JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , , New Haven Co., CT, 9 Oct. 1841; handwriting of ; four pages; JS, Papers, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, Springfield, IL. Includes address, postal stamp, and postal notation.
Bifolium measuring 12¼ × 7½ inches (31 × 19 cm). The letter was written on all four pages and then trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, sealed with a red adhesive wafer, and mailed from , Illinois. The paper has separated along the bottom fold on both leaves. An adhesive wafer remains on the verso of the second leaf.
The custodial history of the letter is unknown before it came into the possession of the Abraham Lincoln Bookshop in Chicago, Illinois, who sold it in 1972 to the Illinois State Historical Library (now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum).
This letter was apparently one of ten documents relating to JS purchased by the library at the time. (Schroeder-Lein, Treasures of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, 59; see also the full bibliographic record for JS, Papers, 1839–1844, in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum catalog.)
Schroeder-Lein, Glenna R., ed. Treasures of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Carbondale: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and Southern Illinois University Press, 2014.
On 9 October 1841, JS wrote a letter from , Illinois, to his creditor in , Connecticut, regarding debts owed to Tuttle and his business partners. Tuttle, , and had sold land in to JS, , and in 1839. JS had been corresponding with Hotchkiss about the money owed and was striving to find ways to pay the debt, but tensions had arisen between the parties. Because of miscommunication and JS’s failure to make the scheduled payments, recent letters between the two men had included “harsh remarks.”
While and were dissatisfied with the lack of timely payment, JS was also frustrated because he believed several obstacles had prevented him from making payments. For instance, JS was temporarily detained in , Illinois, in early June 1841, when governor attempted to have him extradited. Although he was released five days later when his arrest warrant was deemed invalid, the trip to , Illinois, for his hearing delayed his business dealings. Additionally, , an for the , was sent to deliver land deeds as payment to Hotchkiss and Tuttle but failed to fulfill this assignment. Hotchkiss had eagerly awaited Galland’s arrival, but without informing JS, Galland wrote to Hotchkiss, informing him that he, Galland, was headed west and would not be arriving in after all. Galland’s absence surprised both Hotchkiss and JS and added to their frustrations.
After learning of the increasingly hostile communications between and JS, wrote a conciliatory letter to JS in mid-September 1841. Tuttle’s letter was read aloud during the church’s October 1841 general . JS’s letter of 9 October, featured here, was written in response. In this letter, JS explained his inability to make payments on schedule, his intention to pay the debts as soon as possible, and his desire to maintain friendly relations with his creditors.
JS apparently dictated the letter to his clerk . The letter was mailed to through the post office on 12 October 1841. Before Tuttle received the letter, sent JS another letter regarding the debts on 11 October.
Dear Sir, Your kind letter of Sept. last was rec’d. during our which is just over, containing a full & particular explanation of every thing which gave rise to some feelings of disappointment in relation to our business transactions; and I will assure you, it has allayed, on our part, every prejudice. It breath[e]s the spirit of kindness & truth. I will assure you that we exceedingly regret that there have been any grounds for hardness and disappointment. But so far as I am concerned, I must plead innocence; and you will consider me so, when you come to know all the facts— I have done all that I could on my part. I will still do all that I can. I will not leave one stone unturned.—
Now the facts are these. I sent my Brother & with means in their hands.— say, not money, but with power to obtain every property or money which was necessary to enable them to fulfil the contract I made with . My was under the necessity of returning, in consequence of ill health, to this place, leaving the business in the hands of , with the fullest expectation that he would make over the property or money to , and make every thing square, so far as the interest is concerned, if not the principal. He was instructed to pay the interest that had accrued & would accrue up to the fall of 1842, so as to be in advance of our indebtedness. I had also made arrangements with the eastern churches, & had it in my power to fork over land for the whole debt; & had expected that an arrangement of that kind would have been entered into. I am well assured that did not lack <any> means whatever, to pay the interest, at any rate, if not the principal; & why he has not done according to my instructions, God only knows. I do not feel to charge him with having done wrong, until I can investigate the matter, and ascertain for a certainty where the fault lies. It [p. ]
Hyrum Smith returned to Nauvoo in late April. In June he left on another trip to the eastern United States to obtain lands that could be used to pay the Hotchkiss debt; however, he returned prematurely from that trip as well, this time due to illness. (News Item, Times and Seasons, 1 May 1841, 2:403; “The Late Proceedings,” Times and Seasons, 15 June 1841, 2:447; George A. Smith, Journal, 21 June 1841; George A. Smith, West Nantmeal Township, PA, to George W. Gee, Ambrosia, Iowa Territory, 21 June 1841, John Smith, Papers, CHL; Letter to Horace Hotchkiss, 25 Aug. 1841; JS History, vol. C-1 Addenda Book, 10–11.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Smith, George A. Journal, 22 Feb. 1841–10 Mar. 1845. George Albert Smith, Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322, box 2, fd. 4.