, Letter, , Lancashire, England, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 17 Apr. 1841. Featured version published in “Communications,” Times and Seasons, 15 July 1841, vol. 2, no. 18, 482–483. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
In an effort to keep leadership apprised of his travels abroad, wrote the following letter from , England, to JS in , Illinois, on 17 April 1841. During a general of the church in April 1840, Hyde and , members of the , were appointed to travel abroad and collect information regarding the gathering of the Jews. Immediately after the conference, Hyde was given a recommendation letter in which he was officially authorized to travel to “, , Constantinople and ” to converse with “Elders of the Jews” and publish his findings “throughout the .” A week later, Hyde and Page departed for , where they intended to set sail for Europe.
’s and ’s mission reflected Latter-day Saint awareness of broader international discourse concerning the return of the Jews to —discourse that had been intensified by recent political developments in the Middle East. For Hyde, the assignment fulfilled scripture, a previous blessing from JS, and a vision Hyde reported having. Hyde stated that in his vision in March 1840, the Spirit showed him the various cities he would later visit and proclaimed, “Here are many of the children of Abraham whom I will gather to the land that I gave to their fathers; and here also, is the field of your labors.” Rather than proselytizing among the Jewish communities in those cities, Hyde’s mission was focused on obtaining and sharing information regarding the restoration of the Jews.
Although was assigned to accompany through Europe and the Holy Land, he remained in the eastern rather than traveling with Hyde to . Before their planned departure from the United States, Page felt he had been slighted by Hyde and treated unfairly. Based on these feelings and his purported lack of funds, Page decided to remain in the United States, stating he would raise funds and join Hyde later. Hyde wrote in a previous letter to JS about continuing the mission without Page, but having received no answer, he determined to carry on alone.
On 3 March 1841, arrived with fellow traveling missionary in , England, where they joined , , and . Hyde then traveled throughout with Adams and Fielding, preaching to congregations and ministering to converts. Six weeks into his time in England, Hyde penned the letter featured here, which was published three months later in the Times and Seasons. The letter was the first of three reports Hyde wrote to JS. The original letter is apparently not extant, and no response from JS has been located.
Hyde and Page were sent abroad in the midst of political turmoil in the Middle East and extreme polarization of attitudes toward the Jewish community. Egyptian viceroy Muhammad Ali Pasha’s efforts to wrest power from the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1838 eventually led to the Oriental Crisis of 1840, which was closely followed by American newspapers. The crisis was then compounded with the Damascus Affair of 1840, when several Jews were accused of murdering a Christian monk. The church’s British periodical, the Millennial Star, explicitly connected the crisis to the restoration of the Jews: “Memorials have been sent to all the Protestant Princes, soliciting their interference in the present dispute between the Sultan and Mehemet Ali, about Palestine, to secure that country for the speedy return of the Jews.” (Karsh and Karsh, Empires of the Sand, 38; Frankel, Damascus Affair, 1–5; “Restoration of the Jews,” Millennial Star, 1 May 1840, 1:18.)
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.
Frankel, Jonathan. The Damascus Affair: “Ritual Murder,” Politics, and the Jews in 1840. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
See Isaiah 51:18, 19; Book of Mormon, 1840 ed., 77 [2 Nephi 8:18, 19]; and Orson Hyde, Letter Extract, Franklin, OH, 7 July 1840, in Times and Seasons, Aug. 1840, 1:156–157. According to Hyde’s 15 June 1841 letter, JS had pronounced a blessing upon him nine years earlier that in due time Hyde would “go to Jerusalem, the land of [his] fathers.” (Letter from Orson Hyde, 15 June 1841.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Once more I take my pen to write a few lines to you; most gladly would I embrace the opportunity of a personal interview with you, did it offer; but vain is the indulgence of such thoughts at present. [p. 482]