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.
may be, that through sickness or disaster, this strange neglect has happened, I would to God the thing had not happened, When I read ’ letter, I learned that he was dissatisfied. I thought he meant to oppress me, & felt exceedingly mortified & sorrowful in the midst of affliction, to think that he should distrust me for a moment, that I would not do all that was within my power. But upon hearing an explanation of the whole matter, my feelings are changed; and I think you all have had cause for complaining; but you will in the magnanimity of yr. good feelings, certainly not blame me when you find I have discharged an honorable duty on my part. I regret exceedingly that I did not know some months since, what I now know, so that I could have made another exertion before it got so late.
Cold weather is now rolling in upon us. I have been confined here this season by sickness & various other things that were beyond my control; such as having been demanded by the of of the of this , & he not having moral courage enough to resist the demand, although it was founded in injustice & cruelty. I accordingly was taken prisoner, & they put me to some ten or eleven hundred dollars expense & trouble before I could be redeemed from under the difficulty; lawyers fees, witnesses— &c. &c.— But I am now clear from them once more, & now in contemplating the face of the whole subject, I find that I am under the necessity of asking a little farther indulgence, <say> until next spring so that I may be enabled to recover myself; and then if God spares my life, & gives me power to do so, I will come in person to yr. country, & will never cease my labors until the whole matter is completely adjusted to the fullest satisfaction of all of you. The subject of your debt was presented fairly before our general , on the first of the month, of some ten thousand people for their decission for the wisest & best course, in relation to meeting your demands. The , as they are denominated in the [p. ]
JS was arrested on 5 June 1841. Former Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs had issued a requisition to Illinois governor Thomas Carlin to extradite JS as a fugitive from justice. After obtaining a writ of habeas corpus in Quincy, Illinois, JS was ordered to appear for a hearing in Monmouth, Illinois, on 10 June. At the hearing, judge Stephen A. Douglas ruled that the warrant and arrest were invalid and released JS. (Requisition for JS, 1 Sept. 1840, State of Missouri v. JS for Treason [Warren Co. Cir. Ct. 1841], JS Extradition Records, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, IL; “The Late Proceedings,” Times and Seasons, 15 June 1841, 2:447–449.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
After the attempt to extradite JS to Missouri was ruled invalid, JS submitted an itemized bill for reimbursement of expenses incurred during the arrest and hearing, which totaled $685. (Requisition for JS, 1 Sept. 1840, State of Missouri v. JS for Treason [Warren Co. Cir. Ct. 1841], JS Extradition Records, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, IL; Statement of Expenses, 30 Sept. 1841.)