Dec. 31st. The person named in a prior letter from the Home Missionary Society, prefers a more southerly location, in consequence of which a new selection has been made by Dr. Peters, in the person of Rev. Jeremiah Porter, a graduate of Princeton and Andover, and a lineal descendant, I understand, by the mother’s side, of the great Dr. Edwards. We have been favorably impressed by the manner and deportment, and not less so by the piety and learning of the man. I felt happy, the moment of his landing, in offering him a furnished chamber, bed and plate, at Elmwood, while residing on this frontier. He has taken steps to organize a church. He preaches in an animated and persuasive style, and has commenced a system of moral instruction in detail, which, in our local history, constitutes an era. It has been written that “where vice abounds, grace shall much more abound,” and St. Mary’s may now be well included in the list of favorable examples. The lordly “wassail” of the fur-trader, the long-continued dance of the gay French “habitant,” the roll of the billiard-ball, the shuffle of the card, and the frequent potations of wine “when it is red in the cup,” will now, at least, no longer retain their places in the customs of this spot on the frontier without the hope of having their immoral tendencies pointed out. Some of the soldiers have also shown a disposition to attend the several meetings for instruction. The claims of temperance have likewise led to an organized effort, and if the pious and gentle Mr. Laird were permitted once again to visit the place, after a lapse of seven years, he might fervently exclaim, in the language of the Gospel, “What hath God wrought?”
Revival of St. Mary’s—Rejection of Mr. Van Buren as Minister to England—Botany and Natural History of the North-west—Project of a new expedition to find the Sources of the Mississippi—Algie Society—Consolidation of the Agencies of St. Mary’s and Michilimackinack—Good effects of the American Home Missionary Society—Organization of a new inland exploring expedition committed to me—Its objects and composition of the corps of observers.
1832, Jan. 31st. I was now to spend a winter to aid a preacher in promoting the diffusion and understanding of the detailed facts, which all go to establish a great truth—a truth which was first brought to the world’s notice eighteen hundred and thirty-two years before, namely, that God, who was incarnate in the Messiah, under the name of Jesus Christ, offered himself a public sacrifice for human sins, amidst the most striking and imposing circumstances of a Roman execution—a fact which, in an age of extraordinary moral stolidity and ecclesiastical delusion, was regarded as the behest of a mere human tribunal.
For this work the circumstances of our position and exclusion from society was very favorable. The world, with all its political and commercial care, was, in fact, shut out with the closing of the river. Three hundred miles of a waste, howling wilderness separated us south-easterly from the settlements at Detroit. Ninety miles in a south-westerly direction lay the island and little settlement and mission of Mackinack.