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Lot 33: Hancock, John. Autograph letter signed, 3 pages, (9 3/8 x 7 1/8 in.; 238 x 181 mm.)Platinum House
December 18, 2012
Calabasas Hills, CA, USALive Auction
33. Hancock, John. Autograph letter signed, 3 pages, (9 3/8 x 7 1/8 in.; 238 x 181 mm.), “Boston,” 30 September 1779 to Jeremiah Smith, of Milton, Massachusetts concerning a “Scoundrel” named Marshall who has spread the rumor that they will not be paid by Hancock for carting his wood; with integral address leaf; scattered staining; small paper losses primarily at intersecting folds of second leaf.
John Hancock fumes with anger over accusations about him made by Mr. Marshall, who has blackened Hancock’s name in the village of Milton, Massachusetts: he well knows that if any money is due to him, it is but a meer trifle, & to give his Tongue such a saucy & untrue Latitude is what vexes me much...
In rebuttal, Hancock implies that Marshall has even charged Hancock for wood not delivered and that Marshall has perhaps withheld payment to his employees. Hancock assures Smith that in the future he will demand receipts for every cord, and will prosecute Marshall to the full extent of the law if he is found to have stolen any wood.
Hancock writes in full: I have heard to my great surprize that Mr. Marshall has said that there is Money due to him from me on Accont. of Wood, & that I refuse to pay him; he or any man else that dare say that is a Scoundrel, & shall meet my heaviest Resentment, & moreover I have heard that the Gentlemen of Milton believe this Report of Marshall’s, & that they are averse to cart wood for me, lest they should not be paid; I have not the least objection to their placing the utmost confidence in Mr. Marshall, but to convince them that I can do without Marshall & without the aid of those credulous Gentlemen in Milton, I shall send Men to cut my wood, & also send the team from other towns to cart it, and request of you to take the full charge of any interest at Milton, & see that the Persons I send do me Justice. The apples in my orchard I desire you will take care of, & have then made into cyder, & sent me. Marshall took a load of empty barrells, I beg you to take them from him, & take the whole charge of all my concerns at Milton, & I will satisfy you for your trouble. I am not indebted to Marshall, was I to be severe & call on him to make good all the wood that I am charg’d with, & was not deliver’d, I did not intend to be so very particular, but I am now determin’d that he shall produce me a receipt for every cord, & if he does not comply I shall take such steps as will be very disagreeable to him. If he has not paid the money he has Rec’d of me to the persons whom he employ’d, it is not my Fault; he well knows that if any money is due to him, it is but a meer trifle, & to give his Tongue such a saucy & untrue Latitude is what vexes me much - I have directed my Clerk to write him to come & settle. I have not seen him, & I believe he would blush to see me; he may depend I shall not put up with his conduct towards me. I wish to stand fair with everyone, but I shall make no undue condescention to any Persons, either of Milton or any place to induce them to do Business for me, if it is not for their Interest they will not undertake. I shall send men to perfect what I want and the first person I find using my property or taking any wood without any leave, I will prosecute him to the utmost extent of the Law. My brother & Mr. Adin my Clerk will be with you. Whatever they agree upon I will abide by. I wish you would go with them to Marshall’s, & secure any Barrells & any Cyder.
I beg this my Letter with respect to the money due to Mr Marshall may be as publick as possible, & let Mr Marshall contradict what I write if he thinks proper. I would have him as explicit as possible with me, for he may be assur’d I shall be very particular with him; he may bring the receipts as soon as he pleases. I am ready & always have been to settle with him, & if I was to exact the pay for all the lost wood, I really suppose there is nothing due to him.”
I have given my Brother & Mr. Adin full power to Act as they think best.
A fascinating letter in which Hancock doggedly defends his reputation.