Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, July 12, 1834

Author: John Geddes

Date: July 12, 1834

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Ann Arbor July 12th 1834

Dear Brother [William Geddes] I am behind time again; but am still in hopes that I shall not, next time, This day ten years ago I landed in Detroit and then knew not whither to go. Providence directed me to Washtenaw which I hope and think it was for the best. In looking back I can truely say that I rejoice. My prospects then I thought were gloomy. It was that eventfull period of ones life when an effort must be made, and what ever may be our means we are apt to think the[y] are limited indeed and that the odds are against us. Something like these were the feelings of my mind. My country expected something and something must be done. With an equal chance I certainly feared nothing it could produce. But how much easier it is; to stand by and bid the valiant die than to descend to the contest and grapply the many headed Hydra: These fears have pafsed away but I am still wrapt in businefs. Businefs is not without its joys especially where our income is more than our outgoes: We are born for exertion to improve our talent: it is much more noble as well as more beneficial to wear out than to rot by lazy indolence. In those ten years there has been one era in my life that certainly : I little thought would ever happen that is the hope that I am born again : I then thought these things were like idle dreams the offspring of weak, feeble, or disordered minds. But I have been brought [to] feel that I am a sinner in the sight of God. That is not by works of righteousnefs that we have done that we are accepted in His presence, but through Faith in Him that died that we might live. The just for the unjust.

We have had a very cold spring the Freezing was so severe in May as to injure the wheat though not so bad as was thought at first. The wheat is tolerable this year. Cutting wheat will not commence before the 20th. The last half of June considerably of rain The Huron was high on the 23rd of June and a heavy rain the same day broke five dams on the Huron. The first dam that broke was (Doremuss) near the mouth of Honey Creek, the next met the same fate (Brown and Giless) The next (Brown & Co of Ann arbor) fared no better. Our dam was next in the course, it was injured very little, and the dam next below us stood. But both the Ypsilanti dams broke. It was the greatest breaking of dams I ever knew: on the Huron. It was in the night the destroying waters pafsed us. But from the marks next morning it was evident the water had been very high and must have

flowed over one of our clay embankments six inches deep at one time. At that critical time the slash boards on the comb of the dam must have gave way and increased the overwhelming torrent

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as the head when I first came to the mill was five inches lower than the evening before and the back water about as much higher. Our clay embankment saved the dam that time had it been sand and gravel like the Ann arbor head race it would have shared the same fate. Our Clay foundations and embankments have been a great benefit to us. We intend when I get through with the logs to raise the embankment at least one foot higher. I still have plenty to do on the mill. Lumber still in demand. Money is said to be scarce. The Michigan Banks dont lend yet. I get as much money as I want for my own use and occasionally lend some. Wheat is still held at .62••• Oats is very scarce is .50. Its thought that Wheat will be .50 after harvest: but there is no telling. Ann arbor continues to grow. Ypsilanti is nearly stationary for two years past. I want you to pay for the Philadelphian If you cannot conveniently send it to him the two dollars pay his agent in Harrisburgh. We were even the first day of July. I would rather have him paid hereafter in the first month of the year commencing in July as you know he is always needy: it will likewise prevent any claims for more than two dollars I wish you likewise to tell him to direct to Ann arbor as I am going to quit Ypsilanti: and stick to my own Township. In this world of intrigue and villiany, it would seem you must adhere to the Township in which you live or you give persons occasion to say you are influenced by some hostile or improper motive and it matters not whether it is true or false only so its plausible Such a plausible manner of assailing me I am going to destroy: and intriguing politicians must tax their ingenuity to find some other way of making an imprefsion. Governor, George B. Porter Died a few days ago. I hear none mourning for him: I beleive him to have been an unpopular man in Michigan. You gave us quite a let off about usury. Robert started right up at it: And did think of informing you better upon this subject but you are a great ways off and it would be too much for him [to] write down his sentiments so you not need think to hear any thing from him. He neither lends nor borrows much. Botsford once when I first knew him took the same side you do He had no money to let then.

