Letter to Orville Browning and Nehemiah Bushnell, 7 December 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Copy of a letter to and of
Decr. 7th 1841
Esqrs. & ,
Your letter of 23rd Ultimo, concerning two notes placed in your hands by Messrs, & Co against myself and thirty one others for collection, was duly received.
In reply I must inform you, that I am not in the possession of means, belonging to me individually to liquidate those notes at present. The reason is apparent to every one; I need not relate to you the persecution I have suffered and the loss & confiscation of all my effects at various times, as a reason of my inability; you know it all, and so do the gentlemen whose notes you hold for collection. But I wish you to say to them, that if they will give me my time, (and no more than than I must necessarily have,) they shall have their pay in some way or other; that I have the means at command in the east, which, with a sufficient indulgence, will enable me to pay them every whit, but unless this is granted me it will be impossible for me to do so. All I ask of those gentlemen and of this generation is, that they should not tie up my hands, nor thwart me in my opperations; if this is granted me, I pledge my word, yea my sacred honor that all that can in fairness be demanded at my hands, either now or at any time, shall ultimately be adjusted to the satisfaction of all concerned. This is all that I can say at this time, or do, hoping that you will communicate to Msrs. & Co the contents, or at all events the purport of this letter, together with my sincere regard for their welfare, and as regards you, Gentlemen, I remain
Very Respectfully yr. obt. Servt.
Joseph Smith
pr. Sec’y [p. 217]


  1. 1

    Letter from Orville Browning and Nehemiah Bushnell, 23 Nov. 1841.  

  2. 2

    The promissory notes, which were copied into the docket book of the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, contain signatures from thirty-three individuals: three principals—Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter—and thirty sureties. (Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter to Halsted, Haines & Co., Promissory Notes, 1 Sept. 1837, copy, Brigham Young Office, Halsted, Haines & Co. File, 1867, CHL.)  

  3. 3

    JS’s inability to repay this and other Kirtland-era mercantile debts stemmed from a variety of factors, including the financial panics of 1837 and 1839 and subsequent economic recessions, JS’s flight from Ohio, the need to establish new communities for the Latter-day Saints in northwestern Missouri, JS’s arrest and incarceration, the widespread loss of land and property in the wake of the Latter-day Saints’ forced expulsion from Missouri, and the need to purchase land in Illinois and Iowa Territory for the refugee Saints. (See “Part 6: 20 April–14 September 1837”; Historical Introduction to Agreement, 4 Jan. 1838; “Part 3: 4 November 1838–16 April 1839”; and Bill of Damages, 4 June 1839.)  

  4. 4

    JS may be referring to the sale of church members’ land in the eastern United States to pay the church’s debts, an initiative that had been under way for some time; individuals who donated their land for this purpose were eligible to receive land in Nauvoo. (Brigham Young et al., “An Epistle of the Twelve,” Times and Seasons, 15 Oct. 1841, 2:567–570; see also Historical Introduction to Authorization for Hyrum Smith and Isaac Galland, 15 Feb. 1841.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.