Moses Austin to John Smith T, 07-01-1809

Summary: Answering abusive letter from Smith, and proposing submission of their differences to arbitration.

Mine a Burton July 1st 1809


Your letter under date of the 29 Ult°, was handed me this day by Mr. Maxwell, an inexpressible desire to develope the authors of the reports and tales so often told you of my conduct towards you, would alone-induce me to answer your letter, suffer me to call your attention for a moment to past events, and ask what proof you have to substantiate the many reports which have been with much art and industry circulated to keep alive the misunderstanding, which has so long-existed between us. suffer me also to say that If you will but make an investigation of the origin of the malicious reports of which you complain, that I am confident you will then be satesfied how much you have injured me in your beliefs respecting my General Conduct towards you. that I have been exasperated in a high degree in consiquence of the maney abusive denunciattions coming from your mouth-cannot be denied, but I am now and at all time have been ready and willing nay desirous that an investigation should take place and that every act of mine should be sifted and minutely scrutinized-touching the subject matter of dispute between us-and should it be found that I have maliciously attempted you wrong- Either in Character or property-then it will become my duty-to make reparation but not otherwise, What act of mine has drawn from you the letter now before me I cannot divine, for two weeks past-I have been so much indisposed that I have not more than passed the door of my house. What discordant Demon has exercised his talents to conjur up matter for fresh accusations is equally beyond my power of divination. Suffer reason and your better Judgment to rise Superior to passion and prejudice, and, then, and, not untill then will you be capacitated to Judge a right on this subject. Can you beleive that the persons who often tell you of my malevolence have nothing in view but your good. Do you think its the high respect they have for your person and an honorable desire to promote your Interest alone, that induces them to take so active a part in what may be supposed to appertain to your good, take but a review of the men that tell you of my Conduct towards you and see If you have not some cause to beleive that they have something more in view than an honorable desire to promote your good, see if other motives do not stimulate them to action. Yes, you will finde a desire to gratify some black and malignant designe to work my or your destruction— and likely both are the motive that actuates the Wretch the despicable Wretch the author of your Charges.

Your letter speeks of conduct injurious to your purse and person but you do not specify or particularize how when or Wherein I have don you this Wrong, I cannot hold myself bound, to answer charges of so general a nature Nor shall I attempt it. Specify Wrongs don you and I hold myself bound to answer—Your letter is the Effusion of an Over heated Imagination wrought up to a State of fury of denouncing Vengeance with out giveing yourself time to examine whether the man against whom they are leveled merits them or not—it is also a strong presumptive proof that all the imprecations of Death and Vengeance against me so many times repeated (as often told me) are true and its at least a Voucher how ready you are to give Credit to the tittle tattle of every cringing sycophant that approaches you-

Before I close this note I shall make to you a proposition, on which you may act or not as you think proper. If to do Justice to yourself and expose the man you call your Enemy is your object I cannot see any Objections you can have to the measure I shall now submit to your consideration,—you Charge me with doing you much Wrong I deny the Charge, and in turn denounce you as the man blamable for all the Difficultes that have existed and do now exist, and that, too with out a Shadow of real Cause—on my part—Now Sr I propose that You Name two Gent—Your friends in whom you have confidence to meet two friends of mine Who shall be authorised to investigate the Wrongs on both sides you will then have an Oppertunity to produce proof to substantiate all your Charges—I shall have an Oppertuniety to prove how much you have been emposed on by base and unworthey men—and how much unmerited injustice you have don

Moses Austin

N B I shall wait your determenation a proper time, and as Mr Maxwell tells me you gave your letter unsealed (If I hear nothing from you), I shall feel myself at liberty to make both your letter and my answer public


[Endorsed:] Copy letter in answer to letter under date 29 June 1809 recd from John Smith