Letter from Elias Higbee, 16 April 1839
- Source Note
On 16 April 1839, wrote from to JS and his fellow prisoners in , expressing sympathy for their situation and recalling the persecutions that he experienced with the men during the escalation of hostilities the previous year. During the 1838 conflict, Higbee played a prominent role in both an official and an unofficial military capacity. On various occasions, Higbee exercised his authority as a judge to call on the county’s regiment of the state militia “for the defence of the citizens” against anti-Mormon vigilantes. Higbee was also the ’ captain general—the society’s ranking officer—subject only to the ’s executive authority. As such, he was an influential figure in multiple military operations during the conflict between Latter-day Saints and other Missourians in 1838. His participation in the October 1838 skirmish at forced him to flee from , Missouri, in November or December, after which he relocated to the vicinity of , Illinois, to be with other Latter-day Saint refugees. On 15 April 1839, he met with in Quincy, which may have prompted him to write to JS and the other prisoners the following day. In this letter, Higbee not only expressed sympathy for the prisoners’ plight but also conveyed his confidence that divine providence was guiding the course of events in Missouri.It is unknown whether ’s letter was carried to . His opening salutation indicates he was aware that the prisoners were probably no longer in the in , Missouri, suggesting that he may have kept the letter until receiving further information regarding their location. Even if Higbee sent the letter to Missouri, the prisoners did not likely receive it there because they escaped from custody the day the letter was written and they arrived in a week later. JS likely received the letter sometime after arriving at Quincy. The original letter is apparently not extant; JS’s scribe, , copied it into JS Letterbook 2 sometime between 22 April and 30 October 1839.