Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson County, Missouri, 18 August 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

, August 18, 1833.
, , , , and .
O thou disposer of all Events, thou dispencer of all good! in the name of Jesus Christ I ask thee to inspire my heart indiht [indite] my thaughts guide my peen [pen] to note some kind word to these my Brotheren in that like the rays of the sun upon the Earth wormeth [warmeth] the face thereof so let this word I write worm [warm] the hearts of my Brotheren or as the gentle rain deceneth [descendeth] upon the earth or the dews upon the mountanes refresheth the face of nature and Causeth her to smile so give unto thy servent Joseph have a word that shall refresh the hearts and revi[v]e the spir[i]ts yea souls <​of​> those afflicted ones who have been called to leave their homes and go to a strange land not knowing what should befall them behold this is like Abraham a strikeing <​evidence​> of their acceptance before the <​Lord​> in this thing but this is not all <​they are​> but called to contend with the beast of the wilderness for a long time whos[e] Jaws <​are​> were open to devour them thus did Abraham and also Paul at Ephesus b[e]hold thou art like him <​them​> and again the affliction of my Brotheren reminds me of Abraham offering up Isaac his only son but my Brotheen [brethren] have have been called to give up even more than this their wives and their children yea and their own life also O Lord what more dost thou require at their hands before thou wilt come and save them may I not say thou wilt yea I will <​say​> Lord thou wilt save them out of the hands of their enemies thou hast tried them in the fu[r]nace of affliction a furnace of thine own choseing [choosing]and couldst thou have tried them more then thou hast O Lord then let this suffice and from henceforth <​let​> this <​be​> reco[r]ded <​be​> in heaven for thine angels to look upon and for a testimony against all those ungodly men who have commited those ungodly deeds forever and ever and <​yea​> let thine anger <​is​> be enkindled against them and <​let​> them <​and they shall​> be consumed before thy face and be far removed from Zion O <​they will go​> let them go down to <​the​> pit and give pl[a]ce for thy saints for thy spirit will not always strive with man therefore I fear for all these things yet O Lord glorify thyself thy will be done and not mine but I must conclude my pray[er] my heart being full of real desire for all such are not reprobate that they cannot be saved——
Dear Brotheren in fellowship and <​love​> towards you and with a broken heart and a contrite Spirit I take the pen to address you but I know not what to— say to you and the thaught <​that​> this <​of​> letter will be so long coming to you my heart faints within me I feel to exclaim O Lord let the desire of my heart be felt and realizied this moment <​upon you hearts​> and teach you all things thy servent would communicate to would you my Brotheren since the inteligence of the Calamity of has reached the ears of the wicked there is no saifty for us here but evevery man has to wa[t]ch their houses every night to keep off the Mob[b]ers Satan has Come down in Great wrath upon all the of God and the[re] is no saifty only in the arm of Jehovah none else can deliver and he will not deliver unless we do prove ourselves faithful to him in the severeest trouble for he that will have his robes washed in the blood of the Lamb must come up throught great tribulation even the greatest of all affliction but know this when men thus deal with you and speak all maner of evil of you falsly for the sake of Christ that he is your friend and I verily know that he will spedily deliver Zion for I have his immutible covenant that this shall be the case but god is pleased to keep it hid from mine eyes the means how exactly the thing will be done the chirch in concluded with one accord to die with you or redeem you and never at any time have I felt as I now feel that pure love and for you my Brotheren the wormth [warmth] and Zeal for you saf[e]ty that we can scarcely hold our spirits but wisdom I trust will keep us from madness and desperation and the power of the Go[s]pel will enable us to stand and [p. [1]] and bear with patience the Great affliction that is falling upon us on all side[s] for we <​are​> no safer here in then you are in the cloud is gethering arou[nd] us with great fury and all pharohs host or in other words all hell and the com[bined] pow[e]rs of Earth are Marsheling their forces to overthrow us and we like the chilldrn [children] of Issarel [Israel] with the red Sea before us them and the Egyptions ready to fall upon them to distroy them and no arm could deliver but the arm of God and this is the case with us we must wait on God to be gratious and call on him with out ceaseing to make bare his arm for our defence for naught but the arm of the almighty can Save us we are all well here as can be expected yea altogether so with the exception of some little ailments feavers &c.——
is now Sitting before me and is faithful and true and his heart bleeds as it were for yea never did the hart pant for the cooling streem as doth the heart of thy Brothe[r] for thy salvation yea and I may may say this is the Case with the whole and all the faithful will or aught rather to stay with me or in this land until I am permitted to Come with him for I know that if God shall spare my life that he will permit me to settle on an on the land of <​in due time​> but when I do not know but this I do know that I have been keept from going <​up​> as yet for your sa[k]es and the day will come that Zion will be keept for our sakes therefore be of good cheer and the cloud shall pass over and the sun shall shine as clear and as fair as heaven itself and the Event shall be Glorious can stay here to good advantage and have his come to him and he can be instrumental of doing great good in this pla[ce] and god will <​give​> more help and Grace to stand as and ensign to the people for it must be lifted up— and cursed sha[ll] every man be that lifts his arm to <​hinder​> this great work and god is my witness of this truth it shall be done and let all the saints say amen——
