Letter to Horace Hotchkiss, 25 August 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

August 25th. 1841
Dr Sir
Yours of the 24th ulto., came to hand this day, The contents of which I duly appreciate I presume you are well aware of the difficulties that occurred before, and at, The execution of the writings in regard of the landed transactions between us, touching the annual payments of the interest, If you have forgotten I will here remind you; You verbally agreed, on our refusal, and hesitancy to execute the notes for the payment of the Land, That you would not exact the payment, of the interest that would accrue on them under five years, and that you would not coerce the payment even then, To all this you pledged your honor, and upon an after arrangement, you verbally agreed, to take Land in some one of the Atlantic States that would yield Six per cent interest (to you,) both for the principal and interest, and in view of that matter I deligated my Bro. & Doctor to go east and negociate for Lands, with our friends, and pay you off for the whole purchase that we made of you, But upon an interview with you they learned that you were unwilling to enter [p. [1]] into an arrangement according to the powers that I had deligated to them, That you would not receive any of the principal at all, but the interest alone, which we never considered ourselves, in honor or in justice bound to pay under the expiration of five years, I presumed you are no stranger, to the part of the plat we bought of you, it being a deathly sickly hole, and that we have not been able in consequence to realize any valuable consideration from it, although we have been keeping up appearances, and holding out inducements, to encourage emigration that we scarcely think justifiable in consequence of the mortality, that almost invariably awaits those who come from far distant parts, <​and​> at that with a view to enable us to meet our engagements, And now to be goaded by you for a breach of good faith and neglect, and dishonorable conduct seems to me to be almost beyond endurance, you are aware that we came from destitute of every thing but physical form, and had nothing but our energies and perseverence to rely upon to meet the payment of the extortionate sum, that you exacted for the Land that we had of you, Have you no feelings of commisseration, or is it your design to crush us, with a ponderous load before we are able to walk, or can you better dispose of the [p. [2]] property than we are doing it. for your interest? If so, to the alternative; I therefore propose in order to avoid the perplexity and annoyance that has hitherto attended the transaction, that you come and take the premises and make the best you can of it. Or stand off and give us an oppertunity, that we may manage the concern, and enable ourselves by the management thereof to meet our engagement as was originally contemplated. We have taken a city plat at at the head of navigation for vessels of heavy towage on the most advantagious terms, The proprietors waiting on us for the payment of the plat until we can reallize the money from the Sales, leaving to ourselves, a large and liberal net proffit. We have been making every exertion and used all the means at our command [to lay] a foundation that will now begin to enable us to meet our pecuniary engagements, and no doubt in our minds, to the entire satisfaction of all those concerned, if they will but exercise a small degree of patience, and stay a resort to Coersive Measures, which would kill us in the germ, even before we can (by reason of the season) begin to bud and blossom, in order to bring forth a plentiful yield of fruit.
I am with considerations of high respect your Obt. Servt.
Joseph Smith
P.S. Since writing the above, I have had a conference with my Bro. , who informs me that when he left that he left with [p. [3]] nearly enough of real estate (in the hands of the ) to liquidate the amt. due you, my having been compelled to return, in consequence of ill heal[t]h, expecting that the would have the matter arranged long before this. Therefore so soon as we learn the particulars from we will take such measures, as will most likely meet your approval, We have learned that has been partially blind, which may be the reason why the business has not been arranged as stipulated between you and them. as, he, was to remain, with a view to accomplish that object, after my returned.— I will now give you an account of some recent deaths that have taken place here, My Brother , . and one of my s, together with many other valuable citizens— In fact we are in the midst of death— yours
<​ Ill AUG 28​>
Con. [p. [4]]


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    George Miller handwriting begins.  

  2. 1

    A later docket in the handwriting of Thomas Bullock indicates that JS received Hotchkiss’s 24 July letter on 23 August, while JS’s response notes that Hotchkiss’s letter was received “this day” of 25 August. (See Source Note for Letter from Horace Hotchkiss, 24 July 1841.)  

  3. 2

    Here, JS may be referencing the difficulties the Saints faced when they were forced from Missouri in 1838–1839 and then relocated to Illinois and Iowa Territory in 1839. The August 1839 purchase of land in Nauvoo from Hotchkiss, Tuttle, and Gillet followed this time of transition and hardship. It also coincided with mass sickness in summer 1839 among the Saints in Illinois and Iowa. (See Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839; Introduction to Part 4: 24 Apr.–12 Aug. 1839; and Bond from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A.)  

