust was necessary to keep the money raised reputable and thus protect the images of those involved. On November 28, 1766, a trust was formed consisting of William Legge (the Earl of Dartmouth), Baron Smyth, John Thornton, Samuel Roffey, Charles Hardey, Daniel West, Samuel Savage, Josiah Robarts, and Robert Keen. These men all had prominent public reputations, and by association provided a guarantee that funds would be used for the purposes for which they had been given. All told, Occom and Whitaker raised nearly £10,000 (not including £2,000 in Scotland, which was put under the control of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge), a far greater sum than initially projected. The amount raised attracted intense public scrutiny and, given that its members had tied their reputations to the money’s collection and maintenance, the trust became enormously concerned with how Wheelock would employ it. Despite a minor scandal involving an impolitic and ultimately abandoned plan to transmit funds to America by buying trade goods and selling them at a profit, Wheelock and the English Trust managed to avoid any serious breach until March 1770, when Wheelock informed the men in England that he had obtained a charter for Dartmouth College. Wheelock had tried to get a charter for Moor’s Indian Charity School in Connecticut throughout the late 1750s and early 1760s, and there were two components to his plan: he wanted to move the school to a place where he could have room to expand, and he wanted to obtain a charter to open a college. The English Trust supported the first goal, but not the second, as a charter would interfere with its control of the funds. Wheelock was determined to have his charter, however, and when the time came, he told the English Trust only about his plan to move. The trust helped Wheelock select New Hampshire as the site for his relocation, but it did not learn about the charter -- granted by New Hampshire governor John Wentworth, with whom Wheelock had been secretly negotiating -- until more than three months after it had been issued. Adding insult to injury, Wheelock, without consultation, named the college after Lord Dartmouth, informing the man himself after the fact. (After the charter was issued, Dartmouth never wrote to Wheelock again.) The members of the English Trust were outraged; to placate them, Wheelock made superficial motions to keep Moor’s and Dartmouth separate, though in practice the institutions were one and the same. Despite its displeasure, the English Trust continued to honor Wheelock’s requests for money until 1775, when the fund ran out. It also drew from the fund to support Occom, whom it believed Wheelock had mistreated, and Kirkland, whom it saw as more faithful to the design of Christianizing Indians than Wheelock. Once the fund ran out, Thornton and Savage continued to provide Wheelock with some financial assistance when he found himself in debt.
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.

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.

Lathrop, Daniel

With his brother Joshua Lathrop, Daniel Lathrop was a prominent businessman who owned a mercantile and pharmacy in Norwich, Connecticut. Daniel Lathrop was also an early benefactor of Moor's Indian Charity School, and advanced fiscal support for Samson Occom's fundraising trip to Great Britain. Daniel Lathrop was a cousin of John Lathrop of Boston, minister of the Old North Church and husband to Mary Wheatley.

Lathrop, Joshua

With his brother Daniel Lathrop, Joshua Lathrop owned a mercantile and pharmacy in Norwich, Connecticut. The Lathrops advanced fiscal support for Samson Occom's fundraising trip to Great Britain.

Thornton, John

John Thornton was born in Yorkshire on April 1, 1720. As a young man, Thornton inherited money from his father Robert Thornton, who was the Director of the Bank of England, which he used to begin his career as a merchant. In 1753, Thornton married Lucy Watson, with whom he had four children. Watson had a Christianizing influence on Thornton, which ultimately led to his 1754 conversion to evangelical Anglicanism under Henry Venn, the curate of Clapham. Thornton's and Venn’s sons would continue their fathers’ religious traditions, going on to form the “Clapham sect,” an influential group of evangelical Christians who championed social reforms. As a result of his conversion, Thornton pursued charity just as much as trade, a major part of which involved managing the English Trust that oversaw the funds Occom and Whitaker collected for Wheelock’s Indian Charity School. Thornton met and hosted Occom several times during his stay in England, and eventually became the Treasurer of the Trust. After Wheelock moved the School to Hanover, however, he focused on the establishment of Dartmouth College to educate Anglo-American men as missionaries, and was accused of using the Trust's funds to this end. This shift in focus contributed to the rift that developed between Occom and Wheelock upon Occom’s return to America –- a rift Thornton tried to repair. Thornton thought of Occom as an equal and, in his role as Treasurer of the Trust, often reminded Wheelock of Occom's vital role in securing the funds that made the School possible. Thornton financed Occom's further missionary activities and insured that Wheelock did not forget Occom's hard work and Christian morals. In addition, Wheelock –- who knew that Occom respected Thornton –- often called upon the merchant when he himself could not convince Occom to undertake further missionary activity. The exchanges between Wheelock and Thornton ended once Wheelock had used up the funds that Occom had raised in England, yet Occom and Thornton kept in touch up through the Revolutionary War, with Thornton remaining one of Occom's most prominent supporters. He died on November 7th, 1790 as one of the wealthiest men in England, despite giving away nearly half his salary each year. In 1828, Thornton's role in the establishment of Dartmouth was memorialized in the College's naming of Thornton Hall.

