26051

Agreement with Martin Harris, 16 January 1830

I hereby agree that Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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shall have an equal privilege with me & my friends of selling the Book of Mormon of the Edition now printing by Egbert B Grandin

30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...

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until enough of them shall be sold to pay for the printing of the same or until such times as the said Grandin

30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...

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shall be paid for the printing the aforesaid Books or copies
Joseph Smith Jr
Manchester

Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...

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January the 16th 1830
Witness Oliver HP Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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2

Oliver Cowdery signed his name with “H P” as his middle initials in several early documents. What the letters stand for is not known.  


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I hereby agree that Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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shall have an equal  privilege with me & my friends of selling the Book of Mormon of  the Edition now printing by Egbert B Grandin

30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...

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until enough of them  shall be sold to pay for the printing of the same or until such times as  the said Grandin

30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...

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shall be paid for the printing the aforesaid Books or copies
Joseph Smith Jr1

TEXT: The penultimate letter in this signature resembles more closely a capital “S” than a capital “J”. This apparently provided the basis for a notation in an unknown hand on the reverse side of the document identifying the signer as Joseph Smith Sr.  


Manchester

Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...

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January the 16th 1830
Witness Oliver HP Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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2

Oliver Cowdery signed his name with “H P” as his middle initials in several early documents. What the letters stand for is not known.  


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This document is an agreement between JS and Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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, giving Harris the right to sell copies of the Book of Mormon until he collected enough money to cover the cost of printing, which he had funded, and thereby redeem his mortgaged farm. JS and Harris began negotiating with local printers to publish the Book of Mormon manuscript in the summer of 1829.1

See Historical Introduction to Revelation, ca. Summer 1829 [D&C 19].  


After some convincing, Palmyra

Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...

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printer E. B. Grandin

30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...

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agreed to print the book for $3,000.2

See Historical Introduction to Copyright for Book of Mormon, 11 June 1829. This substantial sum clearly included a significant profit for Grandin after allowing for all his expenses—perhaps more than the average profit for printers, which was around 12 percent on top of printing costs. (Compare Hansard, Typographia, 797.)  


Harris pledged a 151-acre portion of his farm on 25 August 1829 to pay Grandin, and the printer then began work on the project.3

Martin Harris to Egbert B. Grandin, Indenture, Wayne Co., NY, 25 Aug. 1829, Wayne Co., NY, Mortgage Records, vol. 3, pp. 325–326, microfilm 479,556, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL. Initially, there may have been a plan for Harris to pay only half the cost of printing. Lucy Mack Smith later wrote that JS and Grandin agreed “that half of the price for printing was to be paid by Martin Harris, and the residue, by my two sons, Joseph and Hyrum.” Lucy was mistaken to report this as the final contract, however, which actually called for Harris to secure the entire cost. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 158.)  


It seems that Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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saw himself in the role of financier for the printing of the Book of Mormon early on in the process. Rochester

Located at falls of Genesee River, seven miles south of Lake Ontario, on Erie Canal. Founded 1812. Incorporated as village, 1817. Originally called Rochesterville; name changed to Rochester, 1822. Incorporated as city, 1834. County seat. Population in 1820...

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newspaper editor Thurlow Weed, for example, recalled that JS and Harris approached him and that Harris “offered to be his [JS’s] security for payment.”4

Thurlow Weed, Statement, New York City, NY, 12 Apr. 1880, in Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, 261. Weed later became the editor of the Albany Evening Journal and one of the most influential and powerful leaders of the Whig Party in New York.  


John H. Gilbert, one of Grandin

30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...

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’s employees, gave a similar report when he wrote: “Mr E. B. Grandin . . . came to me and said he wanted I should assist him in estimating the cost of printing 5000 copies of a book that Martin Harris wanted to get printed, which was called the ‘Mormon Bible.’ . . . Harris proposed to have Grandin do the job.”5

John H. Gilbert, Memorandum, 8 Sept. 1892, photocopy, CHL. JS’s history offered this account: “Mean time our translation drawing to a close, we went to Palmyra, Wayne County, N. Y: Secured the Copyright; and agreed with Mr Egbert Grandon to print five thousand Copies, for the sum of three thousand dollars.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 34.)  


A JS revelation likely dictated soon after the negotiations with Grandin commanded Harris to “Impart a portion of thy property; Yea, even a part of thy lands and all save the support of thy family. Pay the printer’s debt.”6

Revelation, ca. Summer 1829 [D&C 19:34–35].  


