, Letter, , New Haven Co., CT, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 13 Sept. 1841; handwriting of ; three pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, postal stamp, postal notation, and dockets.
Bifolium measuring 9¾ × 7¾ inches (25 × 20 cm) and ruled with twenty-six horizontal blue lines. The letter was written on the recto and verso of the first leaf and on the recto of the second leaf. It was then trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, and stamped for postage. The second leaf has substantial tears, which have been repaired.
Two dockets appear on the verso of the second leaf. The first docket was written by , who served as JS’s scribe from December 1841 until JS’s death in June 1844 and served as church historian from December 1842 until his own death in March 1854. , who served as scribe to JS from 1842 to 1844, later added a second docket. The letter is listed in a Church Historian’s Office inventory from circa 1904. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The dockets, inventory, and inclusion in the JS Collection suggest that the letter has been in continuous institutional custody since its receipt.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 13 September 1841, wrote a letter from , Connecticut, to JS in , Illinois, to continue their correspondence regarding JS’s debt repayment for lands purchased in 1839 from Hotchkiss and his partners, and . The letter was a direct response to JS’s letter of 25 August, in which JS expressed his frustration with Hotchkiss for actively seeking payment; JS apparently believed that Hotchkiss had agreed to defer interest payments for five years. Hotchkiss sent the letter featured here to defend his position and to justify his collection of interest on the debt.
In the letter, explained the many attempts he had made to obtain repayment, including traveling to and , and his frustration at not being able to meet JS’s at various times. Both parties were irritated, and the tension between them intensified because their communication was limited to letters, which were slow to arrive and easily misunderstood. Despite his frustrations, Hotchkiss knew he could lose his investment if he was too demanding—JS had already indignantly invited Hotchkiss to “come and take the premises and make the best you can of it.” Hotchkiss was therefore open to resuming settlement negotiations with JS.
mailed his letter on 13 September 1841 from nearby , Connecticut. Approximately two weeks later, JS received the letter and an additional letter from Hotchkiss’s business partner . JS responded only to the letter from Tuttle, apparently as an answer to both, since he was aware the two were communicating with each other and sharing his letters.
Dear Sir— Yours of 25th. ult. is recd. and permit me to commence this by expressing my surprise at its contents— I am as you suggest acquainted with the losses you sustained and the persicutions you endured in and the consequent destitute conditions of your people when they arrived in and invariably espoused your cause in this section as an injured people and entitled to public sympathy— The manner in which your preachers have been received in many of the eastern States is conclusive evidence that no hostility against your religious tenets exists here and I beleive a universal wish prevails that the Missourians should be punished for their inhuman outrages
Now as regards paying the interest upon the debt in favour of Messrs. & and I shall be very explicit— You state that I pledged my honor not to call for the interest under five years— In this you are entirely mistaken and the contract would certainly destroy such an idea— At the time of executing the papers it was mentioned by that a difficulty might be experienced in paying the first years interest when due & I said that I would not coerce its payment at maturity then— This is all that was said upon the subject but when I saw you last fall you spoke of the interest being defered <five years> and mentioned that I would reccollect that to be the understanding but I told you that I could not possibly remember it— You then proposed to pay the whole debt by lands in & — I assented so [p. ]
The church’s missionaries were instructed to preach “nothing but the first principles of the Gospel” and to “publish our afflictions. the injustice and cruelty thereof upon the house tops.” These preaching efforts, coupled with printed accounts in newspapers and pamphlets, helped circulate the Saints’ narrative of the Missouri war. A report from the church’s First Presidency in April 1841 stated that “in the eastern states, the faithful laborers are successful, and many are flocking to the standard of truth.” (Letter to Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young, 16 Jan. 1839; Lyman Cowdery, Kirtland Mills, OH, to Thomas Reynolds, Jefferson City, MO, 20 Feb. 1841, Governors Records [Thomas Reynolds, 1840–1844], Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City; Report of the First Presidency to the Church, ca. 7 Apr. 1841; see also Gentry and Compton, Fire and Sword, 508–513; William Hyde, Payson, IL, 20 May 1841, Letter to the Editors, Times and Seasons, 15 June 1841, 2:450; and “Summary,” Times and Seasons, 1 Mar. 1841, 2:339.)
Thomas Reynolds. Records, 1840–1841. Office of the Governor. MSA.
Gentry, Leland Homer, and Todd M. Compton. Fire and Sword: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri, 1836–39. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2011.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
A subsequent letter from Hotchkiss’s business partner Smith Tuttle to JS further confused the uncertain terms of the repayment schedule. In that letter, Tuttle expressed certainty that JS and Hotchkiss had simply not “understood each other,” but even Tuttle and Hotchkiss appear not to have shared the same understanding. Tuttle believed that Hotchkiss understood the payments were “only to be delayed two years,” whereas in the letter to JS featured here, Hotchkiss refers to a one-year leniency. (Letter from Smith Tuttle, ca. 15 Sept. 1841.)