Agreement with Martin Harris, 16 January 1830
JS, Agreement withMartin Harris,
18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...View Full BioManchester Township, Ontario Co., NY, 16 Jan. 1830; handwriting of
Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...More InfoOliver Cowdery; signature of JS, witnessed by
3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...View Full BioDocument measures 3⅜–3⅝ × 7¾ inches (9 × 20 cm). Residue of red wax appears to be present following JS’s signature. Notations in graphite in unidentified handwriting on the verso read “Joseph Smith, Sen.| Father of Jos. Smith, the founder | of Mormonism— & himself | one of the most prominent | of the Sect—”
12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...View Full BioIt is unknown when autograph collector Simon Gratz acquired this document. According to the register of the Gratz Collection, Gratz’s entire collection was deeded to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1917 and finalized shortly after his death in 1928.
This document is an agreement between JS andMartin Harris, giving Harris the right to sell copies of the Book of Mormon until he collected enough money to cover the cost of printing, which he had funded, and thereby redeem his mortgaged farm. JS and Harris began negotiating with local printers to publish the Book of Mormon manuscript in the summer of 1829.
18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...View Full BioPalmyraprinter
Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...More InfoE. B. Grandinagreed to print the book for $3,000.
30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...View Full Bio2Harris pledged a 151-acre portion of his farm on 25 August 1829 to pay Grandin, and the printer then began work on the project.
Hansard, T. C. Typographia: An Historical Sketch of the Origin and Progress of the Art of Printing; with Practical Directions for Conducting Every Department in an Office: With a Description of Stereotype and Lithography. London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1825.3
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.It seems thatHarrissaw himself in the role of financier for the printing of the Book of Mormon early on in the process.
18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...View Full BioRochesternewspaper editor Thurlow Weed, for example, recalled that JS and Harris approached him and that Harris “offered to be his [JS’s] security for payment.”
Located at falls of Genesee River, seven miles south of Lake Ontario, on Erie Canal. Founded 1812. Incorporated as village, 1817. Originally called Rochesterville; name changed to Rochester, 1822. Incorporated as city, 1834. County seat. Population in 1820...More Info4John H. Gilbert, one of
Dickinson, Ellen E. New Light on Mormonism. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1885.Grandin’s employees, gave a similar report when he wrote: “Mr E. B. Grandin . . . came to me and said he wanted I should assist him in estimating the cost of printing 5000 copies of a book that Martin Harris wanted to get printed, which was called the ‘Mormon Bible.’ . . . Harris proposed to have Grandin do the job.”revelation likely dictated soon after the negotiations with Grandin commanded Harris to “Impart a portion of thy property; Yea, even a part of thy lands and all save the support of thy family. Pay the printer’s debt.”
30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...View Full Bio7which still would have brought in twice the printing costs if all copies had sold.
Naked Truths about Mormonism: Also a Journal for Important, Newly Apprehended Truths, and Miscellany. Oakland, CA. Jan. and Apr. 1888.
Howe, Eber D. Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time. With Sketches of the Characters of Its Propagators, and a Full Detail of the Manner in Which the Famous Golden Bible Was Brought before the World. To Which Are Added, Inquiries into the Probability That the Historical Part of the Said Bible Was Written by One Solomon Spalding, More Than Twenty Years Ago, and by Him Intended to Have Been Published as a Romance. Painesville, OH: By the author, 1834.JS likely signed this agreement withHarrisduring a brief visit JS made toPalmyrato settle a copyright dispute with
Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...More InfoAbner Cole.
Aug. 1783–13 July 1835. Bar iron and castings manufacturer, judge, newspaper editor and publisher. Likely born in Chesterfield, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Southworth Cole and Ruxby Bryant. Moved to Geneva, Ontario and Seneca counties, New York, ...View Full BioGrandin. This was not, however, the only JS document to deal with potential proceeds from the Book of Mormon. Soon after JS signed this agreement with Harris, a revelation directed JS and others to obtain the copyright of the Book of Mormon throughout the world, beginning with an attempt to sell it in
30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...View Full BioCanada. It stated the expectation that “the faithful & the righteous may retain the temperal Blessing as well as the Spirit[u]al” from the sale of the copyright. Such blessings would be extended to “those who have assisted him [JS]” in the work, except Harris, who was explicitly excluded.
In late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Canada referred to British colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada. Divided into Upper Canada and Lower Canada, 1791; reunited 10 Feb. 1841. Boundaries corresponded roughly to present-day Ontario (Upper...More InfoHarris, intent on recouping his investment, set out to sell books as soon as the first copies were available in late March 1830, but the results were disappointing.10As
Wayne Sentinel. Palmyra, NY. 1823–1852, 1860–1861.Lucy Mack Smithlater recounted, “The inhabitants of the surrounding country . . . gathered their forces together, far & near; and organizing themselves into a committee of the whole they resolved, as before, never to purchase one of our books.”
