, Letter, , Adams Co., IL, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, [ca. 23] June 1842; handwriting of ; one page; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address and dockets.
Single leaf measuring 12⅜ × 7¾ inches (31 × 20 cm). The leaf is ruled with thirty-six blue lines (now faded). It was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, and sealed with a red adhesive wafer. Remnants of the wafer are on the recto and verso of the leaf. The document was later refolded for filing.
, who served as scribe to JS from 1842 to 1844, docketed the document. It was also docketed by , who served as 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.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Co., 1901–1936.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
In June 1842 wrote from , Illinois, to JS in , Illinois, apprising him of the progress of the bankruptcy petitions of JS and other Nauvoo residents. Warren, a partner in the Quincy law firm Ralston, Warren & Wheat, had initiated bankruptcy proceedings for JS and several other Latter-day Saints in April 1842 and was continuing to work with Nauvoo residents interested in petitioning for bankruptcy. His letter informed JS of his success in advertising and filing several bankruptcy cases and listed the costs he had incurred during those pursuits. In addition to requesting reimbursement for these costs, Warren informed JS of an address he had given earlier that month, in which he countered accusations gubernatorial candidate had made publicly against JS and . In the letter, Warren also defended himself against allegations by the editors of the Quincy Whig that he was insincere in his relationship with the Latter-day Saints. He further informed JS about his efforts to have the court appoint an assignee specifically for the Nauvoo bankruptcy cases.
Although dated the letter 3 June, its contents indicate the document was created in late June: Warren gave his speech in response to on 7 June, the letter mentions that Warren took on additional bankruptcy cases in on 8 June, and the article in the Quincy Whig criticizing Warren was published in the 18 June issue of that newspaper. Additionally, Warren mentioned his intention to visit JS in Nauvoo the following week, and JS’s journal records that Warren arrived in Nauvoo on Thursday, 30 June. This evidence suggests the letter was created between 18 and 25 June 1842. Because Warren wrote “3rd” in the dateline, it is probable that the letter was written on 23 June, with Warren accidentally omitting the “2” from “23rd”.
Because the letter was misdated, it is unclear when JS received it, though it was presumably before ’s 30 June visit. The letter was retained in JS’s office, where it was docketed and filed by .
The assignee appointed by the court was responsible for collecting and auctioning off a bankrupt individual’s property and other assets and then dividing the funds among that person’s creditors. (An Act to Establish a Uniform System of Bankruptcy [19 Aug. 1841], Public Statutes at Large, 27th Cong., 1st Sess., chap. 9, pp. 442–443, secs. 2–3.)
The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845. . . . Edited by Richard Peters. 8 vols. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846–1867.
Since Warren told JS he was coming the following week, and since Warren arrived on Thursday, 30 June, the latest date he could have written the letter was the previous Saturday, 25 June.
June 3rd [23rd] 1842—
Genl. Joseph Smith
Dear Sir, I take this opportunity to inform you of my success in all the Bankrupt cases committed to our care in on the 8th June— Decrees were entered up in every Case— the costs were pretty heavy as they required to be advanced more than I expected—
In each case the expense stands thus——
For advertising first notice in Journal
" second d[itt]o do
Clerk on filing petition——
" for 1st decree——
In 26 cases of decrees the sum was enormous— I shall have the pleasure of seeing you in person next week if health permits—
I had the pleasure of making a 3 hours speech against at the State house for his attack on yourself & — our friends were not dissatisfied with it so far as I have been informed— The Quincy Whig, however would make you believe my course towards you is different in private walks— I leave this to your good sense to dispose of as the evidence to you may seem to justify—
The Court appointed Mr. , Assignee for and for the present declines appointing any for ! I think we can yet get our friend the appointment! The Court is in Session yet & will set a day for final hearing & discharge— & on when, the notices will be forwarded for publication—
In addition to helping thirteen Latter-day Saints, including JS, file for bankruptcy in April 1842, Warren apparently helped draft petitions for bankruptcy for other Nauvoo residents on 8 June. Notices of bankruptcy for John S. Fullmer, Windsor P. Lyon, William Niswanger, and Charles Warner appeared in the 10 June 1842 issue of the Sangamo Journal and may have been the bankruptcy cases given to Warren on 8 June. (Bankruptcy Notices, Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 6 May 1842, ; JS, Journal, 18 Apr. 1842; Bankruptcy Notices, Sangamo Journal, 10 June 1842, .)