Keen, Robert

Robert Keen was a London wool merchant and an ardent supporter of George Whitefield, the eminent evangelical. Although it is unclear when Keen and Whitefield first came into contact, by the 1760s Whitefield was writing to Keen frequently. In 1763, Keen, along with Daniel West, was given the task of managing Whitefield’s religious enterprises in London (specifically, his Tottenham Court Chapel and the Tabernacle, another London church), which they continued to do after Whitefield’s death. Keen was also one of the four executors of Whitefield’s affairs in England (along with West and Charles Hardy). As a result of his relationship with Whitefield, Keen was introduced to Occom and Whitaker upon their arrival in February 1766. He was a member of the informal committee that collected donations before October 1766 and provided Occom and Whitaker with advice on their route and strategies. Keen also became a member of the English Trust, the formal organization formed in October 1766 to safeguard donations. As secretary and deputy treasurer of the Trust, Keen played an important role in transmitting accounts and correspondence between the Trust and Wheelock during the tour and the long process of Wheelock’s relocation to New Hampshire. Along with fellow Trust members Samuel Savage and John Thornton, Keen continued to provide financial support to Wheelock after the Trust had been exhausted.

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.

Whitaker, Nathaniel

Nathaniel Whitaker was an outspoken Presbyterian minister with a long and wide-ranging career. Between his ordination in 1755 and his death in 1795, Whitaker ministered to five different congregations. His longest tenure was at Chelsea, CT (near Norwich), from 1761-1769, during which he joined Occom on his two-and-a-half-year fundraising tour of Britain. While in Chelsea, Whitaker was very involved in Wheelock's project. The two engaged in frequent correspondence, and Whitaker served on Eleazar Wheelock's Board of Correspondents in Connecticut, as well as on the Board of Trustees of Moor's Indian Charity School. At one time, he was Wheelock's presumed successor, but Dartmouth's Trustees demanded that Wheelock appoint another. Wheelock, in part due to his strongly-held belief that Native Americans were childlike and rash, was convinced that Occom needed an Anglo-American supervisor on his fundraising tour. After several candidates turned down the job, Wheelock selected Whitaker. He proved to be a poor choice; he was, by many accounts, a difficult man to get along with, and many of Wheelock’s British allies, including George Whitefield and the English Trust (the organization that took control of the money Occom raised in England) preferred to deal with Occom, although Whitaker insisted on handling the tour’s logistics. Furthermore, in Britain, Occom was the obvious star of the tour, and it was unclear to many why Whitaker asserted himself so prominently. Whitaker’s poor decisions seriously alienated the English Trust and increased their suspicion of Wheelock’s later dealings and treatment of Occom. He gave the English Trust the impression that they would have control over money raised in Scotland (which was in fact lodged with the parent organization of the SSPCK), and he was the executor of the “Eells Affair,” a plan initiated by the CT Board of the SSPCK to bring the money that Occom and Whitaker raised back to the colonies by investing it in trade goods and selling them at a profit (Eells was one of the merchants who was to help with the resale of goods). The English Trust learned about the plan by reading letters that Whitaker had given them permission to open in his absence, and were immediately shocked. The wording of certain letters made it appear that only a percentage of the profit from the resale of the goods would go towards Moor’s Indian Charity School, but beyond that detail, the English Trust was scandalized at the thought of money raised for charity being invested in trade. The English Trust blamed Whitaker entirely for these affairs, and issued specific instructions for Occom to notarize all documents requiring Whitaker’s signature. In short, they wanted Occom to supervise Whitaker, when Wheelock had envisioned the opposite relationship (both Occom and Whitaker seem to have ignored their instructions, preferring to have as little contact with one another as possible). In 1769, a year after his return to Connecticut in 1768, Whitaker found himself dismissed by his Chelsea congregation (likely because he had spent two and a half years away from them). He went on to serve several more congregations before his death in 1795. Whitaker was an outspoken Whig, and during the Revolution he published several pamphlets on his political opinions.

