Thursday, December 12, 2013

Alone on Foot

A handwritten passport.For those of you who dread getting up in the morning, or have ever had to endure lengthy speeches about days of trudging to school in the snow "uphill both ways," we have an item that just may make you feel a bit better about your daily commute. Imagine leaving home by yourself and traveling hundreds of miles on foot, just for the promise of an education. For the Indian students of the Moor's Indian Charity School founded by Eleazar Wheelock in 1754, this was a reality.

This passport, discovered among the effects of William Allen, D.D., President of Dartmouth and of Bowdoin Colleges, whose wife, Maria Malleville Wheelock, was the granddaughter of President Eleazar Wheelock, documents the travels of Wheelock's Indian students on their journey from Bethel, N.J., to Lebanon, Connecticut. The passport is a sheet 15 inches long and 12 inches wide, folded into fourths and stitched together at each crease.

Two of Eleazar Wheelock's students, Delaware Indian boys John Pumshire aged 14 and Jacob Woolley, aged 11, were the first to make the long trip to Moor's. John and Jacob "left all their Relations & Acquaintances, and came alone, on foot, above 200 miles, and thro' a Country, in which they knew not one Mortal, and where they had never pass'd before" all to receive education and missionary training from a stranger they had never seen or heard of themselves.

On the top left corner of the passport reads an introduction from Aaron Burr, second President of the College of New Jersey, and John Brainerd, brother of David Brainerd, who lived at Bethel, N.J., where the Indian boys started on their journey to Lebanon, Connecticut:
Gentlemen and Christian Friends,
These Indian Boys, the Bearers of this, are upon a Journey from Bethel the Indian Town in New Jersey, to Lebanon in Connecticut, in order to be put to Learning under the Inspection of the Reverend Mr. Wheelock, with a View to prepare them for the Gospel Ministry, and a design to propagate Christian Knowledge among the Native Indians in this Land: and therefore are recommended to the Charity of Christian People as they pass through the Country.
The passport combines, on a single sheet of paper, a letter and diagonally placed travel directions. The left side of the itinerary has twenty-seven place names, beginning with Bethel at the bottom of the page and Lebanon at the top. Each place name is complemented on the right side by a name of reference, where the boys could ask for assistance, food, and shelter. Of the 28 places listed on the itinerary, all but two (Bethel and Horseneck) can be easily identified on a map today. The presence of a diagonal line between entries indicates the point at which the boys would need to cross a major river - those of which included the Raritan, Hudson, Housatonic, and Connecticut.

This passport, along with other items from the Moor's Charity School is currently on exhibit in the Class of 1965 Galleries until February 28th. Afterward, feel free to come in and request the passport by asking for Mss D.C. Hist. 754900. The manuscript was donated by Rev. Henry Goodwin Smith.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mandela Hall

A black and white photograph of the campus shanty town.Last week, with the death of Nelson Mandela, the world lost an exceptional leader and dedicated crusader for human rights. He brought the light of his cause to all corners of the globe, including a small college in New Hampshire where, briefly, there stood a Mandela Hall.

Apartheid and the College's investments in companies doing business in South Africa had caused some protest at Dartmouth dating back to the 1970s. In the 1980s unrest among the students and faculty in regard to the College's investment polices increased and became organized in a serious way. Rallies, teach-ins, vigils and recommendations generated by numerous committees and groups urged the Board of Trustees to divest. In June 1985, the Board issued its first statement supporting divestment, voting to remove from its portfolio companies not complying with the Sullivan Principles during the next year.

Taking their cue from activities at other colleges and universities where shantytowns had proved to be an effective protest method, on November 16, 1985, the Dartmouth Community for Divestment constructed two shanties on the green, Biko Memorial Hall and Mandela Hall. In addition, the DCD issued two demands to the Trustees, expecting their written statement of acceptance by mid-day, November 18th.

The Trustees did not respond to the DCD demands, and a third shanty was built. Town officers, students, faculty and community members argued and debated the legality of the shanties. On November 21st, College president David McLaughlin stated that the shanties could remain as long as they served an educational purpose.
A black and white photograph of the trashed shanties. A banner reading "Racists did this" has been hung on the wreckage.

And remain they did, at least until the night of Jan 21-22, 1986, when twelve students calling themselves the Dartmouth Committee to Beautify the Green Before Winter Carnival, took sledge hammers to the structures, and sent a brief letter to President McLaughlin stating that they were "merely picking up trash off the Green." The discussions that had surrounded the legality of constructing shanties on the green were instantly replaced by debate over the violent actions of the DCBGBWC.

Over time, the dust settled, but opposition to the College's investment policies continued for a few more years following the shanty incident, until finally, in November 1989, the Trustees voted to fully divest.

To learn more, ask for the Vertical Files "Student Protests 1985" and Student Protests 1986."