, Letter, , Lancashire, England, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 3 Feb. 1841. Featured version published in Times and Seasons, 1 May 1841, vol. 2, no. 13, 400–402. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
Written on 3 February 1841 in , England, ’s letter to JS in , Illinois, recounted Taylor’s travel to and proselytizing work in the British Isles during the previous year and a half.
In July 1838, JS dictated a revelation appointing and three other men to fill vacant positions in the . The revelation instructed the Twelve to “go over the great waters and there promulge [promulgate] my gospel.” The revelation’s call to fulfill a proselytizing mission abroad “next spring” allowed the apostles some time for preparation, but it likely tested their commitment, as it came on the cusp of the 1838 conflict between the and other Missourians that resulted in many deaths, the incarceration of JS and other church leaders, and the expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from , which led the Saints to flee to and . As a result of the expulsion, most Saints lived in temporary housing and in poor conditions. Taylor and his family temporarily resided in a one-room section of a “miserable, old log barrack” in , Iowa Territory, and, though they were grateful for this lodging, they nevertheless lacked many basic necessities. Despite these hardships, Taylor and the other apostles began preparing for their mission overseas.
On 8 August 1839, set out for the British Isles with , who was “severely afflicted with fever.” Shortly after departing , Taylor also came down with a high fever, an illness that almost took his life; because of his extreme illness, he and Woodruff eventually parted ways as Woodruff left Taylor behind to recover. Taylor later met fellow apostle in , Ohio, and they continued to . When Taylor arrived in in November, he and Woodruff reunited and booked passage to with , a member of the . At the conclusion of a stormy, three-week crossing of the Atlantic, the men arrived in on 11 January 1840. After his arrival in England, Taylor spent most of his time in Liverpool but also preached in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.
expressed his intention to send the letter featured here the day after he completed it by “Steam Packet,” or mail steamer. The letter probably arrived in sometime within the next five to eight weeks. That JS received the letter is confirmed by its publication in the May 1841 issue of Times and Seasons, the church periodical in Nauvoo. The original letter is apparently no longer extant. JS, who had two months earlier replied to several letters from the Twelve in a general letter to the group, apparently never responded directly to this letter from Taylor.
John Taylor, Letter to the Editor, Millennial Star, May 1841, 2:13; John Taylor, Germantown, IN, to Leonora Cannon Taylor, Commerce, IL, 19 Jan. 1839, John Taylor, Collection, CHL; see also Esplin, “Sickness and Faith, Nauvoo Letters,” 425–434.
JS had written to the Twelve in England: “Having several communications laying before me, from my Brethren the ‘Twelve’ some of which have ere this merited a reply, but from the multiplicity of business which necessarily engages my attention I have delayed communicating to them, to the present time.” (Letter to Quorum of the Twelve, 15 Dec. 1840.)
ed them, and finally challenged any of them to meet me before the public and prove the Book of Mormon, and my doctrine false if they could, but this they were afraid to do and gave up the contest. I see sir, more clearly every day the impossiblity of overturning the principles of truth by any of the foolish dogmas or lame reasoning of this present generation, and how should they? for God has revealed it, and his arm supports it. I went to a country place on the Is[l]and and sat down in the chimney corner, and talked to a few neighbors, who came in, and 8 and and confirmed them the same night before I left them, nor would they wait until the morning. I sent you several papers which no doubt you will have received, I staid between two and three months in the Island, has been laboring there since I left, now he is gone to , and one of our brethren is there. There is about 70 baptized and the work is still progressing there is another place in the neighborhood of , a of this place, where there is 30 members. The numbers in this neighborhood that I have had a hand in, are as follows:
Isle of Man
Howarden [Hawarden, Wales]
I mention this to show that I have not labored in vain, but that God has in some measure blessed my feeble labors.
The work in this is beginning to attract more general notice, and to assume a more formidable and respectable appearance in , in , and also in the Isle of Man, we have the largest Hall in this place, and men of respectability and influence begin to look at it: it has for some time been almost exclusively confined to the lowest grade of society, particularly in the manifactory districts, but I think the time is not far distant when the trumpet will sound loudly through all parts of this land and all classes will hear it.
You will probably be made acquainted with our attentions of visiting this next Spring we propose holding a general and setting in order the affairs of the , and then taking our departure some time in the middle of April. however purposes staying. We have no intelligence yet of Elders and , nor any of the arrived but three, two of which have returned. (Elders and ) will stay for some time. It would be well if more of them were here, if they were good men, and men of intelligence. is in , from whence Elders , and have started. Elder continues, he is I think in, or near Birmingham. will return with us. About 330 saints started from here about 3 weeks ago, upwards of 200, by , Ship “Sheffield.” Captain [Richard K.] Porter, via , the remainder on Ship “Echo.” Captain Wood, also for . A small company, expect to start the same route, perhaps 50, to sail on the 12th, of this month on the “Ulesto,” perhaps you may get this before any of them arrive, as it goes to-morrow per Steam Packet. I have not room for politics, in fact there is nothing particular at present The Egyptian affair is settled. France is coming to her reason again, and I do not think that and will go to war about McLeod, the sitting of the Syrian question has of course opened a way for the Jews. How the affairs of China will terminate is yet, I believe a little uncertain.