Dear Brotheren we must wait patiently until the Lord come[s] and resto[res] unto us all things and build the waist places again for he will do it in his time and now what shall I say to cumfort your hearts well I will tell you that you have my whole confidence yea there is not one doubt in <​my heart​> not one place in me but what is filld with perfect confidence and love for you and this affliction is sent upon us not for your sins but for the sins of the chirch and that all the ends of the Earth may know that you are not speculiting [speculating] with the◊◊ for Lucre but you are willing to die for the cause you have espoused you know that the chirch have tre[a]ted lightly the of the Lord and for this cause they are not worthy to receive them yet god has suffered it not for your sins but that he might preprare you for a grateer [greater] work that you might be prepared for the from on high we cast no reflections upon you we are of one heart and one mind on this subject which I speak in the name of the chirch all seem to wax strong as th[e]y see the day <​of​> tribulation approcing [approaching] and if our kingdom were of this world then we would fight but our weapons are not carnal yet mighty and <​will​> bind satan ere long under our feet we shall get a press immediately in this place and print th[e] Star until you can obtain deliverence and git up again if god permit and we believe he will we think it would be wise in yo[u] to try to git influence by offering to print a paper in favor of the goverment as you know we are all friends to the Constitution yea true friends to that Country we hea for which our fathers bled in the mean time god will send Embasadors to the authorities of the government and sue for protection and redress that they may be left with out excuse that a ritious [righteous] Judgement might be upon them [p. [2]] and thus the testimony of the Kingdom must go unto all and there are many ways that God designs to bring about his ritious purposees and in the day of Judgement he designs to make us the Judges of the whole world generation in which we live O how unsearchable are the depths of his mysteries and his ways past finding out Brotheren the testamony which you have given of your honesty and the truth of this work will be felt Eteaaly [eternally] by this generation for it will be proclaimed to Ends of the Earth that there are men now liveing who have offered up their lives for this as a testimony of their religion our Brotheren in the East will handle this testimony to good advantage it seems to inspire every heart to a lively sence of faith and to arm them <​with​> double fortitude and power and the harder the persicution the greater the gifts of God upon his chirch yea all things shall work together for good to them who are willing to lay down their lives for Christ sake we are suffering great persicution on account of one man by the name of who has been expeled from the for lude and adulterous conduct and to spite us he is lieing in a wonderful manner and the peapl [people] are running after him and giveing him mony to b[r]ake down mormanism which much endangers <​our lives​> at preasnt [present] but god will put a stop to his carear soon and all will be well my heart this moment <​is made​> glad for we have just receivd you[r] letter containing the bond with which our enemies bound themselves and to distroy and also the blessing <​of​> god in poreing out upon his spirit upon you and we have had the word of the Lord that you shall [be] deliverd from you[r] dainger and <​shall​> again flurish in spite of hell [that i]s god has communicated to m[e] by the that this should be <​the case​> after much p[rayer] and suplication and also that an other printing office must be built the Lord knows how and also it is the will of the Lord that the shud [should] be kept and that <​not​> one foot of <​land​> the perchased should <​be​> given to the enimies of God or sold to them but if any is sold let it be sold to the chirch we cannot git the consent of the Lord that we shall give the ground to the enemies yet let those who are bound to leave the land to make a show as if to do untill the Lord delivr[.] a word to the wise is sufficient therefore Jud[g]e what I say for know assuredly that every foot of ground that falls into the hands of the enimies with consent is not easy to be obtained again O be wise and not let the knowledge I give unto <​you​> be known abroad for your sak[e]s hold fast that which you have received trust in god considder Elijah when he prayed for rain go often to your holy plases and <​look​> for a cloud of light to apper to your help O God I ask thee in the name of Jesus of nazereth to Save all things concerning Zion and build up her wait [waste] places and restore all things O god send forth Judgement unto victory O come down and cause the moutans [mountains] to flow down at thy presance and now I conclude by telling you that we w[a]it the Comand of God to do whatever we he ple[a]se and if <​he​> shall say go up to and defend thy Brotheren by <​the sword​> we fly and we count not dear our live dear to us I am your Brother in Christ
Joseph Smith Jr [p. [3]]
 
