JS, Letter, , Clay Co., MO, to , [, Hancock Co., IL], 22 Mar. 1839. Featured version published in Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, pp. 51–56.
Times and Seasons ( [later ], Hancock Co., IL), vol. 1, no. 1–vol. 2, no. 3 (July 1839–1 Dec. 1840), edited by and ; vol. 2, nos. 4–12 (15 Dec. 1840–15 Apr. 1841), edited by ; vol. 2, nos. 13–19 (1 May–2 Aug. 1841), edited by and ; vol. 2, no. 20 (16 Aug. 1841), edited by and ; vol. 2, no. 21–vol. 3, no. 7 (1 Sept. 1841–1 Feb. 1842), edited by ; vol. 3, nos. 8–24 (15 Feb.–15 Oct. 1842), edited by JS; vol. 4, no. 1–vol. 6, no. 23 (15 Nov. 1842–15 Feb. 1846), edited by .
The Times and Seasons was a newspaper published in (later ), Illinois, between July 1839 and 15 February 1846. The composition of the paper on which it was printed varied between wood pulp and linen fibers depending on what was available at the time of each issue’s publication. Each issue was printed on sixteen octavo pages measuring around 9½ × 6 inches (24 × 15 cm); the exact size varied depending on how an issue was cut. Each page contained two columns of text. In the issues prior to 1 July 1841, both columns were 2⅛ inches wide; in the later issues, the columns were 2¼ inches wide.
The first of the newspaper’s six volumes consisted of twelve issues and one reprint; the first issue was dated July 1839 and then the paper was published monthly from November 1839 through October 1840. The second through fifth volumes contained twenty-four issues each and were published semimonthly—generally dated on the first and fifteenth of each month—from 1 November 1840 to 15 October 1841, 1 November 1841 to 15 October 1842, 15 November 1842 to 1 November 1843, and 1 January 1844 to 1 January 1845, respectively. The sixth volume contained only twenty-three issues and ran on a semimonthly basis from 15 January 1845 to 15 February 1846. Volumes 1–3 were paginated 1–958; the numbers 577–582 were used on the pages at the end of volume 2 and were repeated on the pages at the beginning of volume 3. Volumes 4–6 were paginated 1–1135. Other minor errors in page numbers were made throughout both sets of pagination.
The volumes used in The Joseph Smith Papers were bound into several text blocks at a later date. Volumes 1 and 2 were bound together in three-quarter binding with textured red leather and shell marbled paper. The edges have been trimmed and speckled brown. The bound item measures 9 × 5⅝ × 1⅜ inches (23 × 14 × 3 cm). Another copy of volume 1 and of volume 2 were bound with volume 3 in a three-quarter case binding with black leather and textured cloth, measuring 9 × 6 × 2¼ inches (23 × 15 × 6 cm). Volumes 4 and 5 were bound individually but are identical in composition and materials, suggesting they were originally bound at around the same time. Both were likely compiled in , as they each contain a title page and index. It is not clear where they were originally bound. The edges of the two volumes have been trimmed and speckled blue. Both are bound with a three-quarter binding of textured black leather and shell marbled paper. Volume 4 measures 9¼ × 6 × 1 inches (23 × 15 × 3 cm), and volume 5 measures 8⅞ × 5⅞ × 1 inches (23 × 15 × 3 cm). Volume 6 is likewise bound individually, though with a three-quarter binding of brown calf leather and marbled paper; the paper has been significantly worn down. The pages have been trimmed, and the edges have uneven brown coloring. The volume measures 9¼ × 6 × ¾ inches (23 × 15 × 2 cm). The spine of each bound item has gold tooling, along with the name of the newspaper and the volumes contained in the binding. The spine of volume 6 also has decorative blind roll tooling.
All of the bound volumes except the final volume were rebound one or more times and underwent significant conservation work during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Nearly all of the volumes contain diamond-shaped press marks on the paper, and all of the volumes include archival stamping and labels from the Church Historian’s Office (now CHL) or other earlier owners. Volumes of the Times and Seasons have been in the possession of the Church Historian’s Office since at least 1846; however, it is unclear whether any of the earliest-acquired copies are the ones featured in The Joseph Smith Papers. There are no archival markings identifying the original owners of volumes 1–3. Volumes 4 and 5 apparently belonged to Robert Campbell until his death in 1872. By 11 December 1889, they were acquired by Andrew Jenson, an employee in the Church Historian’s Office, for his personal library. Volume 6 bears a partially removed label describing lending policies for an unidentified library, suggesting that that volume belonged to a lending library until Jenson acquired the volume by 1890. In 1930 the three volumes Jenson acquired were transferred, along with the rest of his library, to the Church Historian’s Office.
