, Letter, , Adams Co., IL, to JS, , , , and , [, Clay Co., MO], 10 Apr. 1839. Featured version copied [between 22 Apr. and 30 Oct. 1839] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 4–5; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 10 April 1839, wrote from to JS and his fellow prisoners in Missouri, updating them on the ’s evolving plans to obtain redress for loss of life and property in Missouri. Rigdon arrived in Illinois from Missouri in mid-February 1839 and rented a farm in Big Neck Prairie, about thirty miles northeast of Quincy, Illinois. Despite the distance, he reportedly preached in Quincy frequently, “always to large audiences.” While there, he also met with prominent citizens, who raised funds for the Latter-day Saint refugees. According to church member Elizabeth Haven, by late February 1839 Rigdon was planning to visit to “plead at the feet of the President according to revelation”—a reference to a revelation JS dictated in 1833. On 23 February, Rigdon wrote to attorney general Felix Grundy, inquiring about initiating a suit in federal court against the state of Missouri and private citizens who committed violence against the Saints in 1838. Rigdon’s 10 April letter to JS and the other prisoners demonstrates that Rigdon’s “plan of operation” had evolved to include not only suing Missouri and sending a delegation to Washington but also assigning Latter-day Saints to lobby state legislatures to support Rigdon’s proposal that the state of Missouri be “impeached” for lacking a republican form of government.
’s 10 April letter was likely a partial response to JS’s general epistle dated 20 March 1839. Rigdon apparently had not written to the prisoners after his departure from the in , Missouri, in early February, causing them “to inquire after Rigdon” and to note that “if he has not forgotten us it has not been signified to us by his scrawl.” In his 10 April letter, Rigdon referenced twice his unfailing friendship with the prisoners, and he emphasized he was busy laboring on behalf of them and the church.
noted that a “Br Mace”—perhaps resident Wandle Mace—would carry the letter to , but it is unknown whether Mace actually did so. About the time that Rigdon completed his letter, word reached Quincy that the prisoners had been moved from the . Rigdon may have waited to send his letter until receiving further news on the prisoners’ location. The original letter is apparently not extant; copied it or a retained copy into JS Letterbook 2 sometime between late April and 30 October 1839.
Editorial, Quincy (IL) Whig, 23 Feb. 1839, ; Letter from Elias Higbee, 16 Apr. 1839; Rigdon, “Life Story of Sidney Rigdon,” 153–158; Portrait and Biographical Record of Adams County, Illinois, 180, 278.
Quincy Whig. Quincy, IL. 1838–1856.
Rigdon, John Wickliff. “Life Story of Sidney Rigdon,” no date. CHL. MS 3451.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Adams County, Illinois, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, together with Biographies and Portraits of All the Presidents of the United States. Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1892.
Sidney Rigdon, Quincy, IL, to Felix Grundy, [Washington DC], 23 Feb. 1839, Record Group 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives, Washington DC.
Record Group 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives / Petitions and Memorials, Resolutions of State Legislatures, and Related Documents Which Were Referred to the Committee on Judiciary during the 27th Congress. Committee on the Judiciary, Petitions and Memorials, 1813–1968. Record Group 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1789–2015. National Archives, Washington DC. The LDS records cited herein are housed in National Archives boxes 40 and 41 of Library of Congress boxes 139–144 in HR27A-G10.1.
After Mary Fielding Smith completed a letter to her husband, Hyrum Smith, on 11 April 1839, she attempted to send the missive with a courier, but it was returned because it was not known where the prisoners would be. After the letter was given back to her, she added a postscript, presumably on or soon after 11 April, explaining the situation. (Mary Fielding Smith, [Quincy, IL], to Hyrum Smith, 11 Apr. 1839, Mary Fielding Smith, Collection, CHL.)
Smith, Mary Fielding. Collection, ca. 1832–1848. CHL. MS 2779.
In the midst of a crowd of business I haste to send a few lines by the hand of Br Mace our Messenger.
We wish you to know that our friendship is unabating and our exertions for your delivery, and that of the unceasing. For this purpose we have laboured to secure the friendship of the of this with all the principal men in this place. In this we have succeeded beyond our highest anticipations. assured us last evening, that he would lay our case before the Legislature of this and have the action of that body upon it; and he would use all his influence to have an action [p. 4]