, Letter, , Philadelphia Co., PA, to JS and “council,” , Hancock Co., IL, 1 Sept. 1841; handwriting of ; eight pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes docket and notation.
Two bifolia—each measuring 12¾ × 7⅞ inches (32 × 20 cm)—fastened together with thread. The document is inscribed with both blue ink and black ink. The document was folded for filing. Several staple holes appear on each page of the letter in the upper left corner. The document shows discoloration from an unknown substance.
A docket in the upper left corner of the first page was inscribed by , who served as JS’s scribe from December 1841 until JS’s death in June 1844 and served as church historian from December 1842 until his own death in March 1854. A graphite notation in the same area was apparently added by a clerk or secretary for Andrew Jenson, who served as assistant church historian from 1897 to 1941. The letter is listed in a Church Historian’s Office inventory from circa 1904. By 1973 this letter had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The docket, notation, and inclusion in the JS Collection indicate this letter has remained in continuous institutional custody since its receipt in 1841.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 1 September 1841, , a member of the , wrote to JS and other leaders in , Illinois, to express his condolences for the death of JS’s brother and to provide them with an update of his travels and missionary efforts. At the April 1840 general , Page had been appointed to travel with fellow apostle to Europe and . Page and Hyde separated in sometime in late August 1840, with Hyde venturing on to before sailing to . Hyde had hoped to meet Page in in fall 1840, but these plans did not materialize, and Page did not accompany Hyde overseas.
Both and received a public rebuke for their inability to quickly reach the destination of their mission. In January 1841 the Times and Seasons printed a terse message to the men: “ Orson Hyde and John E. Page are informed, that the Lord is not well pleased with them in consequence of delaying their mission, (Elder John E. Page in particular,) and they are requested by the to hasten their journey towards their destination.” In addition, at the April 1841 general conference, attendees objected to Page’s membership in the Quorum of the Twelve; reasons for their objection are unknown, but after an investigation he was not removed from the by the conference.
After traveling and proselytizing through , , and other parts of the eastern , arrived in shortly before he penned this 1 September letter. It appears that Page wrote the following letter in part to justify his actions, explaining the missionary labors he undertook on his own and with others, including ; the difficulties he experienced with ; and the reasons he felt he was unable to travel to Europe and at the present. Page nevertheless expressed his hope and intent to go eventually to the Holy Land. He also reported on a variety of other matters, most notably his observations of the church in Philadelphia under the leadership of . Though extant evidence does not reveal any improprieties on Winchester’s part, Page recommended that the First Presidency remove Winchester as the of the Philadelphia .
The letter featured here is the original sent from and received by JS in , probably in mid-September 1841. Page requested that JS respond to his letter, though it is unclear if JS did so since no immediate reply has been located.
and so seeing many rush to the standard of the Lord and embrace the truth for truth sake— Let me therefore congratulate you by by saying I have had the great privilage of either or seeing baptised or confirming as many as 200 Souls since I left home the 15 day of April 1840— so the work rolls on and I rejoice in it. the Isreal of God is rallying to the Standard of truth— I have great access to the people in a new course of argument which I have adopted and that is this— I have lately availed myself of the purchase of Stevens and Catherwoods travels in Guatamalia or central America in which those gentlemen have exhibited by seventy plates the anticquities of that count[r]y which when compared with the book of Mormon so comp<le>tely proves the truth and divinety of the book of Mormon there is not a dog left to stir a tongue in an attempt to put down the collateral testimony which those records afford me in proof of the Book of Mormon— Next or second argument is the fullfillment of the Prophetical sayings which are in the Book of Mormon itself which stood in future to 1830 to be fullfilled in proof of itts own divinity— so that the day has gon by forever and gon by forever for any one high or low rich or poor learned or unlearned to sustain a position successfully against the Book of mormon or itts author or itts witnesses— I can truely say that with me every akeing void is filled I ask no more than I have allready obtained for argument to sustain tryumphantly forever the divine claims of the Book of Mormon— Suffer me here to say that it would be well for some efficient or could be sent to such an one as would sustain the confidence of the Branch to Preside <over> of that Branch— for at the present time there is a feeling exhisting in the hearts of some concerning Elder— [p. 6]
A letter from John Cairns published in the Times and Seasons referenced Page’s proselytizing efforts. Cairns wrote that in mid-January 1841, he and Page visited many towns and villages in Ohio and Indiana, where “hundreds acknowledged Mormonism to be the only truth if the bible was true; so, that those who formerly were enemies, because of reports, are now friends and advocates.” (John Cairns, Nauvoo, IL, July 1841, Letter to the Editors, Times and Seasons, 2 Aug. 1841, 2:491.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
The work Page refers to here is Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1841), a two-volume work by John Lloyd Stephens. In the 15 June 1841 issue of the Times and Seasons, a lengthy summary of the book called it an “interesting account of the Antiquities of Central America, which have been discovered by two eminent travellers who have spent considerable labor, to bring to light the remains of ancient buildings, architecture &c., which prove beyond controversy that, on this vast continent, once flourished a mighty people, skilled in the arts and sciences, and whose splendor would not be eclipsed by any of the nations of Antiquity.” In early September 1841, John M. Bernhisel sent a copy of Stephens’s book to JS via Wilford Woodruff, who was returning to Nauvoo from New York at that time. (“American Antiquities,” Times and Seasons, 15 June 1841, 2:440; Letter from John M. Bernhisel, 8 Sept. 1841; Woodruff, Journal, 9 Sept. 1841.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.