Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson County, Missouri, 21 April 1833

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  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

21 April 1833
Dear brethren in
agreeable to a notice we gave you in <​last​> letter to you with respect to answering your letters we now commence after giving thanks to our heavenly father for evry expression of [p. 32] of his goodness in preserving our unprofitable lives to the present time and the health and other blessing which we now enjoy through his mercies— With Joy we received your letter general epistle writen the 26 of Feby which contained the conffescion of our brethren concerned all of which was to our entire satisfaction it was read by the Brethren in with feelings of the deepest interest knowing as we did that the anger of the Lord was kindled against you and [no]thing but repentance of of the greatest humility would turn it away and I will assure you that expressions of Joy beemed on evry countenance when they saw that our epistle and the revelation was received by our brethren in & it had its desired effect
For your satisfaction I insert here a revelation given to the 15th of March 1833 constituting him a member of the ——
Verely thus saith the Lord I give unto the united firm (organized agreeable to the previously given) a revelation and commandment concerning my servant that ye shall receive him into the firm, what I say unto one I say unto all, and again I say unto you my my servant thou shalt be a lively member in this firm and inasmuch as thou art faithful in keeping all former commandments thou shalt be blessed for ever Amen
With respect to s letter of the 10 Dec I would say to him as follows firstly we received the letter with this [p. 33] conviction that he wrote it in all cencerity of his heart and were pleased with the stile and composition but upon mature reflection and inquiry at the hand of the Lord we find some things that are unreconcilable especially to some I mean with respect to hints given that are not clearly explained, as evry letter that comes from must go the rounds of the Brethren for inspection it is necessary that there should be no disgise in them but that evry subject writen from brethren should be plain to the understanding of all, that no jealousy may be raised and when we rebuke do it in all meekness, and the letter writen the 24 Feby was not writen in that contrition of heart which it should have been for it appeared to be writen in too much of a spirit of justification, but the letter to of the 20 of March was writen to our entire satisfaction now I would say to that I do not write this by way of chastisement but to show him the absolute necessity of having all his communications writen plain to and understanding by, we are well aware of the great care upon his mind in consequence of much business but he must put his trust in god and he may rest assured that he hear[s] our prayers day and night that he may have strength to overcome evry difficulty we have learned of the Lord that it is his duty to assist all the poor brethren that are pure in heart and that he has done rong in with holding credit from them as they must have [p. 34] assistence for the Lord established him in Zion for that express purpose, it is not the will of the Lord to print any of the new translation in the Star but when it is published it will all go to the world together in a volume by itself, and the new Testament and the book of Mormon will be printed together
With respect to private letter to me on the subject of giving deeds & receiving contrabutions from brethren &c I have nothing further to say on the subject but to make yourselves acquainted with the of the Lord and the Laws of the and govern yourselves accordingly was here yesterday and shewed us a letter from and we were well pleased with the spirit it was writen in the probability is that he will not go to at present as he has bought in We rejoice to here that to the siminary lands are reduced in price and are coming into market and be assured that we shall use our influence to send brethren to that are able to help you in the purchase of lands &c &c——
We have just received a letter from he has bui[l]t up a church of 8 members in Ohio and prospects of more— With respect to the deaths in we feel to mourn with those that mourn but remember that the god of all the earth will do right and now my beloved brethren I commend you to god and his grace praying him to keep and preserve you [p. 35] blameless to the coming of our lord Jesus Christ Amen— Joseph Smith Jr
PS say to that his confession gave me great satisfaction and all thing[s] are now settled on my part tell sister Chloer that her Mother is well and living with bro and is now at my house—— [p. 36]


  1. 1

    This letter has not been located.  

  2. 2

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 157 [Mosiah 2:21].  

  3. 3

    The men in the “special council of High Priests,” which prepared the letter containing “the conffescion of our brethren” from Missouri leaders to JS in Kirtland, were Wheeler Baldwin, Calvin Beebe, Simeon Carter, John Corrill, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Dustin, Sidney Gilbert, Solomon Hancock, Levi Jackman, Newel Knight, Thomas B. Marsh, Isaac Morley, Edward Partridge, William W. Phelps, Daniel Stanton, Harvey Whitlock, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Lyman Wight. (Minute Book 2, 26 Feb. 1833.)  

