Letter to the Church in Caldwell County, Missouri, 16 December 1838

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Missouri. Dec 16th 1838
To the in and the saints scattered abroad and are persecuted and made desolate and are afflicted in divers manners for christ’s sake and the gospel’s, and whose perils are greatly augmented by the wickedness and corruption of false brethren. May grace, mercy, and peace, be and abide with you and notwithstanding all your sufferings we assure you that you have our prayers and fervent desires for your welfare both day and night. We believe that, that God who sees us in this solitary place will hear our prayers & reward you openly. Know assuredly dear brethren that it is for the testimony of Jesus that we are in bonds and in prison. But we say unto you that we consider our condition better, (notwithstanding our suffering) than those who have persecuted us and smitten us and <​borne​> bear false witness against us, and we most assuredly believe that those who bear false witness against us <​do​> seem to have a great triumph over us for the present. But we want you to remember Haman and Mordecai you know that Haman could not be satisfied so long as he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate, and he sought the life of Mordecai and the people of the jews. But the Lord so ordered that Haman was hanged upon his own gallows. So shall it come to pass with poor Haman in the last days. Those who have sought by their unbelief and wickedness and by the principle of mobocracy to destroy us and the people of God by killing and scattering them abroad and wilfully and maliciously delivering us into the hands of murderers desiring us to be put to death thereby having us dragged about in chains and cast into prison, and for what cause; it is because we were honest men and were determined to defend the lives of the saints at the expense of our own. I say unto you that those who have thus vilely treated us like Haman shall be hanged upon their own gallows, or in other words shall fall into their own gin and trap and ditch which they have prepared for us and shall go backward and stumble and fall, and their names shall be blotted out, and God shall reward them according to all their abominations. Dear brethren do not think that our hearts faint as though some strange thing had happened unto us for we have seen and been assured of all these things beforehand, and have an assurance of a better hope than that of our persecutors. Therefore God has made our shoulders broad that we can bear it. We glory in our tribulation because we know that God is with us, that he is our friend and that he will save our souls. We do not care for those that kill the body they cannot harm our souls; we ask no favors at the hands of mobs nor of the world, nor of the devil nor of his emissaries the dissenters. We have never dissembled nor will we for the sake of our lives. Forasmuch then as we know that we have been endeavoring with all our mights, minds, and strength [p. [1]] to do the will of God and all things whatsoever he has commanded us. And as to our light speeches from time to time they have nothing to do with the fixed principle of our hearts. Therefore it sufficeth us to say that our souls were vexed from day to day. We refer you to Isaiah who considers those who make a man an offender for a word and lay a snare for them that reproveth in the gate. We believe the old prophet verily told the truth. We have no retraction to make, we have reproved in the gate and men have laid snares for us we have spoken words and men have made us offenders, and notwithstanding all this our minds are not darkened but feel strong in the Lord. But behold the words of the savior, if the light which is in you become darkness behold how great is that darkness. Look at the dissenters. And again if you were of the world the world would love its own Look at . A wolf in sheep’s clothing. Look at his brother Look at the beloved brother who aided him in leading us, as the savior was led, into the camp as a lamb prepared for the slaughter and a sheep dumb before his shearer so we opened not our mouth But these men like Balaam being greedy for a reward sold us into the hands of those who loved them, for the world loves his own. I would remember who comes up before us as one of Job’s comforters. God suffered such kind of beings to afflict Job, but it never entered into their hearts that Job would get out of it all. This poor man who professes to be much of a prophet has no other dumb ass to ride but to forbid his madness when he goes up to curse Israel, and this ass not being of the same kind of Balaams therefore the angel notwithstanding appeared unto him yet he could not penetrate his understanding sufficiently so but what he brays out cursings instead of blessings. Poor ass whoever lives to see it will see him and his rider perish like those who perished in the gainsaying of Core, or after the same condemnation. Now as for these and the rest of their company we will not presume to say that the world loves them but we presume to say that they love the world and we classify them in the error Balaam and in the gainsaying of Core and with the company of Cora [Korah] and Dathan and Abiram. Perhaps our brethren may say because we thus write that we are offended at those characters, if we are, it is not for a word neither because they reproved in the gate. But because they have been the means of shedding innocent blood. Are they not murderers then at heart? Are not their consciences seared as with a hot iron? We confess that we are offended [p. 2] but the saviour said that offences must come but woe unto them by whom they come, and again blessed are ye when all men shall revile you and speak all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Now dear brethren if any men ever had reason to claim this promise we are the men, for we know that the world not only hates us but but speak all manner of evil of us falsely for no other reason than because we have been endeavoring to teach the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ after we were bartered away by and were taken into the militia camp we had all the evidence we could have wished for that the world hated us and that most cordially too. If there were priests of all the different sects they hated us, if there were Generals they hated us, if there were Colonels they hated us, and the soldiers and officers of every kind hated us, and the most profane blasphemers and drunkards & whoremongers hated us, they all hated us most cordially. And now what did they hate us for, purely because of the testimony of Jesus Christ. Was it because we were liars? We know that it has been reported by some but it has been reported falsely Was it because we have committed treason against the government in or of burglary, or of larceny or arson, or any other unlawful act in . We know that certain priests and certain lawyers and certain judges who are the instigators aiders and abettors of a certain gang of murderers and robbers who have been carrying on a scheme of mobocracy to uphold their against the saints of the last days for a number of years and have tried by a well contemplated and premeditated scheme to put down by physical power a system of relig[i]on that all the world by all their mutual attainments and by any fair means whatever were not able to resist. Hence, mobbers were encouraged by priests and Levites, by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenees, and the Herodians, and the most ruthless, abandoned, and debauched, lawless inhuman and the most beastly set of men that the earth can boast of; and indeed a parallel cannot be found any where else; to gather together to steal to plunder to starve and to exterminate and burn the houses of the Mormons these are the characters that by their treasonable and avert acts have desolated and laid waste these are the characters that would fain make all the world believe that we are guilty of the above named acts. But they represent us [p. 3] falsely; we say unto you that we have not committed treason, nor any other unlawful act in was it for murder in against mob-militia who was a wolf in the first instance hide and Hair, teeth, and legs, and tail, who afterwards put on a militia sheepskin with the wool on, who can sally forth in the day time into the flock and snarl & show his teeth, and scatter and devour the flock and satiate himself upon his prey, and then sneak back into the brambles in order that he might conceal himself in his well tried skin with the wool on. We are well aware that there is a certain set of priests & satellites and mobbers that would fain make all the world believe that we are the dogs that barked at this howling wolf that made such havoc among the sheep who when he retreated howled and bleated at such a desperate