Botsford is no profefsor of Christianity I have never Checked him on the subject. Money is and always has been since I have been here worth ten per cent. Though the law allows but seven Money is more worth in new countries than old ones consequently in Justice the rate pr cent ought to be higher. I think than a person ought to be content with a moderate pr centage but why ought it to be always the same. when any thing is scarce it is dear. When money is scarce is it not more valuable is it not worth more. then why let at the same price. I have heard some make this objection

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to Banks that when money was scarce and times hard Banks would not lend. Which is the worst not to lend or take double interest. Which gives the most releif. You nor me would not give 20 pr cent Botsford would not ask it of us their is more feeling about him than that. It is but seldom that industrious persons of moderate calculation are so hampered as to give high pr cent. It is generally the idle and the profligate those that will not work and wish to shine Botsford is under no obligation to such persons they never granted him any favors he grants them none. without lending them money at 20 pr cent is a favor and I have no doubt some if, not all were glad to get it. Botsford is under no obligation to be prudent and economical to lend money at lefs than its really worth (that is seven pr cent) He forced it from no man it was a debt of honor they can pay it or not as they choose as his obligations were only for lawful interest

As respects myself I never have got more than lawful interest from any man; two men offered me ten pr cent they have not payed it yet. One of them a presbeterian Called after his note was due (it was this spring) and said he could pay prin- and Int. but if I did not want it: he would let it stand on the same conditions another year. He did not appear to think that I was crowding him. That law in England you have referred to throws open the ports of when grain raises to a certain price (if I am not mistaken) If there is any “knocking on the head” in this matter it is Gen. Jackson that is doing it. It is him that is ruining the Country and Knocking peoples affairs on the head. It would rather seem that you and me differ on this subject as to the criminality of it at any rate. Your sentiment has the appearance of “loving thy neighbor as thyself” All it wants is the means to put it in practice. I am as much in favor of Banks as you are and wish that the United States

Bank was recharted as sincerely as you do: and rejoice in good times I don’t feel the Hard times. If you think that Agrippa will make a faithfull hand you can send him on I have work plenty: I think of building a house this fall or doing some thing that way. I sometimes think [hole] renting the sawmill for [a] year and go to school and improve my education it wants [hole] improvement in several things particularly speaking in public But I have no one to leave the mill with. I think you ought to be improving your education now when you [are] doing nothing. It is very unlikely that I will quit the mill for a year its more likely I shall get me a wife in that time. I think it is time to attend to it if ever I am under no engagements of the kind at present I hold to short courtships. Persons call occasionally to talk about buying your land: the price is too great for them yet. One man talked of writing to you about it thinking to get it cheaper I have thought it would not do for you and me both to sell it so if any one should write to you on the subject direct them to me. You will not [hole] get $5 pr acre this year nor next, probably the year 1836 you may. Uncle James has not been [hole] here yet I dont think any man could pay a great pr Cent for a large sum of [hole] money any length of time

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In a country like this it would be cheaper for me to pay 14 pr cent for money and pay right down than to buy on credit, and it would be better for the Mechanic or the Merchant. The fact is the want of money does more to stagnate businefs than this great pr cent and is more injury to the growth and prosperity of a country consequently those that make money scarce are the ones to Blame Supposing some friend should fire the grain standing in the field before harvest. Those that escaped would on principle be very much to blame for charging more than the customary price Another thing no law can be passed in these United States impairing contracts. Finally its my opinion that a man ought not to be exorbitant in his demands for any thing but we are all entitled to a fair price and I cant see why pr cent ought not to vary as well as every thing else. Governments borrow as low as the[y] can and so do individuals. Money on your principle ought to be reciprocal like a man and his wife. Human nature is not so constituted: it is unreasonable to expect impossibilities your plans would work in Heaven but not on earth nor in Hell. I think if you were to live as long in Michigan as I have

done your opinion would vary on this point. to see the actual state of things is a great [?] of the understanding. In Londonderry money is seldom worth more than six pr cent more could be had: but it is a much as people can live at. And then it is more than other property is worth. It is the reverse of that here money at seven pr cent is lefs worth than landed property and then consider the risque of losing it is much more. My next letter will be (in time) regulated by the receipt of yours you may expect one dated about the middle of October Farewell

To Mr William Geddes John Geddes

I bought a book called the Young mans Own book for .75 in Ann arbor which I think very well of you had better get one in Harrisburgh