Through the storm and stress of these campaigns, the eyes of the Mohawks were upon Joseph Brant. They expected much of him, and he earnestly tried to fulfil their hopes. Still in his teens, he was already a seasoned warrior, having ‘fought with Death and dulled his sword.’ The Mohawks were pleased. Let a few more autumns strew the carpet of the forest, and they would have in him a brave and robust leader worthy of their tradition. Joseph, on the other hand, was dissatisfied. He had lived and communed with white men and had come to know a greatness that was not to be won by following the war-path. He had wielded the tomahawk; he had bivouacked among armed men on the field of battle: now he was eager for the schoolroom. He wished to widen his knowledge and to see the great world that lay beyond the rude haunts of the red men.
Joseph was in this frame of mind when an Indian with the very English name of David Fowler came to Fort Johnson. Fowler was on a long journey from his home by the sea and rode on horseback. He had something to relate, he said, that was of significance for the Indian people. At Lebanon, in the colony of Connecticut, there was an institution for the education of any young redskin who might be able to come, and he had been sent by Doctor Eleazar Wheelock, its principal, to gather recruits. Addressing Sir William Johnson, he asked him if there were among the Six Nations Indians any lads whom he should like to send to the school.
Sir William was not slow to act. Joseph Brant, the pride of Canajoharie Castle, thirsting for knowledge, must surely go. Two other boys, named Negyes and Center, were chosen to accompany him. These were ‘three boys,’ as Dr Wheelock afterwards wrote, ’who were willing to leave their friends and country, and come among strangers of another language and quite another manner of living, and where, perhaps, none of their nation, then living, had ever been.’
The trip to Connecticut was made in 1761, and the lads arrived at Lebanon about mid-summer. They were not at all sure that the school would be to their liking and had planned, if such should prove to be the case, to make a hasty flight back to the Mohawk valley on the horses they brought with them. Negyes and Center looked rather woebegone as they came into Dr Wheelock’s presence: ’Two of them,’ he says, ‘were but little better than naked.’ Brant, however, created a good impression. ’The other, being of a family of distinction, was considerably clothed, Indian fashion, and could speak a few words of English.’
The school was kept up by a number of benevolent persons who contributed liberally to its funds. Sir William Johnson was ready to do his share to aid the good work, and some four months and a half after the Mohawk boys had arrived he wrote to the principal: ’I shall not be backward to contribute my mite.’ A house in which to hold the classes and two acres of land had been given by a farmer named Joshua Moor; hence the institution was generally called Moor’s Indian Charity School. The principal, Dr Wheelock, was a man of wide scholarship, and became later on the founder of the seat of learning in New Hampshire now known as Dartmouth College.