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Discussion of Dan's Two Letters
    The central thrust of the first letter is an impassioned appeal from Dan Harris, then about fifty-three years old, to his nephew, Benjamin, then about twenty, to liquidate his blacksmithing business in Sag Harbor, NY at once and come to Fairhaven and assume the management of the uncle's financial affairs, since Dan Harris was finding the operation of his hotel an all-consuming task. In mid August of 1883, shortly after completing the hotel, Dan had leased it to James Weed.8

    By November of 1883, Dan was accusing Weed of stealing $500 from him and Weed was threatening to sue.9 By December, James Weed had severed his relationship with Dan Harris and opened a restaurant in the Town of Bellingham, immediately north of Fairhaven.10 On June 2, 1884, the hotel reopened under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wilson.11 However, their tenure was short lived and Dan Harris had evidently assumed charge of it himself as evidenced by the appeal he penned to his nephew in January of 1885. 12

    Although Dan Harris had purchased a safe in March of 1884,13 by January of 1885 he was keeping his money in the bank at New Whatcom. He was receiving daily requests for personal loans and could not leave the hotel long enough to go the bank and withdraw the necessary cash. Even at the rate of two percent per month, the demand was heavy. Dan was also being approached on occasion to repurchase lots he had previously sold. He mentions paying $50 for a lot he had sold for $150 and selling for $500 two lots he had repurchased for $300. However, the only instance of a repurchase found in the Whatcom County land records prior to the date of this letter is that on November 15, 1884 Dan Harris paid Philip Henry $5 each for Lots 7 and 8 in Block 17 at the southeast corner of 12th and Columbia Streets that Henry had bought the previous January 9th for $137.50 apiece.14 (See Plat Map in Dan Harris Meets the Press.)

    In answer to the question his nephew had posed in a previous letter regarding the number of town lots he had left for sale, Dan answers that he still has one hundred and thirty-four acres to be subdivided into lots. This figure is misleading. Dan's 189.4 acres lay in Sections 1, 2 and 12 of Township 37 North, Range 2 East. The five unsubdivided blocks at the southwestern corner of the plat map were in Section 11 and therefore positioned illegally. Actually, the remaining thirty-one unsubdivided blocks and the unplatted acreage at the southeast corner of Dan' property totaled about one hundred and four acres.

    Dan urges Benjamin to sell his shop and tools outright or to mortgage them to someone. If he is unable to do either, Dan advises Benjamin to borrow the $75 to $100 he estimates the trip from New York to Bellingham Bay will cost and offers to reimburse his nephew upon his arrival. Dan assures Benjamin that the trip (by train and ship) only takes twelve days as demonstrated by a recent guest in his hotel.

    Dan informs Benjamin that he has purchased a giant, American flag which he intends to hoist on a flagpole one hundred feet high on March 4th (Grover Cleveland's inauguration day) as part of a big celebration. Evidently, Dan Harris was an ardent Democrat intent on dramatically proclaiming his satisfaction at the change in administration after two decades of Republican rule. (See more information on Dan's giant flag in Dan Harris Meets the Press.)

    Despite Dan's fervent appeal, repeated four times in this letter, and the promise of both men becoming wealthy, Benjamin declined his uncle's offer, apparently influenced by his mother as noted previously. This may have been the turning point in Dan Harris's life. He had come to realize that he could not achieve the fulfillment of his dream to build a town alone and now the one person with whom he was willing to share that dream had refused him.
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