Jackson County
Missouri

Footnotes

  1. 1

    These six men, along with Oliver Cowdery, served as leaders of the church in Missouri. According to JS’s history, as a result of a series of solemn assemblies held under the direction of Bishop Edward Partridge in March 1833, Phelps, Whitmer, Partridge, Morley, Corrill, Gilbert, and Cowdery were to “stand at the head of affairs, relating to the church, in that section of the Lords vineyard.” (Historical Introduction to Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 21 Apr. 1833; Pettegrew, “History,” 15; Minute Book 2, 26 Mar. 1833; JS History, vol. A-1, 282.)  

    Pettegrew, David. “A History of David Pettegrew,” not after 1858. In David Pettegrew, Journal, 1840–1857. David Pettegrew, Collection, 1836–1883, 1926–1930. CHL. MS 22278, box 1, fd. 1.

  2. 2

    “Indite” meant “to compose; to write; to commit to words in writing” and “to direct or dictate what is to be uttered or written.” (“Indite,” in American Dictionary.)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

  3. 3

    See Genesis 15:13; 17:8; 28:4.  

  4. 4

    See Revelation 17:3.  

  5. 5

    See Proverbs 30:14.  

  6. 6

    See 1 Corinthians 15:32.  

  7. 7

    See Genesis 22:1–14.  

  8. 8

    On 23 July 1833, representatives of the Jackson County citizens met with six church leaders in Independence. Edward Partridge later wrote, “Nothing appeared satisfactory to the mob but for our people to either leave the county or be put to death. Seeing the determination of the mob, some few of the leading elders offered their lives, provided that would satisfy them, so as to let the rest of the society live, where they then lived, in peace.” The six church leaders were Partridge, John Corrill, Isaac Morley, John Whitmer, William W. Phelps, and Sidney Gilbert. None of those leaders or any church members were killed that day. ([Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:18; “To His Excellency, Daniel Dunklin,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 114–115.)  

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

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  9. 9

    See Luke 1:71; Nehemiah 9:27; 1 Samuel 4:3; and Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:54].  

  10. 10

    See Isaiah 48:10; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 53 [1 Nephi 20:10].  

  11. 11

    Church leaders in Missouri also viewed the events taking place as part of a painful but necessary purification. John Whitmer wrote, “We need the prayers of all the disciples of our Redeemer for it is a time of great anxiety to behold the cleansing of this Church & also the land from wickedness & abominations.” (Letter from John Whitmer, 29 July 1833.)  

  12. 12

    See Jude 1:15.  

  13. 13

    See Deuteronomy 9:3.  

  14. 14

    The phrase “go down to the pit” is a common Old Testament trope for death. (See Psalm 30:3, 9; Isaiah 38:18; Ezekiel 28:8; 32:18; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 101 [2 Nephi 24:19].)  

  15. 15

    See Genesis 6:3; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 542 [Ether 2:15]; and Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 1:33].  

  16. 16

    See Luke 22:42; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 141 [Jacob 7:14].  

  17. 17

    See Psalm 51:17; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 474 [3 Nephi 9:20].  

  18. 18

    Letters sent between Kirtland and Independence generally required three to four weeks’ travel time.  

  19. 19

    See Revelation 7:14.  

  20. 20

    See Matthew 5:11; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 480 [3 Nephi 12:11].  

  21. 21

    This “covenant” likely refers to a revelation received by JS only a few days earlier on 6 August 1833. (Revelation, 6 Aug. 1833 [D&C 98:3].)  

  22. 22

    TEXT: “side[page torn]”.  

  23. 23

    TEXT: “arou[page torn]”.  

  24. 24

    See Exodus 14:4.  

  25. 25

    TEXT: “com[page torn]”.  

  26. 26

    See Exodus chap. 14.  

  27. 27

    See 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Acts 12:5; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 211, 495 [Mosiah 26:39; 3 Nephi 19:30].  

