Report of the First Presidency, 4 October 1840

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

The Presidency of the , would respectfully report; that they feel rejoicing to meet the saints at another general and under circumstances as favorable as the present. Since our settlement in , we have for the most part been treated with courtesy and respect, and a feeling of kindness and of sympathy, has generally been manifested by all cfasses [classes] of the community, who with us, deprecate the conduct of those men, whose dark and blackning deeds, are stamped with everlasting infamy and disgrace.
The contrast between our past and present situation is great. Two years ago, mobs were threatening, plundering, driving and murdering the saints. Our burning houses enlightened the canopy of heaven. Our women and children houseless and destitute, had to wander from place to place, to seek a shelter from the rage of persecuting foes.— Now we enjoy peace, and can worship the God of heaven and earth without molestation. And expect to be able to go forward and accomplish the great and glorious work to which we have been called. Under these circumstances we feel to congratulate the saints of the Most High, on the happy and pleasing change in our circumstances, condition and prospects, and which those who shared in the perils and distresses, undoubtedly appreciate. While prayers and thanksgivings daily ascend to that God, who looked upon our distresses and delivered us from danger and death, and whose hand is over us for good. From the unpropitious nature of the weather, we hardly expected to behold so many of our friends on this occasion, in this however, we are agreeably disappointed, which gives us strong assurance that the saints are as zealous, untireing and energetic as ever in the great work of the last days; and gives us joy and consolation, and greatly encourages us, while contending with the difficulties which necessarily lie in our way.
Let the brethren ever manifest such a spirit, and hold up our hands, and we must, we will go forward, the work of the Lord shall roll forth, the of the Lord be reared, the of Israel be encouraged; be built up. And become the praise, the joy, and the glory of the whole earth; and the song of praise, glory, honor and majesty to him that setteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever, shall reverberate from hill to hill, from mountain to mountain, from Island to Island and from continent to continent, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.
We are glad indeed to know that there is such a spirit of union existing throughout the churches, and at home and abroad; on this continent, as well as on the Islands of the sea, for by this principle and by a concentration of action shall we be able to carry into effect the purposes of our God.
From the Elders abroad we receive the most cheering accounts; wherever the faithful laborer has gone forth reaping, sowing the seed of truth, he has returned with joy, bringing his sheaves with him; and the information we receive from all quarters is, that the laborers are few and that the harvest is great. Many wealthy and influential characters have embraced the gospel, so that not only will the poor rejoice in that they are [p. 187] exalted, but the rich in that they are made low.
The calls to the southern states are indeed great, many places which a short time ago would think it a disgrace to give shelter to a Mormon, on account of the many false misrepresentations which were abroad, now desire to hear an of the .
On the Islands of the sea, viz. great Britain, there continues to be a steady flow of souls into the church— have been organized in many large and populous cities and the whole land appears to be thirsting for the pure streams of knowledge and salvation. The have already printed a new edition of the Hymn book, and issue a monthly periodical in that land. Several families have already arrived here from and a number more are on their way to this place, and are expected this fall.
If the work roll forth with the same rapidity it has heretofore done, we may soon expect to see flocking to this place, people from every land and from every nation, the polished European, the degraded Hottentot, and the shivering Laplander. Persons of all languages, and of every tongue, and of every color; who shall with us worship the Lord of Hosts in his holy temple, and offer up their orisons in his sanctuary. It was in consideration of these things, and that a home might be provided for the saints, that induced us to purchase the present city for a place of for the saints. and the extensive tract of land on the opposite side of the . Although, the purchase at that time and under the peculiar conditions and circumstances of the church, appeared to many to be large and uncalled for; yet from what we now see, it is apparent to all, that we shall soon have to say. “The place is too strait give us room that we may dwell.”
We therefore hope that the brethren, who feel interested in the cause of truth, and desire to see the work of the gathering of Israel roll forth with power will aid us in liquidating the debts which are now owing, so that the may be secured to the church, and which eventually will be of great value. From the good spirit which is manifested on this occasion, the desire to do good, and the zeal for the honor of the church, inspires us with confidence that we shall not appeal in vain, but that funds will be forthcoming on this occasion, sufficient to meet the necessities of the case.
It is with great pleasure that we have to inform the church that, another edition of the book of Mormon has been printed, and which is expected on from , in a short time. And that arrangements are making for printing the book of Doctrine and Covenants Hymn book, etc. etc. So that the demand which may exist, for those works will soon be supplied.
In conclusion we would say. Brethren and Sisters be faithful, be diligent, contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints—let every man, woman and child realize the importance of the work, and act as if its success depended on their individual exertion alone, let them feel an interest in it, and then consider they live in a day, the contemplation of which animated the bosom of Kings, Prophets and Righteous men, thousands of years ago the prospect of which inspired their sweetest notes and most exalted lays’ and caused them to break out in such rapturous strains as are recorded in the scriptures; and by and by, we shall have to exclaim in the language of Inspiration,
“The Lord has brought again
The Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel.” [p. 188]