8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...View Full BioJoseph Knight Sr., when he and JS arrived in
3 Nov. 1772–2 Feb. 1847. Farmer, miller. Born at Oakham, Worcester Co., Massachusetts. Son of Benjamin Knight and Sarah Crouch. Lived at Marlboro, Windham Co., Vermont, by 1780. Married first Polly Peck, 1795, in Windham Co. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge...View Full BioPalmyrain late March, Harris was already distressed and announced, “The Books will not sell for no Body wants them.”
Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...More InfoCanandaigualater claimed that after the printing of the Book of Mormon, “Harris became very boisterous on the subject of the book and preached about the country in endeavoring to make sale of it.”
Located in central part of county in west-central part of state. Area settled, by 1790. Population in 1830 about 5,200. Joseph Smith Sr. imprisoned for debt for thirty days at county seat of Canandaigua village, Oct.–Nov. 1830. W. W. Phelps and Brigham Young...More Info13His efforts to sell the books continued even after he moved to
Vogel, Dan, ed. Early Mormon Documents. 5 vols. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996–2003.Ohioin the spring of 1831, when his property was sold.
French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...More Info14If a later report is correct, Harris eventually recovered the money he had paid for the printing of the Book of Mormon. In 1853 he reportedly stated, “I never lost one cent. Mr. Smith . . . paid me all that I advanced, and more too.”
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
“The Book of Mormon. Story of the Man Who First Printed It.” American Bookseller: A Semi-Monthly Journal Devoted to the Interests of the Book, Stationery, News, and Music Trades, and General Literature: With Which Is Incorporated the American Booksellers’ Guide 4, no. 12 (15 Dec. 1877): 617–618.15
Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Liverpool. 1840–1970.
- 1 See Historical Introduction to Revelation, ca. Summer 1829 [D&C 19].
- 2 See Historical Introduction to Copyright for Book of Mormon, 11 June 1829. This substantial sum clearly included a significant profit for Grandin after allowing for all his expenses—perhaps more than the average profit for printers, which was around 12 percent on top of printing costs. (Compare Hansard, Typographia, 797.)
- 3 Martin Harris to Egbert B. Grandin, Indenture, Wayne Co., NY, 25 Aug. 1829, Wayne Co., NY, Mortgage Records, vol. 3, pp. 325–326, microfilm 479,556, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL. Initially, there may have been a plan for Harris to pay only half the cost of printing. Lucy Mack Smith later wrote that JS and Grandin agreed “that half of the price for printing was to be paid by Martin Harris, and the residue, by my two sons, Joseph and Hyrum.” Lucy was mistaken to report this as the final contract, however, which actually called for Harris to secure the entire cost. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 158.)
- 4 Thurlow Weed, Statement, New York City, NY, 12 Apr. 1880, in Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 261. Weed later became the editor of the Albany Evening Journal and one of the most influential and powerful leaders of the Whig Party in New York.
- 5 John H. Gilbert, Memorandum, 8 Sept. 1892, photocopy, CHL. JS’s history offered this account: “Mean time our translation drawing to a close, we went to Palmyra, Wayne County, N. Y: Secured the Copyright; and agreed with Mr Egbert Grandon to print five thousand Copies, for the sum of three thousand dollars.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 34.)
- 6 Revelation, ca. Summer 1829 [D&C 19:34–35].
- 7 See, for example, “Mrs. Sylvia Walker’s Statement,” Naked Truths about Mormonism (Oakland, CA), Apr. 1888, 1; and Henry Harris, Affidavit, Cuyahoga Co., OH, [ca. Nov. 1833], in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 251–252. In 1831, JS instructed Martin Harris, “You will not sell the books for less than 10 Shillings [$1.25].” (Letter to Martin Harris, 22 Feb. 1831.)
- 8 See Historical Introduction to Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 Dec. 1829.
- 9 Revelation, ca. Early 1830.
- 10 On 26 March 1830, Grandin offered copies of the Book of Mormon for sale, retail and wholesale, in his bookstore. (“The Book of Mormon,” Wayne Sentinel [Palmyra, NY], 26 Mar. 1830, .)
- 11 Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 168.
- 12 Knight, Reminiscences, 6.
- 13 Nathaniel W. Howell et al. to Ancil Beach, Jan. 1832, in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 3:16.
- 14 Wayne Co., NY, Deed Records, 1823–1904, vol. 10, pp. 515–516, 7 Apr. 1831, microfilm 478,786, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL. John H. Gilbert stated that the Book of Mormon “did not find a very ready sale at the outset, and Harris, who had mortgaged his farm to pay the printer’s bill, was cleaned out financially.” (“The Book of Mormon,” 618.)
- 15 David B. Dille, “Additional Testimony of Martin Harris,” LDS Millennial Star, 20 Aug. 1859, 21:545.