Apr 26, 1856.
Sir If all the promises of writing to you are fulfilled you will receive abundance of letters, some of them sufficiently querulous. I am not satisfied with the feeling evinced by some of those who have expressed their intention of writing & I therefore feel it somewhat incumbent on me to write also which I shall endeavor to do in a spirit of candor. I would like to have you consider it rather a confidential communication for reasons that will be obvious to you.
The committee I fear is doomed to be disappointed in its expectation of a Colony being formed and a city of Albany founded by this party. There does not appear to be sufficient mutual confidence & sympathy, or yielding of self interest & individual feeling to the general good. Mr. Booth, on whom the Committee appeared to rely to accomplish that object, does not possess the confidence of the party generally & I think for very good reasons. He drinks to excess & moreover is of a light frivolous turn of mind wholly unsuited for the Nestor of such an expedition. A portion of the party ( & the larger part) who might reasonably expect to live & work harmoniously together, have not the means requisite to start such an enterprise successfully. In order to make success certain the company should have teams to break up sufficient land for each member & each individual should be supplied with, seed, agricultural Implements, a cabin or shelter of some sort, and provisions until his own crops grow. There are a few individuals who probably have means & ability to effect the object but have not sufficiently enlarged views or philanthropic feeling. They feel their own ability to look out for themselves & do not care to lay themselves liable to be called on to assist their poorer comrades.
I think that these, with Mr. Booth & perhaps Pardee will start together but I fear the centrifugal force of self interest will be too powerful for the centripetal attraction of mutual and common advantage. This is the conclusion to which I arrive from watching the course of things & listening to the various opinions expressed. Of course it is only conjecture & may be all wrong, but I put it forth with a great deal of confidence. And one other conjecture I will hazard with still greater confidence – it will not be the most prominent in support of free principles if they should finally succeed in establishing it.
I take the liberty of making a few suggestions the result of my experience in this trip. I hope the committee has good reasons for its selection of the Canada route for certainly neither the management of the road or deportment of the officers with whom we came in contact would seem to me to entitle it to the preference. At first they had a mind to take only part & leave the rest at Niagara Falls overnight & it was only after considerable trouble & persuasion that they concluded to put on another car. At London a baggage car broke down & instead of transferring the baggage to another car they left it behind & in consequence we had to lie over one train in Detroit for our baggage to come on. It should be understood in the start that the party should go by Joliet instead of going up to Chicago. We came that way but they had a mind to make us pay 2 [$’s] extra. Then I think the arrangement at St. Louis might be improved. We arrived at St. Louis between 1 & 2 O’clock at night. It was considerably past 2 when we got to bed. Of course as we were all strangers in a strange place with nobody to direct us, We had a great deal of trouble & hurry & confusion to get together, find our baggage in the store room of the Rail Road & get it transferred to the other boat, & besides had 10 [$’s] to pay for lodging & supper.
All this might be avoided by telegraphing to Hunt & Co, either from Detroit or some point on the route sufficiently in advance & they could engage passage & have an Agent conduct the party directly from the Rail Road boat to the other. Another point of considerable importance to the male members of the party is to have a Leader who is not in special charge of interesting young ladies. I don’t think Hunt & Co. did the fair thing by us on the Missouri, as they gave us an old boat which took us 7 days instead of 4 to reach here but all the Officers were very friendly and obliging. There is so much confusion that I cannot attempt to write more & probably here is as much as you will have patience to get through with. I shall remain 2 or 3 months in the Territory & if you should wish any particular enquiries made you can direct to me at Topeka. I shall make arrangements to have letters forwarded from there to me. Any thing I can do to serve the cause I will do cheerfully
P. S. considerable excitement here on account of the shooting of Sheriff Jones