  1. 1

    In February 1839, these views were publicly expressed in meetings of the Democratic Association in Quincy, Illinois. (“The Mormons, or Latter Day Saints,” Quincy [IL] Argus, 16 Mar. 1839, [1].)  

    Quincy Argus. Quincy, IL. 1836–1841.

  2. 2

    This passage depicts the aftermath of the “Mormon War” following the arrests of several prominent church leaders on 31 October and 1 November 1838. In a letter published in August 1840, Thompson used similar language to describe this moment, discussing the “scenes which occured and our situation in the State of Missouri, when mobs were combining against us, when our wives and little ones, had to wander on the bleak prairies, when the flames of our houses enlightened the canopy of heaven.” (Robert B. Thompson, Nauvoo, IL, 10 July 1840, Editorial, Times and Seasons, Aug. 1840, 1:154.)  

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

  3. 3

    The conference was scheduled to begin on 2 October 1840, but rain delayed it until 3 October. An estimated four to five thousand attended the conference. (Benjamin Dobson, “The Mormons,” Peoria [IL] Register and North-Western Gazetteer, 30 Oct. 1840, [1]; Vilate Murray Kimball, Nauvoo, IL, to Heber C. Kimball, 11 Oct. 1840, photocopy, Vilate Murray Kimball, Letters, 1840, CHL.)  

    Peoria Register and North-Western Gazetteer. Peoria, IL. 1837–1843.

    Young, Brigham. Letter, to Vilate Murray Young, 11 Aug. 1844, photocopy. CHL.

  4. 4

    See Exodus 17:12.  

  5. 5

    JS had contemplated the construction of a temple in Nauvoo as early as April 1840. In July JS preached on the importance of the Saints’ participation in this endeavor. (“A Glance at the Mormons,” Alexandria [VA] Gazette, 11 July 1840, [2]; Discourse, ca. 19 July 1840.)  

    Alexandria Gazette. Alexandria, VA. 1834–1877.

  6. 6

    See Jeremiah 33:9.  

  7. 7

    See Revelation 5:13.  

  8. 8

    See Revelation 11:15.  

  9. 9

    See Psalm 126:6.  

  10. 10

    See Matthew 9:37; and Luke 10:2. In a 7 May 1840 letter to JS, Brigham Young wrote, “We need help very much in this Country. . . . If we could go four ways at a time we could not fill all the calls we have for preaching.” (Letter from Brigham Young, 7 May 1840.)  

  11. 11

    See James 1:9–10; and Revelation, 23 Apr. 1834 [D&C 104:16]. Wilford Woodruff reported in April 1840 that he had baptized “one Clark [clerk] of the Church of England, one constable, & a number of wealthy farmers,” as well as forty-eight preachers. (Woodruff, Journal, 15 Apr. 1840.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  12. 12

    On 6 October 1840, a general conference held in Manchester, England, reported that there were approximately thirty-six hundred church members in England. (Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith, Manchester, England, 12 Oct. 1840, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, 15 Dec. 1840, 2:252.)  

