Articles of Agreement for the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, 2 January 1837
Articles of Agreement for the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, , Geauga Co., OH, 2 Jan. 1837. Featured version published in “Articles of Agreement,” Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Jan. 1837, 3:441–443. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Oliver Cowdery, Dec. 1834.
On 2 January 1837, officers and JS, along with the society’s directors, met with stockholders in , Ohio, to replace their November 1836 constitution with new articles of agreement to govern the society. Because only the legislature could grant banking privileges, those interested in establishing a bank were required to petition the legislature for an act of incorporation, also known as a charter. had been assigned in November 1836 to find a politician to present the society’s petition for a charter, but the only petition on record was not presented to the Ohio senate until 10 February 1837. When the society met on 2 January, it was uncertain whether the Democratic majority (with its aversion to private banking and paper currency) in the state legislature would approve a charter for the Kirtland Safety Society. The articles of agreement featured here were created to allow the society to act as an unincorporated bank, which they called an “anti-banking company” but which may have functioned as a joint-stock company. Despite this restructuring, the society continued to seek a banking charter after 2 January and continued to conduct banking services.In drafting this new document, the authors reused many of the original articles from the 2 November 1836 constitution, though they also made changes, such as adding a new introduction and changing the terminology used in the text. Banking-specific terminology was replaced with generic business terms; for instance, references to the “bank” were changed to “company” and “stockholders” became “managers.” New articles were also added, including one that addressed the wording to be used for promissory notes made to the society. The officers may have received legal counsel in the process of drafting new articles of agreement, as reported by one contemporary observer. As had perhaps been the case with the original constitution, they may have also relied on their general knowledge of business and legal structures, supplemented by the language found in legal handbooks of the time. Footnotes to the text presented here identify substantive differences between the articles of the November 1836 constitution and those of the January 1837 articles of agreement.The articles of agreement were printed in the January 1837 issue of the Messenger and Advocate, with a postscript by JS that asked members of the church to invest in the Kirtland Safety Society. JS’s quotations from the book of Isaiah suggest he envisioned a spiritual purpose for the Kirtland Safety Society in conjunction with its temporal benefits. The establishment of the Safety Society was tied to JS’s goals of developing into a large city and gathering the Saints there. JS and others may have had ambitious hopes that by developing Kirtland, and especially the Safety Society, funds could be raised for the church and for the redemption of .The articles of agreement featured here were also reprinted in newspapers in and , Ohio. The March 1837 issue of the Messenger and Advocate published a slightly different version of these articles of agreement, along with the names of 187 individuals who identified themselves as stockholders. The version of the articles of agreement published in March 1837 reintroduced banking terminology that was altered in the text featured here. It also called the institution the “Kirtland Safety Society Banking Company,” and other records vary in usage of “anti-banking company” and “banking company.”
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