Letter From William Geddes to John Geddes, January 23, 1843

Author: William Geddes

Date: January 23, 1843

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Campbellstown Jan. 23rd A.D. 1843

Dear Brother, [John Geddes] Yours of the 10th inst. was rec.’d on Saturday and I am happy to hear of the arrival of a son and hope he may be the one of the thousand that Solomon found to be wright. Why should we expect to find mankind otherwise than he found them. Any man then who suffers himself to be defrauded by his fellow man does it in the face of light, and is served right, for his folly. What is the history of man in all ages of the world. Have we any reason to expect to be treated better than other generations, none. The only plan then is to take everything cool and be watchful and when we do get [be it ?] in spite of all our care to laugh at the adroitnefs of the rogues. Mackenzie served them fellows exactly right. No honest man will Joke about taking the lives of his fellows, and none will lay plans how to do it but those that will do it, if they have the power. I am in favor of the Bankrupt law and I think I Judge impartially because I am neither debtor or Creditor to no man. I seek not to take the advantage and I believe none have the power to take it of me, so that I can calmly weigh the matter between those who stand in that relation to each other. The 3/4 of our businefsmen are men without capital and them and their families are floating in the community like vessels on the ocean and yearly adverse times, and winds drown 100dreds in bankruptcy and the ocean. Adverse legislation ruin thousands who done the best that could be done in their circumstances and yet failed honestly failed, and they are irretrieveably lost to themselves, their families and their country, unlefs the laws provide a remedy and in this Bankrupt law there is one, a full and effectual one, a full and free forgivenefs. The nation can truly say “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Shall the honest they young and talented merchant and family be cast loose upon the world and forced in spite of themselves in spite of what nature intended they should be to be outcasts and vagabonds in society, Forever at the mercy of their mercilefs creditors. This law gives men a chance to start again in the world, to exert their talents for themselves their families and their Country and if they are honest men and God prospers them they will still pay old debts as well as new ones. It is said rogues will take advantage of it, and that is all that can be said against it. Well suppose that is true. Have not rogues the benefit of all other laws as well as this. No no I say give the honest man a chance for his life, for no laws will or can be made to prevent rascality. The winter commenced early with us also, and we had frequent snows in December and a good deal of sleighing. One morning in the 1st week of January it was one

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degree below zero, with but little snow on the ground. Since we have had foggy rainy weather as well as very warm. It is like summer and the snow heaps are nearly all melted. The thermometer on Saturday last rose to 64. Wheat will scarcely bring .75, Corn .35, Oats .22 Rye .40, Beef $4.00 Pork $4.00, Butter 8 and Eggs .10 Money very scarce & bad. It seems there are some needy people around my land. Why could not them bad boys wait till the nuts would fall when they might have had them and welcome. There are also a plenty of Roads about my land. I have heard nothing from Illinois since I wrote. From Indiana we got a letter the other day from Robert McBay he gives prices as, Wheat .37 1/2 Corn 10, Oats 12 1/2 Pork $1.00 Beef is as with you. I have months ago gave notice that I must have my money, but of late they have been telling me it will be impofsible to pay in good funds and other funds I told them would be uselefs to me. I then aprised them that they must actually pay the half for they could purchase with common money the best for about 5 pr. Cent and that was a far lefs lofs than what we were at in not getting our money. Our law abolishing imprisonment for debt is very much complained of and the people are petitioning for its repeal but I dont believe they will succeed. This law strikes at the root of the credit system for if men can no longer collect debts they will cease to trust men and [the] cash system will be forced on all, and surely that of all others will operate against rogues the most effectually. Since the body of a man cannot be touched for debt our special bail law has been altered. Formerly a person could stay an Execution by giving bail for his appearance at the end of 3, 6 or 9 months, according to the amount of the debt, but now in lieu of the body he must give bail for all his goods that are subject to a levy, and if any of them are disposed of in any way his bail must pay the debt & Costs. Almost any one could get bail for his appearance but now men have brought bail to my office and when I have read them the law they declined doing it and we made the money by taking hold on the goods, heretofore before the time expired of the stay the rascals had disposed of their property and appeared and laughed at Justice, Constable and creditor. There is a tremendous cry here against the taxes, but still men pay; knowing that if they did not there would be end of all government, and a bad one is better than none. Our government is one of the people and of course the majority must rule against whom does the men rebel who refuse to pay their taxes, against themselves, they being a part of the sovereign people. If all men were to attend the polls at all elections, I am fully persuaded that we would be governed by quite another set of men. Those men who do not attend

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elections are those who occasion all our bad government. I would be in favor of fineing all who do not attend the polls, severely, which would force men to poll without being hauled or coaxed, and then we would always have a full expression of the peoples will, which would keep the government steady. If you had stated what the probable cost of building a house suffecient for a farm house would be I should have liked it well. You say that Robert does not more than live off his farm, this is surely very discouraging. I would better loan out my money than go into making improvements to reap nothing from them. There are properties enough selling here for lefs than the improvements Cost. The Sheriff of dauphin County sold houses last week for nearly 1/3 of their Cost. If I come to Michigan I think I would do better to lend you & Robert $1500 to ennable you to start that mill and live on the interest of my money. I suppose you would give about 15 pr. cent, sooner than let yourselves be laughed at any longer for commencing what you were not able to complete. The widows third = $4468.18 interest for 14 months = $312.77 amount = $4780.95 one ninth = $530.19 one fifth of that = $106.04 the percentage which the law allows Executors would reduce Roberts share to $100 or thereabouts. There is an error in adding the interest & principal which you may correct I wish you had stated again what kind of money you will take. I should [hole] our Philadelphian paper ought to pafs. If I have to bring [hole] it will be burthensome and if I buy Gold then will perhaps be one pr. Ct. lofs in procuring it. I would prefer Treasury drafts to either. If we had a United States Bank or even Tyler’s Exchequer there would be no difficulty at all. If I can get two thousand and I believe I will, I will pay you all off which will be still leaving me to the last. We are all well. I have heard nothing lately from Newville, or Harrisburg I am seldom from home, it not suiting a Justice I do all my own work and live very saving. I dont think it has cost me $100 to keep my family this year. I keep two Cows & made hay on the shares which did not cost me $3. I raise every year two hogs which is as much winter meat as we need with a little fresh Beef or veal that I occasionally buy, the shoulder & hams we have for summer. I can make a sucking pig in a year weigh 250 with very little expense. Keeping Cows is a lofs. We have to raise our children on Cows milk, the wife having little or I would not keep a Cow. I weigh 155 pounds. I feel well, except my eyes are beginning to fail in strength. I want your next to arrive in the 3rd week of March. I have hopes of some money and if I dont write in the 1st week of April you may expect me along if God spares me


John Geddes William Geddes

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