Woodward, Bezaleel

Bezaleel Woodward was an integral figure at Dartmouth College and the greater Hanover community; and like that of Eleazar Wheelock, Woodward’s career consisted of a blend of education, religion, and local affairs. After attending Moor’s and graduating from Yale in 1764, he became a preacher. Upon his return to Lebanon in late 1766, he began to hold various positions at Moor’s and became the first tutor of college department in 1768. Woodward later was a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Dartmouth College, as well as a member and clerk of the Board of Trustees. In 1772, he solidified his connection to Wheelock even further by marrying Wheelock’s daughter, Mary. Woodward also held numerous titles outside of the school. He was an elder of the Presbytery and attained multiple appointments in the local court system. A natural leader, Woodward was an influential member and clerk of several committees, representing both Hanover and the Dresden college district. He was thus a leading figure in the Western Rebellion, promoting several towns’ secession from New Hampshire and union with Vermont. Although Woodward resigned from his professorship in 1778, supposedly disassociating himself from Dartmouth while he engaged in politics, it was merely a formality. Upon Wheelock’s death, Woodward acted as president of the college from April to October 1779. Woodward continued to perform many of the executive tasks even after Wheelock’s son and successor, John Wheelock, took over the position, and also held the late Wheelock’s post of treasurer. Claiming to be finished with politics, he officially returned to Dartmouth as tutor in 1782, and performed the president’s duties while Wheelock was abroad in 1782 and 1783. Nonetheless, Woodward continued to participate in local affairs — in 1783 he unsuccessfully attempted to have the New Hampshire General Assembly approve Dresden’s status as a separate town; and in 1786, he became the county treasurer and register of deeds. Woodward remained a prominent figure at Dartmouth and the surrounding area throughout his life. He was, for instance, involved in the construction of Dartmouth Hall in 1784, and was part of the committee formed in 1788 to regulate the contested use of the fund raised by Occom and Whitaker in Great Britain for Moor’s. Woodward died August 25, 1804, at the age of 59.

Occom, Mary (née Fowler)

Mary Occom (née Fowler) was a Montaukett woman who married Samson Occom. Although information about her is limited and often comes from male, Anglo-American sources, it offers a tantalizing glimpse of her strength, as well as an alternative to the Eleazar Wheelock-centered narrative of Occom’s life that often dominates the latter’s biography. Mary was born into the influential Fowler family at Montauk, Long Island. She met Samson during his missionary service there (1749-1761). Mary studied at Samson’s school along with her brothers David and Jacob, and was almost certainly literate. She and Samson married in 1751. Wheelock and several other Anglo-American powers opposed their union because they worried it might distract Occom from being a missionary (as, indeed, family life did), and thus many scholars have read in Samson and Mary’s marriage an act of resistance against Samson’s domineering former teacher. Little information about the minutiae of Mary’s life survives, but existing sources speak volumes about her character and priorities. In front of Anglo-American missionaries visiting the Occoms' English-style house at Mohegan, Mary would insist on wearing Montaukett garb and, when Samson spoke to her in English, she would only reply in Montaukett, despite the fact that she was fluent in English. Mary Occom was, in many ways, Wheelock’s worst fear: that his carefully groomed male students would marry un-Anglicized Indian women. It is not a stretch to imagine that Mary provided much of the incentive for Wheelock to begin taking Indian girls into his school, lest his other protégés replicate Samson’s choice. Much of our information about Mary comes from between 1765 and 1768, when Samson was fundraising in Great Britain. Despite promising to care for Samson’s wife and family (at the time they had seven children), Wheelock, by every objective measure, failed to do so, and Mary’s complaints are well documented. Hilary Wyss reads in Wheelock’s neglect (and in letters from the time) a more sinister story, and concludes that on some level Wheelock was holding Samson’s family hostage, in return for Occom curtailing his political beliefs on the Mason Case. Wyss also notes Mary’s remarkable survivance in this situation. Mary drew on various modes of contact, from letters to verbal communication with influential women (including Sarah Whitaker, the wife of Samson’s traveling companion, and Wheelock’s own daughters), to shame Wheelock into action and demand what she needed. One of the major struggles in Mary’s life, and in Samson’s, was with their sons. Both Aaron and Benoni failed to live up to their parents’ expectations. Aaron attended, and left, Moor’s Indian Charity School three times, and both Aaron and Benoni struggled with alcohol and refused to settle down. The Occom daughters did not cause similar problems. Given the nature of existing sources, little is known about Mary after Samson and Wheelock lessened their communication in 1771. Joanna Brooks has conjectured that Mary was likely influential in Samson’s Mohegan community involvement later in life, for instance, in his continued ministry to Mohegan and, perhaps, his increasingly vehement rejection of Anglo-American colonial practices.