  28. 28

    See Isaiah 52:10; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 57 [1 Nephi 22:10].  

  29. 29

    See Psalm 42:1. A hart is “a stag or male deer.” (“Hart,” in American Dictionary.)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

  30. 30

    TEXT: “sa[hole in paper]es”. It appears church members living in Independence had requested JS live among them in Jackson County. However, on 14 January 1833, Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith wrote, “Bro Joseph will not settle in Zion except she repent and serve God and obey the new covenant.” (Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 14 Jan. 1833.)  

  31. 31

    Oliver Cowdery’s wife, Elizabeth Ann Whitmer Cowdery, still had not arrived in Kirtland by spring 1834. In a letter to her on 4 May 1834, Oliver registered his disappointment and told her that “Brother Joseph will bring you down, and provide every thing for your comfort. . . . Should anything transpire to hinder brother Joseph from bringing you, he and brother Frederick [G. Williams] will arrange that you may come with some one else, who will see that you are treated with kindness. So I shall expect you the latter part of the summer or fall.” It is unknown how or when Elizabeth Ann finally traveled to Kirtland. She likely arrived before the year’s end since she gave birth to their first child, Maria, on 21 August 1835 in Kirtland. (Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to Elizabeth Ann Whitmer Cowdery, 4 May 1834, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 44–45; JS History, 1834–1836, 11.)  

    Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

  32. 32

    TEXT: “pla[page torn]”.  

  33. 33

    See Isaiah 11:10; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 98 [2 Nephi 21:10]; and Revelation, 11 Sept. 1831 [D&C 64:42].  

  34. 34

    On 20 July 1831, JS dictated a revelation that commanded William W. Phelps to settle in Independence and establish a printing press there for the church. However, a Jackson County mob destroyed Phelps’s home and printing shop on 20 July 1833, scattering the type and damaging the press. Cowdery had been assisting Phelps in the Missouri printing office prior to Cowdery’s departure for Kirtland. Cowdery later helped establish a replacement printing office in Kirtland. (Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:11]; Corrill, Brief History, 19; Whitmer, History, 43; Phelps, “Short History,” [3]; Minutes, 11 Sept. 1833.)  

    Phelps, William W. “A Short History of W. W. Phelps’ Stay in Missouri,” 1864. Information concerning Persons Driven from Jackson County, Missouri in 1833, 1863–1868. CHL. MS 6019, fd. 7.

  35. 35

    TEXT: “sha[page torn]”.  

  36. 36

    See James 5:7–8.  

  37. 37

    See Acts 3:21; and Revelation, 6 Dec. 1832 [D&C 86:10].  

  38. 38

    In September 1832, JS dictated a revelation that chastised church members: “This condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion even all, and thay shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant even the book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them.” A few months later, in January 1833, a conference of high priests held in Kirtland appointed Hyrum Smith and Orson Hyde to write a letter to the members of the church in Missouri to call them to repent and to remember “the new covenant even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which the Lord had given them.” David Pettegrew remembered that just after he arrived in Missouri in early 1833, church members were chastised by leaders in Kirtland “for treating lightly the book of Mormon and the former revalations.” As a result Bishop Edward Partridge held several solemn assemblies throughout the branches of the church in Missouri. A revelation JS dictated on 6 August 1833 likewise chastised the members of the church living in Ohio. (Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:56–57]; Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 14 Jan. 1833; Pettegrew, “History,” 15; Revelation, 6 Aug. 1833 [D&C 98:19–21].)  

    Pettegrew, David. “A History of David Pettegrew,” not after 1858. In David Pettegrew, Journal, 1840–1857. David Pettegrew, Collection, 1836–1883, 1926–1930. CHL. MS 22278, box 1, fd. 1.

  39. 39

    Even before they left New York in 1831, church members had been promised they would be “endowed with power from on high” in Ohio. In recent months, JS revelations had linked this endowment to the temple the Saints had been commanded to build. (Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831 [D&C 38:32]; Revelation, 1 June 1833 [D&C 95:8].)  

  40. 40

    Nearly two weeks before JS wrote this letter, he dictated a revelation that directed members of the church to “renounce war and proclaim peace.” (Revelation, 6 Aug. 1833 [D&C 98:16]; see also John 18:36; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Revelation 20:1–3; and Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:100].)  

