John Dawson begins the letter by briefly consoling his brother for his recent financial difficulties but afterwards discusses his own affairs. Dawson informs his brother that he must soon move from New Orleans to Arkansas to find work, as his current position will expire in the near future. Despite this hardship, Dawson shares his hope that he can earn enough to pay off a few debts, “buy four or five more negroes,” and retire.
In the postscript (which is longer than the letter proper), Dawson asks his brother several questions about some events ten years ago and some of his wife’s holdings. Both lines of questioning seem to concern a legal case over the ownership of several slaves on the Spring Grove Plantation in South Carolina.