rate that if one could have been there he would have thought that all the wolves whether wrapped up in sheep skins or goat skins or any other skins and in fine all the beast of the forest were awfully alarmed and catching the scent of innocent blood they sallied forth with a tremenduous howl and crying of all sorts and such a howling and such a tremenduous havoc never was known such a piece of inhumanity and relentless cruelty and barbarity cannot be found in all the annals of history. These are the characters that would make the world believe that we had committed murder by making an attack upon this howling wolf while we were at home and in our beds and asleep and knew nothing of that transaction any more than we know what is going on in China while we are within these walls. Therefore we say again unto you we are innocent of these things they have represented us falsely Was it for committing adultery, we are aware that false slander has gone abroad for it has been reiterated in our <​ears​>. These are falsehoods also. Renegadoes, mormon dissenters are running through the world and spreading various foul and libelous reports against us thinking thereby to gain the friendship of the world because they know that we are not of the world and that the world hates us; therefore they make a tool of these fellows by them they do all the injury they can and after that they hate them worse than they do us because they find them to be base traitors and sycophants. God Such characters God hates we cannot love them the world hates them and we sometimes think the devil ought to be ashamed of them. We have heard that it has been reported by some that some of us should have said that we not only dedicated our property but our families also to the Lord, and satan taking advantage of this has transfigured it into lasciviousness such as a community of wives [p. 4] which is an abomination in the sight of God. When we our property to the Lord it is to administer to the wants of the poor and needy for this is the law of God it is not for the purpose of the rich those who have no need and when a man consecrates or dedicates his wife and children he does not give them to his brother or to his neighbor for there is no such law for the law of God is thou shalt not commit adultery thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already in his heart. Now for a man to consecrate his property and his wife & children to the Lord, is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the widow and the fatherless, the sick, and the afflicted, and do all he can to administer to their relief in their afflictions, and for him and his house to serve the Lord. In order to do this he and all his house must be virtuous and shun every appearance of evil. Now if any person has represented any thing other wise than what we now write he or she is a liar and have represented us falsely. And this is another manner of of evil which is spoken against us falsely. We have learned also since we have been in prison that many false and pernicious things which were calculated to lead the saints far astray and to do great injury <​have been taught by ​> as coming from the taught by Dr Avard and we have reason to fear <​that​> many <​other things​> designing and corrupt characters like unto himself <​have been teaching many things​> which the presidency never knew of being taught in the by any body untill after they were made prisoners, which if they had known of, they would have spurned them and their authors from them as they would the gates of hell. Thus we find that there has been frauds and secret abominations and evil works of darkness going on leading the minds of the weak and unwary into confusion and distraction, and palming it all the time upon the presidency while mean time the presidency were ignorant as well as innocent of these things, which were practicing in the church in their name and were attending to their own family concerns, weighed down with sorrow, in debt, in poverty, in hunger assaying to be fed yet finding themselves receiving deeds of charity but inadequate to their subsistence, and because they received those deeds they were envied and hated by those who professed to be their friends But notwithstanding we thus speak we honor the church when we speak of the church, as a church, for their liberality, kindness, patience, and long suffering, and their continued kindness towards us. And now brethren we say unto you, what can we enumerate more; is not all manner of evil of every description spoken against us falsely, yea, we say unto [p. 5] unto you falsely; we have been misrepresented and misunderstood and belied and the purity of our hearts have not been known. And it is through ignorance, yea, the very depth of ignorance is the cause of it, and not only ignorance but gross wickedness on the part of some and hypocrisy also who by a long face and sanctified prayers and very pious sermons had power to lead the minds of the ignorant and unwary and thereby obtain such influence that when we approached their iniquities the devil gained great advantage & would bring great sorrow upon our heads and in fine we have waded through an ocean of tribulation, and mean abuse practiced upon us by the ill bred and ignorant such as , , and , , , , and various others who are so very ignorant that they cannot appear respectable in any decent and civilized society, and whose eyes are full of adultery and cannot cease from sin. Such characters as , , , , , who are too mean to mention and we had liked to have forgotten them. & whose hearts are full of corruption, whose cloak of hypocrisy was not sufficient to shield them or to hold them up in the hour of trouble, who after having escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of God and become again entangled and overcome the latter end is worse than the first. But it has happened unto them according to the words of the savior, the dog has returned to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. Again if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking <​for​> of judgement and fiery indignation to come which shall devour these adversaries. For he who despiseth Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses of how much more severe punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who hath sold his brother and denied the by which he was sanctified calling it an unholy thing and doing despite to the spirit of grace. And again we say unto you that inasmuch as there be virtue in us and the holy hath been conferred upon us, and the of the kingdom hath not been taken from us, for verily thus saith the Lord be of good cheer for the keys that I gave unto <​you​> are yet with you Therefore we say unto you dear brethren in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we deliver these characters unto the buffetings of satan untill the day of redemption that they may be dealt with according to their works [p. 6] and from henceforth their works shall be made manifest. And now dear and well beloved brethren and when we say brethren we mean those who have continued faithful in christ men, women, and children, we feel to exhort you in the name of the Lord Jesus, to be strong in the faith of the , and nothing frightened at your enemies. For what has happened unto us is an evident token to them of damnation but unto us of salvation and that of God. Therefore hold on even unto death, for he that seeks to save his life shall loose lose it but he that loseth his life for my sake and the gospels shall find it sayeth Jesus Christ. Brethren from henceforth let truth and righteousness prevail and abound in you and in all things be temperate, abstain from every appearance of evil, drunkenness, and profane language, and from every thing which is unrighteous or unholy; also from enmity, and hatred, and covetousness and from every unholy desires. Be honest one with another, for it seemeth that some have come short of these things, and some have been uncharitable & have manifested greediness because of their debts towards those who have been persecuted & dragged about with chains without cause and imprisoned. Such persons God hates and they shall have their turn of sorrow in the rolling of the great wheel for it rolleth and none can hinder. shall yet live though she seemeth to be dead. Remember that whatsoever measure you meet out to others it shall be measured to you again. We say unto you brethren be not afraid of your adversaries contend earnestly against mobs, and the unlawful works of dissenters and of darkness. And the very God of peace shall be with you and make a way for your escape from the adversary of your souls we commend you to God and the word of his grace which is able to make us wise unto salvation. Amen.
Joseph Smith Jun. [p. 7]
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Footnotes

