, Letter, , New York Co., NY, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 7 Jan. 1842; handwriting presumably of ; three pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, postal stamps, postal notations, and dockets.
Bifolium measuring 10 × 8¼ inches (25 × 21 cm). The letter was inscribed on the recto and verso of the first leaf and the recto of the second leaf. The document was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, sealed with a red adhesive wafer, and postmarked. A remnant of the wafer obscures one word on the recto of the second leaf.
The document was docketed by , who served as JS’s scribe from December 1841 until JS’s death in June 1844 and served as church historian from December 1842 until his own death in March 1854. Another docket was inscribed by , who served as a clerk in the Church Historian’s Office (later Church Historical Department) from 1853 to 1859. The document was listed in an inventory that was produced by the Church Historian’s Office circa 1904. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The document’s early dockets as well as its inclusion in the circa 1904 inventory and in the JS Collection by 1973 indicate continuous institutional custody.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 7 January 1842 member wrote a letter to JS concerning a trip Latson had recently taken to to purchase goods—presumably for JS’s mercantile in , Illinois. Latson joined the sometime before spring 1841 and was reportedly a “preacher” at the church’s branch then meeting in Lower Manhattan. In May 1841 members of the attended a wedding and preached at least one sermon in Latson’s Manhattan home. Latson was an established merchant and had been partial owner and master of a steamboat, which may explain why he was involved in acquiring goods for JS during this period.
In his letter to JS, reported that he was unable to obtain goods in and had returned to but that he would procure goods there and return to by late February or early March 1842. He also described a chance encounter he had with Supreme Court justice John Catron on his journey home, informing JS that Catron was interested in nominating Latson to lead a government mission to “civilize” the Osage Indians, most of whom lived west of . The letter was mailed from New York City on 12 January 1842. Latson requested that JS write back with further direction.
As correspondence mailed from to took approximately three weeks for delivery, ’s letter probably arrived in Nauvoo in early February. A docket in the handwriting of indicates that JS received it in Nauvoo. No reply is known to exist.
1840 U.S. Census, New York 13th Ward, New York City, NY, 267; Longworth’s American Almanac , 424; Longworth’s American Almanac , 369; The Fanny, 8 Federal Cases 992 (S.D.N.Y. 1841) (case no. 4,637); “Arrest for Violating a Statute,” New-York Tribune (New York City), 16 Apr. 1841, . Edward Hunter, a church member from Pennsylvania, was also involved in purchasing goods for JS’s store around this same period. (Letter to Edward Hunter, 5 Jan. 1842.)
Census (U.S.) / U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules. Microfilm. FHL.
Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, for the Sixty-Sixth Year of American Independence. . . . New York: Thomas Longworth, 1841.
Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, for the Sixty-Seventh Year of American Independence. . . . New York: T. Longworth and Son, 1842.
The Federal Cases Comprising Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit and District Courts of the United States from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Federal Reporter. Arranged Alphabetically by the Titles of the Cases, and Numbered Consecutively. Vol. 8. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing, 1895.
Latson’s reluctance to identify himself as a Latter-day Saint may be connected to ongoing perceptions that the church sought to convert western Indian tribes in order to incite them to commit violence against and take land from frontier settlers. (Isaac McCoy, “The Disturbances in Jackson County,” Missouri Republican [St. Louis], 20 Dec. 1833, ; “Public Meeting,” Messenger and Advocate, Aug. 1836, 2:354; Henry King, Keokuk, Iowa Territory, to John Chambers, Burlington, Iowa Territory, 14 July 1843, in Territorial Papers of the United States, the Territory of Iowa, reel 56.)
Missouri Republican. St. Louis. 1822–1919.
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Territorial Papers of the United States, the Territory of Iowa, 1838–1846. National Archives Microfilm Publications, microcopy M325. 102 reels. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, 1979.
In 1832 Congress approved a statute creating the position of commissioner of Indian affairs. The commissioner was tasked with, among other things, prohibiting the introduction of alcohol to Indian tribes. In 1834 Congress passed another act that fined any person who attempted to “sell, exchange, or give, barter, or dispose of, any spirituous liquor or wine to an Indian.” Though contemporaries observed that the Osage Indians largely avoided consuming alcohol during the 1820s and 1830s, practices apparently began to change during the early 1840s. In 1843 Osage Indian subagent Robert Calloway reported to his superiors, “I am told, and I confidently believe it true, that the Osages have, within the last twelve or fifteen months, drank more whiskey than they had ever done since they were a people.” (An Act to Provide for the Appointment of a Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and for Other Purposes [9 July 1832], Public Statutes at Large, 22nd Cong., 1st Sess., vol. 4, chap. 174, p. 564; An Act to Regulate Trade and Intercourse with the Indian Tribes, and to Preserve Peace on the Frontiers [30 June 1834], Public Statutes at Large, 23rd Cong., 1st Sess., vol. 4, chap. 161, p. 732, sec. 20; R. A. Calloway, Osage Subagency, to D. D. Mitchell, St. Louis, MO, 1 Sept. 1843, in Message from the President of the United States, 5 Dec. 1843, Senate doc. no. 1, 28th Cong., 1st Sess. , pp. 388–389; Rollings, Unaffected by the Gospel, 126–128.)
The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845. . . . Edited by Richard Peters. 8 vols. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846–1867.
Message from the President of the United States, to the Two Houses of Congress, at the Commencement of the First Session of the Twenty-Sixth Congress. December 24, 1839. Senate Doc. no. 1, 26th Cong., 1st Sess. (1839).
Rollings, Willard Hughes. Unaffected by the Gospel: Osage Resistance to the Christian Invasion, 1673–1906: A Cultural Victory. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004.