  4. 4

    A revelation dictated in September 1832 called for church members to “repent of ther former evil works” and for church leaders in Missouri to repent specifically “for there rebellion” against JS. By this time, JS had also sent several letters to Missouri calling the leaders to repentance. For instance, in his January letter to William W. Phelps, JS wrote, “Repent, repent, is the voice of God, to Zion . . . hear the warning. voice of God lest Zion fall.” He added, “The Brethren in Kirtland pray for you unceasingly, for knowing the terrors of the Lord, they greatly fear for you.” (Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:76]; Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832; Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 Nov. 1832; Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 Jan. 1833.)  

  5. 5

    Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 14 Jan. 1833; Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:1–126].  

  6. 6

    JS repeated this sentiment in a letter to Bishop Edward Partridge approximately ten days later: “Be assured that we all feel thankful, that the brethren in Zion are beginning to humble themselves, & trying to keep the commandments of the Lord.” (Letter to Edward Partridge, 2 May 1833.)  

  7. 7

    Revelation, 15 Mar. 1833 [D&C 92]. Half of the members of the United Firm resided in Missouri. Because of their location, they would not have yet known about this decision, made in Kirtland, to appoint Williams a member of the United Firm.  

  8. 8

    This letter has not been located.  

  9. 9

    In two subsequent letters, JS similarly urged that letters sent from Ohio to Missouri be circulated among all the church members. (Letter to Edward Partridge, 2 May 1833; Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 25 June 1833.)  

  10. 10

    See Ephesians 4:2; and Titus 3:2.  

  11. 11

    Neither letter mentioned here has been located. The 24 February letter was written by Sidney Gilbert two days before the high priests’ council in Independence, Missouri, that sent the reconciliatory epistle to church leaders in Ohio. (See Minute Book 2, 26 Feb. 1833.)  

  12. 12

    A letter from Kirtland written three months earlier expressed similar sentiments concerning Sidney Gilbert: “We are aware that Bro Gs is doing much, and a multitude of business on hand but let him purge out all the old leaven and do his business in the spirit of the Lord. and then the Lord will bless him otherwise the frown of the Lord will remain upon him— There is ma[n]ifestly an uneassness in Bro G, and a fearfulness that God will not provide for his saints in their last days and these fears lead him on to covitousness, This ought not so to be, but let him do just as the Lord has commanded him and then the Lord will open his coffers, and his wants will be liberally supplied.” In a revelation dictated by JS just a month earlier, Gilbert was exhorted to repent of “many things.” (Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 14 Jan. 1833; Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90:35].)  

  13. 13

    See Matthew 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:5; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 234 [Alma 5:19].  

  14. 14

    Editor William W. Phelps had routinely printed excerpts of revelations and even some passages from the Book of Mormon and JS’s translation of the Old Testament in the monthly periodical The Evening and the Morning Star. (See, for example, “Extract from the Prophecy of Enoch,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Aug. 1832, [2]–[3] [Moses chap. 7]; “The Book of Jacob,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Sept. 1832, [2]–[4] [Jacob chap. 5]; and Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–B, in “Revelation Given, Hiram, Ohio, November 1, 1831,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Mar. 1833, [6] [D&C 1].)  

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

  15. 15

    Oliver Cowdery’s letter has not been located. Legal problems arose in Missouri over what to deed and what kind of deed to give to a person who received a stewardship in return for his or her consecrations. Though JS had “nothing further to say on the subject” in this letter, two weeks later he sent Bishop Edward Partridge a letter giving details on his “views, concerning consecration, property, and giving inheritances.” The “commandments of the Lord” likely refer to earlier revelations containing guidelines for consecration, which include Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:30–39, 54–55]; and Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51]. (Letter to Edward Partridge, 2 May 1833; see also De Pillis, “Development of Mormon Communitarianism,” 189–204.)  

    De Pillis, Mario S. “The Development of Mormon Communitarianism, 1826–1846.” PhD diss., Yale University, 1960.

  16. 16

    A later Missouri state law required that any transfers of registered land be recorded by the county assessor. (An Act to Provide for Levying, Assessing, and Collecting the Revenue [14 Mar. 1835], Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri [1835], 533.)  

    The Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri, Revised and Digested by the Eighth General Assembly, During the Years One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Four, and One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Five. Together with the Constitutions of Missouri and of the United States. 3rd ed. St. Louis: Chambers and Knapp, 1841.

