This letter was written by 20 year-old Midshipman Alonzo Clinton Jackson (1823-1853) while serving aboard the Frigate United States, the flagship in Commodore Thomas Jones’ Pacific Squadron. Alonzo was the son of Allen Heyer Jackson (1797-1836) and Diana Clarissa Paige (1799-1863). Alonzo married Dora A. Mumford and had at least two children before his death in 1853 at age 28. Obituary notices reported that he died of a brain disease brought on by “too arduous application to the scientific duties of his profession” as a naval officer.
Alonzo Paige graduated from Williams College in 1812. Then he was sent by his father to Montgomery County to study theology, but after some time abandoned this and studied law instead in Schenectady. He was admitted to the bar in 1819. He was a member of the New York State Assembly (Schenectady Co.) in 1827, 1828, 1829 and 1830. In 1828, he was appointed as Reporter of the New York Court of Chancery, and published 11 volumes of chancery cases until 1845. He was a member of the New York State Senate (3rd D.) in 1837, and from 1839 to 1842, sitting in the 60th, 62nd, 63rd, 64th and 65th New York State Legislatures. He was a justice of the New York Supreme Court (4th D.) from 1847 to 1851, and from 1856 to 1857, and a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1867–68.
Addressed to Mrs. A. C. Paige, Schenectady, New York, United States of America
Per Ship LaFayette
Ship United States
February 1st 1844
My Dear Aunt,
Although I wrote you all only a few days since, I shall write you again now for the simple reason that I have an opportunity of sending to you and also that I am certain from your open and p___ly letters that to hear from me really gratifies you.
I sent letters by the Constellation to all of my friends — at least to all that have written to me & to some others. This ship, that is the vessel which will take these few lines, goes direct to New Bedford full of whale oil which may occasion this letter to seem fishy. Nothing has taken place since my last except the arrival of the [sloop-of-war] Levant which of course created an excitement among us all , not soon to subside. She only arrived on the 27th of January and of course we have not yet exhausted all the information to be received from their officers regarding home. I received by her one long and delightful letter from you dated January 9 & 22d. It was a letter of 8 sheets and they well filled. Almost all of your letters have now arrived. I think there are only one or two behind and they probably are in the Erie, which ship I expect will be in here in a few days. You have no idea what pleasure or rather delight your letter gave. Almost 3 sheets from home and such a kind and flattering letter. It is true the letter was old and I had received others written later, but that did not at all deduct from the worth of it. I could be satisfied to remain out here always could I receive such delicious parcels often. At the same time they show to me what immense advantages and pleasures I lose by absenting myself from such valuable friends. I can never thank you enough for writing so long a letter. You are so constantly occupied with more urgent affairs.
We are from the Captain down entirely in the dark as to our future movements and the length of the cruise. You are on these subjects probably much better informed than myself. Commodore [Thomas ap Catesby] Jones left for home in the Constellation and we have heard nothing of Commodore [Alexander James] Dallas since September when he was among the islands in the [sloop] Cyane looking for this ship. The only recourse we have is to await his arrival here. We have now been at this place about 7 weeks and see no greater probability of leaving than when we first arrived.
We have lately heard that the Savannah was to sail from New York for this station in October. If this is the case, we will probably see her here in a few days and when I shall receive, no doubt, quantities of letters — she coming direct from our state. How long Commodore Dallas will detain this ship after the arrival of her relief I cannot tell. He is an exceedingly vain man and very fond of showing his squadron. He will therefore probably take advantage of having two frigates and several sloops of war under his command to cruise about and show his ____ squadron. The report is _____ about our having given ____ the slip so often and so long, he will probably endeavor to haze us as much as lays in his power. I do not think they can keep us from home later than August in the present year.
I learn I am entitled to three months leave which I shall of course spend at home. I anticipate then a great deal of pleasure. Who would not after so long an absence and p____ing such friends.
I wrote in my last that I thought after the receipt of my letter it would be too late for you to write to me this side of Cape Horn, but I think now they will reahc us at Valparaiso [Chile]. Don’t fail to write to me directing to Rio [Janiero] at any rate, my dear Aunt. It will make me feel so much nearer home at our arrival at that port if I find letters from you. We think that we will at the fartherest leave this coast between this and June or July.
Give my best love to my uncle and all my friends. Miss __annole in particular. I am not so large yet but what I still consider myself a boy. How is my little cousin which I have not yet seen? I suppose Clara and her sisters have become quite accomplished young ladies. Three years makes a great difference in young persons.Old ____ I suppose has grown venerable in his old age. How is my mother? I thought from her last letters that she seemed in poor spirits. I wish I was at home. My love to you, my dear Aunt, & believe me your sincerely grateful nephew, — Alonzo