Letter from Orson Hyde and John E. Page, 1 May 1840

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

May 1st. 1840.
President Smith,
Sir, The mission upon which we are sent, swells greater & greater.
As there is a great work to be done in , as manifested to us by the spirit; the following plan of opperation has been suggested to us; Viz to write a set of Lectures upon the faith and doctrine of <​our​> , giving a brief history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and an account of its contents, in as clear and plain style as possible; together with the out lines and organization and government of the church of Latter Day Saints, drawn from the “doctrine and Covenentswith all the wisdom and care possible; and get the same translated into German, and publish it when we arrive in , and scatter <​it​> through the German Empire, Is this correct? Should we consider it necessary to translate the entire Book of Mormon into the German, and Doctrine and Covenents too; are we or are we not at liberty to do so. Should we deem it necessary to publish an edition of Hymn Books in any Country; are we at liberty to do it? The fact is we need such works; and we cannot get them from the church here; and if we could we could not well carry them with us, at least any quantity. We feel that we are acting under the direction of the , of the church; and the reason, that we make these enquires, is, that we do not wish to step beyond our limits or bring ourselves into a snare and dishonor by taking liberties that are not ours.
We feel that all our exertions and interests shall become subse[r]vient to build up the Kingdom [p. 144] of God. We wish to be co-workers with you and with the spirit of the Lord. We did not convers so much upon these literary works as we should have done before we left. The fact was, we did not begin to see the greatness of our mission before we left home; our minds were in a nutt shell. It seems to us that we should spread this work among all people, Languages and tongues so far as possible; and gather up all jewels among the Jews besides.— who is sufficient for these things; As agents for the abroad; and as co-workers with yourself in spreading this Kingdom to the remotest corners of the Earth; are we at liberty to translate and publish any work, that we may think necessary, or that the circumstances in which we are placed seem to require whether original or works published by the church? If we are not at liberty to take this wide range, please tell us how far we may go. We are setting this great work before the people as an inducement to them to help us. If we are setting our standard too high, a word from you will bring it down.
We have held a two days meeting in this place But in consequences of continual rains which swelled the creeks so high that the people could not get to us. The meeting was 4 miles from , one only . We have now an opportunity to ride as far East as , beyond the Metropolis, and have the privilege of stopping to preach by the way
Will you write to us at and much obliged— Your Bretheren in the Kingdom of God.
P.S. Will you please send word to , that I want her to write to me at Ohio please bear it in mind and oblige thy,
[p. 145]


  1. 1

    Hyde and Page separated while raising funds for passage to England. Page never left the United States, but Hyde incorporated components of this suggested publication in the pamphlet Ein Ruf aus der Wüste [A cry out of the wilderness], which he published in Frankfurt in 1842. The subtitle of this pamphlet—an excerpt of which reads in translation “a short summary of the origin and teaching of the Church [of] ‘Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ in America”—closely paralleled the wording of Hyde and Page’s proposal to publish a series of lectures on the origin, organization, and doctrine of the church. (“Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 15 Apr. 1842, 3:761–763; Orson Hyde, Ein Ruf aus der Wüste, eine Stimme aus dem Schoose der Erde [Frankfurt: Im Selbstverlage des Verfassers (by the author), 1841].)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  2. 2

    When Hyde proposed a mission before an April 1840 general conference in Nauvoo, it was with the sole purpose of laboring among the Jewish people, an objective the conference ratified on 6 April. (Minutes and Discourse, 6–8 Apr. 1840.)