  1. 1

    In April 1838, JS dictated a revelation announcing that the church’s official name was changing from the Church of the Latter Day Saints to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The former name was evidently still used at times after the dictation of the revelation. (Revelation, 26 Apr. 1838 [D&C 115:4].)  

  2. 2

    See James 1:1.  

  3. 3

    See Jeremiah 12:11; Ezekiel 6:6; and Job 16:7.  

  4. 4

    See 2 Corinthians 11:26.  

  5. 5

    See 2 Timothy 1:2; and Titus 1:4.  

  6. 6

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 320 [Alma 34:27].  

  7. 7

    See Mark 1:35.  

  8. 8

    See Matthew 6:6.  

  9. 9

    Being imprisoned “for the testimony of Jesus” is a nonbiblical phrase frequently used in the early nineteenth century by authors of religious texts. (See, for example, Clarke, New Testament, 777; and Abridgment of the Book of Martyrs, 176, 563.)  

    Clarke, Adam. The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Text Carefully Printed from the Most Correct Copies of the Present Authorised Version, Including the Marginal Readings and Parallel Texts. . . . Vol. 1. New York: J. Emory and B. Waugh, 1831.

    An Abridgment of the Book of Martyrs: To Which Are Prefixed, the Living Testimonies of the Church of God, and Faithful Martyrs, in Different Ages of the World; and the Corrupt Fruits of the False Church, in the Time of the Apostacy. New York: Samuel Wood, 1810.

  10. 10

    See Exodus 20:16.  

  11. 11

    See Esther chaps. 2–8.  

  12. 12

    See Matthew 4:12; Luke 23:19; John 3:24; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 17, 200, 298 [1 Nephi 7:14; Mosiah 21:23; Alma 26:29].  

  13. 13

    See Psalms 7:15; 140:5.  

  14. 14

    See Psalm 69:28.  

  15. 15

    See 1 Peter 4:12.  

  16. 16

    See Hebrews 7:19.  