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

  13. 13

    See Revelation, 2 Aug. 1833–A [D&C 97:9].  

  14. 14

    The first edition of the Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star was printed in May 1840. The same printer, W. R. Thomas, published A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Europe (Manchester, England: W. R. Thomas, 1840). Copies of the hymnal were available for purchase by July 1840. (Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:108–113, 121–124.)  

    Crawley, Peter. A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. 3 vols. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997–2012.

  15. 15

    Phebe Carter Woodruff noted that four families of British immigrants arrived in Nauvoo on 27 August 1840. Through correspondence with the Twelve Apostles, the First Presidency would have been aware of further immigration plans. On 9 July 1840, for example, Heber C. Kimball wrote JS that “a large company of the saints are preparing to start for America this fall.” (Phebe Carter Woodruff, Lee Co., Iowa Territory, to Wilford Woodruff, 8 Sept. 1840, digital scan, Wilford Woodruff, Collection, CHL; Letter from Heber C. Kimball, 9 July 1840.)  

    Woodruff, Wilford. Collection, 1831–1905. Digital scans. CHL. Originals in private possession.

  16. 16

    “Hottentot” refers to “a native of the southern extremity of Africa.” As the adjective “degraded” implies, this word carried a disparaging connotation. Webster included the alternate definition “a savage brutal man” in the 1841 edition of his dictionary. (“Hottentot,” in American Dictionary [1841], 841.)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language; First Edition in Octavo, Containing the Whole Vocabulary of the Quarto, with Corrections, Improvements and Several Thousand Additional Words. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. 2nd ed. 2 vols. New Haven: By the author, 1841.

  17. 17

    “Laplander” refers to an inhabitant of Lapland, a cultural region that includes parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.  

  18. 18

    See Revelation, 3 Nov. 1831 [D&C 133:37].  

  19. 19

    The church had purchased nearly five hundred acres of land in and surrounding Commerce, Illinois, and nearly eighteen thousand acres in Lee County, Iowa Territory. (Bonds from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A and B; Lee Co., IA, Land Records, 1836–1961, Deeds [South, Keokuk], vol. 1, pp. 507–509, microfilm 959,238; vol. 2, pp. 3–6, 13–16, microfilm 959,239, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Cook, “Isaac Galland,” 270–275.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

    Cook, Lyndon W. “Isaac Galland—Mormon Benefactor.” BYU Studies 19 (Spring 1979): 261–284.

  20. 20

    See Isaiah 49:20.  

  21. 21

    After setbacks in the effort to republish the Book of Mormon in Nauvoo, Ebenezer Robinson relocated to Cincinnati in June 1840 to expedite the book’s publication. On 2 October 1840, Robinson returned to Nauvoo with an update about the printing schedule. The books were ready for sale by 1 November 1840. ([Don Carlos Smith], “To the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Times and Seasons, July 1840, 1:144; Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor,” Return, May 1890, 258–259; June 1890, 285–286; Advertisement, Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1840, 2:208.)  

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

    The Return. Davis City, IA, 1889–1891; Richmond, MO, 1892–1893; Davis City, 1895–1896; Denver, 1898; Independence, MO, 1899–1900.

  22. 22

    There was reportedly a shortage of these books in Nauvoo and elsewhere. Ebenezer Robinson recalled that, at this time, “an increased interest was manifest in the work, and calls were made for the Book of Mormon, but there were none on hand to supply the demand.” (“Books!!!,” Times and Seasons, July 1840, 1:139–140; Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 22 Nov. 1839; Minutes and Discourse, 13 Jan. 1840; Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor,” Return, May 1890, 258.)  

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

    The Return. Davis City, IA, 1889–1891; Richmond, MO, 1892–1893; Davis City, 1895–1896; Denver, 1898; Independence, MO, 1899–1900.

  23. 23

    See Jude 1:3.  

  24. 24

    See Letter to Saints Scattered Abroad, Sept. 1840.  

  25. 25

    See Isaiah 52:8–9; and Questions and Answers, between ca. 16 and ca. 29 Mar. 1838–B [D&C 113:8].