Occom, Aaron

Aaron Occom was Samson and Mary Occom’s prodigal second child and oldest son. He was born in 1753, during Samson’s mission to the Montauketts of Long Island. The Occoms entered Aaron in Moor’s Indian Charity School when he was seven, in the hope that he would “be Brought up.” However, Aaron proved ill-suited to school, and returned home in October 1761. He had two more brief stints at Moor’s Indian Charity School: the first in December 1765, after Samson departed for his two-and-a-half-year fundraising tour of Great Britain, and the second in November 1766, when Mary found herself unable to control Aaron’s wild behavior (which included attempting to run away with “a very bad girl” and forging store orders in Mary’s name). After his last enrollment at Moor’s, Aaron ran away to sea. He had returned to Mohegan by November 1768, and at age 18, he married Ann Robin. Aaron died in 1771, leaving a son also named Aaron. Samson periodically entertained the idea of apprenticing Aaron to a master, but never seems to have done so. One letter written by Aaron survives: an epistle to Joseph Johnson, another young Mohegan who studied at Moor’s.

Brimmer, John Baker
Green, George
Fundraising Tour of Great Britain
After many months of planning and shifting personnel, Occom, accompanied by the minister Nathaniel Whitaker, sets sail in December 1765 for a two-and-a-half year tour of England and Scotland in order to solicit contributions to Wheelock’s Indian Charity School and missionary efforts. Introduced to aristocrats and prominent clergy by the minister George Whitefield, Occom preaches many sermons, travels widely, and collects a large sum of money.
Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0301.ocp M. r Mr. Keen mentioned Keen, Robert
pers0030.ocp M. r Mr. Occom mentioned Occom, Samson
pers0037.ocp D. r Dr. Whitaker mentioned Whitaker, Nathaniel
pers0610.ocp M r Mr. Woodward mentioned Woodward, Bezaleel
pers0610.ocp M. r Mr. Woodward mentioned Woodward, Bezaleel
pers0029.ocp his Wife mentioned Occom, Mary (née Fowler)
pers0026.ocp Eldeſt eldest Son mentioned Occom, Aaron
pers0096.ocp M. r Mr. John Baker Brimmer mentioned Brimmer, John Baker
pers0233.ocp M. r Mr. George Green mentioned Green, George
pers0036.ocp Eleazar Wheelock writer Wheelock, Eleazar
pers0541.ocp John Thornton Esq. r Esq. recipient Thornton, John
pers0541.ocp Esq. r Esq. Thornton recipient Thornton, John

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0122.ocp Lebanon Lebanon
place0068.ocp England England

Organizations identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
org0103.ocp TruſtTrust in England Trust in England
org0098.ocp the School Moor’s Indian Charity School
org0098.ocp the School Moor’s Indian Charity School
org0103.ocp the TruſtTrust Trust in England
org0098.ocp my School Moor’s Indian Charity School
org0103.ocp Hon.d Honoured Patrons Trust in England

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1768-08-25 Aug.t August 25. 1768.
1768-06-20 June 20th 20th
1768-06-20 June 20
1768-06-25 June 25
1768-08-12 Aug.t August 12
1768-08-25 Aug.t August 25. 1768

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variation 'till 'til
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modernization deareſt dearest
modernization Esq.r Esq.
modernization Esq.r Esq.

Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
Aug.t August
& and
Fav.r favour
inform'd informed
Acco.t account
acco.t account
rec.d received
dar'd dared
accots accounts
Sterl.g sterling
Favr favour
Aug.t August
Hon.d Honoured

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HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Thornton, 1768 August 25
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