  17. 17

    Deed records indicate that David Elliott did not purchase land in Geauga County, in which Chagrin (later Willoughby) was located, until 1836, when he received a deed for a parcel of land sold to him by JS. Elliott, however, resided in Chagrin as early as 22 January 1834, suggesting that he may have begun the process of purchasing the land much earlier than 1836. About two weeks before this letter was written, Elliott and his wife, Mary Cahoon, initiated a land sale to Luther Snow for a piece of property in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, for $500. (Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 23, p. 422, 15 Oct. 1836, microfilm 20,240, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Cuyahoga Co., OH, Deeds and Mortgages, 1815–1866, vol. N, pp. 191–192, 9 Apr. 1833, microfilm 1,994,223, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Letter to the Church in Clay Co., MO, 22 Jan. 1834.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  18. 18

    In 1828 the United States government publicly announced that it would begin selling federal lands in Missouri. Such lands were sold at auction for $1.25 per acre in tracts of at least eighty acres. Purchasers paid the surveyors’ fees up front, filed the necessary paperwork, and were required to complete payment within two or three years in order to obtain title to the land. In 1831 the federal government offered for sale the lands it had reserved to benefit public education, including the “Seminary Lands,” which had been set aside to fund higher education in Missouri and included much of the land in Jackson County. The seminary land was initially offered for sale at $2 per acre. (An Act to Provide for the Sale of Seminary Lands [31 Dec. 1830], Laws . . . of the State of Missouri, vol. 2, chap. 155, pp. 209–213.)  

    Laws of a Public and General Nature of the State of Missouri, Passed between the Years 1824 and 1836, Not Published in the Digest of 1825, Nor in the Digest of 1835. Vol. 2. Jefferson City, MO: W. Lusk and Son, 1842.

  19. 19

    The 20 July 1831 revelation, which designated Independence as the center place of Zion and identified the exact location for the temple in Independence, also instructed members of the church to purchase the temple site and “also every tract lying westward even unto” the Missouri border so that they would own land “in all the regions round about.” By January 1832, Edward Partridge, Sidney Gilbert, and other church leaders had purchased 1,200 acres for the Saints in an ongoing effort to obtain land. (Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:3–6]; Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 28 Jan. 1832.)  

  20. 20

    The Evening and the Morning Star mentioned this 21 April letter from JS only in regards to this information about Rigdon. Apparently, the editors of the Star in Missouri received a subsequent letter dated 2 May 1833, reporting that Rigdon had recently returned to Kirtland and that during his brief mission to Medina County he had baptized sixteen people. ([William W. Phelps], “The Progress of the Church of Christ,” The Evening and the Morning Star, June 1833, 100.)  

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

  21. 21

    It is unclear who died and if a particular illness or event caused these deaths.  

  22. 22

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 192 [Mosiah 18:9].  

  23. 23

    See Acts 20:32; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 566, 585 [Ether 12:41; Moroni 9:22].  

  24. 24

    See 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 1:8; Psalm 12:7; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 345 [Alma 44:4].  

  25. 25

    John Corrill was a counselor to Bishop Edward Partridge. Corrill’s confession may have been an apology for writing an accusatory letter to JS in the summer of 1832. Though the letter has not survived, JS described it as stirring up matters that he thought had been settled and forgiven and said that it made “absolutely false” charges, including allegations that JS sought after “Monarchal power.” In short, JS wrote, “I do not fellowship the letter which was writen to me by Bro. John & neither the spirit thereof.” An epistle sent from Kirtland to church leaders in Missouri in mid-January 1833 also addressed Corrill’s charge that JS had been “seeking after Monarchal power and authority,” declaring that “we are sensable that this is not the thing Bro J is seeking after.” The high council instead declared that JS was only trying to “magnify the high office and calling whereunto he has been called and appointed by the command of God.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832; Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 14 Jan. 1833; see also Winn, “‘Such Republicanism as This’: John Corrill’s Rejection of Prophetic Rule,” 46–50.)  

    Winn, Kenneth H. “‘Such Republicanism as This’: John Corrill’s Rejection of Prophetic Rule.” In Differing Visions: Dissenters in Mormon History, edited by Roger D. Launius and Linda Thatcher, 45–75. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.