The newspaper was established after the and other church leaders in the area met in June 1839. They determined that and should publish the newspaper. The church would provide the printing press, with Robinson and Smith paying the publication expenses and receiving all profits from the business.
The press was first set up in the basement of a structure on the banks of the , and two hundred copies of the first issue were printed in July. Severe illness among the editors and their families prevented more copies from being printed. In November 1839, with the assistance of Lyman Gaylord and in a new structure on the northeast corner of Water and Bain streets, the first issue was printed again, redated November 1839. The yearly subscription fee for the newspaper was one dollar. The paper listed its publication location as until the May 1840 issue, when the location was changed to .
With the second volume, begun 1 November 1840, the paper began to be issued semimonthly and the subscription price increased to two dollars per year. The issues were dated the first and fifteenth of each month, but print runs were frequently a week or more late; in some cases, they were months behind schedule. On 14 December 1840, and dissolved their partnership, and Smith became the sole editor of the next nine issues, beginning with the 15 December issue. joined Smith as a coeditor for the issues of 1 May 1841 through 2 August 1841. After Smith’s death on 7 August 1841, Robinson once again joined the paper, coediting the 16 August issue with Thompson. Thompson died before the next issue was printed, leaving Robinson as the sole editor beginning with the 1 September 1841 issue. In November 1841, Robinson moved the Times and Seasons printing office across the street to the northwest corner of Water and Bain streets.
A 28 January 1842 revelation directed the to take responsibility for the paper. and were assigned to act as editors, and sold the printing establishment to JS on 4 February 1842. JS was identified as the editor of the paper for the issues of 15 February through 15 October 1842. In early December 1842, JS leased the printing office to Taylor and Woodruff, who had been heavily involved in editing and printing the paper throughout JS’s tenure as editor. Beginning with the first issue of volume 4, dated 15 November 1842, Woodruff was named as a publisher, with Taylor listed as a publisher and editor.
In January 1844, JS initiated the sale of the printing office to , but the transaction was not finalized prior to JS’s death in June 1844. Taylor remained the sole named editor for the remainder of the paper’s publication, which concluded with the 15 February 1846 issue.
At times due to opposition to the newspaper and at times due to a lack of supplies, issues were not published for 1 November 1842, 15 November 1843, 1 and 15 December 1843, 15 June 1844, and the months of September and October 1845.
On 22 March 1839, JS wrote from the in , Missouri, to land speculator in , Illinois. The month before, Galland met with members and regarding his offer to sell the church twenty thousand acres of land in , Iowa Territory, for Latter-day Saint refugees. Later in the month, on 26 February 1839, Galland wrote a letter to Rogers, expressing sympathy for the suffering church members and offering to assist them in any way possible. In late February or early March, likely after reading Galland’s letter, church leaders in , Illinois, assigned Rogers to deliver the letter and other important documents to JS. Rogers left soon thereafter, arriving in Liberty on 19 March 1839. The following day, JS wrote a general epistle to the church, encouraging church leaders in to exercise their discretion in whether to accept Galland’s offer. Before making a decision, however, church leaders were to consult with “the most faithfull and the most respictible of the authorities of the church” at general conferences.
Soon after completing the general epistle on 20 March 1839, JS wrote to , apparently responding to items in Galland’s February missive to . Galland had inquired about the status of Rogers’s “captive brethren in ” and whether JS had yet been released. Galland had also conceded that he had “little knowledge . . . as yet of the doctrines, order or practice of the church.” In JS’s response, he described the Saints’ sufferings and the prisoners’ misfortunes. He also gave an extended description of Latter-day Saint beliefs about the Bible, revelation, authority, and other “leading items of the gospel.” JS concluded the letter by stating his intention to purchase Galland’s land upon being released from prison. This statement indicates that JS’s thinking had changed since writing the 20 March general epistle to the church.
JS, who was the only signatory of the letter, likely dictated it to one of his fellow prisoners, perhaps , who performed most of the scribal duties for JS’s extended compositions in March 1839. The missive may have been included in the “package of letters for ” that the prisoners gave church member when he visited the on 22 March 1839. How the letter was carried to in is unknown. The land speculator’s immediate reaction to the letter is also unknown; extant records do not indicate whether he reserved the land for the Saints, but the land in question was available when JS arrived in Illinois on 22 April 1839, and soon afterward the church bought the land. Additionally, the letter probably influenced Galland’s decision to join the church in July 1839.