  17. 17

    Mulholland’s copy has “God hath made broad our shoulders for the burden,” while Foote’s quotation has “God has made our shoulders broad that we can resist.” (JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church in Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, in “General,” Record Book, 102; David Foote, Adams Co., IL, to Thomas Clement and Betsey Foote Clement, Dryden, NY, 14 May 1839, CHL.)  

    “General,” Record Book, 1838. Verso of Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 5. CHL.

    Foote, David. Letter, to Thomas Clement, 14 May 1839. CHL.

  18. 18

    See Romans 5:3.  

  19. 19

    See Matthew 10:28; and Luke 12:4.  

  20. 20

    In Mulholland’s copy, this phrase is followed by “and those who love and make and swear falsehoods, to take away our lives.” (JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church in Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, in “General,” Record Book, 102.)  

    “General,” Record Book, 1838. Verso of Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 5. CHL.

  21. 21

    See Revelation, May 1829–A [D&C 11:20].  

  22. 22

    Instead of “principle,” Mulholland’s copy has “purposes” and Woodruff’s copy has “principles.” (JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church in Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, in “General,” Record Book, 102; JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church in Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, JS Collection, CHL.)  

    “General,” Record Book, 1838. Verso of Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 5. CHL.

    Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL. MS 155.

  23. 23

    See 2 Peter 2:8.  

  24. 24

    Isaiah 29:21.  

  25. 25

    See Doctrine and Covenants 36:1, 1835 ed. [D&C 10:2].  

  26. 26

    See Matthew 6:23; compare Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 482–483 [3 Nephi 13:23].  

  27. 27

    See John 15:19.  

  28. 28

    See Matthew 7:15; compare Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 484 [3 Nephi 14:15]. For more information on Hinkle’s role in the arrest of JS, see Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839. Although no evidence indicates Hinkle associated with other dissenters prior to the 31 October 1838 negotiations with Major General Samuel D. Lucas, Hinkle had been critical of JS’s leadership of the Mormon military operations against anti-Mormon vigilantes. He also testified for the prosecution at the November 1838 hearing. (George M. Hinkle, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. [38]–[45], State of Missouri v. JS et al. for Treason and Other Crimes [Mo. 5th Jud. Cir. 1838], in State of Missouri, “Evidence.”)  

  29. 29

    Woodruff’’s copy has “took him by the hand and” here. (JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church in Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, JS Collection, CHL.)  

    Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL. MS 155.

  30. 30

    See Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:32; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 186 [Mosiah 14:7; 15:6]. Corrill and Peck accompanied Hinkle during the negotiations with Lucas on 31 October 1838. Corrill and Peck later claimed their dissent began with the expulsion of David and John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Lyman Johnson from Far West in June 1838. Corrill and Peck were also critical of the Danite society and the Saints’ military operations during the Daviess County expedition in October 1838. Both testified for the prosecution at the November 1838 hearing. (John Corrill, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. [29]–[34]; Reed Peck, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. [55]–[64], in State of Missouri, “Evidence”; Corrill, Brief History, 29–30, 32, 36–38; Reed Peck, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839, pp. 29, 34–36, 41–42, 50–51, 56–57, 84–92, 106, 108, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.)  

    Peck, Reed. Letter, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

  31. 31

    See Numbers chap. 22. Hinkle later denied receiving “Missouri gold”—meaning a bribe—for his role in the surrender and arrest of JS. (George M. Hinkle, Buffalo, Iowa Territory, to William W. Phelps, Nauvoo, IL, 14 Aug. 1844, in Ensign, Aug. 1844, 30–32.)  

    The Ensign. Independence, MO. 1844–1845.

  32. 32

    Instead of “comforters,” Mulholland’s copy has “destroyers.” Phelps was also a member of the delegation that met with Lucas on 31 October 1838. Phelps had been excommunicated in March 1838 but was rebaptized in late June or early July. However, he later said that he opposed JS’s and Rigdon’s alleged efforts to circumvent lawsuits. According to Latter-day Saint Burr Riggs, Rigdon identified Phelps in late July as a dissenter whose influence needed to be curbed. Like Hinkle, Corrill, and Peck, Phelps opposed the church’s October 1838 military operations in Daviess County. He testified for the prosecution at the November 1838 hearing. (JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church in Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, in “General,” Record Book, 102; R. Peck to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839, p. 108; Minute Book 2, 10 Mar. 1838; Edward Partridge, Far West, MO, to Newel K. Whitney, Kirtland, OH, 24 July 1838, in Reynolds Cahoon, Far West, MO, to Newel K. Whitney, Kirtland, OH, 23 July 1838, CHL; William W. Phelps, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. [84], [87]; Burr Riggs, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. [73]–[74], in State of Missouri, “Evidence.”)  

    “General,” Record Book, 1838. Verso of Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 5. CHL.

    Peck, Reed. Letter, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

    Cahoon, Reynolds, and Edward Partridge. Letter, Far West, MO, to Newel K. Whitney, Kirtland Mills, OH, 23 and 24 July 1838. CHL.

