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Mr. Hugh Campbell
St. Louis August 30th 1831
I have just returned from the lower part of the state after performing a journey of 8 days in company with my friend Mr. Keyte as I apprised you in a former letter was my intention. We crossed the Mississippi river at St. Louis and descended on the Illinois side [of] the river as far as Kaskaskia about 70 miles on account of the roads which are much preferable to those on the Missouri side [of] the river. We descended to Jackson a little distance from the river say 12 miles over a rolling and somewhat barren country much less desirable in my estimation than the upper part of this state.
The counties of Perry and Cape Girardeau through which I passed are settled by the Carolinians and Tenesseeians who are commencing to cultivate cotton with some success. Perry County will export about 200 bales this season. Cape Girardeau more but I could not ascertain how much - a good many beef cattle too are round for exportation but business is done nearly exclusively on credit and merchants are obliged to take produce for debts due them. [End page 1]
A most shocking duel has been fought during my absence which you may probably already have heard of - both the parties were my acquaintances. Major Thomas Biddle U.S. Paymaster for the troops on the Mississippi some time in the spring wrote a pretty severe piece in one of the newspapers of this place against Spencer Pettis the member of Congress under the signature of Missouri - Pettis replied to this while Biddle was gone up the Mississippi and in his reply he spoke of Biddle as the supposed author - on Biddle's return he left his name with the editor avowing himself the author and wrote another piece still more severe which brought in answer a most abusive publication from Pettis - Biddle wished to have satisfaction but was so "near sighted" that if he challenged Pettis and the distance taken such as was usual say 10 steps he could not possibly have any chance as he could not recognize a man at that distance nor could he see to shoot more than 5 or 10 feet - accordingly one morning he came to the Hotel where Pettis boarded (and where I now board) towards the latter part of July and waked him out of bed and cow hided him pretty severely although he gave Pettis time to arm himself with a sword cane although to no effect - Pettis was at this time a candidate for Congress and his (the Jackson) Party would not allow him to seek satisfaction until the result of the election was known which terminated in 3 or 4000 majority for Pettis. On Monday 22 inst Pettis challenged Biddle which was accepted and the distance five feet. They fought Thursday 25th inst. The muzzles of the pistols could have touched. They fired and both pistols fired at the same moment and both combatants fell mortally wounded - Pettis was buried on Sunday and Biddle is to be buried today. They both suffered very much - could speak for 24 hours after they were wounded - Major O'Fallon (Col O'Fallon's brother) was second to Biddle and Lieut. Thomas (formerly US Army) to Pettis. [End page 2]
A great deal of excitement now prevails in St. Louis - both parties being dead justice will be done to their character - Biddle was brother to the Cashier U.S. Bank in Philadelphia - he was one of our best citizens you may have heard me speak of traveling with him up the Mississippi when I lived here - he was son in law to John Mulanphy [sic] the richest man west of the Allegheny - with Pettis I have been frequently in conversation with since my arrival here. He was a fine young man although not possessed of the same degree of talent of [such as V? [page torn]] or Barton his former unsuccessful rival candidates.
It is yet too soon for any candidate to be spoken of to succeed Pettis as member of Congress. It is supposed Genl Ashley will be brought out - if so I think there is no doubt of his election.
It is somewhat singular the second of Biddle (Major O'Fallon) is a Jackson man and of Pettis (Lieut. Thomas) a Clay Man - both politically opposed to their principals. Pettis was a native (I am told) of Orange County Virginia I will endeavor to obtain the publications which led to this fatal catastrophe and send them to you.
In the course of a week I shall probably go up the Missouri in company with Mr. Keyte and remain in the upper part of each state until sometime in October. Mr. Smith's arrival will regulate my movements. Any letters you write I shall receive. My health is very good.
Present my kindest respects to Mary - and thanks to her for her very interesting letter which is just to hand. In a few days I intend to do myself the pleasure of writing her.
Mr. Keyte (in whose room I now write) desires to be particularly remembered to you. He would be glad that you and my friend Breant would each of you write him respecting the Richmond Tobacco Market - the people in the upper part of the state ruin a good deal of tobacco and by exhibiting your letters to them it may have a tendency to encourage them in raising that article - direct Mr. James Keyte - Keytesville - Charitan County - Missouri. Present my respects to my Richmond friends in general -
Believe me dear Brother yours most affectionately,
Robert Campbell [End page 3]
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James Irvine (formerly of Louisville) is in this place at present I am informed although I have to yet seen him. I only arrived here last night - should anything occur worthy your attention I may possibly write you ere long - this country is a little sickly at present but after next month we may expect it healthy again.
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Mr. Kyle's dwelling House is finished - the rent [is about] $400. Mr. Sproule has probably written Mr. Kyle on the subject. I have not seen him since my return and as it rains dreadfully now I shall not be able to see him today - when I last wrote you Mr. Sproule supposed the rent would have been 800 but he has since ascertained $480 - the Store House will not be completed until 1st November the workman told me but I presume Mr. Kyle will have little difficulty in renting a House - There are five stores winding up their business at present.