The original letter is apparently not extant. However, a transcript of the letter was printed in the February 1840 issue of the Times and Seasons; this printed copy is the version featured here.
tue, and righteousness is their only aim and object in this life. They are sir, a much injured, and abused people; and are greatly belied as to their true character. They have been fallen upon by a gang of ruffians and murderers, three times, in the state of ; and entirely broken up, without having committed the first offence: or without there being the least shadow in the very slightest degree of evidence, that they have done ought of any thing derogatory to the laws, or character, of the state of . And this last time of their being broken up; it is either my misfortune, or good fortune, (for I rather count it good fortune to suffer affliction with the people of God,) in connection with others of my brethren, to be made a severe sufferer, by the hands of the above mentioned rascals: they are supported by some portions of the authorities of the , either in consequence of prejudices, excited by foul calumnies, or else they themselves, are the fathers and instigators, of the whole diabolical and murderous proceeding.
I am bold to say sir, that a more nefarious transaction never has existed, since the days of Yore; than that which has been practiced upon us.— Myself and those who are in prison with me, were torn from our houses, with our wives and children clinging to our garments, under the awful expectation of being exterminated. At our first examination, the mob found one or two persons, of low and worthless character, whom they compelled, at the peril of their lives, to swear some things against us: which things, if they had been even true, were nothing at all, and could not have so much as disgraced any man under heaven. Nevertheless, we could have proved, by more than five hundred witnesses, that the things were false. But the Judge employed an armed force, and compelled us to abandon the idea of introducing witnesses, upon the peril of the lives of the witnesses. Under such circumstances, sir, we were committed to this , on a pretended charge of treason, against the State of , without the slightest evidence to that effect. We collected our witnesses the second time, and petitioned a : but were thrust back again into prison, by the rage of the mob; and our families robbed, and plundered: and families, and witnesses, thrust from their homes, and hunted out of the , and dare not return for their lives. And under this order of things, we, held in confinement, for a pretended trial: whereas we are to be tried by those very characters who have practiced those things, yea the very characters who have murdered some hundred men, women and children, and have sworn to have our lives also; and have made public proclamation that these men must and should be hung, whether they were innocent, or guilty. Such men too, sir, have made this proclamation, as , who is considered one of the most prominent men in the . This is according to the information I have received, which I suppose to be true. Their plea sir, is that the will be ruined, if the Mormon leaders are liberated, so that they can publish the real facts, of what has been practised upon them.
We are kept under a strong guard, night and day, in a prison of double walls and doors, proscribed in our liberty of conscience, our food is scant, uniform, and coarse; we have not the privilege of cooking for ourselves, we have been compelled to sleep on the floor with straw, and not blankets sufficient to keep us warm; and when we have a fire, we are obliged to have almost a constant smoke. The Judges have gravely told us from time to time that they knew we were innocent, and ought to be liberated, but they dare not administer the law unto us, for fear of the mob. But if we will deny our religion, we can be liberated. Our lawyers have gravely told us, that we are only held now by the influence of long faced Baptists; how far this is true, we are not able to say: but we are certain that our most vehement accusers, are the highest toned professors of religion. On being interogated what these men have done? their uniform answer is, we do not know, but they are false teachers, and ought to die. And of late boldly and frankly acknowledge, that the religion of these men, is all that they have against them. Now sir, the only difference between their [p. 52]
“Being exterminated” likely refers to the order that Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued on 27 October 1838 that “the Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary.” Lucy Mack Smith, JS’s mother, recalled the anxiety she and Joseph Smith Sr. felt after JS was arrested. After hearing several gunshots, they concluded that their son had been murdered. (Lilburn W. Boggs, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, Fayette, MO, 27 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 16, .)
Hyrum Smith recalled that the prisoners submitted the names of sixty potential defense witnesses; only seven ultimately testified. Several Latter-day Saints recounted that officers of the court harassed and abused defense witnesses, discouraging individuals from testifying.
Judge Austin A. King, who presided at the November 1838 hearing, reportedly stated in public that JS should be executed, regardless of whether he was convicted. On another occasion, King issued an arrest warrant for JS and Lyman Wight following a confrontation on 8 August 1838 with Adam Black, a Daviess County justice of the peace. King was then quoted as saying he was “in hopes that joseph smith jun & Lyman Wight would not be taken & tried acording to law so that they could have the pleasure of taking their scalps.” (Warner Hoopes, Affidavit, Pike Co., IL, 14 Jan. 1840, Record Group 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives, Washington DC; see also Affidavit, 5 Sept. 1838.)
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.
Meacham Curtis, assistant to Justice Turnham, remembered Turnham stating that “he would have acquitted the prisoners” in January 1839 if not “for fear that they would be assassinated by a furious mob.” (Meacham Curtis, Affidavit, Bandera, TX, 23 July 1878, in Saints’ Herald, 15 Aug. 1878, 256.)