As ever yours in the bonds of the Everlasting Covenant,
Taylor’s efforts included a public debate with Thomas Hamilton, published rebuttals to both J. Curran and the Wesleyan Methodist preacher Robert Heys, and public lectures in response to Samuel Haining. The content of the debates was also reproduced in the pages of the Isle of Man’s local papers, Manx Liberal,Manx Sun, and the Manx Star, through the end of the year. (John Taylor, Liverpool, England, 27 Feb. 1841, Letter to the Editor, Millennial Star, Mar. 1841, 1:276–278; see also excerpts of the Manx Liberal in Millennial Star, Nov. 1840, 1:178–183.)
Taylor stayed with Solomon and Ann Hughlings Pitchforth somewhere on the North Quay. Their son Samuel was reportedly the first convert to the church on the Isle of Man. It is possible the chimney corner was either in the Pitchforth home on the North Quay or in one of the hotels Solomon ran on the island. In 1841, Solomon was operating the Marine Hotel in Peel and the Mitre Hotel in Kirk Michael. (Obituary for Samuel Pitchforth, Millennial Star, 28 Jan. 1878, 40:64; Ann Hughlings Pitchforth, “To the Saints in the Isle of Man,” Millennial Star, 15 July 1846, 8:12; Great Britain Census Office, Census Returns of the Isle of Man, 1841, Parish of Michael, District 2, p. 8, microfilm 464,356, British Isles Record Collection, FHL.)
After Blakeslee arrived in Liverpool from New York in November 1840, Taylor asked him to take his place on the Isle of Man. Blakeslee remained on the Isle of Man from 16 November 1840 to 16 February 1841. (James Blakeslee, Rome, NY, 11 June 1841, Letter to the Editor, Times and Seasons, 15 July 1841, 2:484.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Taylor is referring here to the “Oriental Crisis” covered extensively in British newspapers. The Egyptian viceroy, Muhammad Ali Pasha, sought to extend his control over the Ottoman Empire’s holdings from Gaza to Asia Minor. After several attempts at conquest, which had varying degrees of success, Muhammad Ali’s rebellions were quelled by British troops, and he was forced to return to Egypt. Muhammad Ali’s hopes for French military support proved baseless when France also rejoined the pro-Ottoman nations in October 1840. (Karsh and Karsh, Empires of the Sand, 39.)
Karsh, Efraim, and Inari Karsh. Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789–1923. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.
Alexander McLeod was a Canadian sheriff who ordered an attack on the private American steamboat the Caroline because it was being used to aid Canadian rebels. One American was killed in the altercation, generating American outrage toward the Canadians and the British Empire. The incident occurred on 29 December 1837, and several retaliatory attacks followed. On 22 May 1838, the United States ambassador, Andrew Stevenson, demanded reparations in London. These developments were well documented in the British press. By the time Taylor wrote this letter, the affair had not been settled. Wilford Woodruff, who was also in England at the time, mentioned the McLeod affair in his journal entry a week later. (Stevens, Border Diplomacy, 13–17, 33–35; Woodruff, Journal, 17 Feb. 1841.)
Stevens, Kenneth R. Border Diplomacy: The Caroline and McLeod Affairs in Anglo-American- Canadian Relations, 1837–1842. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1989.
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.
Taylor’s linking of turmoil and political unrest in the Ottoman Empire with the possibility of a Jewish return to Jerusalem was a common Christian approach of the time. Fellow apostleOrson Hyde was called to serve a mission abroad, to observe and report on the “present views and movements of the Jewish people,” and to help facilitate their return to Jerusalem by dedicating the Holy Land. The Times and Seasons even translated and republished an appeal to rally support for such a return that had originally been published in the German newspaper Der Orient. (Recommendation for Orson Hyde, 6 Apr. 1840; “The Jews,” Times and Seasons, 1 Oct. 1841, 2:563–564. For more instances of this sentiment, see Kark, American Consuls in the Holy Land, 23.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Kark, Ruth. American Consuls in the Holy Land, 1832–1914. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University; Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994.
The British and Qing empires engaged in what was later called the First Opium War from 1839–1842. After Chinese officials attempted to block trade and eradicate opium use in China, the British retaliated by destroying river blockades and occupying Canton. Residing in England at the time, Taylor was surrounded by printed reports and fervent public discourse debating the future and ramifications of the conflict in China and the opium trade. For instance, the London Dispatch ran an article on 25 August 1839 on how the “news from China continue[d] to occupy much of the public mind.” The “Opium Question” increasingly filled the pages of periodicals, and in March 1840, Taylor and Joseph Fielding even visited Pembroke Chapel to hear a lecture on the war. The speaker was decidedly against British coercion in continuing the opium trade and related detailed accounts of British injustice. He also referenced chapter 18 of the book of Revelation to describe the traffic in slaves and the souls of man. According to Fielding, he and Taylor left “well satisfied with the Lecture” and its “excellent Manner & Spirit” of delivery. The conflict in China was also reported in the church’s periodicals, through excerpts from local newspapers and under the heading of “wars and rumors of wars,” as a millenarian sign of the times. (“Foreign Intelligence,” London Dispatch, 25 Aug. 1839, 1; Fielding, Journal, 1840–1841, 129–130; “Wars and Rumors of Wars,” Times and Seasons, 1 Dec. 1840, 2:232; Editorial, Times and Seasons, 15 Mar. 1841, 2:350.)
London Dispatch. London. 1836–1839.
Fielding, Joseph. Journals, 1837–1859. CHL. MS 1567.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.