  33. 33

    See Job 2:11–13.  

  34. 34

    See Numbers chap. 16; and Jude 1:11.  

  35. 35

    See Numbers chap. 16; 26:9; Deuteronomy 11:6; and Psalm 106:17.  

  36. 36

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 46 [1 Nephi 17:44].  

  37. 37

    See 1 Timothy 4:2.  

  38. 38

    See Matthew 18:7; and Luke 17:1.  

  39. 39

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

  40. 40

    See John 15:18.  

  41. 41

    Hyrum Smith testified in 1843 court proceedings that on 1 November 1838, about twenty priests “of the different religious denominations” participated in a court-martial in the militia camp, during which the prisoners were condemned to death. The execution was averted through the intervention of Brigadier General Alexander Doniphan. (Hyrum Smith, Testimony, Nauvoo, IL, 1 July 1843, p. 14, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL; see also Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.)  

    Nauvoo, IL. Records, 1841–1845. CHL. MS 16800.

  42. 42

    In Pratt’s 1839 history, he recounted that he, JS, and the other prisoners “were marched into camp surrounded by thousands of savage looking beings, many of whom were painted like Indian warriors,” and that their captors “set up a constant yell, like so many blood hounds let loose on their prey, as if they had achieved one of the most miraculous victories which ever dignified the annals of the world.” (Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 40.)  

  43. 43

    For more information on the criminal charges against JS and other Mormons, see Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.  

  44. 44

    Religious, political, and legal elites had been the foremost opponents of the Saints in Missouri since the early 1830s. The 1830s was the decade with the highest level of mob violence in the United States prior to the Civil War. Rigdon later reported that some of the most active instigators of mob violence against the Mormons in 1838 were Presbyterian minister Sashel Woods, Methodist minister Samuel Bogart, attorneys Thomas C. Burch and Amos Rees, state senator Cornelius Gilliam, and a Judge Smith of the Daviess County Circuit Court. (Grimsted, “Rioting in Its Jacksonian Setting,” 361–397; Anderson, “Clarifications of Boggs’s Order,” 27–83; Sidney Rigdon, JS, et al., Petition Draft [“To the Publick”], pp. 16–17[a], 22[a], 26[a], [27b], [31b].)  

    Grimsted, David. “Rioting in Its Jacksonian Setting.” American Historical Review 77, no. 2 (Apr. 1972): 361–397.

    Anderson, Richard Lloyd. “Clarifications of Boggs’s ‘Order’ and Joseph Smith’s Constitutionalism.” In Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Missouri, edited by Arnold K. Garr and Clark V. Johnson, 27–83. Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1994.

  45. 45

    In Mulholland’s copy, this phrase is followed by “and every other E and ite agging on.” The term “agging on” was a nineteenth-century variant of the slang term “egging on.”a The New Testament mentions the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians—all Jewish groups—often in the context of persecuting Jesus. Although the Essenes are not mentioned in the Bible, information on this Jewish group was included in a widely circulated nineteenth-century theological dictionary.b  

    “General,” Record Book, 1838. Verso of Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 5. CHL.

    “A Provincial Vocabulary.” Monthly Magazine; or, British Register 26, no. 5 (1 Dec. 1808): 421–423.

    “A Suit for Alleged Malpractice.” Cleveland Medical Gazette 2, no. 4 (Feb. 1887): 117–132.

    “The Relation of Plumbing to Public Health.” Plumbers’ Trade Journal 24, no. 1 (1 July 1898): 24.

    Buck, Charles. A Theological Dictionary, Containing Definitions of All Religious Terms; a Comprehensive View of Every Article in the System of Divinity. . . . New American ed., edited by George Bush. Philadelphia: James Kay Jr., 1830.

    Stemberger, Günter. Jewish Contemporaries of Jesus: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1995.

    Meier, John P. “The Historical Jesus and the Historical Herodians.” Journal of Biblical Literature 119, no. 4 (Winter 2000): 740–746.

    (aJS, Liberty, MO, to the Church in Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, in “General,” Record Book, 104; see “A Provincial Vocabulary,” 421; “Suit for Alleged Malpractice,” 120; and “Relation of Plumbing to Public Health,” 24.bSee, for example, Matthew 16:1; Mark 12:13; Luke 20:27; and “Essenes,” in Buck, Theological Dictionary, 132; see also Stemberger, Jewish Contemporaries of Jesus, 1–4; and Meier, “Historical Jesus and the Historical Herodians,” 740–746.)
  46. 46

    Following the October 1838 expulsion of the Saints from De Witt, Carroll County, Missouri, anti-Mormon vigilantes announced they would remove the Mormons from Daviess County. Heeding the call, troops under Cornelius Gilliam and other vigilante leaders began harassing Latter-day Saints in outlying areas of the county, forcing some to flee their homes and seek refuge in Adam-ondi-Ahman and Far West, Missouri. These activities continued through early November. (Greene, Facts relative to the Expulsion, 20–21; Sidney Rigdon, JS, et al., Petition Draft [“To the Publick”], pp. 29[a]–[31b].)  

