, Letter, , Hillsborough Co., NH, and , Middlesex Co., MA, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 1 and 3 May 1842; handwriting of ; four pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, notations, and dockets.
Bifolium measuring 9⅞ × 7⅜ inches (25 × 19 cm). The recto and verso of the first leaf and the recto of the second leaf are ruled with twenty-eight blue lines; the verso of the second leaf is unlined. The document was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, and sealed with a red adhesive wafer, remnants of which are present on the verso of the second leaf. The letter was later folded for filing.
The verso of the second leaf contains a docket 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. The document was also docketed by , a clerk in the Church Historian’s Office from 1853 to 1859. The document was listed in an inventory that was produced by the Church Historian’s Office circa 1904. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The document’s early dockets, the circa 1904 inventory, and inclusion in the JS Collection by 1973 indicate continuous institutional custody.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
In early May 1842, wrote a letter from , New Hampshire, to JS in , Illinois, which discussed Maginn’s missionary efforts in New England. Maginn, who had joined the in , Upper Canada, had been proselytizing in the northeastern since 1840. Maginn attracted attention for his “commanding appearance,” knowledge of scripture, and “magnetic personality.” He was especially influential in Peterborough, where he preached intermittently for two years.
wrote the majority of the letter featured here in on 1 May 1842 but added further information on 3 May after arriving in , Massachusetts. The letter relates his proselytizing efforts in both New Hampshire and and asks church leaders to send other to proselytize in the area. Maginn’s biblical language and allusions, particularly in the portion of the letter about his efforts to establish the church in New Hampshire, are notably populist and anti-creedal. He described the local Christian religions as engaging in “” and being in error. Maginn used this rhetoric to show how his growing Latter-day Saint congregation was different from the other Christian denominations.
’s letter included an enclosure of money, consisting of his donation to the construction fund and payments from subscribers to the Times and Seasons newspaper, for which Maginn acted as an agent. In March 1842, Maginn sent forty-five dollars in subscription money to Nauvoo through the secure means of a bank draft, or check. He was unable to forward additional funds because there were no banks in the New Hampshire area where he had collected the funds, and he was unwilling to mail the money with his letters for fear it might be stolen. Rather than sending another bank draft when he arrived in , Maginn found a courier, Latter-day Saint Bingham Bement, who was apparently heading to Nauvoo, to carry the letter and enclosed money for Maginn.
The letter arrived in by 31 May, when the enclosed money was recorded in the Book of the Law of the Lord. Notations on the letter from and indicate that it was retained in JS’s office. Unlike ’s 22 March 1842 letter, this letter was not printed in the Times and Seasons. Maginn requested a letter of reply from one of JS’s counselors in the or from one of the . No reply has been located.
“Statement of Sister Smith respecting the History of Eli P. Magin,” Obituary Notices and Biographies, CHL; Benjamin Ellsworth, Palermo, NY, 18 Oct. 1840, Letter to the Editors, Times and Seasons, 15 Nov. 1840, 2:219.
Obituary Notices and Biographies, 1854–1877. CHL.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Morison and Smith, History of Peterborough, New Hampshire, 1:187–190; Barney, “Joseph Smith and Nauvoo Portrayed,” 165–169. In a March 1842 letter to JS, Maginn described his recent visit to Massachusetts and noted the growth of the church in New England, including the Peterborough congregation, which had thirty-six members at the time. (Letter from Eli Maginn, 22 Mar. 1842.)
Morison, George Abbot. History of Peterborough, New Hampshire. Vol. 1, Narrative. Rindge, NH: Richard R. Smith, 1954.
Barney, Ronald O. “‘A Man That You Could Not Help Likeing’: Joseph Smith and Nauvoo Portrayed in a Letter by Susannah and George W. Taggart.” BYU Studies 40, no. 2 (2001): 165–179.
But he that sitteth in the Heavens and rules among men on Earth has rent assunder the vail of the mental Horison [horizon] dispelling the Clouds of darkness and superstition while the honest in hart are fast flowing to the standard of tru[t]h which has been boldly erected the in this place nos [numbers] 67. all have obey’d since last Nov. I have labored alone the whole time except one weak made me a visit and preached 5 or 6 discourses the only one that has been in the place I have labored incesantly day and night preaching from once to 3 times almost daily— I am much exhausted at pres[e]nt and should be glad to have assistance is it not the will of the Lord that we should have some help. 20 Elders might find all they could perform in this vicinity I just recd. a Letter from at he informs me that he has attended the at Expects Elder to come to his <assistance> Elder L[ysander] M. Davis, (he says) is <at > on his way from Carolina to Windsor Co, V.t he will probably call on us as we are not verry far from that place I expect there will be quite a large Comp[an]y. from this place in the fall, as many more will obey in this place When at I wrote to you for many of the Papers my Letter was dated Mar 26. (I think) I forwarded a Check from the Asiatic Bank to the Leath[e]r Manufr. Bank for the Sum of $45,00 the papers have not yet came [p. ]
Maginn’s use of biblical allusions and language here and throughout the letter is similar to that found in several influential Latter-day Saint publications, such as Parley P. Pratt’s Voice of Warning and JS’s narrative of the history of the church written at the request of Chicago Democrat editor John Wentworth. (See, for example, Pratt, Voice of Warning, iii–x; and “Church History,” 1 Mar. 1842.)
Pratt, Parley P. A Voice of Warning and Instruction to All People, Containing a Declaration of the Faith and Doctrine of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, Commonly Called Mormons. New York: W. Sanford, 1837.
In his 22 March 1842 letter, Maginn used the phrase “obedient to the faith of the gospel” to indicate that individuals were baptized and joined the church. In both the 22 March letter and this May 1842 letter, he shortened the phrase to “obeyed,” with the same meaning. (See Letter from Eli Maginn, 22 Mar. 1842.)
Erastus Snow traveled from Salem, Massachusetts, to New Hampshire to help Maginn at his “earnest solicitation.” Snow began his trip around 12 January 1842 and returned nearly two weeks later. (Snow, Journal, 1841–1847, 19.)
Maginn’s previous letter was dated 22 March. Here, Maginn may have misremembered the date he wrote the letter or perhaps remembered mailing the letter days after he wrote it. (See Letter from Eli Maginn, 22 Mar. 1842.)
The Asiatic Bank of Salem, Massachusetts, which was chartered in 1824. Later, in 1864, the name of the institution changed to the Asiatic National Bank. (Arrington, Municipal History of Essex County in Massachusetts, 2:596–597.)
Arrington, Benjamin F. Municipal History of Essex County in Massachusetts. 2 vols. New York: Lewis Historical, 1922.
Likely the Leather Manufacturers Bank of New York City, which was chartered in 1832 and had stable banknotes in 1842. (Sound Currency 1895, 291; Journal of the Fifty-Second House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 546, 551.)
Sound Currency 1895: A Compendium of Accurate and Timely Information on Currency Questions Intended for Writers, Speakers, and Students. New York: Reform Club Sound Currency Committee, 1895.
Journal of the Fifty-Second House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Commenced at Harrisburg, Tuesday, the Fourth Day of January, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty-Two and of the Commonwealth the Sixty-Sixth. Vol. 2. Harrisburg, PA: Henlock and Bratton, 1842.