  41. 41

    This letter makes it clear that JS and others hoped to eventually reestablish a press in Jackson County. But under current circumstances—with the shop destroyed and editor William W. Phelps having agreed to leave Jackson County by January 1834, and with the prevailing hostility toward Mormon publication in that county—the only realistic possibility for a church press for the time being was in Ohio. Less than a month later, on 11 September 1833, members of the United Firm living in Kirtland decided to procure and establish a new press under the firm of F. G. Williams & Co. (See Minutes, 11 Sept. 1833.)  

  42. 42

    TEXT: “yo[page torn]”.  

  43. 43

    It is unclear from this statement whether JS knew that the press itself in Independence was still salvageable for printing purposes but that the type, having been scattered in the street, was not. Oliver Cowdery likely witnessed the destruction of the printing office, but he may not have been able to assess the extent of the damage to the printing equipment before departing for Kirtland. The church’s printing press was later sold by members of the mob to Robert Kelly and William Davis, who published the Upper Missouri Enquirer in Liberty, Clay County. (Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to William W. Phelps and John Whitmer, Clay Co., MO, 21 Jan. 1834, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 22; JS History, vol. A-1, 412; Masthead, Upper Missouri Enquirer, 11 Jan 1834, [1].)  

    Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

    Upper Missouri Enquirer. Liberty, MO. 1834–ca. 1840.

  44. 44

    About two weeks before writing this letter, JS dictated a revelation that expressed support for the United States Constitution. (Revelation, 6 Aug. 1833 [D&C 98:4–8].)  

  45. 45

    The Missouri members of the church proceeded to take legal action and made efforts to obtain redress soon after receiving this letter. (See “To His Excellency, Daniel Dunklin,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 114–115; [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:19; and Orson Hyde, Jefferson City, MO, to Daniel Dunklin, Jefferson City, MO, 7 Oct. 1833, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL.)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

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

    Phelps, William W. Collection of Missouri Documents, 1833–1837. CHL. MS 657.

  46. 46

    See Matthew 19:28; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 509 [3 Nephi 27:27]; and Revelation, 11 Sept. 1831 [D&C 64:37].  

  47. 47

    See Romans 11:33; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 130 [Jacob 4:8].  

  48. 48

    See Matthew 5:10–12; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 480 [3 Nephi 12:10–12].  

  49. 49

    See Romans 8:28.  

  50. 50

    TEXT: “b[page torn]ake”.  

  51. 51

    Letter from John Whitmer, 29 July 1833.  

  52. 52

    TEXT: Page torn. Supplied text is from the version of this letter found in Partridge, Genealogical Record, 22.  

    Partridge, Edward, Jr. Genealogical Record. 1878. CHL. MS 1271.

  53. 53

    TEXT: “[Page torn]s”. Supplied text is from the version of this letter found in Partridge, Genealogical Record, 22.  

    Partridge, Edward, Jr. Genealogical Record. 1878. CHL. MS 1271.

  54. 54

    TEXT: “m[page torn]”. Supplied text is from the version of this letter found in Partridge, Genealogical Record, 22.  

    Partridge, Edward, Jr. Genealogical Record. 1878. CHL. MS 1271.

  55. 55

    TEXT: “p[page torn]”. Supplied text is from the version of this letter found in Partridge, Genealogical Record, 22.  

    Partridge, Edward, Jr. Genealogical Record. 1878. CHL. MS 1271.

  56. 56

    See Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 6 Aug. 1833.  

  57. 57

    “Store” refers to the Gilbert & Whitney store in Independence. On 20 July 1833, Sidney Gilbert agreed to close the store to prevent the mob from destroying it. ([Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:18.)  

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

  58. 58

    A week earlier, Cowdery advised church members in Jackson County to “look out another place to locate on” but not to move sooner than the agreement with their opponents required. He also counseled, “You may be under the necessity to sell some of our lands, but be wise, hold on to the sacred places.” Here, JS modified those instructions. (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 10 Aug. 1833.)  

  59. 59

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 140 [Jacob 6:12].  

  60. 60

    See 1 Kings 18:42–45.  

  61. 61

    See Matthew 12:20.  

  62. 62

    See Isaiah 64:1, 3.  

  63. 63

    TEXT: “w[page torn]it”.  

  64. 64

    After members of the Church of Christ were forced to evacuate Jackson County in November 1833, a 24 February 1834 revelation authorized an expedition, later known as Zion’s Camp, to help the refugees resettle on their Jackson County lands. JS led the group, departing Kirtland on 5 May 1834, but they were ultimately unsuccessful in achieving their major objective. (Revelation, 24 Feb. 1834 [D&C 103].)