Indianapolis, Indiana: 1830. Manuscript Letter Regarding the Indiana Bible Society and Their Efforts to Sell Bibles--Indianapolis, Indiana 1830. 4pp. 7 7/8 x 9 7/8 inches.
Bifolium sheet folding into stampless letter. 2 inch separation at fold. Small tear and content loss at wax seal. Very legible. Very Good Condition.
Extensive report from J.M. Ray, Secretary Executive Committee of the Indiana Bible Society to Rev. John C. Brigham, Corresponding Secretary of the American Bible Society in New York.
J.M. Ray moved from the Baltimore area to what would become Indianapolis in 1821 and is recorded as the Clerk for the sale of the first lots in Indianapolis. In 1822 he was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court and in 1829 chosen Superintendent and Elder of the first Sabbath School, posts he held for 40 years. He also served on the Joint Committee on the Reunion of the Presbyterian Church in 1866.
The letter focuses on efforts to hire and retain agents to sell their bibles in Indiana while ensuring the Bible Society has enough inventory on hand. "According to an estimate we have made (of which see a draft overleaf) it will yet take about 8000 Bibles to supply the State, considering only those we have received, and not beside those we have ordered."
The report gives a first-hand account one of their agents' efforts to spread the word. "that about three fourths of the destitute are able to pay for them, and about one third of them are very willing to purchase at a fair price; the other two thirds are indifferent whether they own them or not, but would be willing to purchase at a reduced price, or to receive them gratis, but are unwilling to purchase at a full price, believing the Bible to be a piece of merchandize they can conveniently do without".
The letter has a very nice, and relatively uncommon, early Indianapolis circular date stamp and is mailed at a .25 cent rate. A full transcript of the 1180-word letter is included.
A wonderful and insightful look at early proselytizing in rural Indiana. Item #363