JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , , New Haven Co., CT, 25 Aug. 1841; handwriting of ; address in handwriting of ; four pages; Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, Springfield, IL. Includes address, postal stamp, postal notation, and docket.
Two leaves (at one time a bifolium but now separated), each measuring 9¾ × 7¾ inches (25 × 20 cm). The letter was written on all four pages. It was then addressed, trifolded twice in letter style, sealed with a red adhesive wafer, and stamped at the Nauvoo post office. The letter was later refolded for filing.
The custodial history of the letter is unknown before it came into the possession of the Abraham Lincoln Bookshop in Chicago, Illinois, which sold it in 1972 to the Illinois State Historical Library (now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum).
On 25 August 1841, JS wrote a letter in , Illinois, to his creditor in , Connecticut, discussing JS’s debts. JS’s letter was a response to a communication a month earlier, wherein Hotchkiss expressed his confusion and dissatisfaction that JS had not paid his debts through his , as had been arranged. Although JS commissioned Galland to obtain deeds to land in the eastern and transfer them to Hotchkiss as payment for the debts, Galland never accomplished the task. By July, Galland informed Hotchkiss that he was returning to Nauvoo. Meanwhile, JS had not been informed that Galland, upon whom JS and the were relying, had apparently abandoned his assignment. JS had even begun to place increased trust in Galland—in a May 1841 letter, he asked his primary agent, , to turn his responsibilities over to Galland.
The lack of payment particularly displeased because he had deferred the first interest payment on the debt for two years. According to the bond and promissory notes from the initial purchase in 1839, JS was to pay an annual interest of $3,000 for twenty years, after which the principal would be due. However, according to the letter featured here, JS believed that Hotchkiss had agreed to defer the first five interest payments and accept lands as payment for both the principal and the interest. Hotchkiss’s September response reveals that he remembered agreeing to accept land payments for the interest only. The miscommunication was frustrating for both parties, but in the ensuing correspondence, JS and Hotchkiss renegotiated the agreement to pay the debt with the eastern lands.
made a copy of the 25 August letter before it was sent. That copy was retained in JS’s . The original was mailed on 28 August through the post office and is the version featured here. received the letter and responded three weeks later with a letter recounting his various attempts to accommodate JS’s repayment efforts—efforts that had been unsuccessful thus far. Hotchkiss presumably showed the letter featured here to his business partner, , who then also wrote a letter to JS.
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. ]