George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Eleazar Wheelock, 26 January 1776

From Eleazar Wheelock

Dartmouth College Jany 26. 1776.

Much Hond Sir.

The Bearer Mr Joseph Johnson, an Indian of the Mohegan Tribe was educated in my School when in Connecticut,1 and Since he left it has been employed in keeping School Among the Six Nations, till he is become considerably Master of their Language and has Served as interpreter for a Missionary Which I have Sent to these Nations—The August before last he was examined by a Voluntary Convention of Ministers Who Met here at Commencement, and was approved, & licenced as a Preacher of the Gospel to the Indians—and has Since preached among the Six Nations—and designes in Complyance With their Invitation, to remove With a large party of the new England christianized Indians, and Settle a Town or Towns in their Country—He has been Well acquainted with the Intreagues of Mr Guy Johnson & Colo. Buttler against the Colonies; & has been efficious & Successful in Endeavors to counteract them.2

I believe him to be high in the Esteem of the Six nations—and has Obtained and, for Several Years So far as I know, well Supported, the Character of a Steady, prudent, judicious, virtuous, & pious Young Man, among English & Indians. He is incorporated With the Six Nations who have also made him one of their Council—and was a principal Instrument in Convening the Indians to the Congress at Albany last August, & was not a little instrumental to the peaceful and happy Issue of that Treaty.3

Through the Liberality of Numbers charitably disposed he is not now under Necesity to Sollicit Charity for the Support of a Mission which he has thought Soon to enter upon—though in After Time if he Should continue in that Service, must depend upon that under God, unless Some other Resource Should be opened for his Support therein.

I thought proper to give Your Excellency this short but faithful Account of the Young Man, Not knowing what Instructions you might think proper to give to, or Use you might desire to make of Such an one in the Indian Country—And Must rely on Your Excellency’s Candor to Accept this as my Only Excuse for this Interruption.

I have also herewith enclosed a copy of a Memorial I have lately Sent to the Honourable Continental Congress in which I have given a Short but faithful Account of the present State of the School under my care—If Your Excellency’s crowd of More important Affairs will allow you to read the Same I Shall be glad, & doubt not you will do any thing You Shall think proper & reasonable to forward & incourage it.4

I heartily thank your Excellency for the care You took to forward my Letter from England5 which So very providentially came into your Hands. And that You may enjoy Health, And be directed, Assisted, & protected in All the important Business of your Department is the Daily Prayer of Your Excellency’s Most Obedient and very Humble Servant

Eleazar Wheelock


1Wheelock operated his school for Indians in Lebanon, Conn., before he moved it to Hanover, N.H., in 1770.

2John Butler (c.1728–1796), who had served as a provincial captain on the New York frontier during the French and Indian War and as a lieutenant colonel of the militia since 1768, left his home in the Mohawk Valley with Guy Johnson at the beginning of the Revolutionary War and soon established himself at Niagara, where he exercised his considerable influence with the Indians to keep them neutral. In December 1777 and early 1778 Butler raised a corps of Loyalist rangers with which he raided the Wyoming Valley in July 1778. Although defeated at Newtown, N.Y., in August 1779, Butler avoided annihilation, and in the summer of 1780 he began a Loyalist settlement at Niagara. For Guy Johnson’s activities, see GW’s instructions to Schuyler, 25 June 1775, n.4.

3The negotiations with the Six Nations began at Albany on 23 Aug. 1775, and a treaty of neutrality was concluded with them on 1 September. See Schuyler to GW, 27 Aug. 1775.

4In his memorial of 7 Jan. 1776 Wheelock explained that because of the war he could no longer depend on receiving financial support from England for his college and asked Congress to assist him if possible. Congress read his memorial on 29 Jan. and referred it to the committee on Indian affairs. On 19 Sept. 1776 Congress appropriated $500 for the support of the college (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:100, 5:787). The copy of the memorial that was enclosed to GW is in DLC:GW.

5Wheelock apparently is referring to the letter that was enclosed in GW’s letter to Wheelock of 12 Dec. 1775.

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