Letter from John W. Latson, 7 January 1842

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

J Smith Esqr
Dear Brother
not succeding in Obtain[in]g the goods at , the particulars of which I presume were commu[ni]cated to you by Br. Miller I thought it wisdom for me to return home, and obtain what goods I could & return— I have acted in pursuance of the above plan, and have every prospect of geting two to three thousands dollars worth at any rate, thoug[h] every thing is very dul hear & money hard, I found my Famley in good health, &c at one time we had some talk about the notes if you will write me the particulars, and what you want me to do in this or any other mat[t]er I will attend to it with the graest [greatest] of pleasure, as to my news in relation to the purchase of goods they were fuly & freely communcatd to Br miller, to whome I would refur you if you should not approve of my coming home at the time I did or if I can in any way do any thing which would be benificial to yourself or the pleas State it in your leter, and I will do as you Shall direct [p. [1]]
I hope you will not think hard of me for coming home, I remained in , untill the next Sunday after Br miller left, on board the Steamer I fell in with Judge Craton [John Catron] of the Supream Court of the , who was on his way to to hold the Supream court their he is the judge of the <​U. St​> curcuit cou[r]t of , Congress has approp[r]iated 10,000 $ to for a mission and to civilized th[e] Osage Indians of which he has the charge and offerd it to me with the protiction of the U. S. Court. Genl. Mc. Neal was allso one of the party who strongly urdge me to accept it if I went to the west to Live I parcily agreed to take charge of the mision if the Indian ageneces was added
to this propsistion the Judge & Genl bouth pledge themselves to use their influance with the President and had no dout of my Obtaining it, and Strongly urdge me to go on to with them to get the appointment
this I declined aleding [alleging] ill health as the reason, for I did not want to do anything in the primises untill I knew your mind on the subject, which you will pleas commu[n]icate and I will act accordingly they did not know of my being a member of the [p. [2]] or of any other denomanation one grate Object being to prevent the selling of Liquor to the natives
I informed them of my stay in &c they though[t] me purty well Mormonired— do not publish any part of this but simply write me what you want me to do under the curcumstances
my health has ben very poor since my return, home, but I am now much bet[t]er so as to be able to attend to buisness
I am making preparations to return to your city by the last of Febuary or the first [of] march
give my kindest regards to and your aimable Famley
With the highest considerations I remain your Most Obt Svt
Jany 7th 1842 [1/4 page blank] [p. [3]]
 
<​25​>
<​PAID​> <​25​>
<​ JAN 12​>
Joseph Smith Esqr
Hancock Co Ill. [p. [4]]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Likely George Miller, who was appointed bishop in Nauvoo as well as trustee and president of the Nauvoo House Association in early 1841. Miller later recalled that part of his responsibility during this period involved “feeding and paying the wages of the laborers engaged on the Temple and Nauvoo House.” (Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124:21–22]; An Act to Incorporate the Nauvoo House Association [23 Feb. 1841], Laws of the State of Illinois [1840–1841], p. 131, sec. 2; George Miller, St. James, MI, to “Dear Brother,” 26 June 1855, in Northern Islander, 16 Aug. 1855, [3].)  

    Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Twelfth General Assembly, at Their Session, Began and Held at Springfield, on the Seventh of December, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty. Springfield, IL: William Walters, 1841.

    Northern Islander. St. James, MI. 1850–1856.

  2. 2

    During this period, New York City and the rest of the United States were mired in an economic depression that began in 1839. (See Howe, What Hath God Wrought, 504–505; Wallis, “Depression of 1839 to 1843,” 31–32.)  

    Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. The Oxford History of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

    Wallis, John Joseph. “The Depression of 1839 to 1843: States, Debts, and Banks.” Unpublished paper. Copy in editors’ possession.

  3. 3

    This likely refers to the forty-two promissory notes signed by Sidney Rigdon, JS, and Hyrum Smith in August 1839 to purchase approximately four hundred acres of land on the Commerce peninsula from Connecticut land speculators Horace Hotchkiss, Smith Tuttle, and John Gillet. (Historical Introductions to Bonds from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A and B; Promissory Notes to Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A through U; Promissory Notes to Smith Tuttle and John Gillet, 12 Aug. 1839–A through U, JS Collection, CHL.)  

  4. 4

    Catron was nominated as an associate justice of the Supreme Court by President Andrew Jackson and confirmed by the Senate in 1837. (Cushman, Supreme Court Justices, 112; Urofsky, Biographical Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court, 119.)  

    Cushman, Clare. The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies, 1789–2012. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2013.

    Urofsky, Melvin. Biographical Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court. Washington DC: Con- gressional Quarterly Press, 2006.

  5. 5

    The 1789 Judiciary Act established the United States Supreme Court and created thirteen federal district courts grouped into three judicial circuits. In addition to hearing cases brought before the Supreme Court, justices of the Supreme Court were expected to “ride the circuit” to hear appeals in the lower federal courts assigned to them. The number of circuits expanded to nine in 1837. Catron’s eighth circuit jurisdiction included the state of Missouri. (An Act to Establish the Judicial Courts of the United States [24 Sept. 1789], Public Statutes at Large, 1st Cong., 1st Sess., vol. 1, chap. 20, pp. 73–75, secs. 1–2, 4; Wheeler and Harrison, Creating the Federal Judicial System, 1–17; Gray, “United States Courts,” 2350–2351; Cushman, Supreme Court Justices, 113.)  

    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.

    Wheeler, Russell R., and Cynthia Harrison. Creating the Federal Judicial System. 3rd ed. Washington DC: Federal Judicial Center, 2005.

    Gray, Melvin L. “United States Courts.” In Encyclopedia of the History of St. Louis, A Compendium of History and Biography for Ready Reference, vol. 4, edited by William Hyde and Howard L. Conard, 2345–2357. New York: Southern History Company, 1899.

    Cushman, Clare. The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies, 1789–2012. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2013.

  6. 6

    Beginning in 1819 Congress appropriated $10,000 annually to employ individuals to teach Native American tribes the “habits and arts of civilization.” The United States government used Indian agents, or sometimes relied on religious societies, to carry out programs of cultural assimilation, which included, among other things, encouraging tribal members to abandon nomadic subsistence practices, particularly in favor of fixed agriculture; Americanizing indigenous children through education, especially English instruction; and encouraging Native Americans to cease practicing folk traditions, mainly by converting to Christianity. By late 1841 the Osage were primarily living in three bands—the Great Osage, the Little Osage, and the Arkansas band—along the Neosho and Verdigris rivers in the present-day eastern portion of Kansas and Arkansas. (An Act Making Provision for the Civilization of the Indian Tribes Adjoining the Frontier Settlements [3 Mar. 1819], Public Statutes at Large, vol. 3, chap. 85, pp. 516–517; Reyhner and Eder, American Indian Education, 43–47; Rollings, Unaffected by the Gospel, 6–7, 86.)  

    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.

    Reyhner, John, and Jeanne Eder. American Indian Education: A History. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.

    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.

  7. 7

    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, [2]; “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.

  8. 8

    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. [1843], 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.

  9. 9

    TEXT: Word concealed by remnant of wafer.  

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    Postage in graphite in unidentified handwriting.  

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    Stamped in red ink.  

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    Postage in unidentified handwriting.  

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    Circular postmark stamped in red ink.