, Letter with postscript by JS, , Iowa Territory, to , , 7 Mar. 1840. Featured version copied [between Apr. and June 1840] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 109–111; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 7 March 1840, clerk wrote a letter to containing instructions about representing the before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. At a 6 March 1840 meeting of the Iowa high council held in , Iowa Territory, JS declared that “the affair now before Congress was the only thing that ought to interest the saints at present.” The high council then directed Elias Smith “to inform Judge Higbee, that it is the wishes of this council that he should not upon any consideration consent to accept of any thing of Congress Short of our just rights & demands for our losses & damages in .” Elias Smith wrote this letter as a result of that direction, and JS approved the letter’s content in a postscript.
In addition to declaring support for ’s mission, relayed the disdain the high council members felt for political leaders who refused to back the Saints’ petition for redress. Despite expressing a negative view of various politicians, the letter signaled the high council’s optimism that the federal government would award reparations to church members who were expelled from their property in . JS and the high council in were unaware that the judiciary committee had already decided that the Senate should no longer consider the church’s memorial, indicating JS had not yet received the letter Higbee had written on 26 February 1840.
presumably sent this letter by post to , but the original letter is not extant. If or when received the letter is unknown. copied it into JS Letterbook 2 sometime between April and June 1840.
Coray, Autobiographical Sketch, 17, 19. It is unclear whether Coray copied this letter from another copy retained by JS or from the original letter that Higbee received and subsequently brought back to the Commerce, Illinois, area.
Coray, Howard. Autobiographical Sketch, after 1883. Howard Coray, Papers, ca. 1840–1941. Photocopy. CHL. MS 2043, fd. 1.
especially in relation to our damages, the amount of which we think has been estimated full low, and if an offer should be made to remunerate us for our Lands at entry price, or any thing short of the full amount claimed in any particular— to treat such offer with proper contempt. Our rights we ask for; our rights we want, and must have of the Government of the : And nothing short of that can be received. We demand them upon constitutional premises, and expect to [be] heard in our appeal to the General Government, and answered in a manner which shall be honorable to the guardians, of the rights and privileges of American citizens; who compose that honorable body, and acceptable to those who have been persecuted, Smitten, and driven from their peaceful habitations, in violation of the Constitution, and of the natural and unalienable rights of man—
Our cause will unquestionably be strongly opposed by such, relentless, unfeeling and unprincipled demagogues as, , and others of the “Golden humbug”, firm of &, co. who have disgraced the American character, by their subserviency to a s[c]heme of [s]peculations and political fraud, The sole aim of whom has been, to aggrandize themselves, at the expence of the labouring class of community, and to enrich the few at expence of the many. As regardless of honor, honesty; or the rights of man, as Bonapart, Nero, or Caligula— I cincerely hope that every such unprincipled character, will take a decided stand in favor of exterminating decree; as such a course would speak volumes in our favor, and expose them to the just indignation of an abused and injured publick, who will not fail to meet ours out to them a just recompence of reward without distinctions of name, sect or party by applying that peaceable and constitutional corrective, guarenteed to every American citizen, the right of suffrage, if there is virtue enough left in the sons of the revolutionary Fathers, to transmit to their posterity, those inestimable blessings purchased by Fathers at the expense of so much blood and Treasure. [p. 110]
At this time, individuals could purchase land from the federal government for $1.25 per acre. Many church members purchased federal land in Missouri and subsequently made improvements to it. Others settled on and improved land as a way to claim preemption rights when that land was made available for sale. Despite their improvements, which would have immediately raised the land’s market value, they still purchased the land at $1.25. (Klein, “Missouri Reader: Ownership of the Land under France, Spain, and the United States,” 293–294; Historical Introduction to Land Patent, 7 Sept. 1838.)
Klein, Ada Paris, ed. “The Missouri Reader: Ownership of the Land under France, Spain, and United States.” Missouri Historical Review 44, no. 3 (Apr. 1950): 274–294.
The “Golden Humbug Firm” was a derogatory label applied to those who supported the monetary policies of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. Their fiscal policies sought to restrict the ratio of circulating paper money to supplies of gold and silver. Such policies led to a shortage of hard money during the 1830s and 1840s and contributed to the Panic of 1837 and the ensuing financial recession. In a song titled “O! Van Buren!,” which was distributed by William Henry Harrison’s presidential campaign, one verse read, “The officers will have the gold, / The people the shinplasters, / O! Van Buren, / Gold humbug Mat Van Buren.” (Robinson, Fifty Cents. Shin Plaster ; “O! Van Buren!,” in Tippecanoe Song Book, 137.)
Robinson, Henry R. Fifty Cents. Shin Plaster. Lithograph. New York: By the author, 1837. Copy at American Cartoon Print Filing Series, Library of Congress Prints and Photo- graphs Division, Washington DC. Digital image available at www.loc.gov/pictures/ item/2008661307/.
Tippecanoe Song Book: A Collection of Log Cabin and Patriotic Melodies. Philadelphia: Marshall, Williams, and Butler, 1840.
This passage apparently refers to the ongoing debate over the Second National Bank of the United States, which Congress did not recharter in 1836. Whereas Democrats complained that the Bank of the United States represented a conspiracy of rich men against the public, Whig opponents of the banking policies of Jackson and Van Buren claimed that these presidents’ administrations conspired to replace balanced government with financial perks for political allies, chiefly through granting political friends charters for so-called pet banks. (Howe, What Hath God Wrought, 390–395.)
Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. The Oxford History of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Napoleon Bonaparte was a military and political leader in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France. Nero, also known as Nero Claudius Caesar, served as Roman emperor from 54 to 68 CE. Caligula, also known as Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, was the Roman emperor from 12 to 41 CE. All three were supposedly tyrannical rulers. (Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum, bks. 4 and 6, in Edwards, Suetonius, vii, xxv, 136–167, 195–227.)
Edwards, Catharine, trans. Suetonius: Lives of the Caesars. Oxford World’s Classics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
In October 1838, Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued orders to the state militia that the Mormons were to be either driven from the state or exterminated. (Lilburn W. Boggs, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, Fayette, MO, 27 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City.)