Stephen F. Austin to Maria Austin, 01-20-1821
Summary: Hardships of the family. Business depression in New Orleans. Friendship of Joseph H. Hawkins.
[New Orleans, January 20, 1821.]
Elias Bates arrived here this day in a Steam Boat from
Alexandria ; he went as far as the Sabine and heard that Father had arrived
at St Antonio and was to be back at Natchitoches by the
all I have
on earth, if that is destroyed I can be of no use to you or any one
else, and there will no longer [be] a necessity of my remaining either
in this Country or any other.
I came here with a hope of getting employ; I offered to hire myself
out as clerk, as an overseer, or anything else, but business is too dull
here to get into business. There are hundreds of young men who are
glad to work for their board. I met with Kenner; he
said he would
befriend me, but I have not seen him since. In this state of things it
was my good fortune to get acquainted with Joseph H. Hawkins Esqr.
(formerly of Lexington Kentucky) who gave me employ in an office.
He is a man who in every respect is an honor, and an ornament to the
human race. He has kindly advanced me money enough to purchase
a few groceries for you and sister, which I have shipped on board
the Velocipede Capt. Beckwith; enclosed is a Bill of lading; and I
will send $10 in a letter by the boat toward paying the freight; this
is all I can do now—when I earn some more I will send another
supply and will try to keep you and Bryan's family supplied with
sugar and Coffee at least.
Mr. Hawkins is a lawyer of the [highest] standing in this place-
he is not rich—but he has a most generous heart—he has made me
this offer—if I will remain with him he will board me, permit me the
use of his books, and money for clothes, give me all the instruction in
his power until I am well fitted to commence the practice of law
in this country—for my board and the use of his books he will charge
nothing, and for the money he advances he will wait until I make
enough by my profession to repay him; an offer so generous and
from a man who two months ago was a stranger to me, has almost
made me change my opinion of the human race. There are however
two obstacles in the way; one is that I shall earn nothing to help you
with, for at least 18 months; another is that perhaps those I owe in
Missouri may prosecute here; it will do them no good I have
nothing—all the property I had in Arkansas, I gave to Father. If I
am left alone a few years I may get up and pay all off; it will take
me 18 months to become acquainted with civil law which is in force
in this country and learn the French language-—that once done I
then shall have the means of fortune within my reach. I am
determined to accept of Hawkins offer.