    Greene, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order.” By John P. Greene, an Authorized Representative of the Mormons. Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839.

  47. 47

    In Mulholland’s copy, this phrase is followed by “We stood in our own defence and we believe that no man of us acted only in a just a lawful and righteous retaliation against such marauders.” (JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church in Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, in “General,” Record Book, 104; for more information on the Latter-day Saints’ October 1838 strikes against anti-Mormons in Daviess County, see Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839.)  

    “General,” Record Book, 1838. Verso of Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 5. CHL.

  48. 48

    The “wolf” was probably Captain Samuel Bogart of the Ray County militia, whose troops engaged in a skirmish with Latter-day Saint men at Crooked River near the Ray County–Caldwell County border on 25 October 1838. Neither JS nor his fellow prisoners were present for the fight, during which Missourian Moses Rowland was killed, although JS met the returning Mormon men about six miles south of Far West soon after to administer healing blessings to the wounded. In the November 1838 preliminary hearing, Judge Austin A. King did not find probable cause to believe that JS was involved in Rowland’s death, although the press identified JS as an accessory to the killing both before and after the fact and a Ray County grand jury subsequently indicted him as an accessory, after the fact, to murder. (Introduction to Part 3: 4 Nov. 1838–16 Apr. 1839; Sampson Avard, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. [21]; Morris Phelps, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. [28]; Austin A. King, Ruling, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. [124]–[125], in State of Missouri, “Evidence”; Baugh, “Call to Arms,” 245–246; “The Mormon Prisoners,” Daily Herald and Gazette [Cleveland, OH], 29 Dec. 1838, [2]; Indictment, Richmond, MO, Apr. 1839, State of Missouri v. Pratt et al. [Ray Co. Cir. Ct. 1839], Boone Co., MO, Circuit Court Records, 1839, State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia.)  

    Baugh, Alexander L. “A Call to Arms: The 1838 Mormon Defense of Northern Missouri.” PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1996. Also available as A Call to Arms: The 1838 Mormon Defense of Northern Missouri, Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History (Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; BYU Studies, 2000).

    Daily Herald and Gazette. Cleveland. 1837–1839.

    Boone County, Missouri, Circuit Court Records, 1839. State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia.

  49. 49

    TEXT: “ears” was written over a knife-erased word, perhaps “allso.” Allegations of adultery may have derived from rumors of an early plural marriage. (Historical Introduction to Letter from Thomas B. Marsh, 15 Feb. 1838; Minutes, 12 Apr. 1838.)  

  50. 50

    See John 15:19.  

  51. 51

    Instead of “make a tool of these fellows,” Mulholland’s copy has “make a toast of these characters” and Woodruff’’s copy has “make a fool of these characters.” (JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church in Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, in “General,” Record Book, 105; JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church in Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, JS Collection, CHL.)  

    “General,” Record Book, 1838. Verso of Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 5. CHL.

    Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL. MS 155.

  52. 52

    Instead of “base traitors and sycophants,” Woodruff’’s copy has “liars traitors all around.”  

  53. 53

    The phrase “community of wives,” derived from English translations of Plato’s Republic, was used in the early nineteenth century to describe communal groups in which men shared relationships with women in addition to sharing property. (“Nicolaitans,” in Buck, Theological Dictionary, 312; “Polygamy,” in Encyclopaedia Americana, 10:230; Memoirs of Matthias the Prophet, 12.)  

    Buck, Charles. A Theological Dictionary, Containing Definitions of All Religious Terms; a Comprehensive View of Every Article in the System of Divinity. . . . New American ed., edited by George Bush. Philadelphia: James Kay Jr., 1830.

    Encyclopaedia Americana. A Popular Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature, History, Politics and Biography, Brought Down to the Present Time; Including a Copious Collection of Original Articles in American Biography; on the Basis of the Seventh Edition of the German Conversations-Lexicon. Edited by Francis Lieber, Edward Wigglesworth, and Thomas G. Bradford. New Edition. 13 vols. Philadelphia: Desilver, Thomas, 1836.

    Memoirs of Matthias the Prophet, with a Full Exposure of His Atrocious Impositions and of the Degrading Delusions of His Followers. New York: The Sun, 1835.

  54. 54

    See Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:1–72]; and Cook, Joseph Smith and the Law of Consecration, 5–28.  

    Cook, Lyndon W. Joseph Smith and the Law of Consecration. Provo, UT: Grandin Book, 1985.

  55. 55

    See Exodus 20:14; and Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:24].  

  56. 56

    See Exodus 20:17.  

  57. 57

    See Matthew 5:28; compare Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 481 [3 Nephi 12:28].  

  58. 58

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 165 [Mosiah 4:26]; and James 1:27.  

  59. 59

    See Joshua 24:15.  

  60. 60

    See 1 Thessalonians 5:22.  

  61. 61

    TEXT: These insertions are in a different ink and perhaps in different handwriting.  

