On 17 February 1842 member wrote a letter to JS from Hanley, England, to inform him of recent events in the country, report on proselytizing, and forward a donation. Cordon detailed the rise of critics of the church in . He also described England’s growing civil unrest and poverty. Great Britain was in the midst of a major economic depression that many citizens believed was exacerbated by government interventions. Many were particularly irate with the Corn Laws, which restricted the importation of grain and contributed to a stark rise of food costs. During the previous week, English citizens had mounted demonstrations throughout the nation. These demonstrations included the burning of effigies, most notably that of Prime Minister Robert Peel.
Despite their poverty, several English Latter-day Saints donated what they could to the church. On 15 January 1841 the issued “A Proclamation, to the Saints Scattered Abroad,” which urged the Saints to contribute to the construction of the in , Illinois. On 24 October 1841 and pledged to send $1,000 over the course of the year and began to facilitate the Saints’ donations in . ’s letter to JS was occasioned by his need to forward a donation from a young woman for the temple. Cordon did not explicitly identify the young woman, noting only that she was a believer but not yet a member of the church; however, an entry in the Book of the Law of the Lord identifies her as Eliza Tideswell.
On the morning of 17 February 1842, wrote to JS as of the church. Along with the letter and the enclosed donation of one guinea, Cordon enclosed an unidentified “small token” of regard from his wife, Emma Parker Cordon, to JS’s wife . It is not known whether Alfred Cordon mailed the letter to JS in or sent it there with a church courier. Based on the entry in the Book of the Law of the Lord, the letter was received in Nauvoo by 10 May 1842. If JS responded to Cordon, that letter has not been located. Cordon’s original 17 February 1842 letter is apparently not extant. The featured version was published in the 16 May 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons.
On 14 February protestors in Hanley and the neighboring town of Shelton “got up an effigy of Peel, and paraded it through the principal streets with drum and fife, then fixing it on an elevated spot, they discharged thirty or forty pistol-shots and set it on fire.” (“Anti-Corn Law Movements,” Examiner [London], 19 Feb. 1842, 122.)
When this donation was entered into the Book of the Law of the Lord under the date of 10 May 1842, the entry stated simply that Cordon’s letter included a $5.20 donation from a “lady in Staffordshire England.” A later notation written in graphite above the word “lady” identified her as Eliza Tideswell. (Book of the Law of the Lord, 118.)
Dear Brother, Whom, having not seen, I love—I take it upon me this morning to write a few lines to you, hoping they will find you and your’s in good health; feeling confident they will be read with interest. The work in which we are engaged, rolls on well in this land, and in spite of all its enemies, moves onward in majesty and Power; there are many who devote all their time, and talent in endeavoring to overthrow it; but I discover they can “do nothing against the truth; but for it.” Many tracts have been published against us, containing all manner of lies, but in the end good will be the result. “He that knoweth God heareth us.” Some of the tools of satan are doing more in spreading the truth than we are able to do, one in particular, a Mr. [John] Brindley is publishing a Periodical shewing the errors and blasphemies of Mormonism, and in order to do this he publishes many of our Revelations, (or the Revelations of God given to us) and through this means, the testimony is visiting the mansions of the high and mighty ones—the Reverends, Right Reverends, and all the noble champions of sectarians receive them as a precious morsel; and they are read with much interest; whereas if we had sent them, they would have been spurned from their dwellings, and would not have been considered worth reading. The state of this is very awful, and is according to prospects on the eve of a mighty revolution; all confidence is gone between master and men, and men are afraid of each other, peace is fast romoving from this land; in the course of the last few days, in many parts of this Isle, they have been burning the effigy of the great men of this nation—poverty, and distress, and starvation abounds on every hand. The groans, and tears, and wretchedness of the thousands of the people is enough to rend the heart of demons; many of the saints are suffering much through hunger, and nakedness; many with large families can scarcely get bread and water enough to hold the spirit in the tabernacle; many, very many, are out of employ; and cannot get work to do, and others that do work hard fourteen or fifteen hours per day, can scarcely earn enough to enable them to live upon the earth. Surely there is need of deliverance in , and I am ready to exclaim thanks be to thy name O Lord, for remmembering thy covenants! and that the “set time to favor Zion is come,” and that he has chosen the west for a refuge for his people. Yet in the midst of all these troubles and calamities, there is something in the bosom of the saints that is very cheering, it often makes my heart to rejoice when I am in their company. They talk of to Zion, and of building up cities and temples to the Most High; and at the same time scarcely know how to live day by day; though poor and destitute, they are rich in faith, firmly relying upon our testimony; believing most assuredly that God has spoken from the heavens.
I was conversing the other day with a young lady respecting the glories of Zion, she has not as yet been , but as a proof of her faith in the testimony she gave me a guinea (which is equal to 21 shillings of our money), desiring me to send it to you to be appropriated to the use of the according to your judgement, or the judgement of those who are appointed to govern the concern; this circumstance transpiring is the cause of this letter being written to you. [p. 795]
A number of tracts critical of the church were published in Great Britain between 1838 and 1841. (See, for example, Richard Livesey, An Exposure of Mormonism: Being a Statement of Facts Relating to the Self-Styled “Latter Day Saints,” and the Origin of the Book of Mormon [Preston, England: J. Livesey, 1838]; and C. S. Bush, Plain Facts, Shewing the Falsehood and Folly of the Mormonites, or Latter-day Saints; Being an Exposition of the Imposture . . . [Macclesfield, England: J. Swinnerton, 1840]; see also Foster, Penny Tracts and Polemics, chap. 3.)
Foster, Craig L. Penny Tracts and Polemics: A Critical Analysis of Anti-Mormon Pamphleteering in Great Britain, 1837–1860. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2002.
Brindley was an educator by profession and an outspoken critic of the church, as well as of Socialism, Chartism, and Roman Catholicism. He emerged as a public critic of the church when he edited and published the first installment of the Anti-Socialist Gazette, and Christian Advocate in October 1841. The most recent issue of the periodical was dated 1 February 1842. (Nameplate, Anti-Socialist Gazette, and Christian Advocate, 1 Oct. 1841, 1.)
Anti-Socialist Gazette, and Christian Advocate. Chester, England. 1841–1842.
In 1841 apostleParley P. Pratt published an open letter to Queen Victoria announcing that “the world in which we live is on the eve of a revolution.” Newspapers also employed the rhetoric of revolution when describing the era’s civil unrest. For example, on 12 February 1842 the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent published an article describing recent events as a “long stride towards revolution.” (Pratt, Letter to the Queen of England, 2, italics in original; “A Long Stride towards Revolution,” Sheffield and Rotherham Independent [Sheffield, England], 12 Feb. 1842, 8.)
Pratt, Parley P. A Letter to the Queen of England, Touching the Signs of the Times, and the Political Destiny of the World. Manchester, England: By the author, 1841.
Sheffield and Rotherham Independent. Sheffield, England. 1833–1875.
This “young lady,” Eliza Tideswell, later explained to Cordon that she had not been baptized because of her father’s opposition and that “being lame it made it rather awkward.” (Cordon, Journal, 23 June 1842, 132; see also Book of the Law of the Lord, 118.)
Cordon, Alfred. Journal, 30 June 1839–6 June 1840. Typescript. FHL.