The contract in which Harris pledged his lands was apparently executed shortly after the revelation was announced. JS and his associates initially planned to sell the Book of Mormon for $1.75, making it an expensive book in 1830. If they had sold all the books at that price, they would have collected $8,750. However, the price reportedly soon fell to $1.25,7

See, for example, “Mrs. Sylvia Walker’s Statement,” Naked Truths about Mormonism (Oakland, CA), Apr. 1888, 1; and Henry Harris, Affidavit, Cuyahoga Co., OH, [ca. Nov. 1833], in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 251–252. In 1831, JS instructed Martin Harris, “You will not sell the books for less than 10 Shillings [$1.25].” (Letter to Martin Harris, 22 Feb. 1831.)  


which still would have brought in twice the printing costs if all copies had sold.
JS likely signed this agreement with Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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during a brief visit JS made to Palmyra

Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...

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to settle a copyright dispute with Abner Cole

Aug. 1783–13 July 1835. Bar iron and castings manufacturer, judge, newspaper editor and publisher. Likely born in Chesterfield, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Southworth Cole and Ruxby Bryant. Moved to Geneva, Ontario and Seneca counties, New York, ...

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.8

See Historical Introduction to Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 Dec. 1829.  


The agreement gave Harris “equal privilege” to sell copies of the Book of Mormon until he had been reimbursed for the value of his property mortgaged to Grandin

30 Mar. 1806–16 Apr. 1845. Printer, newspaper editor and publisher, butcher, shipper, tanner. Born in Freehold, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. Son of William Grandin and Amy Lewis. Moved to Williamson, Ontario Co., New York, by 1810; to Pultneyville, Ontario Co...

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. This was not, however, the only JS document to deal with potential proceeds from the Book of Mormon. Soon after JS signed this agreement with Harris, a revelation directed JS and others to obtain the copyright of the Book of Mormon throughout the world, beginning with an attempt to sell it in Canada

In late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Canada referred to British colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada. Divided into Upper Canada and Lower Canada, 1791; reunited 10 Feb. 1841. Boundaries corresponded roughly to present-day Ontario (Upper...

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. It stated the expectation that “the faithful & the righteous may retain the temperal Blessing as well as the Spirit[u]al” from the sale of the copyright. Such blessings would be extended to “those who have assisted him [JS]” in the work, except Harris, who was explicitly excluded.9
Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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, intent on recouping his investment, set out to sell books as soon as the first copies were available in late March 1830, but the results were disappointing.10

On 26 March 1830, Grandin offered copies of the Book of Mormon for sale, retail and wholesale, in his bookstore. (“The Book of Mormon,” Wayne Sentinel [Palmyra, NY], 26 Mar. 1830, [3].)  


As Lucy Mack Smith

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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later recounted, “The inhabitants of the surrounding country . . . gathered their forces together, far & near; and organizing themselves into a committee of the whole they resolved, as before, never to purchase one of our books.”11

Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 168.  


According to Joseph Knight Sr.

3 Nov. 1772–2 Feb. 1847. Farmer, miller. Born at Oakham, Worcester Co., Massachusetts. Son of Benjamin Knight and Sarah Crouch. Lived at Marlboro, Windham Co., Vermont, by 1780. Married first Polly Peck, 1795, in Windham Co. Moved to Jericho (later Bainbridge...

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, when he and JS arrived in Palmyra

Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...

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in late March, Harris was already distressed and announced, “The Books will not sell for no Body wants them.”12

Knight, Reminiscences, 6.  


Harris continued his efforts to sell books, however; citizens of nearby Canandaigua

Located in central part of county in west-central part of state. Area settled, by 1790. Population in 1830 about 5,200. Joseph Smith Sr. imprisoned for debt for thirty days at county seat of Canandaigua village, Oct.–Nov. 1830. W. W. Phelps and Brigham Young...

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later claimed that after the printing of the Book of Mormon, “Harris became very boisterous on the subject of the book and preached about the country in endeavoring to make sale of it.”13

Nathaniel W. Howell et al. to Ancil Beach, Jan. 1832, in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 3:16.  


His efforts to sell the books continued even after he moved to Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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in the spring of 1831, when his property was sold.14

Wayne Co., NY, Deed Records, 1823–1904, vol. 10, pp. 515–516, 7 Apr. 1831, microfilm 478,786, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL. John H. Gilbert stated that the Book of Mormon “did not find a very ready sale at the outset, and Harris, who had mortgaged his farm to pay the printer’s bill, was cleaned out financially.” (“The Book of Mormon,” 618.)  


If a later report is correct, Harris eventually recovered the money he had paid for the printing of the Book of Mormon. In 1853 he reportedly stated, “I never lost one cent. Mr. Smith . . . paid me all that I advanced, and more too.”15

David B. Dille, “Additional Testimony of Martin Harris,” LDS Millennial Star, 20 Aug. 1859, 21:545.  


Facts