  62. 62

    Avard was an influential Danite general during the first few months after the society was organized in summer 1838. He led the movement to expel dissenters from Far West in June, received public recognition as a general in the Fourth of July parade in Far West, and assumed a prominent role in the expedition to Daviess County in August.a To achieve the purpose of the society—to silence internal dissent and defend the church from vigilante attacksb—Avard reportedly advocated unquestioned obedience to the First Presidency, lying, stealing, killing, and resistance to the law.c According to Reed Peck, after some Danites objected to Avard’s teachings, the First Presidency attended a meeting “to show the society that what he [Avard] was doing was according to their direction or will.” Avard, however, “did not explain to the presidency what his teachings had been in the society.”d John Corrill reported that Avard’s more extreme proposals were known only to a few Danite leaders and that the First Presidency denied knowledge of the proposals.e At some point after the August expedition to Daviess County, JS removed Avard from leadership, although Avard apparently continued to exercise influence outside of the society’s leadership structure.f Perhaps embittered by his demotion, Avard was the key witness for the state in the November 1838 hearing.g  

    Peck, Reed. Letter, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

    Phelps, Morris. Reminiscences, no date. CHL. MS 271.

    The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 8 vols. Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1896–1976.

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

    Nimer, Corwin L. “Sampson Avard: The First Danite.” Mormon Historical Studies 5, no. 2 (Fall 2004): 37–60.

    (aLetter to Oliver Cowdery et al., ca. 17 June 1838; “Celebration of the 4th of July,” Elders’ Journal, Aug. 1838, 60; JS, Journal, 7–9 Aug. 1838; Affidavit, 5 Sept. 1838.bSee Introduction to Part 2: 8 July–29 Oct. 1838.cCorrill, Brief History, 30–32; R. Peck to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839, pp. 38–52; Phelps, Reminiscences, 6–7.dReed Peck, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. [56], in State of Missouri, “Evidence.”eCorrill, Brief History, 30–32.fSampson Avard, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. [6], in State of Missouri, “Evidence”; Phelps, Reminiscences, 9; Lyman Wight, Journal, in History of the Reorganized Church, 2:298.gSampson Avard, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. [2]–[23], in State of Missouri, “Evidence”; John B. Clark, Jefferson City, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 29 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA; see also Nimer, “Sampson Avard,” 37–60.)
  63. 63

    Cleminson was another member of Hinkle’s delegation. According to Peck, Cleminson opposed the expulsion of Cowdery and others from Far West in June 1838, as well as the church’s October 1838 military operations in Daviess County. Cleminson testified for the prosecution at the November 1838 hearing, stating that JS ordered Cleminson, who was the clerk for the Caldwell County Circuit Court, not to issue warrants in “vexatious” suits against church leaders. (R. Peck to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839, pp. 29, 37, 84, 108; John Cleminson, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, p. [51], in State of Missouri, “Evidence.”)  

    Peck, Reed. Letter, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

  64. 64

    See 2 Peter 2:14.  

  65. 65

    McLellin’s actions and stance toward the church were considered in a disciplinary council on 11 May 1838. Extant records do not indicate whether the apostle was excommunicated at that time, but during the meeting he relinquished his license and withdrew from the church. (See Historical Introduction to Declaration to the Clay County Circuit Court, ca. 6 Mar. 1839.)  

  66. 66

    John and David Whitmer were excommunicated in March and April 1838. Both were expelled from Far West in June, along with Oliver Cowdery and Lyman Johnson. Heber C. Kimball claimed that the Whitmers accompanied Major General Lucas to Far West and helped identify church leaders, who were later charged with crimes. John Whitmer also testified against JS at the November 1838 hearing. (See Introduction to Part 1: 15 Feb.–28 June 1838; Minutes, 13 Apr. 1838; Kimball, “History,” 88; and John Whitmer, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, pp. [97]–[99], in State of Missouri, “Evidence.”)  

    Kimball, Heber C. “History of Heber Chase Kimball by His Own Dictation,” ca. 1842–1856. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL. MS 627, box 2.

  67. 67

    Cowdery, previously an “assistant councilor” in the First Presidency, was excommunicated in April 1838 and expelled, along with other dissenters, from Far West in June. (See Minutes, 12 Apr. 1838; and Introduction to Part 1: 15 Feb.–28 June 1838.)  

  68. 68

    Harris was the only dissenter named in the letter who was not in Missouri in 1838. He was still in Kirtland, Ohio, where he had been a member of the high council. In 1837 he joined with other dissenters who opposed church control over temporal affairs, and the Kirtland high council excommunicated him in December 1837. He was among the founders and financial backers of the “Church of Christ,” a short-lived organization created in 1838 and composed primarily of dissenters. (Stephen Burnett, Orange Township, OH, to Lyman Johnson, 15 Apr. 1838, in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 64–66; John Smith and Clarissa Lyman Smith, Kirtland, OH, to George A. Smith, Shinnston, VA, 1 Jan. 1838, George Albert Smith, Papers, CHL; Marquardt, “Martin Harris,” 10–15.)  

    Smith, George Albert. Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322.

