This manuscript letter opens with a detailed account of the financial crisis currently affecting America. Robert Dale explains the commercial world is in a "frightful state" with bankruptcies in the last 3 months alone reaching $250 million. Some three quarters of all wholesale merchants have gone, and the banks have suspended "specie payment" although legislature is being dawn up to authorise them to do so for the next 12 months.
Such is the depth of the problem Robert Dale is forced to concede that how it will all end "seems impossible to predict", but what is clear is that the situation is "without a parallel in the history of commerce". Real estate is ventured to be the "most stable" of all securities.
Despite the desperate nature of the situation Robert Dale realises that there is at least one "fortunate circumstance". He believes never has there been a more favourable time for the "transmission of funds" from England and suggests the shipping of [gold] sovereigns or, better still, arranging a letter of credit made out in favour of Robert Dale from Barings or some other " unquestioned" source" which could then be sold in New York for a 12 to 15% premium.
Following discussion of family matters, conversation moves to events at New Harmony, with Robert Dale explaining having not recently heard from there he is unable judge how they are getting on under their current circumstances, but he believes it likely all will be "not well".