A decree in the nineteenth century was defined as “the judgment or sentence of a court of equity” in Bouvier’s Law Dictionary. However, judgments had not yet been rendered by the district court in any of the bankruptcy cases Warren oversaw. He likely is referring here to the court’s pronouncement that the cases would be tried. As a prerequisite to the trial, those seeking bankruptcy were required to inform their creditors of their intentions through a notice printed in local newspapers. (“Decree,” in Bouvier, Law Dictionary, 1:295; see also Notice, 28 Apr. 1842.)
Bouvier, John. A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America, and of the Several States of the American Union; With References to the Civil and Other Systems of Foreign Law. 2 vols. Philadelphia: Deacon and Peterson, 1854.
This charge was for printing notices for individuals intending to declare bankruptcy. Notices for JS and twelve other Nauvoo residents ran in the Sangamo Journal on 6 May 1842 and then weekly in the Wasp from 7 May to 11 June 1842. (See, for example, Bankruptcy Notices, Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 6 May 1842, .)
Douglas, an accomplished lawyer and politician, moved to Illinois in 1833. He served as attorney general for the state of Illinois in 1835–1836, acted as a state representative in 1836–1841, was an Illinois supreme court justice in 1841–1842, and served in the United States House of Representatives in 1843–1847. The Sangamo Journal reported that on 7 June 1842, Duncan, who had served previously as governor of Illinois from 1834 to 1838 and was running for governor again, gave a speech in Springfield, Illinois, discussing his time as governor and attacking the “corrupt coalition formed between the leaders of the loco foco party and Joe Smith, for the votes of the Mormons.” Warren then offered a reply in which he, according to the Journal, “defended the Mormons and his party, from the charges made upon them, in a labored speech of over three hours, consisting chiefly of stale anecdotes.” Duncan countered Warren’s speech by reminding the audience of Warren’s ties to JS and Stephen Douglas, to which Warren responded with a “second long speech attacking whig principles.” (“Governor Duncan,” Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 10 June 1842, .)
An article in the 18 June 1842 issue of the Quincy Whig accused Warren of being insincere in his interest and defense of JS and the Latter-day Saints. The article argued that Warren was simply placating JS and other church leaders in an effort to acquire Latter-day Saint support for James H. Ralston, one of his legal partners, who apparently intended to run for the Illinois state legislature. (“Calvin A. Warren,” Quincy [IL] Whig, 18 June 1842, .)
Catlin settled and helped establish the town of Augusta, Illinois, in 1832. He resided in Augusta until 1845, when he moved to Jacksonville, Illinois. He attended the Anti-Mormon Party’s convention in Carthage, Illinois, in 1841, as well as an Anti-Mormon meeting in Carthage on 13 June 1844 (two years after this letter was written), where he was appointed to a committee assigned to force Latter-day Saints in surrounding towns to move to Nauvoo. (Cochran et al., History of Hancock County, Illinois, 173; Letter from John Harper, 14 July 1842; “Preamble and Resolutions,” Warsaw [IL] Signal, Extra, 14 June 1844.)
Cochran, Robert M., Mary H. Siegfried, Ida Blum, David L. Fulton, Harold T. Garvey, and Olen L. Smith, eds. History of Hancock County, Illinois: Illinois Sesquicentennial Edition. Carthage, IL: Board of Supervisors of Hancock County, 1968.
It is unclear why Warren expected the district court to appoint an assignee for Nauvoo, which was located in Hancock County, when usually only one assignee was appointed per county. (Balleisen, Navigating Failure, 139.)
Balleisen, Edward J. Navigating Failure: Bankruptcy and Commercial Society in Antebellum America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.