Ship American Congress, July 4, 1866.President Brigham Young, Junior.
Dear Brother,--You will doubtless be glad to learn that the ship American Congress took a very prominent part in the celebration of the great day of National Independence of America, by bringing her precious freight in safety to the harbor of New York.
In our last communication (from the Isle of Wight), we stated that our united faith was, that we would be much blessed of the Lord in journeying across the trackless deep, and it has been so. You promised us before starting, that if we would act in righteousness, the elders would have power to rebuke disease from the Saints. How truly has this promise been realized, for the power of God has been manifested among us, and numbers can testify to their being instantaneously blessed through our ministrations. Taking into consideration the number who were in a delicate state of health when they came on board, and the great number of children in the company, the general health of the people has been as good as could be expected. Thanks be to God, no disease of a contagious nature has made its appearance among us during the voyage, and we have crossed the Atlantic without losing one of our number by the "chill hand of death."
We found our organization worked admirably, great praise being due to the presidents of the various wards, and the captains of guard, Brothers Samuel Roberts and Robert Snedon, for the creditable manner in which they performed their duties. Elder Cunningham, also, has labored assiduously as steward of the company.
We had four concerts on board, three of which, the weather being suitable, were held on the upper deck, when songs, recitations, &c., of an excellent description, were given. The amount of musical and rhetorical talent displayed by the general company was surprising. These times of social enjoyment were not only appreciated by the Saints on board, but Captain Woodward, his wife, and the saloon passengers, were equally interested and delighted.
In regard to Captain Woodward, we cannot speak too highly of his kind and gentlemanly conduct towards us; his willingness to make the voyage comfortable and agreeable, was truly refreshing to witness. We might sum it all up by saying, that were we necessitated to cross the ocean again, and should have the choice of a captain, Captain Woodward would be our choice. We enclose you a copy of a testimonial to him, which we propose publishing in the New York Herald.
In assembling to worship God, we have experienced many happy times; the spirit of the Lord has been poured out upon us, causing our hearts to be filled with peace, and to be lifted up to him with thanksgiving. When the weather was sufficiently fine, the meetings were held on the upper deck. To us there was something truly grand, and calculated to fill the soul with peculiar, yet exquisite sensation, to witness the upturned, pleasant countenances of the Saints, as their voices were raised in tuneful harmonious praise to the great Author of our being, with the heaven's broad canopy over head, and the expanse of deep blue water stretching out to the horizon all around.
We will probably leave here for the frontiers tomorrow evening.
Praying God to bless and prosper you, we remain your brethren in the gospel,
John Nicholson, president,J. K. Whitney,John Rider, counselors,Joseph Andrews, clerk.
The following is the testimonial referred to in the foregoing letter;--
Ship American Congress, June 29, 1866.Captain Woodward.
Dear Sir,--Having nearly reached the termination of our voyage across the Atlantic, and feeling unwilling to part with you without in some way expressing our grateful acknowledgment to yourself, for the solicitude you have manifested for our comfort, happiness, and well-being, during the [p.493] entire voyage, and for your kind and gentlemanly conduct toward all. We therefore take the liberty of returning you our sincere and heartfelt thanks; and we can assure you, that when in the future, in our reflections, the mind dwells upon the pleasant times we have spent on board the good ship American Congress, you yourself will ever be remembered by us with feelings of gratitude and esteem.
Whilst thanking yourself, we would not be unmindful of Messieurs Platford and Finessee, first and second officers, also the steward of the ship, for their kind and courteous behavior towards us as a company. We therefore take this opportunity of also thanking them through you.
With most fervent wishes for the future welfare, happiness, and prosperity of yourself and all belonging to you, we remain, with feelings of the most profound respect,
John Nicholson, president,J. K. Whitney,John Rider, counselors,Joseph Andrews, clerk.(Signed on behalf of the entire company). . . .[p.494]
BIB: Nicholson, John et. al., [Letter] Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star 28:31 (August 4, 1866) pp. 493-94. (CHL)