Samson Occum: Contribution as American Author

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      During the revolutionary period Samson Occom (1723-1793) urged, on the contrary, the tribes to remain neutral because that war was, as he insisted on the work of the Devil. Born as a Mohegan, he was converted by missionaries when he was sixteen. Then he became the itinerant minister, devoting most of his energies to preaching and working on behalf of the Indian people.

      Two books were published during his lifetime. Sermon Preached by Samson Occom, Minster of the Gospel, and Missionary to the Indians; at the Execution of Moses Paul an Indian (1772) and the other Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1974) which became the first Indian best seller. All Occom’s work is marked by the fervent belief in the power of the grace, and by his insistence that as he put it in his execution sermon: ‘we are dying creatures’ who had to seek that grace at once. His writing is also marked by the fervent rhetorical style and an equally fervent belief that all his people, the Mohegans and other tribes were, in particular, need of Christian redemption. Passing through it, however, is another current, less openly acknowledged but undeniably there the suspicion that many of the miseries of his life were there because as he expressed, it,’ I am poor Indian’ that is true of other Indian poets also. Also, he argued that his people should not involve in the quarrels of the whites, such as the revolution and the 1812 War between the United States and England; he became an enthusiastic disciple of a project to remove the Christian Indians of New England to a settlement in New York but that was never realized. The solution found by him was always to come apart and be separate from the whites.

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