    Marquardt, H. Michael. “Martin Harris: The Kirtland Years, 1831–1870.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 35, no. 3 (Fall 2002): 1–41.

  69. 69

    Marsh, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, strongly supported JS during the 1837–1838 problems that resulted in the removal of the Missouri church presidency. Marsh subsequently became president pro tempore of the church in Missouri. His support may have wavered when other church leaders sided with Lucinda Pendleton Harris in a dispute with Marsh’s wife, Elizabeth Godkin Marsh. Although he opposed the June expulsion of the dissenters from Far West, he remained president of the Twelve and president pro tempore of the church in Missouri until late October, when he dictated an affidavit describing the Danite society and the Saints’ military operations against the Daviess County vigilantes. On 25 October, Marsh explained in a letter to his sister, Ann Marsh Abbott, and her husband, Lewis Abbott, his decision to leave the church “for conscience sake, and that alone,” and he alleged that JS and Sidney Rigdon were permitting theft, arson, and other crimes in Daviess County. (Letter from Thomas B. Marsh, 15 Feb. 1838; Cook, “Thomas B. Marsh Returns to the Church,” 394–396; R. Peck to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839, pp. 22–23; Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde, Affidavit, Richmond, MO, 24 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA; Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde, Richmond, MO, to Lewis Abbott and Ann Marsh Abbott, Caldwell Co., MO, 25–30 Oct. 1838, in JS Letterbook 2, p. 18; see also Esplin, “Emergence of Brigham Young,” 340–343.)  

    Cook, Lyndon W. “‘I Have Sinned Against Heaven, and Am Unworthy of Your Confidence, But I Cannot Live without a Reconciliation’: Thomas B. Marsh Returns to the Church.” BYU Studies 20 (Summer 1980): 389–400.

    Peck, Reed. Letter, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

    Esplin, Ronald K. “The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841.” PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1981. Also available as The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841, Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History (Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; BYU Studies, 2006).

  70. 70

    Hyde, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, returned from his mission to England in mid-1838 and settled in Far West. He opposed the church’s military operations against the anti-Mormon vigilantes in Daviess County and filed an affidavit on 24 October that supported Marsh’s more detailed affidavit of the same date. Hyde subsequently wrote a letter to a friend in which he explained that he left the church “fully beleiving, that God is not with them, and is not the mover of their schemes and projects.” (Letter from Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde, between 22 and 28 May 1838; Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde, Affidavit, Richmond, MO, 24 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA; Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde, Richmond, MO, to Lewis Abbott and Ann Marsh Abbott, Caldwell Co., MO, 25–30 Oct. 1838, in JS Letterbook 2, p. 19; see also Esplin, “Emergence of Brigham Young,” 336.)  

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

    Esplin, Ronald K. “The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841.” PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1981. Also available as The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership, 1830–1841, Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History (Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; BYU Studies, 2006).

  71. 71

    See 2 Peter 2:20.  

  72. 72

    Although JS ascribed these words to Jesus Christ, the phrase comes from 2 Peter 2:22, which in turn quotes Proverbs 26:11. (See also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 468 [3 Nephi 7:8].)  

  73. 73

    See Hebrews 10:26–29.  

  74. 74

    See Matthew 16:18–19; Revelation, ca. Aug. 1835 [D&C 27:13]; and Revelation, 26 Apr. 1838 [D&C 115:19].  

  75. 75

    In Mulholland’s copy, this phrase is followed by “Fear not, but.” (JS, Liberty, MO, to the Church in Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, in “General,” Record Book, 107.)  

    “General,” Record Book, 1838. Verso of Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 5. CHL.

  76. 76

    See Revelation, 1 Mar. 1832 [D&C 78:12]; and Revelation, 23 Apr. 1834 [D&C 104:9–10].  

  77. 77

    See 1 Corinthians 3:13.  

  78. 78

    See Philippians 1:28.  

  79. 79

    See Mark 8:35.  

  80. 80

    JS was perhaps alluding to the rota fortunae, or wheel of fortune, a concept that is rooted in ancient philosophy and that entered Anglo-American culture through Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s plays, and other sources. Such texts reference the idea that an individual’s prospects can rise and fall according to the dictates of fate and providence. (Robinson, “Wheel of Fortune,” 207–216; Chapman, “Wheel of Fortune in Shakespeare’s Historical Plays,” 1–7.)  

    Robinson, David M. “The Wheel of Fortune.” Classical Philology 41, no. 4 (Oct. 1946): 207–216.

    Chapman, Raymond. “The Wheel of Fortune in Shakespeare’s Historical Plays.” Review of English Studies 1, no. 1 (Jan. 1950): 1–7.

  81. 81

    See Matthew 7:2; and Mark 4:24; compare Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 483 [3 Nephi 14:2].  

  82. 82

    See Romans 15:33.  

  83. 83

    See 1 Corinthians 10:13.  

  84. 84

    See Psalm 71:13.  

  85. 85

    See Acts 20:32.  

  86. 86

    See 2 Timothy 3:15.