Moses Austin to Stephen F. Austin, 04-28-1812

Summary: Advice for sailing down the Mississippi; clothes and deportment in New Orleans and Philadelphia; slave trade in Louisiana; conditions of voyage from New Orleans to Philadelphia.

Durham Hall April 28 1812

My Dear Son

I had much to say to you before you left me but the fullness of my heart and mind drove all most Every thing from my thoughts but I must try to mend my recollections. In the first place I intended to state to you some general rules to be observed in desending the Mississippia in opposition to every other advice do you observe the following rules—first never run late at Night but always make a landing under a Willow Point in time, its always better to loose a few hours than be exposed at Night. Never land under a high bank and large timber When you Intend to land begin in time to pull your boat in shore and always before the boat striks turn her stern down-Stream. Never trust your boat to float unless you have a man on the look out—lett this rule be always strictly observed, to much care cannot be taken in Descending, this river, when you make your Boat fast at Night see yourself that the Cable is properly made fast— Never suffer any water to be in your boat a[t] Nigh[t] always put to land in Winds I advise you always to Keep out from the bends of the rivers, and, guard against Points of Islands, haveing observed this much I must committ you to the Care of that being that govern us all.

I have given you letters to Mr. William Kenner New Orleans Mr Andrew Price and Mr Dunn— I have left them open that you may see what I have said and conduct yourself accordingly in the Instructions You will see the State of my business and govern yourself thereby. By William Bates I shall transmitt up a Cargo more and at all times when I can Command a Hundred Dollars I am determened to transmitt it by land my Exertions will be to place you and your Dear Mother Sister and Brother in a happy situation as I can, its the first consideration of my Sole and the sum of my happiness—make Every Exertion to obtain the money from A C Dunn and Examin Well the situation of Negro Will and if you can have that man pushed and made to pay—a Word to you about your own Deportment a Young man must always remember that his apperance is greatly Noticed by Strangers. You will therefore immedeately on your arrival obtain in Orleans such a Suite of Clothes as will be agreeably to the place a Black Coat you will find not only in tast in Orleans but also in Philadelphia in Orleans White Janes for Overhalls and Vest but in New York and Philadelphea they would be out of the Order of Dress, and to avoid unnecessary Baggage and Expence provide only what will answer for your stay in Orleans for you will not use them in the Cities to the North, you have been so long in the Woods that you will finde an Attention to your Dress indispensable this you will attend to—When you arrive in the City of New York obtain lodgens at Mrs. Rumseys in Broadway near the Custom hous its a respectable house and in a Genteel part of the City—I have inclosed you a note to Mrs Rumsey—at Orleans enquere for Mr Masons its the house I staid at also your Mother and you and Mr Bryan will finde the best companey at his House always informe yourself of the rules of the table and conform to them these little attention are absolutely Necessary, with out them you will be Deficient in breeding. Make you a small book and in it Keep an account of every transaction that takes place so that you may account for all the Expences of the Voyage this will be Necessary that you may settle with James Bryan on your return With due attention you may have your account in such order as not to give you any trouble and as this is your first adventure be carefull how you manage it

Mr Dinwiddy will see you at Herculaneum with John Camp—I have sent him over but I shall now State to you the situation of Jn° Camp and what will be your and Mr Bryans situation when you arrive in the Territory of Orleans and have the business fully and freely in your power—to act. as you think proper, sence you have left me I have understood that a Law in the Territory of Orleans prohibits negroes to be sold or to remain in the Territory unless the Seller of the Negro can give a Character of the negro favourable to his former Conduct, and it must be stated that he has not—been guilty of any crime what ever that has induced the Master to send him into the low Country—this information has greatly deranged me. What to do with the fellow I cannot tell, and should you be brought into trouble with him after your arrival in the low country It will be a disgrace as well as a detention, and at last be under the necessaty of bringing him back again I am advised by Mr Heart by Doct McGrady and Others not on any account to send him that you may be placed in a disagreeable situation and not unlikely much Injured I have however sent him by Mr Dinwiddy and leave it intirely to yourself and Mr Bryan how to act in the business If you think proper to take him you will do—so, and make the most of him if not then in that case I have spoken to Mr Dinwiddy and he has agreed to make John Beleive that he has bought him and so let him remain untill I can sell him Doct Mcgrady thinks that a Capt Waters will purchase him for Lead, he says that Waters is a man that has been in that way of business, and may be induced to take John Camp- as I understand he has Negroes to take to the Spanish Settlements on Reel River however I leave the business entirely to you if you think proper to take him do so if not send him back with Mr Dinwiddy and I will do the best I can with him, I am unwilling you should undertake any thing that would Injure your reputation or embarres you in your Voyage—you are young and must be carefull how you injure your reputation should you take Jn° and Cannot do better it will be best to leave him with Mr Ab Dunn—but the object is to turn him into Cotton—if you cannot obtain money—I have sent the small box and trunk by Mr Donnal—I never mentioned nor thought about bead clothes you will therefore take with you a Buffalo Roab and two Blanketts from Herculanum—I have a pr of cotton Sheets at Mrs Ellises take one of the Sheets you will want the Sheet on the Voyage you must have bead Clothes or you must purchase at Orleans, you must purchase a Mattress at Orleans that you will want on your return also some things to cook in on your Voyage a small kettle and a small oven with each man a tin Cup, an Ax and a Saw and Auger you must have on board also a Buckett these things you cannot do with out

In taking your passage for New York—be carefull to examin the ship, and Capt whether he is acquanted with the Voyage an Old trader will make his—passage in nearly half the time and if likely for war, Ship on board of a fast saleing Vessell if you give more freight everything of this kind is of the utmost moment in a Voyage of such risque and length you ought to minutely examen Every thing With Care—If John Camp should Not go you must have three hands besides yourself if you are obliged to give an Extra price beeing short Maned will—indanger you greatly its troublesum in Landing and keeps you always uneasy therefore obtain an other hand by all means—and lastly Write me when Ever you can that I may hear from you by every oppertunety. Recommending you to the favour of our great author and Heavenly farther I leave you

My son to Events to come and am With Warm affection Your Fath[er]

M Austin

[Addressed:] Mr Stephen F Austin Herculaneum