I have not been able to learn the identity of the correspondents in this letter but there is an interesting reference to the “Slavery Question” then being debated in Illinois. In 1823, some legislators in Illinois called for a new constitutional convention for the purpose of legalizing slavery in Illinois. This prompted an intense public debate, as stated in this letter, but the proposal was voted down in August 1824.
Addressed to Mr. James Moffett, Natchez, State of Mississippi
St. Louis [Missouri]
May 18th 1824
I received your kind favor on the 15th Instant bearing date the 25th of April. I am glad to learn that you are well. I have observed the contents of your letter. I have given the enclosed letter to Lawyer Lawless agreeable to your directions. I have also given your letter to Lawyer Lockwood. On enquiry, Mr. Lockwood fears that they will cast you in the note as well as the mortgage according to information but he said he did not know anything about it. He said according to his information that they would prove that the note was given to you for an improvement made on Congress land and that the judge would give it against you, and he told me he wished me to call to Mr. Cook when he would return from Washington He also believed if the note goes against them, they have no property to be found to pay you.
The times here are very dull & very little business doing. They are worse than when you left here. Thomas Moffett intends leaving this country the last of August or first of September. he intends to go to the eastward — him and his family.
Our State — or State of Illinois — is much disturbed about the Convention or Slave Question. It will be very hard polling. John & Thomas Moffett sends their best respects to you. Mr. Fenley I’ll see this day and pay him the 1200 cts agreeable to your order. If you are not profitably engaged, you have better come back and see to your own business. Judge for yourself. Without your presence, I fear the case is doubtful. Sorry that the case is not certain. I will go see Mr. Cook when he gets back or as soon as possible so as that I can write to you again.
I remain in Illinois doing very little & think of going eastward in the spring — myself & John Moffett. I shall send a copy of this letter to New Orleans for fear I should miss or you should not get them.
I am, dear Sir, your sincere friend [and] humble servant, — James Moffett
I beg leave to presume this voluntary liberty I take in sending you these few lines. The times are uncommon dull here. The day you left St. Louis, I did intend to convey you but was prevented. In consequence of Mr. John Rankin drawing on me in favor of Mr. Warberton, Merch. for $131.32 cts and when I got it paid, I found I should wish to hear from you and the prospect of doing business in any part you have been in.
I am now in Saint Louis. Had much sickness last fall. I am better at this time. I have much to say but will omit it until another time. I am, dear Sir, respectfully yours, &c. — P. Hogan