  4. 3

    There are no extant records to corroborate JS’s memory of this verbal agreement. Hotchkiss disagreed with JS’s recollection of their repayment agreement. (Bond from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A; Letter from Horace Hotchkiss, 13 Sept. 1841.)  

  5. 4

    See Authorization for Hyrum Smith and Isaac Galland, 15 Feb. 1841.  

  6. 5

    The death toll in Nauvoo more than doubled between 1840 and 1841, rising from 63 to 175. Most deaths appear to have been associated with malaria, which was spreading throughout the marshlands of the Nauvoo area. The population increase would also have influenced the rising death toll. (See Ivie and Heiner, “Deaths in Early Nauvoo,” 163–173.)  

    Ivie, Evan L., and Douglas C. Heiner. “Deaths in Early Nauvoo, 1839–46, and Winter Quarters, 1846–48.” Religious Educator 10, no. 3 (2009): 163–173.

  7. 6

    Immigration to Nauvoo from the British Isles and the eastern United States had increased during the previous year. In that time, a published account in the Times and Seasons encouraged church members to immigrate and relocate to Nauvoo. The revelations of January and March 1841 further encouraged Saints to gather in Nauvoo, and a large influx of immigrants was expected in the following months. By July 1841 over eight hundred converts from the British Isles had immigrated to Nauvoo. (Alanson Ripley, “Nauvoo,” Times and Seasons, June 1840, 1:123; Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124]; Revelation, ca. Early Mar. 1841 [D&C 125]; “British Emigration to Nauvoo,” 5–6, in Historian’s Office, Church Emigration, CHL.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Historian's Office. Church Emigration, no date. CHL.

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    Insertion in graphite at a later date in unidentified handwriting.  

  9. 7

    JS is likely referring to the Saints’ suffering and loss of property when they were forcefully expelled from Missouri after a series of conflicts with other Missourians. (See Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.)  

  10. 8

    The total amount Hotchkiss, Tuttle, and Gillet charged for the land in Nauvoo, including interest, was $110,000. (Bond from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A.)  

  11. 9

    On the south side of Warsaw, Illinois, the city of Warren had recently been platted by the church and was intended to house the influx of Latter-day Saint immigrants coming to Illinois and Iowa Territory. On 26 August 1841 the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote a letter inviting immigrants to settle in Warren. (Brigham Young et al., “An Epistle of the Twelve,” Times and Seasons, 1 Sept. 1841, 2:520–521; JS History, vol. C-1, 1222; Letter from Calvin A. Warren, 31 Aug. 1841.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  12. 10

    TEXT: Hole in page; text supplied from retained copy of the letter in JS Collection, CHL.  

  13. 11

    Hyrum Smith returned to Nauvoo in early August. (JS History, vol. C-1 Addenda Book, 10–11.)  

  14. 12

    Almon Babbitt, acting as an agent for JS, obtained lands that he in turn transferred to Galland. At least some of these lands were apparently sold by Galland for personal gain. (Isaac Galland, Philadelphia, to Edward Hunter, [West Nantmeal Township, PA], 27 July 1841, Edward Hunter, Collection, CHL; Chester Co., PA, Deeds, 1688–1903, vol. U-4, pp. 82–83, 185–188, 271–275, microfilm 557,205, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    Hunter, Edward. Collection, ca. 1798–1965. Photocopy and typescript. CHL.

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  15. 13

    JS’s brother Don Carlos Smith died on 7 August 1841 at the age of twenty-five. Robert B. Thompson, JS’s scribe, died on 27 August 1841 at the age of twenty-nine. JS’s fourteen-month-old son, Don Carlos Smith, died on 15 August 1841. (“Death of General Don Carlos Smith,” Times and Seasons, 16 Aug. 1841, 2:503; “Obituary,” Millennial Star, Nov. 1841, 2:108–109; Letter to Oliver Granger, 30 Aug. 1841; Minutes, 16 Aug. 1841.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  16. 14

    See, for example, Obituaries, Times and Seasons, 15 July 1841, 2:481; and Obituary for Alice Johnson Olney, Times and Seasons, 2 Aug. 1841, 2:501.  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

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    Postage in unidentified handwriting.  

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    Text is part of a circular postal stamp in black ink.  

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    George Miller handwriting ends; John S. Fullmer begins.