JS, , and , Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , [, Adams Co., IL], 25 May 1839. Featured version copied [between 25 May and 30 Oct. 1839] in JS Letterbook 2, p. 11; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 25 May 1839, JS and his in the wrote a letter responding to the 13 May letter of , who expressed concern regarding letters that church member had recently published in the Quincy Whig. Wight’s letters condemned Democratic officials, and Thompson feared that Wight’s statements would be interpreted as representing the church’s position and would therefore have serious repercussions for the Saints. After reading Thompson’s letter, the First Presidency wrote a letter to the editors of the Quincy Whig on 17 May to clarify the church’s position.
On 25 May, JS attended a meeting with other church leaders and discussed ’s concerns. The council members agreed that they did not approve of “making the subject of our sufferings a political question” but that he had written with good intentions. Later in the day, the First Presidency wrote the letter featured here; though addressed to Thompson, JS expected the letter would also be published. The presidency suggested that Thompson use the letter to assuage the concerns of residents. Two days later, JS dictated a letter to Wight regarding his publications and their potential consequences for the Saints.
The original 25 May letter to is not extant, but copied it into JS Letterbook 2 between 25 May and 30 October 1839. The letter was also printed in the 15 June 1839 issue of the Quincy Argus, with some standardization of capitalization and punctuation and one difference in wording, which is noted in annotation.
In answer to your’s of the 13th Inst. to us concerning the writings of Col, on the subject of our late sufferings in the State of ; we wish to say that as to A statement of our persecutions being brought before the world as a political question, we entirely disapprove of it.
Having however great confidence in ’s good intentions And considering it to be the indefeisible right of every free man to hold his own opinion in politics as well as to religion, we will only say that we consider it to be unwise as it is unfair to charge any one party in politics, or Any one sect of religionists with having been our oppressors, since we so well know that our persecutors in the State of were of every sect, And of all parties both religious and political: And as disclaims having spoken evil of any administration save that of , we presume that it need not be feared that men of sense will now suppose him wishful to implicate any other.— We consider that in making these remarks we express the sentiments of the in general as well as our own individually, and also when we say in conclusion that we feel the fullest confidence, that when the subject of our wrongs has been fully investigated by the authorities of the , we shall receive the most perfect justice at their hands; whilst our unfeeling oppressors shall be brought to condign punishment with the approbation of a free and an enlightened people without respect to sect or party.
We desire that you may make whatever use you may think proper of this letter, And remain Your Sincere friends And Brethren.
Instead of “fully,” the Quincy Argus version of this letter has “fairly.” (Joseph Smith et al., Commerce, IL, to Robert B. Thompson, [Quincy, IL], 25 May 1839, in Quincy (IL) Argus, 15 June 1839, .)